Evolving Systems, the end-to-end digital engagement software and services provider, has offered its telco industry predictions. Evolving experts give an insight into the topics they believe will dominate the year ahead.
For 2019, the anticipated trends are as follows:
#1: It may be the year e-SIM interoperability becomes a reality in some markets, allowing subscribers to switch networks
eSIMs (embedded SIMs) will see increased adoption; indeed watch for a shift towards more consumer eSIM adoption in 2019. Consumer specifications will progress, thereby improving the customer experience but, conversely, interoperability gives rise to legitimate concerns over customer churn; improving customer loyalty is therefore key.
#2: 5G will continue to develop, moving past small test networks to a few mainstream offerings
Although 5G may seem like just another generational upgrade for mobile networks, touting more speed and less latency than previous iterations, the years-long migration will require an expansion of cellular networks worldwide to include millions of new antennas that will become the backbone of IoT (Internet of Things) and its billions of sensor-laden devices, from smart dust to smart cars. 5G’s potential will be fulfilled and 2019 will be another step forward but progress will be incremental rather than overnight.
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#3: IoT will develop momentum with profitable business becoming a reality and some level of consolidation occurring amongst the smaller players to achieve market share
The industrial Internet of Things still feels like an emerging technology today, even though some industrial players have been working with related technologies for decades. The good news is that many analysts and industrial executives remain upbeat about the potential of IoT technology in the industrial realm. Yet, while the number of industrial IoT deployments is steadily growing, a number of challenges continue to exist, and many IoT projects remain in an early phase of development.
#4: Customer Loyalty will be reincarnated for the digital age
Customer Loyalty is once again on the strategic agenda, finding a resurgence as brands try to hold on to valuable customers. The cost of loyalty infrastructure, that has historically held brands back from launching programs, is rapidly dropping because of cloud-based, digital solutions that are ‘light touch’; add to this the interesting opportunities that blockchain brings into the mix - enabling any enterprise to instantly participate in a digital value exchange ecosystem at low cost.
#5: Content becomes more central to telco retention strategies as data becomes a commodity and telcos seek new methods of differentiation
Telcos are now almost seen as new media entities, with connectivity being essentially the starting point for everything that follows. With more data available at lower costs, coupled with the growing consumption of video, the search for exclusive content heats up in 2019. The larger telcos will seek to corner certain media assets, while the smaller telcos will need to tie up with media partners to ensure a steady flow of content keeps customers hooked.
#6: The sales channel will become a key focus as differentiation continues to hone in on the service given
Digitization has made providing consistent, high-quality customer interactions a competitive differentiator, no matter the channel, meaning customer interaction is critical. In competitive telecom markets, product and price innovation is becoming very ‘yesterday’. The next frontier for strategic differentiation is customer interaction.
#7: Further increases in smartphone uptake in the developing world will see innovations in that space and further drive for mobile money
We will see strong compound growth in the adoption of ‘mobile payment’ in its various forms. Traditional banking will increasingly focus on mobile as it offers enhanced levels of security/authentication over traditional payment methods. For mobile operators, particularly in the ‘emerging’ market, there is a huge opportunity in the FinTech space as evidenced by the strong revenue growth of Econet in Zimbabwe for example.
#8: Bundling everything
Now that voice and messages are unlimited and, as the price of data converges to zero dollars per gigabyte, operators are bundling mobile with all sorts of other products in order to maintain revenue. Watch for this trend to both continue and expand as the core service of providing connectivity fades into the background and a telco’s core asset becomes their ability to understand, engage, sell to and retain customers.