Top Five Telecoms Trends for 2022
Superapps, Total Experience, and SIs revamped – we look ahead to the big changes facing the telecoms sector in 2022 and ask what trends will come to redefine the industry this year.
With the triple threats of COVID, the global supply chain shortage and the Great Resignation enduring into 2022, CSPs must determine what role they will play in the new digital economy being accelerated and driven by these ongoing emergencies.
As other major industry transformations take a backseat, and with 5G remaining a distant dream for many, how user data is employed, how connectivity is provided, and how customer experience is conceived and delivered will radically change in 2022.
Here are the five key telecom trends that we think will define the industry this year – and not a metaverse in sight.
Digital Ecosystems & Superapps
Digital ecosystems knit together several platforms and services into one, creating a greater experience for customers than a single product. By implementing cloud technology, businesses can increase their portfolio with a massively expanded variety of services, improving customer retention and accessing new markets.
While digital ecosystems are nothing new, technology and circumstance has enabled enterprises to grow their core business, expand their portfolios, and generate revenues from new products and services. According to McKinsey & Company, six of the world’s seven top companies by market capitalisation are ecosystem companies offering users a bevy of services, with Apple on top, followed by the likes of Google, Microsoft, Alibaba and Amazon.
If user data remains within these interconnected ecosystems, then all this accumulated info is invaluable for enterprises creating new products and opening up new revenue streams.
But this integrated experience is worthless without a seamless set of interconnected services. Coined by BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis in 2010, superapps are “a closed ecosystem of many apps that people would use every day because they offer such a seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience.”
WeChat remains the most significant example, with the Chinese messaging platform acting as a springboard to ecommerce, transport, medicine services and more, but other apps across Asia, such as AliPay, South Korea’s Kakao and Indonesia’s Go-Jek are similarly flexing their ecosystem muscles. In fact, such is the power of Singaporean superapp Grab that, in 2018, it successfully fended off Uber from establishing a foothold in the city-state.
The phenomenon is spreading worldwide too; launched in 2018, Gozem began as a motorcycle ride-hailing app based in Togo, soon expanding to offer transportation, food delivery, ecommerce, and digital banking services to 800,000 users in 13 cities across Togo, Benin, Gabon and Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s rebranding as Meta suggests its metamorphosis into a superapp, with ecommerce features being rolled out across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. With its expansions into video, messaging, and shopping, Instagram boss Adam Mossieri has gone so far as to say that it is “no longer a photo-sharing app.”
If a user sees an ad and makes a purchase from its own commerce platform, without leaving its ecosystem, Meta can provide a comprehensive set of information to the advertiser and charge them more, safe in the knowledge that their ads certainly work.
This may give rise to content fortresses, though – “any platform or portfolio of products supported by a rich advertising ecosystem serving owned and operated inventory using only first-party data.”
Apple currently doesn’t permit third-party app stores on its devices, while Facebook has recently fired shots at iOS 14’s new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, which will dent the efficacy of the targeted ads that Facebook’s revenue depends on.
Digital ecosystems and superapps are game changers for telcos seeking to increase their services and extend the value of existing offerings - but should telcos look to build their own superapps, incorporating all they have to offer, or ingratiate themselves in the ecosystems of other providers? Or will that only serve to stratify and concentrate services in the hands of a shrinking number of increasingly powerful enterprises?
As the number of Internet connections and connected devices increases, revenues remain largely stagnant or even in decline for most CSPs, despite the massive amount of investment being thrown at their services, particularly for the B2B / enterprise market.
Connectivity-as-a-Service (CaaS) may be the answer to their woes, monetising differentiated services and creating additional value.
The latest of the many “as-a-Service” offerings, CaaS ensures connectivity for businesses and enterprises – everything is bundled, apart from the hassle of network administration or its associated costs.
Enterprise customers no longer need to procure their own hardware or provide their own network maintenance. With CaaS, the provider manages everything on their behalf, allowing connectivity – increasingly powered by TM Forum Open APIs – and networking devices to be delivered, while reducing the burden of managing it. It also ensures that the shape that a network takes on is more closely integrated with how employees use devices every day.
For example, Vilicom (now part of BAI Communications) has launched a CaaS offering in partnership with Mavenir, using their vRAN platform to design and deploy an operator-agnostic indoor network on either 4G or 5G.
Billing will be an essential part of CaaS, with network slicing enabling differentiated services that address the many requirements that businesses may have, and at a price better suited to the impact and value the network delivers.
Personal Data Control
New customer behaviours and variable demands on services mean that businesses must free their departmental data from silos and migrate into the cloud, but with massive data breaches continuing to threaten the integrity of this sensitive information, how the vast amounts of personal data collected is used is under the spotlight now more than ever, as regulation has struggled to keep up.
