At least if you rely on reports in the mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mobile World Congress 22 (but the same goes for pretty much any other year’s MWC) was the telco industry’s equivalent of a Consumer Electronics Show.
That’s right; the column inches fill up with endless announcements of new products; mainly phones, pads, and/or laptops most of which in one way or another seek to better harness the potential of 5G and ever more expansive connectivity.
These presumably great leaps forward come accompanied by epically depressing observations from the telco vendor commentariat like: “So, if you have cloud-gaming, it means that you can go to work, stay at home, or commute and take the experience of streaming games with you. You weren’t able to do that before and now you are, thanks to 5G.” So, we’re supposed to celebrate a brave new world where the boundaries between personal and professional space are even more blurred than they were already? Where you never need to go offline to smell the actual roses? And that’s what passes for progress these days? Maybe we work in an industry that needs to stop gazing at its naval in the quest to impress itself and start thinking about how its innovations could actually improve the quality of lives, not diminish them. Because with all these advances, the potential to do so is there.
Which brings us back again to a topic we touched on in yesterday’s MWC blog; the realisation echoing around the halls of FIRA that it’s new business models, not just new devices, that are the real kings of the show. The important business of the Congress is thus, arguably, taking place out of the immediate line of sight in smoky, back-of-hall-five meeting rooms (OK, that was a metaphor), not on mega vendor’s space station-sized stands at the front of Hall One. That’s because the stuff that really matters is the stuff that makes the flashy new stuff actually deliver end-user value, or at least do something worthwhile. Without the underlying new-use-case enabling solutions, next generation smart(er) devices amount to amount to little more than a functionally advanced bedrock that you can use to voice-call your mum on a Saturday night. That’s the telco nightmare scenario; the Digital Age imitating its past.
If you’re mining MWC for opportunities with this in mind, where might you look for real innovation and, by extension, what sort of players might be worth listening to; might be on to big opportunities if they are able to market effectively enough to tap the burgeoning market in front of them? A few come rapidly to mind:
“Data Universe” Companies – if 5G and digital mean the ability to develop more personal relationships with the end-user, to better understand habits and preferences, and to anticipate needs to greater effect then it stands to reason that companies who in one way or another collect and process data from a multiplicity of sources both operational and commercial in more innovative fashion will be central actors in the emergent telco landscape. Players in this space could range from what back in antiquity used to be called “mediation” providers to any in a range of so called “big data” companies. The most innovative among them should have a real opportunity to grasp and will profit significantly if they can articulate their value and bring it to market effectively.
“Customer Responsiveness Enabler” companies – under which invented banner think Customer Care, Customer Service, Customer Relationship Management, etc. We know the real value of the digital era will lie not just in doing new things, but also in doing old things in new, better ways. Companies that can deliver more value to end users and in process create stronger, more profitable relationships need technologies that enable the delivery of that value.
Enablers of the Partner Ecosystem – Mobile World Congress is and always has been where new partnerships can be formed and new ideas explored. Given that enabling 5G service innovation and, more broadly, digitisation is frequently a question of knitting together disparate sources of expertise to create new value ecosystems, articulating the sum of the new parts rather than just the parts themselves will be another challenge for technology providers to meet. Something else that may need new ways to bring to market clearly and effectively.
MWC2022 may, after two years off, augur in a brave new world for telcos but like all birthing processes, it’s unlikely to be straightforward. Bridging the gap between the high-level opportunity and the marketing, sales, and articulation of new and different value propositions at the coal face is likely to be the challenge for technology providers.
eCS’ voice-led digital marketing services put over 20 years’ experience helping telco technology providers articulate their value propositions and reach their target prospects to work. If you’d like to discuss this blog or learn more about how we can help you, please e-mail us.