Guest blogger Alex Leslie, Publisher of DisruptiveViews, previews the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and sheds some light on where the real business is to be done.
One thing that you can say for sure is that MWC will be full to the ceilings with connected cars, autonomous cars, drones and robots. The IoT
will be everywhere. Quite soon, the IoT will become so ubiquitous that in many ways it will disappear and become how various verticals develop.
Some of the new announcements will be silly (who needs a connected kettle, and why would you put a USB port on a safe), some will be brilliant. New handsets will be launched (or relaunched), with much fanfare - video rich but advancement poor.
Another thing you can be sure of is that the many pavilions will be full of exhausted people. A gauntlet was laid down last year by a journalist challenging people to ask for a booth demo at 9.45 at night. That would be too cruel.
Alongside the gadgets, apps and cool stuff, will be the network guys, talking of 5G and NFV. There will be companies selling towers, masts and maintenance machinery.
And in amongst all this you will find the billing guys.
Without even knowing it, the theme for the conference that sits alongside this leviathan of a trade show, will be about billing. Business models are central to the digital debate, and to support a business model, you need billing. But not as we know it.
Billing is now about payments and the customer experience, and they go hand in hand. Now customer service and experience is not just about a contact centre it is about making the journey with the customer. It is about understanding the experience that the customer is having, supporting it and enhancing it. Or at least it should be.
Mastercard and Visa will be trying to persuade you that their offerings are the way forward, while the ‘new boys’ (Samsung, Square, PayPal and many others) will try and persuade you otherwise.
Whatever route you take, the customer must be able to make immediate, convenient and above all simple choices, in the selection, provision and payment of services.
Contracts are becoming old-fashioned; we are heading – quickly – for an ad-hoc world. A world of ‘now.’ Yet the roots of MWC lie with the mobile operators. In the days of GSM, it was all about them. Now, it is about their emerging partnerships and how they support their own, and others’, products. And how they can make a business out of doing so.
They must break free from established, reliable, billing models that rely on ‘post-paid’ norms. They must explore subscription models, ‘pay now’ models and a bit of both. They must look for flexibility. They must think clearly and choose wisely, looking for both experience and innovation in their choice of vendors.
So, if you are heading to Barcelona in a few weeks time, by all means spend time being amused and amazed by drones and robots, wearables and widgets.
But make sure you find the billing guys; they will be the ones supporting the business models you choose. After all, as an ex-Chairman of the GSMA once said, “it all comes back to billing”.
Book a meeting with Cerillion to discuss your billing challenges in Barcelona.