Succeeding in Mobile Unified Communications – Part 1

MNOs have a keen interest in delivering UC services, but are challenged by the launch of competitive offers from non-traditional players. However, such offers often have limitations and MNOs neglect the advantages they can offer. What are these advantages and how can you leverage them to get ahead?

MNOs around the world are showing increased awareness of the opportunity to deliver mobile Unified Communications services to different customer segments. In particular, we have noticed a shift in strategy to extend offers towards smaller businesses, that have traditionally been overlooked. In part, this is a clear response to recognition that an increasingly mobile workforce is exhibiting a preference for a mobile-first approach.

However, at the same time, other entrants have also recognised this and have launched services to target the same enterprise and SME customers, either in direct competition or ahead of MNOs. This presents challenges but it’s also an opportunity. To capitalise on this opportunity, MNOs need to clearly articulate their differences and the value that they, not others, can provide.

However, sometimes it seems that MNOs need to be reminded of the strengths they have which can be leveraged to succeed in delivering valuable services to enterprise and SME customers.

One of these is obvious. MNOs have networks that provide near-universal coverage. Unlike other providers, they can provide consistent quality of service. This is particularly important, as many rival offers are dependent on data connectivity or else basic call forwarding to mobile devices. MNOs, on the other hand, can use their networks to deliver SIM-based services, accessible wherever there is coverage, not just in 4G or WiFi networks. That’s a big difference and, when offering a nationwide service, can make all the difference.

However, a report by PwC points to other strengths that MNOs can bring to bear. These include:

  • Strategy and proposition, proven assets and capabilities
  • People and governance
  • Operating model and processes
  • Technology and partners

These are all good points. Let’s explore them in a little more depth.

Strategy and proposition

As we have often noted, MNOs have been delivering voice, data and connectivity for years, with guaranteed service quality levels and assurance. They know how to do this, they know how to do so consistently and they know how to charge and bill for them. This is a powerful mix. Voice remains central to any unified communications proposition, so they ability to do it well confers a distinct advantage. Moreover, it provides a clearly identifiable starting point.

One of the problems that have historically been faced by MNOs is that they have a tendency to attempt to deliver a complete service. With UC, this is a challenge, as there are many different interpretations and, increasingly, it requires a blend of capabilities. Where does the service begin and end? What’s a minimum core offer? How should it evolve? Alternative providers, on the other hand, tend to adopt a more iterative approach, delivering a core service and then enriching it with extensions and regular updates – but they do so without offering any of the quality of service guarantees that MNOs take for granted.

MNOs can do the same, taking voice as the starting point and then delivering more capabilities that complement and extend voice UC offers but supporting them with quality and assurance guarantees. Let’s not forget that the intelligent routing of voice calls is the core of any UC service. Starting here and building out additional is thus both an entirely sensible and eminently manageable approach.

People and governance

MNOs have been great at managing services, developing end-to-end processes to ensure consistency and quality, in complex environments. They have people with highly skilled integration capabilities, who are crucial, as they provide the potential to be leveraged for the introduction of new services that build on existing strengths. While agility is often questioned, the proven strength in service management can readily be deployed to support dedicated enterprise and SME offers.

Operating Model and Processes

Turning a service from an idea into an efficiently billed operation is critical to the DNA of MNOs. Doing so securely is fundamental. This is a clear asset and one that is often overlooked. The operating models of MNOs are well proven and the processes to support them, while continuing to evolve, have developed to both protect customers as well as to support business goals. As such, they are well-placed to support new services with appropriate operational practice.

Technology and Partners

MNO networks have been built, often in collaboration with partners, to extremely rigorous standards. They have had to meet regulatory requirements and deliver a level of robust reliability. The result of which is a network that has been proven through time and, happily, for which most MNOs have a long-term investment plan. That means they can also offer stability and longevity and, as PwC notes, they already have a foundation for the addition of new UC components, based on their real-time network assets.

All in all, it’s a constant surprise that MNOs don’t capitalise more on these assets to support a comprehensive UC offer. The main impediment, it seems to us, is a desire to either replicate a legacy service or to deliver everything at once. By adopting a step-by-step, incremental approach, MNOs can more easily leverage these strengths to succeed with UC service launches – and do so faster than before. After all, the foundations are in place.

So, what are you waiting for? Why not talk to Gintel to get started today! Next month, we’ll also bring you part 2 of this short series, in which we look at the actions recommended by PwC.

4G, UC, Unified Communications, MNO, UC Service, PwC, Sim-based services, WiFi

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