If the battle for consumer voice is over, what next?
Leading operators know that P2P voice is over, but the fact remains that voice is evolving. What new opportunities are there to capitalise on voice and to unlock new revenue?
At the Voice and Advanced Communications Summit, which took place in Amsterdam earlier in October, executives from leading telcos discussed innovations that are set to transform their businesses. As we all know, recent years have seen classical revenues hit by the challenge of alternative providers offering free voice services.
This has had a dramatic impact, with the result that consumer, P2P voice is essentially over as a market opportunity. Consumer voice is essentially a free service, which is bundled with other capabilities. Unless and until users are driven back to mobile voice due to excessive advertising, then little will change. And, for operators that are tempted to move to the ad-funded route, several speakers made the point that remaining free of adverts is one of the few ways in which operators can offer any differentiation.
Operators that fail to recognise this will also fail to capitalise on new opportunities that are emerging. For, while classical revenue sources may be disappearing and blending into bundles and packages, new innovations will fuel a dynamic set of growth opportunities. This time, however, the target is not consumers per se, but rather the businesses that serve them.
We have been vocal in advocating better B2B strategies and a more intensive focus on business customers and this remains an opportunity for growth. However, businesses are also seeking new ways in which to communicate and interact with their customers. Operators need to help them.
For example, customers that visit a retail website may wish to chat with an agent. The initial chat session could be handled via a chatbot, while, as the conversation develops, the dialogue could be switched to a real agent or to a voice session. Using AI in this context will provide automation and control costs, but still give customers a personalised experience.
Similarly, as RCS spreads through the device fleet, companies may use messaging to stimulate interaction, which in turn sets up chat sessions and then voice calls. Customer engagement will be enabled over a range of channels, which can be consolidated and aggregated to ensure that companies are able to manage all streams to deliver a better experience and enhanced service to their customers.
We’re already starting to see signs of this as our customers begin to explore the integration of chatbots with their service centres and ways in which they can connect chatbots from their retail customers. Voice platforms which today deliver ACD and UC / PBX capabilities will be extended through integration with RCS services, AI processing and chatbots. Operators will be able to offer these capabilities to retail and business customers, helping them to coordinate customer interaction across multiple channels.
Voice is evolving. Consumer, P2P voice is a legacy service that offers no upside potential and inevitable continued decline. Understanding this will help operators make the right investments to capitalise on mew modes of interaction and to leverage their assets. In this context, B2B2C and M2M2H will emerge as rich opportunities. To capitalise on these opportunities, operators need to move quickly. Let’s have a conversation and find out how we can work together to drive the next phase of growth.