The digital era seems to be quite in sync with Darwin’s theory. Only the businesses that adapt the best can thrive while other players perish over due course of time.
Darwin’s theory of natural selection propounded that those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive. Interestingly enough, in the digital age of today, a similar selection criteria applies to businesses of almost all kinds.
Only the ones that manage to match pace with the demands of digital transformation manage to strike the right chords with the customers, while the rest hardly manage to make much of an impact. There is a worldwide consensus on the need for digital transformation of the telcos. In several markets, the basic connectivity space has been gradually getting saturated; and though the proportion of data revenues has been on the rise, it still seems a long way to go before the investments on networks can be monetised completely. In such a scenario, there’s a need for telcos to take an entirely fresh perspective on their value proposition. The time is ripe to take lessons from the success of digital players which manage to engage extremely well with customers and end up making more in profits than their initial investments.
Unless you have been living in a cave all this while, you are surely aware of the recent craze around Pokemon Go. A simple game managed to send the whole world into a frenzy in a very short time and according to some reports, managed to make around $14 million profits within a week of its release. But then, this was not the first time we got to witness an exponential soaring of popularity of a specific app. Similar successes have been previously registered with apps like Uber, food ordering apps, map apps, etc. The key is to try decoding the secret recipe behind these. Though the apps might be doing different things, serving different purposes, the similarities can’t be ruled out either.
One of the things that strikes me is the way these apps created a niche market for themselves. Supplying shoes where one needs a pair is not as revolutionary as creating a gap in the market and then providing a solution to make the public sit up and take notice, and soon realise the indispensable nature of the new solution. Not many people associated a gadget brand with a certain lifestyle before Apple propagated that idea. Not many had woken up to the need of a dynamic transport app before Uber came to the scene. The whole world was not campaigning for an app to go and chase Pokemons in all possible places before the game was launched. That’s the beauty and creativity of marketing; telcos also need to revamp the way they market their solutions and services so that customers immediately feel the need to engage with the brand.
Another lesson that such apps give is the importance of a good mobile-first experience. It’s no more a secret that the whole world is going mobile; people check for internet connectivity before food and water. In such a scenario, it’s very much essential for all telcos to engage effectively with their customers on the mobile platform. Though most telcos have begun the journey, there still is a long way to go. Telcos need to understand that a great mobile engagement has the potential to differentiate a brand.
Once the millennials have had an experience with a new product or service, they share the word over social media and in no time, a brand image can be built or destroyed depending on the experience it provides. There goes another important lesson- the power of social media.
Timing is a big factor too; it’s not for no reason that holiday movies have been getting released all these years right in time for Christmas. Pokemon Go was released right in time for summer breaks, and benefited from the free time in people’s hands to go outdoors, play and chase Pokemons. Similarly, it’s essential for telcos to consistently engage in market research to understand consumer behaviour and provide services that fit just right.
Moreover, Pokemon Go brought to the light the power of customer engagement, content marketing and rewards. The gist of the matter is it’s time for telcos to reinvent their value proposition. They need to prioritise the ease of comprehending the offerings, customer engagement, mobile experience, and of course the novelty of technology and ideas. The battle is tough, but not yet lost.
About the author: Soumya Smita Prajna is editor, CommsMEA.