There was a general consensus that operators need to be more innovate and try new things, as some operators are now doing. From moving into new verticals like automotive, health and education, and using their connectivity to be at the heart of new solutions, to being innovative with how and what they market to customers. Part of this marketing to customers involves real-time use of intelligence to drive new upsells and offer contextual marketing that is personalised and relevant. Providing relevant marketing offers can help build up trust In order to sell more of their own and 3rd party services (everything from music to travel insurance to speed upgrades to applications). In order to get there operators are opening up and working more with content and OTT partners and they are also leveraging their strengths to see how they can sell increase the value of their assets.
Talking of personalised and relevant offers and working with partners, there was a very good example from an operator who is selling Wi-Fi to venues (e.g. supermarkets). But they’re not just selling Wi-Fi, they are selling the value of the data that Wi-Fi can deliver. Take the example of a customer in a supermarket – they get a message that the supermarket has free wi-fi, so they log onto the supermarket’s app, get free wi-fi, and they’re able to get personalised offers, in real-time direct to their smartphone. Tying the data from wi-fi (real-time location) into intelligence on the customer (shopping habits, value, etc) that’s on the supermarket’s data warehouse then you’ve got real-time personalised advertising and offers that are context sensitive and relevant. Consider the value of this to the supermarket versus the current method of giving out coupons after someone has done their shopping (which most people lose anyway). Also consider the value of being able to provide this intelligence to the supermarket (and other venue customers) as opposed to just selling wi-fi connectivity. This is just one example of innovative thinking backed up with real-time data and processes that will enable telcos to grow.
The appetite for innovation is there. Operators know that they need to be smarter about how they deliver and market existing and new services. But the problem is that they are often hampered by using old technology, because they got it ‘for free’ as part of a bigger deal. It’s free for a reason, and free doesn’t pay for the R&D and product development that’s on-going in products that will turn innovative ideas into revenue for the telcos.