At the beginning of this year, I took the time to sit down with my colleague Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's consumer product strategy team and a specialist in the telecom space, to discuss the top trends that will affect the European telco landscape this year.
Although we believe that the business/consumer split is increasingly vanishing, we decided to split the top 10 carrier themes that will matter in the European telco market in 2013 by enterprise and consumer perspectives.
In the enterprise segment, we see five main themes:
Over-the-top (OTT) and app-based communication services will become part of the IT landscape. OTT voice, social media, and messaging will spread in the enterprise space at the expense of traditional services. Our research shows that professional workers who travel are the most likely to embrace application-based communication services, often irrespective of what their company’s official IT policy is. Still, 2013 will not be the year (yet) that sees rich communication suites (RCSes) becoming a B2B2C communications platform.
Cloud-based enterprise services by carriers will see increasing interest from businesses. Communication-as-a-service will receive increased attention by CIOs as they plan unified communications and collaboration (UCC) projects. However, as our research shows, carriers will not be perceived as the top choice of providers for cloud-based services. Mobile device management firms like AirWatch and MobileIron will offer reselling opportunities for carriers but limit the carriers’ ability to add value around device and app store management. Business models for cloud-based data analytics of end user demand will grow in importance in 2013 but will only begin to materialize on a larger scale in 2014.
Yesterday the Kenyan president broke ground on a new smart city development outside of Nairobi. The site of the new Konza Techno City is located in Eastern Kenya, 60 km from Nairobi on the Nairobi-Mombasa Road. It is 50 km from Jomo Kenyatta International airport and 500km from Mombasa and its ports. The greenfield site, purchased by the Ministry of Information and Communication and to be managed by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority, extends over 5,000 acres.
The primary goal of the new city is to develop the Kenyan Business Process Outsourcing and Information Technology Enabled Services (BPO/ITES) industry – with estimated creation of 200,000 new jobs across the broad technology and related sectors over a 20-year period. But the primary objective is to create at least 82,000 jobs in the BPO sector as this is a key area for Kenya's Vision 2030. The new city will also house a university, recreation and entertainment venues, a film and media center, a financial district, as well as residential neighborhoods and the supporting infrastructure.
Boring as it may appear, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which just took place in Dubai under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), matters to all Internet users globally. To us, the three most important questions that were discussed are:
Should national governments have greater influence over the global regulation of the Internet?
Should over-the-top providers (OTTs) like Google and business networks be governed by international telecom regulations?
Should the underlying business model of the Internet change from a free and neutral exchange of data to a “sender pays” model?
At its recent analyst event, Ericsson outlined its strategy, product, and service ambitions. Ericsson remains the overall benchmark for network infrastructure vendors. The company has a leading market position in the growth segments of mobile broadband and network services and delivers a solid financial performance — despite the disappointing Q3 2012 results. Still, in my view, Ericsson has several challenges that it needs to address:
· The cloud strategy is built on a questionable assumption.Clearly network infrastructure is becoming more, not less, important for cloud-based solutions. Ericsson therefore assumes that carriers are well positioned to be cloud providers. But CIO perceptions suggest otherwise. CIOs tell us that carriers are far from the preferred choice for cloud-solutions (see Figure 9 in the “Prepare For The Connected Enterprise Now” Forrester report). Carriers therefore need help in addressing the potential of cloud computing. For instance, Ericsson’s cloud solutions ought to help carriers cooperate with cloud partners regarding embedded connectivity in devices and applications.
At an analyst briefing in Singapore on November 7, newly minted SingTel Group Enterprise CEO, Bill Chang, laid out his vision on how the group’s reorganization aims to build the foundation for SingTel to become the largest ICT services provider in Asia Pacific in an ambitious five years.
For Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals, here’s a quick summary:
SingTel Group Enterprise: SingTel Business Group, NCS, Enterprise Data and Managed Services (EDMS) and Optus Business (including Alphawest) are now one entity as of 1 Nov 2012.
Converged capabilities: This organizational transformation converges SingTel’s Telco and IT service competencies for a one-stop ICT experience, and simplifies delivery capabilities to enable large scale global deployments. In a nutshell: SingTel is aiming to create a repeatable and more scalable product set.
Today Softbank — whose assets include the third largest mobile carrier in Japan — announced its intent to purchase a 70% share of Sprint in a complex financial transaction. It's a gutsy move by a company that has proven success as a market disruptor, first in fixed broadband service and more recently in mobility. Assuming the deal passes regulatory and shareholder muster, Sprint will receive a massive cash infusion that will expedite its implementation of its Network Vision update and its deployment of LTE technology across its national footprint.
