Superapps, Total Experience, the changing role of Systems Integrators – we revisit our predictions from earlier this year for 2022’s top telecoms industry trends to see how our expectations have been met so far.
If 2020 was the year of pandemic shock and 2021 the year of cautious recovery, then 2022 has tossed out all the gains of the previous 12 months, throwing the world into further turmoil on multiple fronts.
With a cost-of-living crisis, war in Europe, and a potential recession looming
in the distance sending the global economy into further distress, the first six months of 2022 have dashed any hopes of a speedy recovery from the previous two years’ intermittent lockdowns and grinding industrial output.
At the beginning of the year, we made our usual round of predictions for the year’s big trends within the telecoms sector
. Six months down the line, have our predictions held up?
Digital Ecosystems & Superapps
The big theme at this year’s MWC Barcelona was sustainable digital ecosystems
, and how Open APIs and microservices are unlocking the full value of 5G and fibre.
Already this year, many service providers in the transport and finance space have been expanding their offerings, all vying for superapp status. As argued by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, “No consumer is going to have 40 or 50 apps on their phone… there must be super apps that come together
to consolidate all of your financial instruments.”
Vodacom is one telco finding financial success in superapp status, with its VodaPay
service providing everything from loans and savings to peer-to-peer payments to over 120 million customers across Africa.
Cash App is another fintech service with ambitions to become a superapp
by including full integration of Afterpay’s ecommerce and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) features into its “ecosystem of ecosystems.” Thanks to a single API linking the two, users can review orders from Afterpay, check their balance and transaction history, and make payments directly from Cash App, while sellers on Afterpay, such as ASOS, Boohoo and Urban Outfitters, will also be able to accept payment from Cash App.
Not to be outdone, digital banking platform Revolut is working on expanding into several new services
, including payments, stocks, savings, cryptocurrency and mortgages.
And UK-based start-up Wagestream, known best for working with employers to enable salary advances for employees via app, is building a financial superapp
to give waged workers controls to save money incrementally, and to spend in new, practical ways, such as investing small amounts into stock. There are also options to consult with a financial coach, and for Wagestream to “learn” about users’ behaviour to personalise financial suggestions.
In the transport sphere, Uber intends to become the “Amazon of transportation
” in the UK, trialling new features to allow users to plan and pay for long-distance journeys through its app, including train, coach and plane tickets, and possibly even hotel reservations from next year.
The risks of not diversifying your service offerings became apparent to BNPL app Klarna and delivery firm Gorillas, who are both cutting back on investments and staff
, but no-one is feeling the sting of superapps more than Airbnb, who earlier this year announced that they are ceasing domestic operations in China
, unable to compete with homegrown superapps such as Meituan, which offers accommodation booking services on top of everything from food delivery to movie tickets.
Superapps remain very much the norm in China, with monoliths like AliPay and WeChat permitting customers access to a raft of services, and it seems more and more businesses in 2022 are waking up to the possibilities of superapps.
In 2022, connectivity remains critical to driving businesses in all sectors and maximising opportunities for revenue generation. Connectivity-as-a-service (CaaS) is how telcos are now helping enterprises with bundled, end-to-end connectivity services and the tools to automate network engineering and troubleshooting.
For example, Kosc Telecom, a France-based CaaS provider, has launched a new E-Access Fibre
service, enabling symmetrical bandwidth, dynamic flow and dedicated management to “enable global carriers to order and easily monitor their E-Access Fibre services from start to finish… to pave the way for fibre migration for all business premises located in France.”
Meanwhile, Quectel Wireless Solutions
, a global IoT solutions provider, has launched a CaaS platform to provide pre-integrated components and packaged module and antenna deployments in over 190 countries.
Much like superapps, CaaS and software-defined networking (SDN) are rising in popularity in the financial trading
sector, giving increased flexibility without long-term contracts, network expertise or significant investment in network infrastructure.
As JPMorgan’s global head of trends and intelligence advisory told PYMNTS, real-time connectivity, APIs and always-on service
are essential to ensuring the flow of liquidity across borders and time zones: “We’re looking at data in a much more holistic way. And rather than looking at data department by department, we’re looking at the entire customer journey, from start to finish.”
Personal data control
2022 has already seen a number of high-profile court cases involving major tech companies using and abusing customers’ personal data.
Back in April, Google clamped down on dozens of Android apps that were secretly stealing user data
, including Muslim prayer apps with over 10 million downloads combined.
