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Reader Forum: 4 key benefits of mobile operator agility

We hear a lot about agility in our industry. In my position, I’m fortunate enough to have the chance to meet with leaders at some of the world’s biggest mobile operators. When I meet with them, the challenge they always share is the same: “We need to become more agile.”

Bogged down by legacy systems and processes, I’ve seen the time it takes mobile operators to transform marketing ideas to successful service offers drag on for months or even years. In many cases, the window of opportunity has long been closed by the time an offer reaches market.

In working with operators over the last eight years, I’ve identified four key benefits of agility that give mobile operators a competitive edge in a challenging market.

Breaking the system-integration shackles

Taking too long to get new services and offers to market is a problem when over-the-top (OTT) and internet players like WhatsApp and Facebook move so swiftly.

Today, operator marketing teams must go through long service definition, development, system integration, and roll-out processes to devise a new promotion. These processes usually involve multiple technical teams, from billing, to activation, to charging and mediation. Given that many operators have complex multi-vendor IT environments, the system integration tasks are onerous and time consuming. Technical limitations often restrict the offers that can be created.

Mobile operators should be able to create and send targeted, personalized offers to customers within hours or days of conceiving an idea. In reality, it can take months, or even more than a year. They need a marketing-oriented, service creation environment that lightly overlays existing IT infrastructure and provides a simple process for executing timely offers.

Minimizing the cost of innovation

The legacy infrastructure that operators have inherited is not only slow, it also comes with extraordinarily high financial overhead. Historically, developing these new services, especially in short time frames, required heavy investments in internal processes and systems integrations. Due to the size of investments at this scale, operators are cautious and risk-adverse, and dedicate a lot of time and resources to ensure that enough due diligence has occurred to minimize negative revenue impact. This task can add up to major marketing expense. Failures are thus extremely costly both financially and organizationally. And even being excessively cautious isn’t a guarantee that an offer will be a winner in the current mobile markets.

If mobile operators can combine rapid development that bypasses large systems integration projects while incorporating real-time A/B testing, they can quickly and easily market new services to sample groups of consumers, measure adoption, and iterate in real time until they create optimal offers. Agile operators can develop new ideas and services at virtually no cost, eliminating the fear of failure.

Reaching the right people at the right time

When mobile offers are sent to the right consumer at the right time, the acceptance rates — and associated revenues — are significantly higher.

In reality, though, mobile operators today can’t seize the immediate opportunities to sell new services to consumers because they have little visibility into what consumers are doing. They lack context, are constrained by their network boundaries, and don’t have insight into consumers’ specific activities and intents.

On-device technology offers a tremendous opportunity to understand consumer context. The questions operators should be asking themselves are: Can we increase campaign conversions via in-app marketing outreach? Which apps engage the consumer most?

Operators should strive to complement network capabilities with agile, on-device insights and engagement so they can target customers precisely — at exactly the right moment.

Accelerating growth and innovation

Agility is also about leveraging the growing digital ecosystem to create new business opportunities. Given that the usage of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger has exploded, welcoming OTT players as partners can be one of the most strategic moves. I believe that many — if not most — mobile operators would enter into OTT partnerships if a mutually beneficial opportunity arose.

Unfortunately, infrastructure complexities tend to prevent mobile operators from partnering with external application providers. Even if business negotiations with potential partners go well, operators’ infrastructures are often not ready to adapt to internet-centric technologies and capitalize on fast-moving opportunities.

Leveraging the same paradigms as successful online stores, mobile operators can speed up the onboarding and integration of partners, and position themselves as the new agile partners of the e-commerce world.

Agility matters. It is essential for the digital transformation of mobile operators. Organizations with highly developed cultures of agility have better outcomes across the board. They meet their goals more often, bring in initiatives faster and more efficiently, while achieving higher ROIs compared to the overall market. Mobile operators require all of these benefits if they are to ensure their continued success.

Editor’s Note: In an attempt to broaden our interaction with our readers we have created this Reader Forum for those with something meaningful to say to the wireless industry. We want to keep this as open as possible, but we maintain some editorial control to keep it free of commercials or attacks. Please send along submissions for this section to our editors at: [email protected]

ABOUT AUTHOR

Greg Raleigh
Greg Raleigh
Greg Raleigh is the Founder, CEO and Chairman of ItsOn. In his 30-year career, Greg has founded four successful companies. He conceived and proved the groundbreaking theory for multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) wireless transmission, a contribution that completely changed 100 years of thinking and led to dramatic data speed increases and connection reliability improvements in the field of radio communication. He invented and commercialized the MIMO signal processing architectures and algorithm approaches used today in all 4G chipsets and most Wi-Fi chipsets – including 4G LTE, 4G HSPA+, 4G Wi-Max, Wi-Fi 802.11n and Wi-Fi 802.11ac. Most recently Greg co-invented and commercialized Smart Services, the world’s first highly customizable mobile network service technology. Greg holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from California Polytechnic University, an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

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