Time for a 'digital makeover'

Making huge investments isn’t going to help till digitisation is all-pervasive
Customer experience, Data bundles, Digital transformation, Hunger, Innovation, Internet era, Iphone 7, New, Novelty, Paytv, Smartphones, TV services, Columns


‘Digital’ – what used to be a funky term once upon a time, is a way of life now. Many things have changed since the onset of the internet era. We live in a data-centric age where consumers and businesses are continually striving for higher speeds, lower latencies, and instant solutions to every issue. This has affected the role of telcos significantly; it no more suffices for telcos to be just connectivity providers. They need to be all-stop-shops for digital services in order to retain a position of significance in the current market scenario.

Though operators in the region have been trying to transform themselves according to the changing demands, there still is a long way to go. They are still grappling with the change of focus from voice to data, data monetisation is yet to be a big success, customer experience needs lot of improvements and digitisation still needs to percolate into the whole structure of the telcos. The need of the hour for operators is a digital makeover. By setting the right set of priorities, operators of the region can ensure they generate profits and customers at a constant or increasing pace. And when we say ‘priorities’, we are not going to talk about major technology investments, rather the focus will be to touch upon those areas which often get ignored.

When telcos announce data bundles, many times they promise a certain amount of MB or GB of data for a price; however, how many laymen actually understand the language of bits and bytes? In reality, there are many people who would understand data bundles better if they were told the duration they can browse YouTube/ WhatsApp/Facebook for. It’s an age of customisation; telcos need to look into minor yet important areas like these to engage better with the customers.

Let’s take another example. A new expat gets a job in the region and applies for PayTV service for entertainment. She might be bombarded with available packages of varying rates and varying channel content. What if she wants to view a selected few channels but prefers to make her own bundle instead of going for the readily available sets? Is your telco catering to that customer? If she realises she can’t make her own bundle, she might just avoid opting for the service altogether and go for OTT content only, which anyway comes with a huge plethora of options. And just like that, the telco lost a customer, whom it could have held on to by providing the right requirements. The current market is less supply driven, and more demand-driven instead. The key is to sell solutions that the customers demand, instead of trying (or compelling) them to choose from what you have got in your warehouse.

The importance of readiness to embrace innovation can’t be emphasised enough. Operators need to keep themselves abreast of the trends not just of important technological developments but also of successful implementations and strategic marketing methods. It might just be the right time to go for a chief innovation officer.

Did you notice that unlike its previous launches, Apple couldn’t make that big a splash through its recent launch, in spite of having a successful brand image and good technology in place? The point here is not how good or bad Apple is; rather the unending desires of customers for novelty. In spite of having a smartphone that serves their needs pretty well, many people would go for a new one if they find some novel features that appeal to them. The same rule applies for telcos too: provide your customers something new through your services; because the moment they lose taking active interest in your brand, your earnings potential from them reduces instantly.

The month of September has been quite an eventful one- be it the iPhone7 launch, reports of exploding of Samsung Galaxy Note7’s followed by recall of the phones, entry of a new mobile operator into Egypt with a 4G licence, reports of denial of the licence by others, so on and so forth. October is going to be exciting as the Gulf region gears up for the 36th GITEX technology week. Apart from being the coveted stage for showcasing the best as well as futuristic technologies, the event offers networking opportunities for the entire ecosystem of consumers, enterprises and technology leaders. Isn’t that all of us technology lovers look for? With the drones hovering over our heads, robots following our instructions, 3D printing delivering huge projects in a fraction of the usual time, and doctors performing complex surgeries through Google Glasses, the show definitely looks promising. Personally, I am looking forward to revel in these marvels as well as meet industry leaders from the region and worldwide to discuss exciting trends which are going to shape the markets in the days to come. See you there.

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