The pace of change in technology is transforming every aspect of the services mobile network operators provide but shifts in technology impact more than just MNOs.
Opportunities are also created for the other players in the ecosystem: hyperscalers, original equipment manufacturers, and cloud and solutions providers. They are equally keen to take a big chunk of the mobile services revenue pie.
The environment mobile operators inhabit is becoming increasingly crowded and complex. As MNOs cannot provide the entire set of solutions and services across the mobile value chain, their ability to transform and collaborate or enter into partnerships with other stakeholders in the industry will play a key role in their ability to succeed in the long term.
For MNOs to be able to adapt, they need to become simpler to deal with. This means leveraging AI and virtualisation where it makes sense and requires the right balance of human interaction towards customers, industry players or internal stakeholders, all the while being cost conscious.
When we need help with a technology, we all want to hear a human voice providing the answer we are looking for. The business-to-business space is no different. Customers (B2B and B2C) want a seamless experience, and an omnichannel strategy that removes communications channel silos will be key for MNOs that want to be ahead of the race in 2030.
Agility and flexibility
MNOs must pay significant attention to their ability to adapt. The larger the organisation, the harder this is, but to stay afloat in times of profound industry transformation, it is essential for MNOs to be flexible in their ways of working and their ability to embrace new technologies, new partners and new skills. Those who are brave in these areas will probably make mistakes, but they will learn fast and find their own way forward. The MNOs that trust their employees and give them the freedom to think outside the box are the ones we are most likely to see thriving in 2030.
In the B2C segment, consumers tend to think of MNOs only in terms of network coverage. Consumers seldom think of them when it comes to services. Instead, they look to third parties. This is why partnering with the right external players presents such a great opportunity for MNOs.
New technologies, such as 5G, will open greater possibilities for MNOs, both in the B2C and B2B segments, but innovative partners are needed to spot and leverage these opportunities.
In the B2B segment in particular, MNOs should strive to be so much more than just the network provider. Partnering should be a critical component of a B2B MNO strategy. The B2B environment is global, but it is also verticalised across industry segments, each having its specific sets of requirements. Identifying a clear partner road map strategy, for both regions and industries, will be crucial when addressing the needs of those verticals at domestic or international level.
We are driving full speed ahead into an era of rapid innovation cycles, profound corporate transformation and increased industry collaboration in a multi-faceted ecosystem of partners. Those who do not embrace all these elements and are not quick enough to change will not survive. Partnering and leveraging industry knowledge and capabilities will no doubt help to define what a successful MNO should look like in the future.
The most successful MNOs in 2030 will be those who have simplified their customer communication processes, and who have linked with myriad partners to offer services and functionality to both B2C and B2B customers that is far greater than the simple sum of the individual parts: more effective, and much more user-friendly.
The MNOs that will really stand out and flourish will be those that are also agile and innovative – regardless of their size.
- The author, Suzy Menneret, is MEF wholesale advisor and programme lead at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, a global trade body established in 2000