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Operator survey on the move to digital: Operators say danger that data will be a commodity within two years

By September 16, 2015 No Comments

Openet has just completed a survey of 101 operators on how ready they are for the move to digital. The results showed an initial degree of optimism. However, when the survey started to dig deeper the results showed that while some operators may be smiling on the outside deep down there are the rumblings of trouble ahead unless they make some changes.

As discussed the fiercest competition will come from OTTs (Google, Facebook, etc). But operators feel that they are quite well prepared for this competition. The reason for this optimism is that operators have several key assets that they can leverage here. The most important one being their network. This came ahead of customer trust and having a base of customers with an on-going paying relationship.

The move to digital enables more services.  With the threat of data commoditisation looming, large operators know that they must expand their offers. Operators see that their most lucrative new revenue sources in 2016 will come from providing multi-play offers.

Pipped at the post into second place here was selling digital life services to their existing customer base. But it’s not just a case of selling more, it is also about being quicker to market. At present operators measure the time it takes to build and launch a new offer (e.g. a new bundle, a new price plan, etc.) in their BSS in months. They want this to come down to days. This need for agility was highlighted as the main challenge operators face in 2016 – ahead of OTTs eroding revenue and the threat of free Wi-Fi.  Operators recognise that a lot of theirs systems and processes are not up to the job. The biggest hindrances in moving to digital, from a BSS perspective, were large billing transformation projects taking too long and the problems of trying to adapt legacy systems to cater for digital services.

One of the main changes will be increased use of operator apps for self-care as well as sales and marketing. Most operators surveyed have an app and most use it for self-care and real-time usage alerts and notifications. But operators admit that it must go wider than this in order to make optimum use of this digital channel and better engage with their customers. They want more functions that engage and not just inform. Top of the list was the ability to enable customers to manage shared data and loyalty management for promotion and redemption of loyalty offers.

Operators want to provide personalised customer engagement to market and sell more services. They know that they’ll be competing with OTTs to get their customers’ attention and a share of their spend on digital goods and services.  And this is where a problem arises. When it comes to providing personalised customer engagement most operators said that they were worse or much worse than OTTs in this area. This is an interesting answer and shows that operators know this is an area for improvement.

What this research shows is that operators know they’ve a lot of work to do. They know that they need to sell more services, be faster to market, better engage with their customers and generally be more innovative. The question is can they innovate and deliver fast enough before data becomes a commodity?

To download the research report: Operator Survey on the Move to Digital click here.