For telecom service providers, the consumer market has had its share of challenges. It doesn’t take a detailed analysis to determine that intense competition evident in the “all you can eat” tariffs present significant hurdles. As a result, service providers have been placing a greater amount of focus on their Enterprise offerings — not a bad idea if you have a significant business segment with healthy margins.
The Enterprise market is more than a simple cash cow though, with its diverse set of product offerings and customer segments, it is more complex than its consumer counterpart. With growing new business models driven by IoT and with the emergence of 5G, the space also presents more promising opportunities ahead.
Leveraging these new opportunities does not entail just enabling new technologies and then watching as new customers walk through the door. If the consumer segment has taught us anything, it is that competition is never that far away. The good news is that (when done well) there is a customer-centric way to differentiate an offer and stand out from the pack. With that in mind, below are some consumer-oriented strategies that can be viably brought to the Enterprise space to protect current, drive new and boost emerging positions.
Recently, one of our office mobile lines racked up roaming charges that I can safely say blew our finance team away (and not in a good way). As our service provider was unable to pinpoint the culprit, an email was sent to the entire company advising limited roaming usage. I don’t need to go into the failings of such a user experience, but it does demonstrate that pre-emptively controlling usage and spend for Enterprise customers can be an exercise in futility.
What is striking is that control capabilities to fix overage issues, such as the one that happened in our office, do exist in the consumer space. Offering on-demand usage management to Enterprise allows financial controllers to operate proactively and not have their budgets blown by employees who are unaware of lofty roaming tariffs. These consumer-like controls not only differentiate an Enterprise proposition but also enable operational efficiency in the form of a lower cost to serve.
On-Demand IoT Device Management
One wouldn’t usually expect a section on IoT to begin with a story about a stork, but this one does! Recently, while studying the migratory habits of white storks, Polish scientists were surprised to learn that a stork that had been off the grid for some time had recently reappeared. Their excitement proved fleeting when at the end of that month the subject appeared to have racked up $2,800 in roaming charges. Clearly, control capabilities had gone to the birds!
Had the scientists received an up-to-date view of the stork’s service usage pattern, they might have simply determined that this was a straightforward case of fraud and terminated service for the stork’s tracking device.
Unfortunately, IoT customers largely do not have a level of pre-emptive control to manage their devices in such an effective manner. Offering capabilities such as these, akin to those available via certain consumer propositions, would enable a more viable and differentiated IoT offering.
5G: Beyond Network Slicing
5G is expected to become an omnipresent part of our lives with its range of services catered to via network dynamism and speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G. Service providers are fully committed to the technology, as offering 5G services will soon be table stakes for competing. However, as we innovate through the wide range of opportunities that 5G enables, let’s not forget the most important piece of the value chain – the end user!
In our journey through the Gs (1G to 4G), as sets of technological capabilities have become more common and first mover advantage has dissipated, providing end users with a great experience has remained an effective differentiator. I expect it will also be the case with 5G. Once services such as FWA and eMBB become pervasive, capabilities that offer Enterprise customers the potential to experiment and control their set of services will become key.
Of course, a common theme throughout these Enterprise differentiation strategies centers around end-user experience via cost and service control, something that has more recently been a focus in the consumer space. What is imperative is that these control capabilities are enabled today via a platform able to support current services, new services and emerging services. By doing so, service providers de-risk the Enterprise space as businesses move towards an intriguing future.