Odd-Even Rule: An opportunity in sight for telcos?

Customer and Innovation are two words that exist in every company’s vision and mission statements as well as these are the top placeholders in every CEO’s priority list. The context and application of these concepts is what differentiates leaders from challengers; and near future will test this once again for the telecom industry.

Environment Related Curbs: On January 1, 2016, Delhi experienced its first up-close tryst with Environment related curbs. For the first time these measures touched common man at a larger scale. Imagine if this pilot is successful and continues beyond 15 days – beyond Delhi and beyond roads? What if all metros apply this rule? What if tomorrow there is a maximum limit on number of flights per passenger per year – national or international?

As environment conscious users, we will be obligated (by choice or otherwise) to move towards alternate means for work, education, leisure, networking and others. We will see organizations opening up “work from home” policy at a larger scale, online shopping touching another boomerang, schools adopting virtual classrooms, hospitals providing virtual OPD services and a lot more.

For telcos, this is an opportunity to provide this alternate way of life to the users. Video calling for retail users and Tele-Presence for business users at affordable prices supported by easy to ‘deploy & use’ infrastructure. Video services will become voice or wi-fi services of tomorrow – it will not be an “add-on” service but a basic service mandatory for day to day activities of a common man.

Telcos will need to invest in shaping this product oriented towards daily needs, smart targeting across urban and rural segment, B2B or B2C positioning, “priority” pricing than premium pricing and re-defining their competition cum alliances in the new ecosystem.

Way of Ordinary Life Engagement than Pricing Engagement: If we slice the number of end users by age (age of actual end users not registered buyers on subscriber enrolment forms); a significant portion will fall under 14 years. Many children beyond 4 years are exposed to the telephony services for varied reasons – safety, educational, entertainment or just an easy alternate to nanny services.

However, by the time this generation grows up and becomes an eligible buyer on its own – it would have already developed its loyalties to a brand – education, gaming, fitness, friends all will be linked to a network they were introduced to. On the other hand, the current sets of users cum buyers are in baby-care period of this technology enabled way of ordinary life – adapting for themselves and their children.

As telcos, this is an opportunity to develop “Way of Ordinary Life” (WOOL) based engagements than price based engagements with their customers. Through suite of customized and integrated services, telcos have the potential to influence the WOOL than just one time buying behavior. In a decade from now, retail touch points will be irrelevant if they are not transformed into WOOL stores. Customers are not looking for platform providers but integrated providers that bring to them a WOOL package whereby one can meet Education, Healthcare, Leisure & Business needs.

Telcos need to simplify the app stores for customers and offer them most relevant apps based on their lifestyles and usage patterns. For this, telcos are in significant need of gathering the accurate demographic information about the end users (not the buyers) as it will be fundamental for customizing WOOL based offers & engagements. All touchpoints across customer care, retail and digital channels need to be activated for the same. Customers themselves will be willing to provide the information if it can provide ease in their way of living than just share of wallet. Telcos will need to support this WOOL engagement across the value chain and across channels. Also, it is time for smart B2B alliances and monetizing on M2M technology to be integrated with end user lifestyle beyond apps.

Deepti Sagar
(The author is Director, TMT practice at KPMG)

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