The need to innovate business models has never been more pressing for telecom operators. No longer can they be just a distribution channel for connectivity: they need to offer revenue-generating services on top of their traditional voice and data services. And nowhere is this opportunity more obvious than in enabling the Smart City.
This market opportunity is the result of several trends:
- Monetization challenges with traditional and new services. Mobile broadband accounts for over 66% of traffic volume, but only contributes 5% of revenues
- Evolving consumption patterns and advent of social media, with web services eating into telco revenue
- Tremendous growth in IoT and increased demand for integrated digital experiences, with forecasts saying there will be 50 billion connected devices in use by 2020
- Increasing urbanization and growth of cities, requiring digital solutions for improving quality of life within dense environments
To move from a connectivity mindset to this new mindset requires telcos to focus on selling service- enabled digital platforms or experiences to both B2C and B2B customers, particularly IoT services as part of Smart City projects.
Telcos are uniquely suited for this opportunity. The infrastructure systems, city equipment and home/building applications such as CCTV, traffic lights, bike racks, car parks, energy meters, elevators and plugs will all be connected through digital technologies. Since telcos have the infrastructure setup and knowledge in monitoring and managing the performance of the complex networks, this places them in an ideal position to rethink their offerings andput network performance at the heart of these new generation of digital services. They can lead the way to deliver significantly higher Quality of Service and Service Level Agreements than can other players in this market.
In addition, the emergence of Smart City technologies and telcos ability to manage multiple vendor relationships can bring them a great opportunity to offer Smart-City-as-a-service options to city municipalities. By integrating their services with social platforms and cloud storage, telcos can usher in the next wave of telecom revolution. They can introduce a 360-degree view of a resident through advanced analytics, and they can deliver ever-more-complex services over mobile channels to the always on, digitally connected population.
But this vision of the future for telcos will not become reality if telcos continue to think small about their role. Those who rise above the data contributor only, perspective to deliver services running on their pipes can be set up to realize their full potential as a Smart Cities enabler.