(With all credit and apologies to the excellent movie, Silver Linings Playbook)
As businesses around the globe attempt to resume activities, operators and purveyors of digital services will play an even more significant role than during the shut down and hopefully each has learned a few things during this unique time in our shared history.
What We’ve Learned
- Networks are critical infrastructure – In case there was any doubt, recent events have cemented the need for secure, carrier-class network infrastructure that can be flexibly and quickly reconfigured.
- A lot of people can work remotely – With proper procedures, technology and support; many jobs can be performed remotely either full or part time.
- Educators are everywhere – There are mountains of content available for students, professionals and everyone else that can be engaged at a moment’s notice if good plans and procedures are in place.
- There’s plenty of crap too – Now more than ever, what we see on-line has to be verified through trusted sources and those trusted sources need to carefully scrutinize the information they put forth as truth.
- We’re just getting started – Digital transformation will accelerate for schools, governments and businesses of all sizes.
And that’s the silver lining for operators.
Although operator revenue has not suffered terribly during this time, the slow crawl back to a fully functioning and growing global economy should be seen as an opportunity to engage with business customers in a whole new way. In addition to growing revenues from business services and increased penetration, operators will benefit greatly from becoming the partner that so many businesses need now and going forward. So, here’s the playbook.
- Have a heart – While businesses and governments of all sizes will want to accelerate digital transformation efforts, many will not be able to afford it – at least not right away. Similar to what auto manufacturers and insurance companies are doing; discounts, payment deferments, long-term leases and credits will help businesses get started again and engender loyalty. Now operators don’t have to offer any of these things since they aren’t drowning in inventory. However, many businesses are so a break in operating expenses frees up capital to get things humming again and reinforces the relationship.
- Offer a turn-key service – Even if a business wants to ultimately handle the mechanics of digital transformation itself, the staff and resources aren’t there right now but the need is. Operators that can deliver easy-to-use, put together, affordable services that automate or enable common operating tasks to be performed remotely will find eager business customers. Whether that’s supply chain, remote management, cloud migration, security or call center services; if it’s easy and available companies will rethink development and procure services.
- Emphasize stable services – At a time like this, businesses aren’t experimenting with technology. 5G isn’t quite there yet, AI/analytics/machine learning are great technologies but aren’t stand-alone solutions. Give business customers solutions, not pieces to a puzzle they either can’t or won’t put together themselves. If the system an operator is using includes analytics that’s great, but it’s not the only selling point. Core carrier class attributes – security, reliability, availability, scalability – matter more than bleeding edge technology.
- Sell security – More than 95% of businesses want to work with operators to build their digital businesses. Why? Security. Business customers know that operators spend more on security than nearly any other provider and are more vigilant than most businesses can be. The need to secure both internal and external systems, interfaces and users will only grow as will the many threats.
- Be a real partner – Help business customers get the job done, whatever it is. Manage professional services, partners and vendors to understand the need, select the best approach and get the job done quickly and economically. Even if an operator can’t be a systems integrator, most operators are seen as neutral technology partners that can advocate for the right solution and act as a trusted advisor on a business customer’s side of the table.
Operators must show business customers that they are flexible partners committed to their long-term success. That means making a few sacrifices now to ensure better outcomes later. You don’t have to but it wouldn’t hurt.
Coming soon: new research and analysis from ICT Intuition on the progression of digital transformation within operators worldwide