To continue with our Crystal Ball 2012 blogs, Sax Krishna, Global Leader, TIME and BFS provides fascinating commentary on the business models, markets, and consumer focus shaping the telecom and technology industries in 2012.
We live in an already interconnected world. However, this connectivity is poised to rapidly accelerate and intensify, both within the telecom industry (through increased mobile broadband penetration and fiber to the home) and within the technology industry (through the ability to interconnect multiple devices in the cloud).
MOBILE BROADBAND: THE NEXT FRONTIER, BUT CAN THE NETWORK SUPPORT IT?
With fixed line service at 75% penetration, mobile broadband is the next major area of growth. However, due to the rapid adoption of tablets last year and consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for data, telco providers can expect problems with mobile network bandwidth. We saw this issue manifest publicly late last year with complaints by AT&T customers who experienced delays with iPhone 4S activations.
With the same networks accommodating voice, smartphone data, and tablets, saturation is a very real threat. Alternative networks will need to increase bandwidth to ensure consistent performance and speed. One likely area of focus will be the white space spectrum, the unoccupied white space between owned spectrums, which can be made available for targeting when needed.
The tremendous increase in availability of applications on mobile broadband and the increased usage of both data and pure entertainment (video content, mobile games, etc.) are creating more sophisticated users with less tolerance for disruption. Consumers will demand more holistic customer support, better technical support, and better understanding of them (as consumers).
For instance, streaming video companies need to more actively segment customers demographically, educate agents about the customer mindset by segment, and engineer processes accordingly. All of this will and must impact the way the customer experience is delivered with demand increasing for true multi-channel integration. No longer will consumers be content with the choices of phone, chat, or email, rather the “or” will shift to “and.”
While chat and email are convenient for online consumers, their intolerance for performance interruptions creates demand for immediate phone support as well. Right now, contact centers use very discrete channels and support handoffs are far from seamless. Multi-channel, simultaneous support will be necessary so that phone agents can provide instructions for the customer to complete online or email documents, etc. While simultaneous, multichannel support reduces time and costs, systems and applications need to be in place to support this.
FIBER TO THE HOME WILL INCREASE ADOPTION OF SMART TV
Fixed broadband is continually being upgraded to fiber for higher speed servicing. In the US, fiber passes through 29 million homes, and this penetration will continue to increase over the next 5 years. As it does, the ability to push more complicated applications will increase and drive adoption of Smart TV (the ability to stream from the Internet directly to the television).
A television with enough processing power can become the primary channel of digital interface for the home. With wireless capability, Smart TV can serve as a “media center”, eclipsing PCs in this area, and managing not only video but music and lifestyle as well.
The caution for providers is that running Smart TVs is complicated business. This is where holistic, digitally converged customer support will begin to rise to the forefront in 2012, although it may be a few more years before it reaches maturity. Customers will want their issue fixed with a single phone call or contact center interaction and will not tolerate being passed off to various hardware and service provider support teams.
INTERNET OF THINGS: DIGITALLY CONVERGED SUPPORT
The Internet of things (IOT) has the capability to revolutionize life in the modern world through the accessibility of real time information. IOT refers to the ability to connect to multiple networks, access information from them in the cloud and process it.
A great example of this is the connected car. We have the technology to enable a car to process information from multiple interconnected devices such as smartphones and apps, obtaining real-time information on traffic and much more.
For example, when driving through a shopping district I could receive an alert on which store is having a sale. Perhaps I find out that Steve Madden shoes are being sold at a 60% discount. To make my journey to the store even easier, the connected car could also alert me to the closest parking lot with the maximum amount of space. Even before arriving at the shopping mall, I could check the store’s website to find out if the color and size I want is available. I could access the ecommerce shop, buy online, and pick it up at the store. I could then take my smartphone containing the bar code of the pair of shoes I want into the store, show it to the point of sale clerk and walk out of the store with the shoes in less than five minutes!
It sounds seamless but we need to remember that all of these touch points require initial and ongoing customer support. At any point in this process, the user could call for support and the service provider would need to be able to have a view into the entire process in order to effectively resolve the issue or answer the question.
To this end, digitally converged support will become more and more necessary. As consumers realize the value of integrated support between device, ISP and content provider, they will be willing to pay more. During this year we will see more opportunities for businesses in both technology and telecom to offer that.
If you enjoyed reading this Crystal Ball 2012, here are some other blogs in this series from other Minacs leaders:
- CEO Deepak Patel’s vision for 2012 and beyond for global outsourcing in this post.
- President-APAC, Milind Godbole sticks his neck out as a veteran outsourcing practitioner in this post.
- President-NA & Europe, Anil Bhalla offers insights on technology trends that are changing business in this post.
- Global Leader-Manufacturing & Strategic Industries, Scott Shafer predicts how outsourcing services providers will meet the demands of manufacturing industry in this post.