Historically telecom operators have been product focused, where the objective was to have ownership across the entire product or service. The delivery of the product, billing, after sales… all were managed by the operator.
While many services were sourced from external partners, they were expected to work within the framework of telecom operators, with clear product, service, pricing guidelines. This product orientation also resulted in telcos focusing energies on a limited set of services, constrained by the limitations of corporate oversight.
However, the changing telecom landscape has resulted in the balance of power now being shared with a range of players – device manufacturers, content players etc. As the needs of customers and enterprises get more evolved, it will be difficult for a single mobile operator to fulfil their needs in a relevant manner.
This has necessitated a different way of operating. The traditional product mindset of controlling the value chain and service delivery may no longer be relevant and there is need to think in terms of platforms.
The difference between product and platform thinking is not semantic, instead the differences are quite deep.
Platform thinking involves giving up control. It involves a range of products that tap into the telecom infrastructure, consumer base, billing infrastructure…but the products are not completely delivered by the telecom operator. The individual providers of the products have fair degree of freedom in pricing, service delivery etc.