Evolving Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: EVOL), a leader in real-time digital engagement solutions and services, anticipates a challenging but potentially rewarding year ahead for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) in 2021. Evolving Systems’ leaders expect a number of pressing issues to come to the fore and dominate strategic decision-making in the industry over the next twelve months. These include the following.
The telecoms industry will continue to evolve rapidly both in spite of and as a result of the pandemic:
• 5G will continue to roll out with end-users potentially benefitting from more reliable high speed Internet access, while the operators increase their bandwidth capacity allowing them to target new subscriber growth via new services or by taking a bigger share of the marketplace.
• There will be an increasing focus and determination to capitalize on customers’ trust. Data intimacy, which is yet to be won, can untap many different plays; from digital ID to optimized operations.
• Expect a further effort to capitalize on the customer data AI offers the opportunity for, a quantum leap in customer experience enhancement by utilizing the data to improve targeting and personalization; getting the right offer, right moment, right customer and right channel thanks to an integrated customer view.
• Content monetization will continue to drive alternative revenue streams. The trends towards commoditization of connectivity leaves video as the main element of differentiation, fueled by AI-driven customization. Growth of video streaming will continue to explode with the ‘reaggregation’ (or rebundling) of streaming offerings, an approach pioneered by players like Amazon and Roku.
• The development of the next generation of use cases based on 5G will continue. These include:
o Video surveillance and analytics
o Fixed Wireless Access
o Immersive experiences
o Smart stadiums
o eHealth services
o Machine remote control
o Cloud robotics and process automation Connected Vehicles
• We expect there will be greater investment by telcos in networks and platforms next year rather than less. Social lifestyle will continue to evolve from no lifestyle restriction to semi-lifestyle restriction for the better part of 2021. Some business will cease, some business will flourish. New and innovative digital enterprises will emerge. For CSPs, this means either investing in new enterprise applications or acquisition or partnerships from e-Wallets to Virtual malls, OTT services, etc.
• Impacts on revenues from the pandemic will mean costs will not only continue to be a focus for telephony services but will be thrust to the top of the agenda. While consumers will struggle with bills and cashflow may be affected, use of mobile will continue to grow, especially data. Services such as Zoom have seen significant growth, as has online shopping and mobile data will continue to enable that. Operators have a unique opportunity to encourage merchants to provide mobile-based services to encourage online shopping. While classic broadband is available in more developed economies, developed economy infrastructure means mobile is crucial for online access. Operators will continue to build their presence in the SME space, providing services to enable retailers to sell online.
Network and Activation teams face new challenges
• eSIM will continue to be implemented but will not hit massive numbers as devices with eSIM capability will remain out of reach for the average person. Nevertheless, meeting eSIM infrastructure requirements comes into play now so that, as use of the technology expands, CSPs are ready.
• IoT will develop in logistics and delivery, with online sales (due to the pandemic) driving a need for more efficiency to cope with the increased load.
• KYC regulation will adjust as the practicalities of an in-person check limits sales and competition among operators.
2021 will see Customer Value and Loyalty programs being reinvented; at least the most successful ones
• Operators will continue the search for complimentary offers for consumer and SMEs as their service bundles still tend towards ‘all-you-can-eat’.
• Winning the hearts and minds of our customers will become a core goal. Great customer experience is powerful. It can provide the important emotional connection that is the ‘missing multiplier’ between operations and what the customer feels. As a result, there will be a focus on building real and meaningful relationships, constantly listening and analyzing customer needs and then adapting quickly to stay relevant and add value ‘in the moment’.
• There will be a new approach to marketing where success is defined from solving customer problems, not pushing products. The CSP will transform activities from traditional, product-push marketing to engaging customers one-to-one.
• Conversational marketing will move beyond the simple chatbot, and simple inbound and outbound communication will be replaced by a new approach – interactive, conversational marketing.
• The pandemic has changed consumer sentiment with the result that people are adopting digital habits more rapidly than before and also trying new products and services as a result. Necessity (and lockdown) have been the mothers of invention which translates to new opportunities for connecting with segments that brands previously couldn’t reach. With that said, other players are going to reach your consumers too so CSPs will need to work harder on their loyalty progams than ever before.
Matthew Stecker, CEO, Evolving Systems, noted: “2021 will again be challenging for CSPs as traditional end-user expectations have been and continue to be re set in light of the pandemic. But it will also be a year of great opportunity, with internal support infrastructures being redrawn. Those who move quickly to address the challenges will reap substantial rewards in the medium- and long-terms as they emerge from a difficult period well positioned to succeed in a new world. At Evolving Systems, we know better than anyone how state-of-the-art customer communications programs work and the benefits they can deliver in the telecoms industry. Those carriers who are driving innovation in their relationships with customers in this highly competitive market will be the industry leaders for years ahead.”