At the beginning of 2016 Nebula released a forecast of the top telecoms trends that would affect enterprise level telecoms ecosystems in 2016. These trends are based on Nebula’s close observation of the telecoms market and what is affecting their current clients, and provide insight on how enterprises can prepare for digitalisation to enable high performance business.
Reflecting on the activity in the telecoms market during the last few months, it is possible to see how the various telecoms trends are coming to realization in the market.
These are the main Telecoms Trends that have been realized in the market thus far.
1. Enhanced Focus on Network Security
Nebula predicted that there would be an enhanced focus on network security in the market as wireless LANs and business mobility becomes more widespread. With network access control no longer solely tied to physical LAN cabling, and with increased numbers of mobile devices being used for various business functions, companies must consider who has access to their network and what information is available to them.
Businesses must therefore consider how to provide the required levels of connectivity for a mobile workforce, at an acceptable level of security. For example, employees may be able to work from anywhere, but sensitive company information should never be transferred over unsecured public networks.
This issue was starkly highlighted by the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, released earlier this year. In this report it was found that despite having fallen victim to cybercrime, many South Africans are lax when it comes to securing devices. Nearly 1 in 5 South Africans do not have a password on their smartphone or desktop computer and they continue to put themselves at risk when it comes to online activity.
A recent Aberdeen report also quantified the value of security awareness training in large enterprises, showing that there can be real financial benefits to companies that invest in security training and awareness.
2. Managing the use of OTT services
Another major trend that is unfolding in the telecoms space is the use of Over-The-Top (OTT) applications on mobile devices. OTT applications run on mobile data, unlike voice and SMS services, and are reshaping how mobile operators provide their services, as they have created a massive shift from voice to data usage.
This can lead to employees using large amounts of data as they run OTT applications that are both business-related and personal. Additionally, this can cause security concerns if the OTT services are accessing the company network.
OTT services can allow employees to exchange files, messages, data, video, and more from their mobile devices. This can improve communication, efficiency, and information-sharing in a business. It is important however for businesses to manage which applications are being used, and the associated data costs that this incurs.
The force of this trend can be seen most strongly in the way that many mobile operators are re-shaping their contracts and mobile packages to refocus on data over voice.
According to Connection Telecom MD Dave Meintjes, who spoke at the annual MyBroadband Cloud and Hosting Conference in June, OTT applications are rapidly cannibalising traditional voice services. While traditional circuit-switch voice volumes declined, VoIP traffic saw strong growth in recent years.
In addition, Telkom mobile has recently announced new mobile plans that put data bundles at the core of the package and allow free VoIP calls on WhatsApp, Viber and BBM, as well as free SMSs and free calls to Telkom numbers, both mobile and fixed-line. Meanwhile MTN has launched customisable contracts that enable customers to select their own ratio of voice to data services.
3. Next Generation Loyalty Programs
The rise of Virtual Mobile Network Operators (VMNOs) as a way for large companies to offer more advanced loyalty programs is another major tend that Nebula has predicted for 2016. By becoming a Virtual Mobile Network Operator (VMNO), a company can leverage the power of its existing customer base to provide a variety of value added services through telecoms services.
The growth of this trend can be seen in the recent announcement by Cell C that it’s collaboration with local MVNOs like FNB Connect, Mr Price Mobile, and BokSel has brought in more than a million end-user customers.
Cell C is currently the only mobile operator in SA that enables other brands to launch mobile services using its network infrastructure. However, MTN has revealed its plans to also introduce this offering in coming months.
4. IT Self-Service
Nebula also sees the potential for growth in IT self-service channels as a major new telecoms trend. Enterprises are looking for ways to give staff more control of their own IT needs. Many companies have high IT overheads, and inefficient systems for dealing with problems.
Telecoms service providers are also constantly looking for ways to improve their support channels, reducing turnaround time and streamlining the support process.
For example, Telkom is introducing new self-help channels which will empower customers to solve their technical, billing, and other problems. This will remove the need for customers to phone a call centre or visit a store to solve their problems, and reduce the overall cost of customer support.
There have been some exciting developments in the telecoms market this year, and we are looking forward to seeing how more of the trends unfold during the rest of 2016 and what the effects will be on the enterprise’s telecoms ecosystem.