The islands of discussions in our industry around "providing connectivity versus providing connectivity +X or +Y” are fraught with the legacy mindset of trying to “stay one step ahead” of consumers.

It's hard not to hold tight onto traditional idea-to-implementation approaches that have been sustainable and successful in serving the mass market, including:

  • Innovation rooted in R&D—creating and driving value propositions based on technology.
  • Subscription-based bundling from a menu of offers and predetermined channels.
  • Strict adherence to key performance indicators, whereby extracting ARPU is hallmark of success.

Addressing Generation Z

Contrast this to the evolving, digitally-savvy consumer. The so-called "Generation Z" (born ~1995-2005) are digital and cloud natives; they don’t remember a time before the rating of vendors on social media; they live and play in ecosystems constructed via hacking and mashups; and the solution to any problem can be crowdsourced, if not already solved elsewhere in the world and posted on YouTube.

How would operators address this generation that will soon make up a majority of their users, given their current ways of working? They don’t. They shouldn’t. Well, not on their own, anyway. Instead, perhaps, they segment their market in a new way—not by geodemographics, but by the type of problems that could be addressable with the technology and business model innovations that are emerging today.

Three new market segments

  • Segment 1: Known problems. These are problems that operators can address unilaterally with digitalization—making mobile broadband easier to buy, easier to use, and easier to enjoy.

  • Segment 2: Intractable problems. Herein lie the challenges that the Networked Society has struggled with for years (e.g., the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development) and operators have struggled to monetize. A cloud-enabled “triple helix” of private enterprise, public/government institutions and academia working together, make it possible to execute tangible Technology-for-Good and IoT workloads.

  • Segment 3: Unknown problems. In a data-centric world, customer experience analytics and artificial intelligence identify the problems that we didn’t know that we/society even had. Problems for which the solutions are too expansive for us to comprehend or manage. Problems which may require shared-risk, shared-reward ecosystems consisting of participants whose value is articulated and delivered with unencumbered transparency.

It will be hard to demonstrate relevance to these digital "segments" until we can truly shed our product/production-led mindset—until we let go of the notion of trying to stay one step ahead of the customer. This white paper can serve as a road map for how we transform from an eat-what-we-serve mentality to embracing co-creation and consumption-led orchestration:

Find out more about Telecom IT for the Digital Economy

Read more about  Ericsson customer experience analytics here

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Peter Buonfiglio
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Peter Buonfiglio

Peter Buonfiglio is a proponent of software-driven enterprises and fascinated by the role that ICT plays in realizing the value of the Networked Society. Peter has twenty years of experience in telecom marketing and strategy with Ericsson and prior at Telcordia Technologies and Bellcore.

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