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IT as a Differentiator for MVNx Businesses



The global Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) marketplace has come a long way since its formation in Western Europe. From simple beginnings to infusing competition into the marketplace, MVNO as a business model has become an alternative approach for operators who have traditionally viewed direct retail as the best approach to take. The MVNO business model has led to allied business models like sub-brand operators (MNOs), enablers (MVNEs) and aggregators (MVNAs) resulting in a larger global MVNx market spectrum.

As the MVNx business matures and strives to differentiate itself, do innovation levers go beyond pure play communications? The MVNxs of today need a supportive partner, who can initiate and act as a catalyst in their business interests and long-term well-being.

 MVNO Market Outlook:

The global outlook currently suggests that MVNOs are gradually moving away from saturated markets toward markets that afford more opportunities. The developing markets of the world, such as the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions have the fastest growing economies of the world and offer huge potential. The business is also moving beyond the concept of pure play SIM sale, towards more lucrative options.

 MVNO Business Opportunities:

Despite a “perceived” volatility in the business, there has been a significant increase in the MVNO adoption globally. Typically, in a quest to become successful in alternative business models and revenue streams, Communication Service Providers (CSPs), investors and other business entities embark on this “attractive” MVNx business. The CSPs venture into the MVNx business primarily to target niche segments (outside of their classic retail segmentation realm) and diversify into adjacent services/geographies. Some examples of CSPs embracing MVNO business models include Orange Horizons, Telecom Italia, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) and COX. It is considered one of the ideal options for a service provider's expansion strategy. 

MVNx Business Levers and Strategies:

The individual MVNO types are pressured with specific issues and needs. However, irrespective of the type of MVNO, a common thread runs across the challenges and success criteria. Any investor seeking to be successful in any of these areas needs to take cognizance of the common items, to ensure a solid business foundation and be tactful in overcoming critical operational challenges.

The common critical business lever for MVNOs of different classifications, types and characteristics is driving innovation through right sizing the market, products and positioning in the most aggressive manner. Beyond innovation, it is highly imperative that MVNOs embrace the highest benchmarks to achieve time to launch targets and market great ideas through a relevant branding exercise, using the ideal distribution channel for “reach.”

 IT as a Enabler:

The fundamental question on every MVNO entrepreneur's mind is “Do I need to invest in IT?”, as IT means CAPEX and this scarce commodity needs to be rationed appropriately. This is not a yes or no question, as the answer lies in some of the lower level business strategies that the MVNO is pursuing to be successful.

 IT as a Differentiator:

Any MVNO in its second or third generation phase needs to diversify, integrate offerings and reach newer growth markets. Such a situation necessitates IT as a part of business strategy and the back-bone of the business focus. MVNOs currently relying on an MNO's IT infrastructure typically have time-to-market burdens due to legacy IT and waitlist pipelines, comprehensive offers, turnaround processes, CAPEX/OPEX challenges and challenges in remaining relevant to the chosen customer segment. 

This scenario warrants MVNOs to view IT as a necessary asset that would deliver sustained competitive advantage. However, the fundamental economic data points surrounding the CAPEX avoidance cannot be compromised. The best way to achieve this is “by owning IT and yet not owning IT.” That is, realizing the benefits without the pains by owning the outcome and not the asset.  

The enablement of this need can be achieved either through a shared IT solution from a MVNE or by leveraging a state-of-the-art BSS from a cloud-based solutions provider. This approach enables the MVNO to focus on the core business needs of driving growth and customer experience.

The MVNO journey is incomplete without IT. The quest to achieve sustained competitive advantage can be realized by enabling comprehensive product/partner lifecycle management across different channels for uniform customer experience through real-time actionable analytics. 


A cloud-based hosted MVNx solution can help MVNOs, MVNE/As and MNOs achieve their business goals by offering a true partnership model, where the partner would manage the IT needs, letting MVNx focus on core needs of managing business growth and customer experience.

The hosted solution needs to be deployed in the shared solution, shared services model (MVNE) over the cloud through the build-as-you-grow and pay-as-you-use model, helping MVNx transform IT into a competitive edge as well as realize revenue from it.

In summary, this is a unique opportunity to monetize successful differentiators and IT is a strategy that helps achieve this need effectively. It is imperative to note that MNOs have not been able to leverage this across geographies as well as some of the MVNOs/MVNEs have managed to do in the recent past.