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How comms service providers can fight back

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The competitive landscape for communications service providers is shifting. With barriers to entry collapsing, a new class of digital competitor is leveraging scale to spend far more than traditional providers, says PETER SINCLAIR, MD for Communications, Media and Technology at Accenture.

For example, one of the leading Over The Top (OTT) providers of streaming video spends more than 20 times as much on customer recommendations as the average Pay TV provider, and has roughly five times more resources who describe their roles as primarily dedicated to customer experience and user interface (UI). These digital disruptors have established a new standard of simplicity for the customer experience and a rate of new feature introduction that incumbents in both communications and media are struggling to match.

In seeking to fight back, CSPs have so far found it difficult to convert incumbency into an advantage. Their traditional approaches to revenue growth are no longer sufficient – the commoditised core of their business is not generating adequate returns and their legacy operating as well as technology models are highly siloed, proving to be unscalable. Meanwhile, a “me too” approach to digital initiatives has been insufficient to offset an ongoing, progressive reduction in customer stickiness and loyalty.

The good news for CSPs is that they now can take advantage of the emergence of a new, exciting world of living services, starting with services to the home, that is creating new ecosystem value chains and new potential for profitable revenue growth. “Smart home” technology uptake has been slowly building over the last few years, with early-adopter consumers introducing elements such as connected security, smart thermostats and voice activation systems into their homes.

 

Now, however, such services are simply “aggregated,” rather than truly integrated. In other words, consumers are engaging with each home device and application separately, using one company for broadband/TV, another for connected security, and other providers for other services.

 

Accenture believes this tendency toward aggregation is unlikely to persist. Instead, consumer mass market uptake and ease of use for the smart home will be driven through integration: by bringing together everything consumers need – including traditionally operated delivered services, such as broadband and TV, as well as newer smart home services – via one platform, with fully integrated, highly personalised service.

 

The demand is certainly there: Accenture research found that 80 percent of consumers surveyed want a single provider for all their digital needs. Now, CSPs need to develop platform businesses and ecosystems that deliver everything their customers want together in one integrated offer. If CSPs can create the platform of choice for customers and third-party businesses alike, then the smart home opportunity will prove extremely fruitful.

 

CSPs’ knowledge of consumers offers significant advantages. The data available through the platform about consumer behaviour will enable CSPs to identify potential additional services, and to pass these vital insights onto service partners.

 

If they are to take advantage of the new hypergrowth markets that are available to them, CSPs who need to become platform-based digital service providers will need to:

  • Build exclusive control points on three levels: the devices, data, and the API gateway that enables the partner ecosystem, making possible a full portfolio of digital services.
  • Focus on building reach, versus Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), working across traditional boundaries and providing service subsidies, as needed. This means rethinking the traditional boundaries between “inside” and “outside” the home, and potentially departing from their legacy network footprint.
  • Use this reach, along with evolved platform capabilities, to onboard third-party service providers on an open API platform.
  • Trade reach for authentication to capitalise on their opportunities for monetising B2B data, insight and marketing capabilities.

In all of this, they will need to build their platform capabilities at web scale – global, efficient, and priced to compete – while at the same time, providing customer engagement that is truly differentiated. The offering starts with getting the in-home connectivity experience right, and migrating to the next-generation hub that will enable the smart home to take off. The key to success is for every part of this journey to be built from the customer perspective.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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