Written by Jude McColgan, CEO, Localytics
5G is potentially a game changer for global service providers. It will allow them to implement new value-based services, such as virtual reality, autonomous cars, high-definition device streaming, internet of things, and machine-to-machine infrastructure—all promising developments which will drive revenue. Juniper Research estimates that 5G service revenue could exceed $65 billion by 2025.
This could be good news for an industry that has traditionally struggled with low revenue growth and ever-increasing data traffic consumption (according to Cisco VNI 2018). The increase in data consumption has led service providers to invest capital into the network to sustain and meet that traffic growth, but they haven’t yet received the revenue associated with that growth.
While still early days, both AT&T and Verizon have recently announced 5G services will be available in certain cities across the US. However, services will be limited and focused primarily on broadband access to the home. According to The Verge, “AT&T boasts about 5G service in 19 cities, but there’s still no phone that can use it.”
5G is predicated on service providers accelerating their digital transformations.
At the same time, 5G looms, and unlike 4G, involves much more than improved radio modulation (faster, cheaper) – it is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it opens up on-demand services, new verticals that are latency dependent, and flexible broadband. On the other hand, it presupposes the existence of cloud, and its dynamic nature makes traditional configuration and optimization impractical. We must adopt entirely new methods if we are to benefit from 5G.
Most operators’ digital transformations focus on three business areas: network evolution, redesign of OSS/BSS (operations/business support system) processes and systems, and embracing customer-centric and digital strategies.
Historically, when a new service was introduced, it was coupled with specific hardware and software. This enabled the global service provider to activate, provision, fulfill, and assure the service. It also created a vertically integrated stack or silo.
Today, the operator has the ability to decouple or disaggregate the hardware from the software. Disaggregation permits the once monolithic software to be broken down into functional components. The operator can now virtualize the specific network function in their cloud wherever most appropriate.
In North America, carriers have been virtualizing their networks for almost 5 years. AT&T has reported that its network will be 75% virtualized by 2020. Virtualization also leads to significant savings for global service providers. Verizon estimates its virtualization initiative may provide up to $10 billion in cost savings.
In addition to the economic benefits, virtualization enables greater automation and management of the network and more simplified operations.
Historically, these systems have been highly fragmented and inflexible, stunting the operators’ ability to be responsive to business needs and requirements. As the network infrastructure gets virtualized and distributed, it creates the need for the OSS/BSS legacy systems to also undergo a decoupling or disaggregation, similar to the network.
Operators are working to repurpose large, monolithic legacy systems like order management, provisioning, and orchestration systems into smaller more discrete functional components. They’re prioritizing reusable code that can easily be virtualized and retooled to become cloud-native. Similar to Lego blocks, operators are building reusable, plug-and-play code to support network virtualization. Additionally, as operators redesign and rebuild, they incorporate new technologies like machine learning and AI to add greater intelligence and automation into the business (Network operations: A new role for AI and ML).
Virtualization and reinvention of OSS/BSS are forcing operators to place much greater importance on software. In fact, the lines that once delineated IT organization from Technology organization are now gone (Software-Defined Networking Is Causing CTO and CIO Roles to Merge). Software is becoming the primary driver of the carrier’s future—from powering a “programmable” network to improving customer experience.
Operators are working on two issues with their digital experience programs. First, digitizing and automating the touch points across the customer’s journey, and second, becoming more customer-centric in order to drive personalization.
Customers have many touchpoints with their operator: store, web, social media, mobile, or phone. Integrating touchpoints and disparate data sets across the customer journey is a monumental task. But this integration can make significant contributions to the business. Consider Comcast’s experience:
“Greater than 75% of transactions are now being completed through digital touch points. In the last 12 months alone, we have reduced agent handled calls by 15 million and truck rolls by 1.5 million, while adding 1 million new customer relationships. Altogether, this resulted in Cable EBITDA growth of 6.5%, the best for our full year in 7 years and net cash flow growth of 13%.” Comcast’s Q4 2018 earning report
The other area of focus is around customer experience. Webscale and FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) are often considered the “gold standard.” These companies use customer data and emerging technologies—like machine learning and AI—to provide outstanding customer experience.
Netflix, for example, makes a series of recommendations based on customer’s historical consumption and behavior during past viewing sessions—Amazon and Spotify provide similar capabilities. These companies make the interaction meaningful and personal, and they position themselves for incremental revenue via an upsell or cross-sell.
Operators can achieve similar results by leveraging their customer data to provide a more personalized customer experience. McKinsey estimates that as part of larger digital customer engagement, greater personalization can lead to a 15-30% increase in revenue from cross-selling.
The Digital Economy is forcing companies to accelerate their digital transformation programs—no industry is spared. In fact, stalwart industries such as the hospitality industry have been upended by Airbnb. According to the Boston Hospitality Review, “Understanding what the customer wants lies at the heart of the battle between hotels and Airbnb.”
The Telecom industry is no exception. In fact, operators need to move faster with their digital transformations or risk further disintermediation. McKinsey has observed that Over the Top (OTT) providers like WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, FaceTime, and others are capturing 40% of operator messaging revenue, 25% of operator wireline voice revenue, and 5% of operator mobile voice revenue (estimated 2018 revenues).
Operators need to focus on protecting and maintaining their customer base. In the North American market, there is very little projected subscriber growth and the network experience will be difficult to differentiate across operators. Smart operators are building frictionless touchpoints in customer journeys and working to better understand customer behavior. They’ll be able to offer services that are both useful and meaningful for the customer and can increase ARPU for the operators.
Localytics works with enterprises to enable meaningful interactions with their customers across their digital journeys. Our technology enables enterprises to transform customer data into meaningful, insightful, and proactive customer engagements.
What's changed in the last 12-24 months is the amount of unstructured data that can be harnessed (far exceeding just profile data in traditional CRM structured data environments) and with a proper SaaS Platform that can understand data with a "brain-like cognition" capability that can finally serve people with real meaningfulness. We're setting the standard in moving away from "batch and blast" tendencies. One Localytics customer (with more than 10 customer-facing applications) is collecting more than 3 billion data points per month of customer behavior and contextual information. Now digital intelligence -- three components being the ingredient in unstructured data, brain and channel -- can deliver specific business outcomes like:
30% conversion rate for a streaming service—4x Best Practices
$21 million dollars revenue for cloud print service
$4-5 million dollars in incremental revenue from “video played” events
Localytics customers obtain these business outcomes because every engagement is built on digital intelligence to provide a deeper, more personalized, relationship.
So how “digitally intelligent” are your customer engagements? Use our Stages of Personalization Calculator to determine your stage—and check out our recently-introduced complementary ebook The Stages of Personalization. These tools will help you understand where you currently are and can help you get a better sense of what opportunities are available to you to improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Jude joined Localytics as CEO in 2017 to drive the continued innovation of the mobile engagement platform and increase the commercialization of the business. He has spent the last twenty years working with some of the world's largest software companies. Most recently, Jude was President of Mobile at Avast Software, a mobile cyber security company with over 400M users worldwide. He also served as Vice President & General Manager of Mobile for Nuance Communications, the leader in text, voice, and natural language technology in the mobile market. Before that Jude was Mobile and Consumer Group Vice President at TomTom where he successfully led acquisitions in building the company’s location-based services portfolio. Jude started his career at Oracle focused on enterprise software. He holds a BS from Northeastern University and is a graduate of the Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth College.