Time to open up

Joseph Waring
09 Sep 2009

Lack of customer knowledge is the top obstacle in operators implementing new services. This is an interesting paradox since operators sit on a pile of information from CRM systems, transaction data and network usage statistics.

The challenge of targeting new services to specific customer segments (cited by 30% of Asia-Pacific operators as a key challenge) is that in most cases this information is not consolidated for real-time access or usable to provide customer segmentation, says Jayesh Easwaramony, head of telecom research at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific.

Little wonder then that 26% of respondents to a Telecom Asia-Frost & Sullivan online survey are considering partnering to gain the capabilities they lack. In developed markets partnering is seen as the biggest challenge (33% of respondents).

The survey shows operators are realizing that all innovation cannot be in-house. Telcos are evaluating ways to open up their network to third-party developers and also specific partners like web players.

Hong Kong's CSL chief strategy officer Han Willem Kotterman says partnerships are critical as many operators lack the scale to develop extensive infrastructure to support the development of third-party apps. "With the right partnerships operators will be able to pursue hybrid models whereby certain content and applications will be developed within the so called walled garden and others by third parties."

The survey of Asian operators, the second joint poll on next-gen telcos, was conducted in August and received 145 responses from operators across 19 Asian markets. Fifty-percent were integrated operators while 37% were mobile and 13% fixed-line providers. Just over 40% of those surveyed were from operators with fewer than one million subscribers, 25% had one to five millions subs, 16% had five to 25 million and 17% had more than 25 million.

With such strong demand to partner, the question is who are the preferred partners for telcos (see chart, this page)?

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