By Yaniv Sulkes,
Cloud, mobility, customer-centricity – these were all big themes that we’ll continue to see evolve in 2015 as service providers look to monetize their networks, deliver new value-added services, and enhance performance for enterprises and consumers who want to maximize their digital lifestyles. Additionally, there are areas of development – such as 5G – that are being widely hyped, but are not quite ready for prime time. Following are a few predictions on how I see the industry changing and advancing in 2015.
#1: INCREASED SERVICE DIFFERENTIATION THROUGH CLOUD ENTERPRISE SERVICES
In our recently released CloudTrends Report, we found that over 45% of communication service providers (CSPs) are offering public cloud applications and services for enterprises ranging from basic email and storage to fully-fledged unified communications, CRM and ERP solutions – and we only expect this number to increase significantly over the next year.
Workforce productivity and mobility needs are causing CIOs to reevaluate their network infrastructure and operations, with much concern for security and performance. As a result, CSPs are responding by evolving their SMB and enterprise cloud services to reach beyond classic connectivity and IT solutions traditionally provided, and are offering specific cloud-based visibility, control, quality of service (QoS) and security managed service offerings. The previously well demarcated border between the enterprise and the CSP will be blurred, as CSPs around the globe will have a more integral role of delivering value-added digital services that can help enterprises overcome their toughest adoption challenges and achieve the cost and efficiency benefits promised by the cloud.
#2: PERSONALIZED DIGITAL LIFESTYLE-CENTRIC SERVICES
Mobile operators around the globe are transforming into digital lifestyle service providers. New applications are continuously being created for just about any personal or professional need under the sun, and unlimited data plans will quickly become an offering of the past. Instead, operators are beginning to leverage popular apps and content – such as video, music, cloud storage, and social media – to create new personalized service plans based on the way subscribers live, work, and play. As we see the evolution of data plans continue, operators will increasingly introduce value-based plans, making it possible to charge for the value of the service to the customer and their specific mobile app needs, and not just the speed.
And to take that trend one step further, we may even see consumers having the ability to provision their own connectivity at any given moment, based on the bandwidth they need at that time. For instance, I decide one day that I want to watch an HD movie on my device. I could have the ability to take my connection and bandwidth and turn it up a notch just for that day. This concept of self-provisioning, or self-service, is inevitable as customers increasingly want to tailor and personalize services to their specific needs.
#3: 5G SERVICES WILL CONTINUE TO BE OVER-HYPED
Another major investment on the horizon for mobile operators is 5G, but the need for speed in itself isn’t the compelling event here. Judging by technology maturity and standard evolution cycles, 5G will not be here in 2015, or even before the next decade. More bandwidth and lower latency are certainly great, but 4G LTE already does a great job of meeting today’s digital lifestyle needs. Soon enough, high-end applications requiring high-end connectivity, such as 3D, 4K video, and maybe even holograms will require higher capacity – but we’re not quite there yet.
The key question is probably more around the operator perspective on when and how they can introduce this technology and see a return on their investment, and not when it will be technically ready. With operator ARPU and ARPA declining, network operators will need new sources of revenue to fund and justify the 5G investment. They will introduce 5G only if they believe they can monetize this investment.