How to Win Customers and Influence OTTs
The platform business model is becoming increasingly popular in the telecoms industry, due to business opportunities it creates for both telcos and OTT providers.
However, moving from a siloed proprietary infrastructure to an open, collaborative, and flexible business model can be a challenge, both from the point of technical resources and also from a subjective self-perception of one’s own readiness for this change.
In today’s blog post, we will look at the benefits of moving to a platform business model, the main concerns that telecoms managers have about platform adoption, and how by becoming a platform-focused enterprise—telcos can streamline their internal processes, attract top talent, and expand their customer base.
How does a platform business model function?
In a broad sense, a platform is a business model where a company creates an ecosystem to bring together users and providers, who can interact and exchange.
The logic behind a platform is to facilitate matchmaking.
End-users crave content and digital services to make their lives more convenient.
Merchants crave end-users to expand their market share and improve their products.
Between them are telcos.
By bringing content to end-users and end-users to merchants who produce this content and services telcos bridge the gap and create value for everyone involved.
Depending on the industry and business approach, different platforms can earn profits differently. Some platform owners have control over platform participants on the supply side and earn by charging a commission to actors on either the demand side, supply side, or both sides.
Ecosystem as the platform of the future
In the digital context, a particularly popular type of platform is an ecosystem. Like any platform, an ecosystem helps bring together merchants and end-users and actuates cash flow for the business.
The major difference is in fact that ecosystems do not exercise control over merchants. These merchants, who can be anyone from an independent developer who creates games, or an OTT media outlet, act as independent suppliers offering a range of their own products.
Through an ecosystem, merchants gain access to a large customer base to whom they can place their products and services.
Meanwhile, end-users choose to use the ecosystem as it provides them with easy access to a variety of services.
Now, let’s see how this is applied to a telecom company.
Benefits of Telco 2.0 platform adoption
1. Ecosystems create room for partnership opportunities
Right now, telcos have the edge of possessing the infrastructure and large quantities of data, which they mostly keep isolated.
Through an ecosystem, telecoms could open up these assets, attract partners (merchants) who could use them to build innovative and attractive products. These range from video games, mobile payment apps, telehealth, online shopping, and more.
All these products would then be offered to the large customer base telecoms have nurtured over the years.
This would benefit both merchants, which would be earning on an increasing customer base and telecoms which would be attracting more and more subscribers through a wholesome omnichannel experience.
By helping non-telcos expand their reach, telecoms would be perceived as favorable business partners.
This would help them to attract new merchants and move into numerous industries, such as smart cities, telehealth, video, and media streaming, or even agriculture.
2. New technologies attract the workforce of tomorrow
In addition to new revenue streams, the transition from a traditional business model to a platform would allow telecoms to try new technologies and in doing so attract and retain top talent.
The technology and tools used at work are often cited as one of the key drivers that motivate technical employees. By expanding into areas such as IoT, where telecoms’ employees could combine hardware and software solutions to deliver smart products, telcos would be positioning themselves high in the labor market.
Plus, a platform business model would allow the telecom management to better organize existing employees around new tasks. Contrary to the belief that a platform means loss of jobs, the truth is the opposite.
A platform business model reshapes existing jobs. It helps re-allocate their employees to where their skills are more needed.
For example, a telecom employee who previously worked on network maintenance could learn how smart homes or devices function and how network capacities could be utilized to deliver a new experience to customers.
This also benefits employees because they will get to work on innovative projects and learn skills relevant to the market.
3. Positioning telcos as genuinely useful
By switching to a platform business model, telcos would become providers of a wholesome digital experience. Pairing up with other market players would allow them to offer convenient, personalized services to their existing and potential customers.
Instead of offering just a limited set of proprietary services, a platform-focused telco could be offering a marketplace where customers could access highly personalized services, from video games to mobile payment, to remote smart home management.
These varied products and services would satisfy a higher number of people, but without sacrificing the personalized aspect of it.
In turn, this would spark a positive spiral that would increase customer satisfaction. The higher the customer satisfaction, the easier it would be to enlarge the customer base.
And also, a platform model boosts telco visibility. Operators would be perceived as more than a network signal that delivers a monthly bill for often “invisible” services. A platform would genuinely show the importance of telcos in allowing end-users to consume the content they care about.
Finally, platforms allow telcos to offer personalized services to many, not just one person. As a result, telecoms can penetrate more markets and in turn, are likely to generate more profit.