The SAP Mobile Services 2013 Mobile Operator Guide: The Evolution of Mobile Services: Challenges, Strategies, Opportunities has been available since February 2013. Since that time, thousands of copies have been distributed in various forms: PDF, Apple iBook, and paperback. Readers from a wide variety of disciplines within telecommunications and mobile-savvy industries have found valuable information within its pages. In this blog entry, I thought I might take a few moments to highlight some of the strategic values that this guide offers.
The mobile industry continually remakes itself. The industry that we know and love today will be a distant memory, this time next year. It moves that fast. A publication such as the 2013 Mobile Operator Guide provides a wealth of knowledge from industry experts from across the industry. One of the good things about this guide, as I review the articles and guidance, is that it is just a relevant today as it was 9 months ago, when it was first published.
The 2013 Guide is organized across seven key topics:
- Part 1: Introduction – A Wealth of Opportunities
- Part 2: Strategies for Driving Revenue
- Part 3: IPX: Interconnecting Operators for Unlimited Opportunities
- Part 4: LTE: Unleashing Innovation Delivers Results
- Part 5: OTT: Open Threat or Hidden Opportunity
- Part 6: Unleashing the Power of Mobile Commerce
- Part 7: Leveraging Mobile to Achieve Lasting Loyalty
Opportunity is the key theme in the Introduction section as it sets the stage for helping readers understand that mobile is now everywhere and mobile network providers don’t have to resign themselves to becoming just a “dump pipe.” As the article: “Driving Growth in the Digital Economy” notes: “It is time for CSPs [Communications Service Providers] to make bold moves to develop their growth strategy in the digital era. They have the necessary assets to create new growth engines and focus on the abundant opportunities in the Cloud and Mobility markets. Moreover, operators can innovate and invent new data-driven business models and services (such as proximity marketing). If operators can arm themselves with the correct capabilities and business models, they can seize these opportunities, create lucrative new revenue streams and prosper from the Digital Economy.”
Texting and SMS are the key themes in “Part 2: Strategies for Driving Revenue.” "Why, SMS is dying," you might say. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lead off article, written by yours, truly notes that, “Technology advances like RCS will allow messaging — including text messaging — to evolve and continue to account for a significant share of operator revenues. The future for OTT providers, however, is not quite so positive. Spoiled by choice and delighted by the freedom to communicate with anyone (and not just people that use that the same application), consumers will no doubt vote with their feet. It’s clear that many of the OTT players will simply fade away.”
The global messaging market is still ripe for growth. The article: “Latin America Offers Big SMS Opportunities” notes that “in Latin America, in particular, the growth of SMS shows no signs of slowing, a positive trend that benefits mobile operators that develop the mix of capabilities – billing, bundles and international coverage – their customers expect.” For mobile operators in Latin America, this article is clear in its guidance that it there is still opportunity in messaging and today, it seems that MNOs in Latin America are still taking that advice, as we do not see the cannibalization of SMS traffic and revenues that we see in other markets. In fact the latest research from Portio Research continues to support the theme that Latin America remains a strong SMS marketplace: “Happy days in Latin America, SMS is growing nicely in all the major markets…”
Mobile Operator revenue growth through messaging is not finished by a long shot. The Guide’s Part 2 and Part 5 ( OTT: Open Threat or Hidden Opportunity) shows that there are a number of areas around security, connectivity, hubbing as well as cooperation with certain types of OTT players that can help mobile operators continue to increase messaging revenue. For example, if mobile operators in some markets can help enable alternative OTTs (like the NUVOs of the US), as noted in “NUVOs: An Alternative to Disruptive OTT,” then they could potentially benefit and actually boost their overall messaging business, as these OTTs interwork with SMS.
Parts 3 and 4 focus on mobile IP – especially around the value and benefits of the IP eXchange (or IPX) as well as the disruptive changes that LTE are bringing to the ecosystem. In fact, as I write this, almost one-third of Internet traffic is now generated by mobile devices – that is smartphones and tablets. LTE is key to those capabilities, and may result in surprises as noted in the Part 4 article: “Position LTE for Success:” “Expect the unexpected. While most expected the promise of video telephony to move 3G devices, off the shelves, it was really the lure of better mobile access to Facebook, YouTube and other Web 2.0 content that drove the move to 3G. LTE is sure to produce a similar surprise motivator.”
Mobile IP services constitute a variety of capabilities. Part 3 is solely focused on the concept of the IPX and how it is being used to “build a connected community of telecom operators, services, and applications. [The IPX] serves to enable the customers of mobile operators in this community to connect to one another, as well as access a wide variety of applications and services. Being able to guarantee quality of experience and keep costs under control are key requirements for the mobile operators.” That quote certainly reflects several conclusions among the articles in this section that interconnection through an IPX is an essential element as LTE networks begin interconnection and roaming. Of course, do not discount the value of IPX for voice and video calling as further articles can attest.
Parts 6 and 7 revisit Mobile Commerce and Loyalty topics through the leveraging of mobile. Why is this important for mobile operators? After all this is the Mobile Operator Guide 2013! It’s simple. Mobile operators are enterprises as well. They too will benefit from the concepts and guidelines presented in the articles in these sections. For example, in the article: “Harmonising Touch Points, Technology, Processes and People,” from Celcom Axiata Berhad, we have: “Celcom has taken specific steps to evolve its view of customer experience to match how people have made mobility an integral part of their daily routine. The approach that works is to design services that encompass all the stages of daily life. These are: Rest, which is about how customers enjoy mobility at home; Work, which is about how users harness mobile in the office or to perform their job; and Play, which is about how customers use the mobile device to enhance their leisure or travel time. Today, the key to customer satisfaction comes from harnessing four key pillars – touch points, technology, process and people.”
In the article, “Mobile Commerce Opportunities for Operators,” the author outlines how mobile payment services can be divided into five broad categories and the advantages and challenges of each. This article clearly touches on the options that are available to Mobile Operators, specifically; however, this and the other articles of these two sections can apply equally well to enterprises and brands as they develop and nurture their overall mobile strategy.
As you scan through the 2013 Mobile Operator Guide, you see that it is filled with a wealth of knowledge and should be kept on your short-list of books to reference for the coming year as well. But wait, there’s more. Indeed, we will be publishing the 2014 Mobile Operator Guide. For 2014, we will be taking a different tact. This guide will provide more regional focus in sections for EMEA, Americas, and Asia-Pac, with topics around IPX/LTE, Messaging and Consumer Insights. Look for it after Mobile World Congress in Q1 2014. Already, we are compiling and writing a number of fantastic articles as well as many new customer-written points of view from leading mobile operators around the world. It will be an epic publication!
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