But for Sprint to have any realistic chance of wresting market share from the Verizon and AT&T behemoths, it requires additional spectrum to expand its LTE capacity beyond the puny 5x5 MHz of its current plan. And there's a carrier rich in that spectrum resource: Clearwire. Sprint holds a minority interest in Clearwire, some of its customers use Clearwire's network, and it has designed support for the company's spectrum into its Network Vision, but Clearwire needs capital to complete its network and to effect the network's transition from WiMAX to LTE.
If Softbank's president Masayoshi Son is serious about enabling Sprint to disrupt the US mobile market, he needs to add control of Clearwire to his shopping list. CIOs looking to exploit Sprint as a viable alternative to the Verizon-AT&T duopoly need to see this additional step on the roadmap before making a commitment to Sprint for the long-term future.
Carriers have lost a great deal of their relevance for end users. People of all shades, individuals, employees, information workers, etc, are looking for solutions that meet their demand, not connectivity per se.
In our view, four trends matter significantly for carriers since they strike at the heart of their customer facing relationships in the shape of changing end-user behaviour:
Applications have become the focal point for end-users. Phone or connectivity features are less interesting. The carrier brand is not seen as the destination to turn to for app-demand. Merely 18% of business users would turn to a carrier for apps compared to 49% who go directly to the classic app stores. Carriers ought to get closely involved in HTML5 development as it paves the way for OS-independent Web-based apps, thus potentially limiting the influence of operating systems like iOS or Android over the ecosystem. Carries must strive to accommodate where possible app developers to remain somewhat influential ecosystems players.
Users buy devices directly. There is an increasing push by device manufactures (traditional like Samsung and Apple and emerging such as Google, Amazon etc) to sell devices directly to the customer, both business and consumer, and outside the carrier channel. This robs carriers of their main service distribution channel and undermines their potential to monetise value added services.
Carrier-selection is becoming more ad-hoc and temporary. The emergence of embedded software SIMs “interrupts” the relationship between user and carrier. End-users will increasingly be able to select carriers after they purchase a device and for certain circumstances like content consumption or for international roaming. As a result price wars for basic connectivity will increase once again.
Dan Bieler, Bryan Wang, Pascal Matzke, Jennifer Belissent
ORANGE held its annual analyst day in Paris recently. There were no major announcements, but we made several observations:
ORANGE is one of the few carriers with true delivery capabilities. Its global footprint is a real advantage vis-a-vis carrier competitors, in particular in Africa and Asia. Vale, the Brazilian metals and mining corporation, presented a customer case study in which Vale emphasized the importance of ORANGE’s global network infrastructure for its decision to go with ORANGE as UCC and network provider. Its global reach positions ORANGE well to address the opportunity in emerging markets, both for Western MNCs going into emerging markets and also to address intra-regional business in Africa and Asia. Another customer case study with the Chinese online retailer 360buy, focusing on a contact center solution, demonstrated ORANGE’s ability to win against local competitors in Asia.
Last month, Ed and I spent a couple days in Paris with Orange's management team for their annual analyst event. Overall I was impressed with Orange’s innovation in business service offerings as well as their extensive global reach. Many of the large telecoms (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have had to and very much want to expand their business offerings. The telecoms clearly see platform-as-a-service as the natural extension of their core telecom business. Just selling bandwidth is no longer sufficient for these companies, which is in fact now a commodity business. Orange is no exception. This evolution in the telecom business model has been successful due to the industry’s ability to:
Offer endpoint and network security optimization solutions coherent with their existing bandwidth business. With their unique vantage point over the network, the telecoms are ideally placed to deliver “clean pipe” Internet service by stopping outside network threats before they reach their customers’ endpoints. For instance, Orange’s DDoS protection service can leverage their large global footprint and control over the infrastructure to gather intelligence and exercise defensive measures farther up the stack than most of their non-telecom competitors.
It’s amazing to me how many times the telecommunications industry came up as we did the research for our new book, Outside In. From wireless service providers to cable companies, whether in the US, Germany, or Australia, it became clear that customer experience is the battleground of the immediate future for the companies that bring us our voice, data, and entertainment content.
That’s why I’m so excited to bring Phil Bienert to the stage of our Customer Experience Forum 2012 East next week. Phil is a longtime customer experience advocate and expert, whom we first met when he worked at Volvo. He’s always been a clear thinker and visionary when it comes to digital experiences, and he’s now bringing that thinking and vision to AT&T.
In advance of his speech, we put some questions to Phil about what AT&T is trying to do and how it’s planning to do it. Some of his answers will surprise you. Enjoy!
How would you describe the experience that you want AT&T customers to have?
Effortless. Customers interact with AT&T across many touchpoints — online, mobile apps, our call centers, and more than 2,300 retail stores — and it’s essential that we make all of these interactions seamless, within touchpoints and across touchpoints, each and every time. We want to make it easy for customers to do business with us, however they prefer to contact us, and to get their question taken care of the first time.