Recent developments in the telecom industry are increasingly making telecom operators more and more redundant. Operators are struggling to stay relevant in the transforming value chain. What is the solution?
At a recent Cambridge Wireless Seminar, Simon Tonks of PA Consulting said NFV and SDN are causing fragmentation of the telecom operating model. By making the network more software driven, and virtualising its functionalities, technology is giving way for a new operating model for the telecom networks. Telecom network equipment providers (NEPs) who have typically supplied towers, optical fibre, RANs, switches, etc to the operators, could instead be leasing national and international networks to various parties including but not limited to the operators.
While the NEPs remodel the hardware, the OTTs are remodelling the service side. They are not only offering traditional communication services like Text, Calling, etc, but also a whole host of innovative services including entertainment, e-commerce, etc.
Imagine a world, where there are no operators; NEPs (and other infrastructure providers) supply OPEX based infrastructure and platforms which are leased by various digital service providers (including OTTs). Will the operators be missed?
Indeed all this is not happening right now. Operators are still the kings of the jungle. NEPs’ businesses are still driven by operators being their main customers. OTTs are still finding their feet, and trying to monetise their innovative services. Yet – the possibility of a world without operators seems highly plausible due to NFV, SDN, and dramatic growth of OTTs like Facebook, etc. But there is a way operators can find relevance for themselves in the fast transforming value chain.
Operators can embrace the transformation happening in the network, data centres, and the rest of infrastructure. They can forge stronger partnerships with OTTs. But bring irresistible value to the table. This value lies in what Simon Tonks called the ‘intelligent bits’. One of the intelligent bits according to him is the BSS (business support systems). BSS basically help with monetisation of services. And while this remains a challenge for the digital service providers, it has been a strength for operators who have done it for decades. Indeed, the decades old approach needs to upgrade to support monetization requirements of the future and operators need to work with innovative vendors in the market to modernise their monetisation infrastructure. Despite that, operators are undoubtedly, the best positioned to offer large scale, complex, omni-channel monetization capabilities to the digital world.
The other intelligent bit that can help operators stay relevant, is by offering real-time context-based customer insights. Operators have held treasures of data for a long time; data that can provide holistic insights which are of great value to the digital service providers. Unfortunately, operators have been slow in leveraging this data. Other industries are enjoying the benefits of adoption of big data analytics. If telcos catch up fairly soon, and share their insights at compelling prices, with digital service providers, in any vertical, they can create reasonably attractive position for themselves in the market.
Advanced monetisation capabilities (/BSS) and insights are some of the key ‘intelligent bits’ that create relevance for the operators who are ready to embrace change, envision the future digital value chain, and start preparing today. Otherwise, a world without operators does not seem impossible!