To stay afloat in times of profound industry transformation, it is essential for Mobile Network Operators to be flexible in their ways of working and their ability to embrace new technologies, new partners, new skills, etc.
The environment Mobile Network Operators inhabit is becoming increasingly crowded and complex. As Mobile Network Operators cannot provide the entire set of solutions and services across the mobile value chain, their ability to transform, collaborate, or enter into partnerships with other stakeholders in the industry will play a key role in their ability to succeed in the long term.
In order for Mobile Network Operators to be able to adapt, they need to become simpler to deal with. This means leveraging AI and virtualisation where it makes sense and requires the right balance of human interaction towards customers, industry players, or internal stakeholders, all the while being cost-conscious.
When we need help with technology, we all want to hear a human voice providing the answer we are looking for. The business-to-business space is no different. Customers (B2B and B2C) want a seamless experience, and an omnichannel strategy that removes communications channel silos will be key for Mobile Network Operators who want to be ahead of the race in 2030.
Shifts in technology impact more than just MNOs. Opportunities are also created for the other players in the ecosystem: hyperscalers, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), cloud and solutions providers, etc. They are equally keen to take a big chunk of the mobile services revenue pie.
In the business-to-consumer segment, consumers tend to think of Mobile Network Operators only in terms of network coverage. Consumers seldom think of them when it comes to services. Instead, they look to third parties. This is why partnering with the right external players presents such a great opportunity for Mobile Network Operators.
New technologies, such as 5G, will open up greater possibilities for Mobile Network Operators, both in the business-to-consumer and business-to-business segments, but innovative partners are needed to spot and leverage these opportunities.
In the business-to-business segment in particular, Mobile Network Operators should strive to be so much more than just network providers. Partnering should be a critical component of a business-to-business Mobile Network Operator strategy. The business-to-business environment is global, but it is also very verticalized across industry segments, each having its own specific set of requirements. Identifying a clear partner roadmap strategy for both regions and industries will be crucial when addressing the needs of those verticals at the domestic or international level.
Industry forums have the unique capability of being able to bring together players who are motivated by the same business end goals but who know that these cannot be achieved alone within their organisation.
Being part of a large-scale industry forum provides Mobile Network Operators and others within the sector with opportunities to discuss, identify, and overcome industry challenges. Uncertainty in the industry can be tackled by learning from each other how to develop business networking capabilities, fine-tune partnership strategies, improve practices, increase knowledge about industry trends, and determine how to adapt to them.
We are driving full speed ahead into an era of rapid innovation cycles, profound corporate transformation, and increased industry collaboration in a multi-faceted ecosystem of partners. Those who do not embrace all these elements and are not quick enough to change will not survive. Partnering and leveraging industry knowledge and capabilities will no doubt help define what a successful Mobile Network Operator should look like in the future.
I believe the most successful Mobile Network Operators in 2030 will be those who have simplified their customer communication processes and who have linked with myriad partners to offer services and functionality to both business-to-consumer and business-to-business customers that are far greater than the simple sum of the individual parts: more effective and much more user-friendly.
Suzy Menneret is the MEF wholesale advisor and programme lead at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), a global trade body established in 2000 and headquartered in the UK, with members across the world.