First came the research. After months of speculation amongst vendors, analysts and observers wondering whether they were being realistic, operators confirmed it. They are capable of innovation in a number of different ways. From partnering with OTT players to increase the value of basic OTT services to delivering tailored services, and better, products.
Several months ago, BillingViews was talking to the Head of Product Design for a large operator. The trick, he insisted, is for operators to deliver products, not services. And finding the intrinsic and perceived value.
Now Telefonica has announced that it will trial home security and automation, licensing AT&T’s Digital Life platform. This will be offered through a web-based interface from the second half of 2015.
This is interesting for two reasons.
First, it shows operators actually innovating in areas which are of intrinsic value to customers. Protect a customer’s home and you are far more than a communications company. Use that valuable service as a springboard and you can offer a range of services and products that make your home more efficient, manages appliances from afar and provides a sense of comfort. That kind of comfort is priceless.
Second, the service is being licensed from another operator. While AT&T and others have been demonstrating the ‘connected home’ at the Mobile World Congresses for several years now, this is now live and real. The web site encourages you to ‘collaborate with us,’ illustrating the new and growing openness towards partnerships. The reasons it gives to collaborate are to create new revenue streams, leverage existing (BSS) infrastructure, enhance customer experience and take advantage of the growing mobility amongst customers.
While this is interesting because it is an operator offering something that it has invested heavily to produce to other operators, examples are emerging of operators doing the same with OTT players. Probably the most interesting recent example come from Openet’s recent white paper, which points to operators such as ePlus in Germany offering free WhatsApp to prepaid customers even if they have run out of credit. And perhaps the most innovative in the bandwidth hungry video arena is Bell Mobility in Canada, who offer 10 hours of video viewing for $5, without impacting customers’ data plans.
BSS are clearly enabling these new innovations and partnerships, but there is one nuance that the Head of Design said is critical. Services are fine, but products are much easier to buy. A security service must be leading edge (if there is a break in the customer should only be told once the security services are on the way) but why not sell slick matt black boxes that sit blinking reassuringly in several rooms in the home.
That is comforting – and that is the key.