Apocalypse now? Probably not, but a clear enterprise strategy is essential.

A recent article paints an apocalyptic future for mobile operators, in which voice service revenues are entirely lost to OTT platform providers, such as Google and Skype. MNOs are left only to capture the crumbs of being a bit pipe. This raises a host of arguments and objections, but none-the-less, it must be recognised that MNO voice revenues are definitely challenged.

While the article is provocative – after all, who will pay for new infrastructure and more bandwidth if MNOs can’t make money from it – it does raise a valid question. Where will MNO revenues come from if their core revenue streams – i.e. voice – continue to diminish?

Setting aside the argument that even the most adaptive consumers are unlikely to dispense with their mobile phone number any time soon, is it really likely that businesses will trust their communications to OTT providers such as Facebook?

Business communication demands secure, reliable services. It needs a trusted partner who can deliver, every time. Business users in general may be prepared to use free services for ad hoc communications, but most recognise that their needs carry a premium, for which they are prepared to pay. This is why it’s essential for any MNO to develop a viable strategy for targeting business customers.

And, given the size of the market, they need a plan that encompasses businesses of all sizes – from enterprise to SME. We must also recognise the global nature of the telecommunications marketplace. It’s all very well to suggest that a consumer with a smartphone in the US might switch entirely to free WiFi enabled voice services, but this won’t necessarily be the case in other countries with different levels of infrastructure and smartphone penetration.

The apocalypse may never materialise, partly due to the responses that MNOs are planning to end flat-rate pricing data bundles, for example, but it’s clear that they also need to do more to grow revenue. The segment that offers the most potential for this is the business market. While the doomsday scenario can be avoided, it’s absolutely essential to develop a clear strategy to address this – and the sooner the better.

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