As Internet providers In the US eat up “staggering” amounts of consumer data including personal information and real-time location data, solutions for personal data control will become imperative for all digital enterprises in 2022.
And with ever more granular personal data being extracted about us – even down to health data from wearable devices – being shared with more and more third parties, this data must be used more wisely, as widespread mishandling of data makes users increasingly unwilling to give up personal data [PDF download], even for personalised services.
Digital enterprises have put a great deal of time, money and effort into ways to monetise data from all manner of sources, with those customers who generate the data rarely seeing much tangible benefit from this arrangement – perhaps it’s time that they did start benefiting from how their own data is used.
In fact, some are now taking back control of their data, such as the hundreds of footballers taking legal action against sport data collection bodies, determining just who owns their data and seeking annual compensation for any future use under existing GDPR rules. Should they be successful, is trickle-down legal action among consumers likely?
We already see how the convergence of personal data from businesses and third-party data can offer added value; the BBC has been investing research and development on data-driven personalisation solutions, having built a data sharing system that allows the broadcaster to extract personal data held on its users by Netflix and Spotify to give more personalised recommendations for video and audio content.
Most people now understand that when they use a “free” service such as Facebook, it may not cost them money, but they are giving away data in return. Perhaps the bigger problem comes with paid-for services, where consumers ought to have a say in how their data is used – or not used.
Would users be willing to release their location data for geo-specific offers and notifications? Or their health data for diagnoses and personalised fitness advice? Surveys suggest that customers are increasingly willing to pay for their data not to be harvested.
Telecoms customers need straightforward digital preference rights and controls for better managing their data, rather than simply having their personal data taken exclusively for the enrichment of enterprises.
The debate over balancing personal data protection and letting enough out to be of use will remain a complex challenge for telcos and their users well into 2022, and beyond.
Total Experience comes to B2B
For CSPs grappling with data siloes and inefficient collaboration, Total Experience may be the answer they’ve been looking for. Rather than just focusing on the end customer experience, it addresses all internal and external experiences, ensuring a seamless, holistic service and the best possible outcomes for all stakeholders.
The Experience Economy was first defined in 1998 by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. The pair argued that the experience is what businesses must sell, rather than the product itself, with premium offers charged at premium prices. This became a series of distinct, isolated disciplines - User Experience (UX), Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience (EX) and multiexperience (MX) – which Total Experience now seeks to unify.
As the COVID-19 crisis stretches on, the capacity for companies to launch and maintain new means of customer engagement remains a priority. In fact, 56% of operators rank enhancing the customer experience as their main priority in 2022, according to a survey by Mobileum.
But whilst the B2C customer experience is undoubtably getting better all the time through slick mobile apps and self-service options, it is the B2B customer experience that needs a long-overdue renaissance to keep up with developing cloud technologies and best practices. With many CSPs relying heavily on the enterprise market to secure future revenues, investing and refining the B2B customer experience will be just as essential for telcos as enhancing their infrastructure and services.
And whilst companies across the world continue to haemorrhage talent, focusing on the Total Experience is precisely what’s needed to keep both customers and employees satisfied, and prevent en masse brain drains that threaten to derail future revenues.
SIs are dead – long live SIs!
Systems Integrators have long been the go-to for large CSPs undertaking major billing projects and BSS/OSS transformations, but as much of the technology migrates to the cloud and evolves to low-code / no-code platforms with Open APIs, the opportunities for SIs are changing as their traditional role is being upended.
In fact, the latest Gartner Market Guide for CSP Revenue Management and Monetization Solutions identifies that 96% of contracts signed from July 2020 to June 2021 were done directly with the product vendor, cutting out systems integrators completely.
This is underlined by the recent announcement from Vodafone, who is in the midst of building a global team of 16,000 software engineers, as it insources the development of its digital platforms.
Systems Integrators must earn their share of the solution pie – their bread and butter is dealing with complexity, but with the BSS/OSS environment now so mature and standardised, what value can they really add?
The answer lies not in traditional BSS/OSS transformation projects, but instead helping CSPs to address new enterprise opportunities in smart cities and smart industries. These will still require core BSS/OSS experience and expertise, but woven together with networking, sensor technology, transport systems, sustainable energy solutions, AI and more.
There will be no product vendor who can provide a complete end-to-end solution to these requirements and no CSP who can do it all themselves – integration will be key – and we expect the SIs to gain significant traction in these projects in the coming year.
Whether it’s monetising 5G B2B services, pivoting to new markets or focusing on the Total Experience, Cerillion provides the agility needed to succeed in a rapidly changing market. Talk to us now.