Digital Worker Market - More Telco inspiration please
There should be a significant growth opportunity for telcos in the business market, especially the SME (Small & Medium Size Enterprise) segment. But it's a challenge, due to current perceptions of what the end-user (knowledge worker) needs, what's sold to them, and, maybe most importantly, the way it's sold.
- Clarify knowledge worker needs and usage trends (current and future),
- Articulate the key challenges in responding to this (looking at devices, identity, security, packaging up propositions, and sales methods - stimulus from Nokia, Intel, BT Global Services),
- Learn from case studies (from BT's ground-breaking MyBT programme, Cisco's internal use of it's voice/web/video collaboration tools, and Microsoft in terms of making office apps mobile)
- Refine the strategic options that Operators have in this market (exploiting un-met needs, and re-configuring the value chain).
As with all the workstreams at the event, the stimulus presentations are tightly focused after considerable briefing, to provide new, cutting-edge insights. The participants will brainstorm using the interactive 'Mindshare' process.
HYPOTHESIS: DIGITAL WORKER - Opportunities for Telcos in addressing Knowledge Worker Productivity
Digital workers free themselves from analogue constraints of place, people and time
• Change in composition of the workforce: a generation of creative (and sometimes chaotic) individuals are entering the workforce. They take computers, mobile phones, broadband and the Internet's resources for granted.
• Flexible careers, flexible working, flexible lives: Working anywhere, anytime, on anything. The daily commute is fast becoming a mobile office, the home becoming a hub for the enterprise.
• Blurring of divide between large enterprise, SME and entrepreneur: all have access to similar, powerful business and communications facilities at low cost (although corporates still have access to the most powerful systems).
• Users are adapting multiple communications tools (including consumer technology) to fit their work needs. There is a corresponding change in social expectations of workers and their contactability and responsiveness.
• Social, environmental and user demands to reduce unnecessary or unproductive travel.
Current Telco approach to solving Digital Worker needs is uninspiring
• Corporates and large enterprises: full managed global services based on large individually negotiated contracts
• SMEs: Individual services - PSTN, Mobile Phone, Broadband, cable etc. with premium support.
• SoHo: buying pattern similar to SMEs, but often buy residential/consumer services instead.
Is it still leisure if you check your work email on the golf course?
• Work-life balance a problem to users. Mixing office and work stresses with home life can adversely affect the family.
• Blackberry-type messaging is a corporate stovepipe that doesn't necessarily fit well with other personal communications needs, hence many carry two devices (or more).
• Users bear high hidden costs in getting connected, and managing messages from multiple channels and dealing with multi-tasking.
Telco solutions placing too much integration and support effort on the user, and cost too much
• Large corporate market is fiercely competitive, with narrow margins. Yet solutions often lack support for home/remote working, and mobile services are positioned as an add-on rather than fully integrated.
• SME/SoHo stand-alone services are not integrated, and may lack satisfactory support. They want the same benefits of convergence as big companies, but without the need to staff dedicated internal comms teams.
• Technical challenge of integrating operator NGN capabilities into enterprises with fragmented legacy infrastructure (mixed TDM and IP voice) - but opportunity for high-margin SME managed services too.
• Unmet demand for new types of service provider who offers IT support as well as communications.
• SMEs like to buy from other SMEs, but telcos haven't built channels to fit this buying pattern.
• Users are resorting to arbitrage schemes and alternative access (e.g. Wi-Fi) to avoid usurious mobile operator charges, particularly when roaming.
Questions (In the minds of the telcos)
How to support digital workers in large corporations in a way that:
• Lowers the pain of provisioning and payment.
• Offers better internal and external voice and data communications.
• Allows, more seamlessly, interaction and collaboration with other workers from other corporations (including suppliers, partners) and freelancers.
• Securely extends the full range of corporate communications outside the office - at home, on the move and abroad.
• Support work-life balance
How to support digital workers in SMEs and SoHo so that you:
• Provide for all ICT needs support the daily job function in the absence of comprehensive internal resources: affordable, universal reach and portable between work settings.
• Provide a 'big company' feel to a growing company - replicating the core features of a corporate intranet.
Answer (Our high level view of what needs to happen)
• Learn from the unfolding story of BT's 21C network as one of the most advanced NGNs.
• Apply more sophisticate qualitative market research techniques to seek to identify unmet user needs for digital workers, and then work out how to address them by whatever means available:
- Move from a network sales to a services and solutions mindset ("communications integrator").
- Incorporate 3rd party technology, networks, services ("mashups") as necessary
- Make the home office/remote worker an integral part of every corporate sale.
• Fast track a change in thinking:
- For cellular operators, accept that 3G spectrum may not provide all a digital worker needs.
- Allow competing retailers and systems integrators to make innovative use of wholesale network capabilities, despite rivalry from own-brand retail operation.
• Decide on where you want to play in each market:
- Pipe, Protection or Platform strategy?
• Experiment with new business models, embracing distributed bottom-up decision-making and service acquisition among end-users.
• Focus on identity and security technologies so that SMEs can enjoy what large corporates already have.