Telcos across the globe have been on a continuous transformation mode. At present, the pace of this radical transformation is accelerating with technological disruptions and follow-on changes to consumer behavior. In terms of monetization of telco services, the first wave (Wave 1) was all about voice and messaging revenue. Value-added services were thought to be the next wave that could elevate the growth curve; but the expectation was short-lived after high-speed data services (3G/4G) were introduced. Data revenue was the second (Wave 2) boost that the telcos realized toward their monetization goals. Voice and data revenue streams were consolidating in the circuit-switched network era; while cannibalizing some of their own services revenue to over-the-top (OTT) players: messaging, value added services, and to a lesser extent even voice revenue. Nevertheless, the telcos soon realized that the sustainability of services which gets delivered over their data pipe would sooner or later loose its relevance in a pure-play IP-based network. That is, when the industry started to invest on digital transformation and focus on the futuristic: digital services (Wave 3).
The key facet in this spectacular telecom journey has been the manner in which the operators are transforming into a Digital Telco. They have the required capability to drive adoption of digital services and beyond.
- Digital sales and acquisition. Telcos have the technological prowess to use advanced analytical tools to segment customers as per their behavioral preferences; define digital products and services attuned to the customer needs; promote the digital services over multiple channels (physical as well as digital); offer door-step delivery option (similar to e-commerce fulfilment); and support digital payment using telco wallet or other financial instruments
- Digital servicing. Interestingly, in this aspect again telcos have a lot to offer. They have the required sales and service support and infrastructure to enable digital transactions; advanced platforms to measure digital experience and enhance content delivery over their data network (up to the end-user device); support integrated billing and invoicing of digital services (telco products and beyond); and online grievance redressal over social and digital channels
Digital Media Services
The full spectrum of digital sales and services infrastructure provides the necessary fillip to the digital telcos to offer and drive digital media services including the popular space-shifted and time-shifted contents. The digitization of customer journeys, enablement of agile product development, and collaboration with content partners are driving the uptake of digital media services. The bouquet of services includes: video on-demand (VOD), live and catch-up TV, radio, news, magazines, books, music, movies, live streaming of events (sports, concerts, etc.), product launches, fan engagement with celebrities, gaming, video chat, IP messaging, digital advertising, etc.
Customer insight is the new gold mine for digital telco. They have the power to perform a 360-degree analysis of customer preferences on a 365×24×7 basis and combine it with the already available customer profile information, location details, spend patterns, and available wallet money.
Digital media service adoption is still to reach the larger audience. The current thrust is therefore to make the customer use and experience the services before the monetization models can be effectively put to practice: subscription based (SVOD), advertisement based (AVOD), transaction based (TVOD), etc.
The key strength of the digital telco is to own or influence (through collaborative partnership) the end-to-end value chain from content production to delivery to the end-user’s choice of device(s).
Inevitably, the digital telcos possess the undisputed leverage to offer a holistic digital media experience beyond just the content; and not just provide a big impetus but also lead the digital media space in the future.