This is a necessity, operators who aren’t willing to invest to be able to better engage with their customers in order to get an increased share of available digital spend may end up becoming, to use a much maligned phrase, dumb pipes. Not that there’s anything wrong with dumb pipes – if pure wholesale transport is your business model. However, for operators selling mobile services to business and consumers it’s a different matter.
1. Content Partnerships 2.0
Data commoditization will lead to operators getting creative with content bundles. Now that LTE is mainstream, operators can’t really differentiate too much on speed anymore. Market pressure is forcing operators to reduce prices and increase data volumes in bundles. In order to best differentiate their offers operators are increasingly forming partnerships with content providers. We’ve already seen some very good examples of Netflix and Spotify increasing their market reach through mobile partnerships. Most operators are now providing TV, music and content subscriptions with data bundles. 2016 will see operators take content partnerships to the next level.
Partnerships 2.0 is when operators will start to leverage the capabilities in their BSS to better package and market their content offers. For example, how one operator can differentiate their Netflix offer ‘v’ the Netflix offer of another operator. For example, using free speed boosts, offering sponsored data usage for specific bandwidth hungry content, intelligently offloading specific content to carrier Wi-Fi to avoid bill shock, using contextual intelligence to trigger content offers and so on. There are many ways that operators can better differentiate, package and market their content partnership services. 2016 will see operators using BSS capabilities to get more creative in how they market content, as by then the bundled subscription services for the higher end data bundles will be standard for most operators.
2. Wi-Fi – coming to a mobile bundle near you
As bundled data volumes go up and prices per GB go down, operators will increasingly start to bundle carrier and partner Wi-Fi in mobile data bundles. We’re already seeing this as operators are looking to cost effectively increase data volumes in bundles. Intelligent off-load capabilities in BSS along with Wi-Fi advances like ANDSF (auto network detection and selection function) and Hotspot 2.0 are increasing the attractiveness of bundling Wi-Fi alongside 4G services in that they can enable QoS and provide the right level of network experience regardless of the network used.
3. Fixed line market starts to use policy as a marketing tool
The general perception is that fixed line broadband is unlimited. As many consumers know one month after they’ve become Netflix customers, this is not the case. Many operators have entry level offers with a fixed data volume, such as 10GB. When you consider that an hour of watching Netflix on ultra HD uses 7GB, you can see the potential for bill shock. Fixed operators are using volume and speed tiers and are bundling in content partnerships to sell broadband services. In addition to tiers, policy enabled services such as speed boosts and parental controls are being used to differentiate fixed broadband offers. Add IPTV services into the mix and the marketing options for policy rules managing user entitlements in bundled services becomes even greater giving operators a better chance to upsell new services and provide more personalised offers.
4. MVNOs put the pricing squeeze on operators leading to smarter CEM.
No thrills, low cost providers are now a standard in many services businesses. With data heading to become a price based commodity operators will be further exposed to low cost MVNOs. This, alongside, the increase in content partnerships and the need to upsell and retain existing customers is leading to operators using real-time contextual intelligence to better engage and become more relevant with their customers. There’s too many lower cost options around for operators to assume that customers will stay loyal. Operators will start to up their game on how they engage with customers. They’ll increasingly adopt the engagement processes associated with companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix to provide personalised offers, marketing and care messages that are timely, contextually aware and relevant.
5. NFV – Adoption picks up as operators overcome technical barriers to avoid vendor lock-in.
One of the big problems that many network and IT teams are seeing with NFV is that the old scourge of vendor lock in hasn’t gone away – it’s just got a shiny new virtualisation wrapper on. In 2016 we’ll see that start to recede and enable a proper vendor agnostic and open approach to implementing virtualised network functions (VNFs). 2016 will see operators starting to implement open VNF managers to provide a central orchestration and management control point to manage all the downstream VNF – which can be from a wide range of vendors. Having this agnostic VNF management function in place will remove a tech and financial barrier to NFV adoption by eliminating a major pain point in managing diverse VNFs and assist operators and system integrators to avoid vendor-lock.