2019 will of course continue to see a lot of talk about 5G - networks being tested and rolled out; first 3GPP smartphones, devices and mobile hotspots supporting 5G launched early next year and possibly even customers signing up and using 5G.
Currently there aren’t any 5G-ready devices on the market, but now that the standards body has completed the rules for standalone 5G, carriers are preparing themselves to deploy 5G in selected markets in the coming months.
One of the elements most talked about with the new 5G networks is slicing - the fact that 5G networks don’t have to be a one-size-fits-all network and can in fact create network slices for different use cases.
Yet 5G is not just about network slicing or faster data for smartphones. Higher speeds and lower latency will also accelerate the introduction of new services based on augmented and virtual reality, connected cars, smart cities and smart homes - any domain where devices need to talk to each other constantly and without lag.
However, offering new data services, or creating different services to different users, requires effective and efficient monetization. In all the 5G excitement we should not forget the billing. Whether it is establishing usage-based business models that allow you to count everything with connected cars; or the ability to create new business rules quickly as new IoT partners join; or low TCO solutions for low latency projects.
5G is exciting and we should be excited as an industry, but at the same time, as an industry, we need to make sure effective monetization is achieved.
#1: Business to….
CSPs will look more and more to the B2B market and the opportunities there in 2019. And not just B2B, but also B2B2C and B2B2X.
This is partly due to the new IoT business models that are creating new opportunities for CSPs, and partly due to the growth of all you can eat packages for consumers that mean they are often marketed to as one homogenous segment, resulting in less business innovation combined with falling revenues.
Instead, the B2B market is one that has many different needs depending on the customer. The opportunities lie in effectively marketing to those needs and making the services profitable - and again much of that will involve the speed of the change of the billing and other back-end systems. If the billing can keep up with the innovation of the marketing team, then great opportunities will present themselves.
This is particularly true in complex IoT environments that now exist and CSPs are now navigating towards. Sophisticated ecosystems mean multiple partners that don’t fit into conventional models, and CSPs have to be able to adapt to whatever the ‘X’ in B2B2X is.
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Advanced revenue management capabilities will be part of the trend in 2019 to handle these new business models. Platforms that are flexible, easy to manage and, as we are only at the start of this change in 2019, adaptable for future needs are the ones that will be most in need.
#2: Mobility and Smart Transportation
One of the business areas that will continue to rise in 2019 is IoT. Not only are more devices coming on stream, but new business models are being developed, based around the varying levels of service required by the different IoT implementations. In 2019 CSPs will be able to further segment to create new and profitable business models.
Of course 5G will help to boost the growth of IoT. From smart-home security to self-driving cars, thanks to 5G, all these connected devices will be able to talk to each other at ultra-high speeds with reduced latency, accelerating the growth of these IoT services. And therefore accelerating the introduction of new business models by CSPs.
However, IoT - and especially IoT monetization - will not only be about connectivity. One of the trends we will see in 2019 is the move by CSPs to better understand the transaction itself, to define the IoT usage - and therefore to effectively monetize that. This will require the ability to not only count the transactions, but to understand each different transaction; to manage different partners within the value chain and to be able to create new business rules for partners in each level of it; and to enable new pricing models and different offers based on how the service is being used.
One segment that will require all of these facilities for CSPs and is set to grow in 2019, providing great opportunities for CSPs if they can get the monetization models right, is transportation.
New mobility and smart transportation models are emerging globally. Bike sharing, car sharing and scooter sharing schemes like Lime or Bird are continuing to gain popularity; electric vehicle charging schemes are taking off in many cities; the connected car is a growing market segment; while new, smart parking solutions are being used by commuters and shoppers all over the world. All these new models provide great opportunities for CSPs to become a significant player in the value chain (beyond providing just connectivity). Dedicated apps can be used to take mobile payments, provide data insights and navigation tools, offer incentives and discounts, and act as a digital commerce medium.
However, this new connected world calls for extreme monetization agility and partner management capabilities. This will see IoT revenue generation and partner management become more and more important through 2019.
Finally for 2019 we will see mobile banking and payment applications increasingly becoming mainstream. From payments for services, such as the bike sharing or parking above, through to peer-to-peer payments and microloans, payments for digital content to different banking services, 2019 will see a growth in payments moving across the mobile networks.
Only in rare cases will the payment be to the CSP itself, instead it will be about moving and managing the payment and ensuring that who, how and when to bill is fully understood and optimised.
However, the who, how and when will often be much more complicated than that - as multiple partners are involved, all having differing levels of input and priority, requiring different levels of payment and service. This will require revenue sharing systems to be in place to manage the various different elements, but in 2019 we will see a rise in these systems, allowing CSPs to be active participants in the rise of mobile payments.
One reason that payments, or mobile wallets, will be a trend for 2019 is the fact that they can enable loyalty programmes. With customers signed up to payment schemes or mobile wallets, brands and CSPs have direct access to the consumer at the point of payment, when the scheme may be running out or need topping up, or whenever a new deal is available.