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Telecom Vendors - Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

The advisory and ventures side of our business is getting more and more approaches from vendors keen to work out how to sell into the rapidly changing ‘Telco 2.0’ market. These are major players who are seeing old market certainties rapidly dissipate and who are searching for a profitable role for their company. Often the people who approach us are semi-isolated visionaries within their own companies, often fighting against internal myopia.

Our response is: yes, by all means you need to keep selling ‘what’s on the truck today’, but, given the key Telco 2.0 trends, you need some lateral thinking to find a sustainable long-term role in the market. And you need to put serious resources behind this NOW in the S-curve cycle.

Our survey (full results out in Janunary for subscribers to Telco 2.0 Insider) has made it clear that telcos are unclear about how they will grow their businesses in the future (beyond M&A and regulatory manipulation). Snap shots here and here .

This problem is really about business models: what products and services to sell, to whom, how and when, and how to make a healthy profit from doing so.

So, our advice to vendors is that rather than following the telcos by supporting them in their CURRENT thinking (which they themselves say needs overhauling), the greater opportunity is to lead them via, firstly, a differentiated view on the apps and services (and business models) that telcos SHOULD be developing/supporting and, secondly, by developing solutions in the areas that leverage the vendor’s real strengths relevant to the telcos’ problems. These ‘solutions’ must be - heresy! - primarily commercial solutions (full end-to-end sustainable money making schemes), rather than technical (“Here’s our stuff, you work out how to make money from it”).

To achieve this vendors need to start out with a fresh assessment of end-user needs within different market segments (the categorisation of which, itself, needs a fresh assessment).

There’s clearly a huge opportunity for major vendors (particularly IT players) in the ‘Telco 2.0’ market, if the market is analysed creatively in this way rather than from a product-centric or a ‘what are our telco customers currently asking for’ point of view.

Our research shows that telcos would be highly receptive to unique thinking in the apps/services and business model areas: either improving their current plans (ie. Where to Properly Focus IMS? How to Make IPTV really Make Money? How to Grow Business Upstream with Advertisers? How to Develop Voice & Messaging Services that Beat Internet Competition?) or developing new growth opportunities.

We’re delighted that many of the leading vendors are using the March Telco 2.0 Industry Brainstorm as a key milestone to a.) get their internal thinking in order and b.) educate their key customers and prospects. (The cleverest ones, though, are getting their internal functions together for a Telco 2.0 Internal Brainstorm in advance of the event…!)

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