The advent of the embedded SIM, or e-SIM, is seen by many operators as a threat to their business models.
SIMs that can be soft-switched between networks would appear to make it easier for customers – and in particular millions of devices on the IoT – to be moved between networks.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because the rise of the e-SIM will also see more and more discrete devices that need a data plan. And, to my mind, this presents a unique opportunity to not just to embed the SIM, but also to embed the operator into a host of new, cloud-enabled, digital commercial collaborations.
A few operators are beginning to recognise that the e-SIM could actually create a new device market for their retail operation. People like to touch and feel the weight of a device before buying it, and the operator’s ability to provide that retail shop experience while bundling the device with a new or existing data plan is a potentially lucrative market advantage.
We believe a whole new range of devices, – such as fitness wearables, child/pet trackers, lifestyle and healthcare monitors, and even environmental sensors such as air quality monitors – could all start appearing on the shelves of the operator’s stores.
But we also think it goes further than just the device. There is also the potential for operators to marry value-added services to the device. Linking a fitness tracker to a virtual gym or personal trainer; involving nutritional specialists or medical advisors with a range of healthcare and wellbeing devices.
In fact, operators have a rare opportunity to be at the centre of a digital revolution: to help build a collaborative network of partners and businesses and become the embedded hub for connecting a new range of devices to complementary services and solutions from other providers.
It’s about learning to use their customer insights and knowledge to build markets and suggest add-on services – something Amazon already does so well online: ‘people who bought this also considered this etc’. By becoming the collaborative hub for devices, partners and services, operators embed themselves in the solution and can claim the pivotal position in this developing marketplace.
To unlock this new market, operators need both the vision and the commitment to transform their IT capabilities both in-house and in the cloud. They will need to move away from traditional BSS solutions that are siloed in their approach and do not allow for such open collaboration.
Instead, the embedded services operator will use the simple API-based connectivity to cloud solutions that next generation BSS and Enterprise Business Operations Support Systems (EBOSS) can provide.
We believe the opportunity exists to really build new, collaborative, markets based on devices and associated services enabled by a network of supporting partnerships with the mobile operator embedded into the heart of the IT infrastructure.
Those operators recognising the opportunity to become Digital Services Providers, rather than just communication service providers, will be at the forefront of this change, and the e-SIM could be the catalyst that sparks the IT transformation required.