The operator To Do list reads rather heavy on self-improvement these days: go digital, seek fulfilling partnerships, do everything possible in order to become more flexible and agile…
Operators are marching onwards towards the Promised Land, one that consists of customer-centric business strategies and nimble IT systems capable of responding to this shape-shifting digital market. But what will happen when they arrive, and how central a role they will play in the new digital ecosystem, is still up for debate.
Wearables is one strand of the developing digital market where operators could really leverage their existing assets – namely their established customer relationships, retail network and service provision – to consolidate their position and add genuine value to the ecosystem.
One issue with Wearables currently is their lack of inbuilt connectivity. Customers indicated in Ericsson’s latest Consumer Labs Report that they feel “tethered” to their smartphone, and 23% of respondents said this was why they had abandoned their Wearable device. The move to embedded SIMs should change that – with connectivity innate to the device a much more attractive proposition to the consumer, and a potential opportunity for operators looking to get a foothold in this lucrative market.
Operators have form in selling physical devices. They have established brands, strong retail networks and, in the main, good end-to-end processes to support sales and service for end customers. It is easy to envisage operators extending their range to incorporate new devices, becoming the ‘Wearables go-to’ for consumers (who want to try out these devices in the store and walk away with them already set up with a data plan) and ultimately taking a central role in the Wearables value chain.
Being at the heart of this movement also gives operators a more realistic opportunity to monetize OTT services as part of a bundled offering (device/ service/ data plan) – something that has so far proved fairly hit and miss. As a runner I might buy a smart watch from my operator, already enabled with the ‘Map My Run App’, and ready to go with a data plan. My billing relationship is with the operator who automates provisioning and sorts out settlement with the other parties.
In order to take advantage, operators must get themselves in a position where they can fully monetize IoT-based services. They need to open up their network to the IoT manufacturers and OTT players, and create a marketplace where products and services can be automatically provisioned.
This is an area in which AsiaInfo has taken the lead with our O2P Collaboration Platform and our thought leadership around the benefits of partnerships. Getting ahead in this space might take a bit of effort – another addition to that To Do list – but there is a clear opportunity to leverages operators’ existing capabilities in a way which brings value to everyone.