Are operators ready to take advantage of consumer distrust?

September 10, 2018 - Aleks

Over the past decade, digital companies like Facebook and Netflix have been held up as the ‘darlings’ of contextual marketing. And it’s no wonder why. These companies understand that to keep their audiences, they must offer something that users find worthy of their time and money. To do this they take a data-first approach: continuously delivering personalized digital experiences and services based on user behaviors and patterns. And consumers have, largely, been happy with this approach – until recently.

The media has been awash with stories of Facebook’s alleged misuse of personal consumer data. True or not, this certainly had a negative impact on OTTs – both social media platforms and digital service companies alike. According to a recent consumer survey, commissioned by Openet, more than 50% of consumers are now less likely to share personal data with OTTs, and 66% would prefer to pay for services if it meant more control. With consumer trust so clearly eroded, the question that next comes to mind is: who do consumers trust to provide their digital services?

Consumers trust mobile operators more than OTTs

As it turns out, consumers want to buy digital services from their mobile operators. A massive 92% of consumers would trust their mobile operators to provide digital services, and of this figure 54% would prefer to deal with their mobile operator directly for digital entertainment services, like music and video. In fact, 56% of consumers said that they trusted their mobile operators more than OTTs, quoting the historical protection of their personal data by mobile operators as the main reason for this enhanced trust.

This is significant for two reasons. Firstly, regulation has often required mobile operators to be more conservative in their approach to using subscriber data – despite having an abundance of it. For a long time, operators restricted by regulation cried foul, while OTTs could freely operate on their networks and win their customers. But as the tide changes, and the need for regulating these OTTs becomes apparent, it’s clear that consumers expect more if they are to going hand over personal data in exchange for services. Thankfully, mobile operators have earned the right to answer this call.

It’s also widely believed that to compete against OTTs, mobile operators need to look like OTTs. But, burdened by expensive infrastructure, legacy technology and rigid business models, operators who have valiantly tried to beat OTTs at their own game have more often elicited the feeling of watching your dad dance at a wedding – toe-curling embarrassment. The irony is, as consumers obviously trust companies that are open, accountable and regulated, not being an OTT is actually a mobile operator’s USP in the digital market. They respect and safeguard customers’ personal data, and this is what they must continue to do if they are to take a more prominent role in the digital value chain.

Digital services – are mobile operators really ready?210

Consumers want to deal with their mobile operators directly when it comes to purchasing new digital services because don’t want them to misuse or abuse their personal data. This means engaging with the customer for marketing, service delivery and monetisation of digital services, while remaining open and transparent about the uses of personal data. And here lies the challenge for the majority of mobile operators in seizing this opportunity. For this to be handled properly, BSS stacks must change to meet the demands of a digital economy.

For example, to entice customers into using a mobile app, mobile operators may want to consider offering free data or exclusive access to content. But, even as a digital service provider, they must remain upfront about data processes associated with their app, and be explicit in the fact that they will not sell personal data. This requires digital BSS, with automated data management solutions for better data governance.

While some mobile operators have bet everything on high-priced, big risk transformation projects, there are more pragmatic ways to go about a BSS refresh. For example, setting up a separate digital BSS platform. This does not immediately replace the legacy BSS, but runs in parallel to the existing system. All new subscribers or identified market segments go on this new platform and as existing subscribers sign up for new offers, then they get moved from legacy BSS over to the new digital BSS platform.

As it’s a new platform, and is not directly replacing the legacy infrastructure, there’s no huge and expensive integration projects with legacy infrastructure or large-scale data migration issues that traditionally hamper BSS installs. End-to-end digital BSS platforms can go in pre-integrated and with pre-defined use cases. The use of Open Digital Architecture and open APIs helps ensure interoperability. This approach is faster and a lot more cost effective than the traditional BSS implementation process.

It’s simple. Success belongs to those mobile operators that can build on consumer trust to provide a range of digital services, whilst still ensuring the protection of personal data. To do this, the right digital BSS stack is required.


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