Service providers are outdoing one another to make 5G and FTTP announcements. But where are the new revenues going to come from to pay for these investments? Many are turning their attention to the business market. But with more people working from home - either for environmental reasons or, latterly, for business continuity purposes during the global coronavirus crisis – and many others becoming entrepreneurs or juggling side gigs, the business market itself is changing. Guest blogger, Teresa Cottam, looks at these changes and offers some pointers as to how to position for the new opportunities being presented.
Service providers have had a fairly stable way of segmenting their customers for a long time. Customers were either prepaid or postpaid, business customers or consumers.
But just as we’re having to rethink the hard division between prepaid and postpaid customers, we also need to think about the way we segment businesses and consumers, as the composition of the business market is changing and lines between the two main customer types are beginning to blur.
The emergence of a new business category
Traditionally, the way we supported business customers was according to the infrastructure stacks we had installed. Large enterprises were given their own dedicated stack because they were few in number but each account supported a large number of individual users, multiple sites and a range of expensive services. Such customers were supported with dedicated account managers and their billing systems supported hierarchies, drill downs and features such as the ability to assign costs against individual cost centres.
Meanwhile small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up the majority of business customers, were sometimes supported on enterprise systems and sometimes on their own dedicated stack. Some service providers ‘outsourced’ support of SMEs to resellers because they were not perceived to be ‘worth’ supporting due to their lower spend. Many SMEs adopted consumer packages and became invisible as business customers as a result. Even if service providers identified that they had business needs, they couldn’t upsell business services to them, because the consumer IT stack supporting them couldn’t handle this.
The hard lines created by inflexible BSS and OSS systems is problematic in itself, but making the situation worse is the fact that the business market has changed even more in recent years.
Self-employment and microbusinesses have continued to rise, as telecoms services and the internet provide platforms for even the smallest business to trade as effectively as far larger businesses. More recently, new digital platforms have arisen that enable anyone to sell their skills, creativity and relationships, to become micro-retailers of goods, and to rent out things they own.
Nowadays, members of a household can all be running their own ‘nanobusiness’ – a tiny business that employs less than one person. Let’s take a look at our nanobusiness household.
Mum is an IT expert who does cybersecurity ‘gigs’ at the weekend. Dad meanwhile is enhancing the family income through successful micro-retailing on eBay and Amazon when he’s not working in his day job as a teacher. Daughter Jodie has amassed 20,000 followers on Instagram and is receiving sponsorship money, and son Alex is saving enough money to go to university by designing games and making YouTube videos.
How to capitalise on the nanobusiness opportunity
Everyone in the household has a successful side gig which relies on connectivity, applications and communications technology. They need to receive payments and keep accounts. They buy security software, collaboration technology, storage, and a range of other applications that help them make money.
But all their service provider sees is a household using data and a fixed fee per month. It totally misses out on the opportunity to sell the family more products they need to support their side gigs.
Even if you’re a service provider who has spotted this opportunity and designed product bundles for the different types of nanobusiness, you can still be hamstrung from realising the opportunity if your legacy IT solutions are not flexible enough to enable you to fulfil, support and bill for these new product bundles.
The opportunity doesn’t end here. Bigger businesses are increasingly utilising the services of nanobusinesses, which means such businesses are influencing and driving demand for connectivity, QoS, SLAs, collaboration tech, security software and a whole host of other products and services that your biggest business customers are buying.
Okay, I hear you say but is it worth it? After all, each nanobusiness might only spend a relatively modest amount. So let me ask you, what would you do to raise ARPUs by EUR10 or EUR20 a month per customer? The nanobusiness trend offers you the opportunity to increase your ARPUs by selling households the services they are currently buying from elsewhere and by meeting their currently unmet needs. If you have ambitions to raise your ARPUs by meeting these needs though, you need to consider the following:
- 1. Do you understand the opportunity from microbusinesses and how they are changing the composition of the business market?
- 2. Does your current customer segmentation take account of the rise of the nanobusiness?
- 3. Are your legacy BSS and OSS solutions able to support the high levels of automation combined with the flexibility you will need to support a wider range of services to a large volume of customers?
- 4. Do you understand the impact these changes are having on large business customers and have you considered what other services you could offer them to support their use of Gig Economy workers?
Omnisperience is an analyst and consultancy firm that specialises in the telecoms, media and technology (TMT) sector, focusing on helping B2B digital service providers deliver better services to their customers. Based in the UK, Omnisperience's analysts are experts in telecommunications, data security, information management, IoT and Cloud, as well as how digital technology applies to key industry verticals such as automotive, food & beverages, hospitality, manufacturing, media, mining & minerals, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, professional services, retail and travel & transport.
For more information see Omnisperience.com
About Teresa Cottam
Teresa oversees Omnisperience’s research output and is the subject matter expert for customer experience, customer service, customer satisfaction, employee experience and the future workplace. She has over 25 years’ experience in the telecoms and technology markets and is a renowned expert on SME and enterprise telecoms. Teresa also has considerable vertical market expertise which she uses to help B2B service providers understand the needs of different types of customers. Teresa previously held senior positions at Analysys Mason, Chorleywood Consulting (Informa) and Ovum. She is a judge of the GSMA Global Mobile Awards (GloMo’s) for customer experience and enterprise innovation, and for the UK Cloud awards. You can follow her on Twitter at @teresacottam
She is the author of ‘Nanobusinesses: a New Business Category’ which you can download here