Meta was sued for £2.3 billion
in a class action lawsuit for exploiting the user data of 44 million British users, prompted by senior adviser to British watchdog group the Financial Conduct Authority, Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, who accused Meta of “abus[ing] its market dominance to impose unfair terms and conditions on ordinary Britons, giving it the power to exploit their personal data.”
Meanwhile, the Information Commissioner’s Office slapped facial-recognition firm Clearview AI with a fine of over £7.5 million
, and ordered them to delete all unlawfully collected data on UK residents and collect no further such information in the future.
Twitter was fined $150 million
in the US for selling user data, after the site was accused of illegally handing over personal information like phone numbers and email addresses to advertisers, with some calling for a tax on the revenue made from this data
Aside from these supposedly above-board data dealings, a recent report by Verizon has claimed that many breaches are the work of sophisticated organised crime outfits
, while the FBI has recently claimed that state-sponsored hackers from China are allegedly targeting mobile networks in the United States
to spy on domestic users and obtain credentials for user and administrative accounts.
These breaches of trust are causing a crisis of confidence in the tech sector, as 35% of consumers in the USA, UK, Australia and Singapore do not trust any industry when it comes to protecting their personal data, according to a report by Imperva
, and 41% say that their faith in digital service providers to keep their personal data secure has decreased over the past five years.
To combat these perceptions, the UK government launched a public consultation
in March on how telecoms providers can protect data on their networks, secure critical functions, and monitor networks for security threats through good practices, as per their duties under 2021’s Telecommunications (Security) Act.
LetAlone, a firm building a free, decentralised data wallet allowing users to view and edit their data and get a cut of the profits generated without it being sold on to third parties, has come up with a disruptive approach. To highlight the issue of personal data control, the company launched the #YourDataYouDecide campaign, placing a vending machine filled with personal data
from local residents outside Google’s New York headquarters, which they dubbed “an ‘IRL’ version of Big Tech.”
What does Big Tech and a vending machine have in common? from LetAlone - Your data, you decide on Vimeo.
Regarding their stunt, the team at LetAlone, which includes former Google employees, argued that it highlights how it “needs collective participation and a voice to create a better, more equitable digital future for us all.”
Total Experience comes to B2B
As the Great Resignation continues
and the cost-of-living crisis forces customers to judge where they spend their money more wisely, Zoom declared 2022 to be “The Year of Total Experience
,” the inevitable conclusion of the move towards increasing accessibility and ease-of-use for multiple enterprise stakeholders.
By 2024, Gartner estimates that Total Experience providers will outperform their rivals by 25%
in satisfaction metrics. To achieve this superior customer and employee experience, telcos must see customer experience and employee experience not as two distinct disciplines, but as one unified approach, and employing the right technology stack to realise this.
According to a March 2022 report from Avaya
and IDG Research, 82% of surveyed businesses agreed that good customer experience includes “empowered employees”, yet only 59% said they believed that they performed “adequately” in providing this.
Customer experience provider VHT, servicing the likes of AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Vodafone, announced its renaming to Mindful
in April to reflect this shift in approach. According to CEO Matt DiMaria, “A mindful experience is all about bridging the gap between experiences, smoothing out the customer’s search for answers in ways that best suit everyone involved: customer, agent, and brand.”
As the majority of telcos now go direct to vendor for their traditional BSS/OSS projects, systems Integrators (SIs) are increasingly reinventing themselves in newer areas such as private networks, IoT and smart cities, with 5G systems integration revenues expected to achieve a CAGR of 27.3%
from 2022 until 2030.
This is also creating new opportunities for telcos themselves to transform into “techcos” and start increasing their share of the systems integration market. For example, BT has partnered with Ericsson to deliver “ground-breaking” commercial 5G private networks
as a service to a variety of sectors. Under the deal, customers will receive Ericsson hardware including network controllers and monitors, with support services delivered by BT.
Meanwhile, the UK government’s ePassport airport gate upgrade scheme provided a cautionary tale earlier this year after a report found that
“the structure is missing the ‘System Integration’ key function to assure the performance and the effectiveness of the solution,” according to tech supplier Vision-Box. The report goes on to declare further “confusion within the Home Office over which business area would perform this role.”
In arguably the most 2022 story of this round-up, Russia is employing SIs to skirt around new sanctions on foreign tech with the development of a new supercomputer platform
, RSK Tornado, developed by systems integrator RSC Group, that can use a cocktail of various foreign and domestic microprocessors, such as Russian Elbrus processors.
On the other side of the frontlines, systems integrators from around the world have rallied in support of their Ukrainian comrades
, as the Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine, a body representing 20 systems integrators, established a fund generated by their activities to support colleagues in the region.