By Stuart Orr Friday, 04 January 2013

What's next in line in the telecoms revolution?

As we increasingly expect our phones and home broadband to deliver breakneck speeds, and with 4G soon to be rolled out nationally, here's a look at why the pace of progress will only get faster in 2013.

2012 was a year of significant change in the telecoms and media industries in the UK. EE has stolen a march with 4G. BT is looking to cement its position with consumers as more than a telco after buying a load of football and rugby broadcast rights. And the changing behaviour of consumers and the way in which they have become increasingly connected through social media, networks and devices has impacted upon all parties within these industries. 

Businesses operating in this increasingly competitive space are increasingly having to focus on increasing operational excellence to win and retain the loyalty of the digital consumer. One of the key issues for the industry is that operator churn – where customers often jump ship looking for better deals – is falling. Finding new customers is getting harder.

So what can we expect to see this year?

In 2013 we will see the key players evaluating their own ecosystems and trying to properly define their niche. As a result we will see more creative thinking about strategic alliances – last year’s tie-up between Orange and T-Mobile to form EE is an example of this. 

When it comes to consumers themselves, the themes of content creation and curation – where users are creating their own video and picture content as well as text with social networks et al - will dominate in 2013. As more consumers are given the tools to create and access content on demand, with more control as to how, where and when they access this content on different devices (whether it be phone, laptop or tablet), they are changing the very concept of the ‘channel’ as we know it. 

Mobile security also looks set to shoot to the top of the priority list for consumers and operators alike in 2013 as malware, viruses and vicious apps move into mobile in a big way. This will increasingly require a collaborative effort by each player to make mobile security effective.

And finally, regardless of whether or not economic conditions improve in 2013, operators will need to address the continued challenge of declining traditional telephone and texting revenues by working what element of their offering beats the competition, whilst also freeing up cash for investment in their networks. 

While comms service providers remain under cost pressure, savings and operational efficiencies will be only one focus, with new growth opportunities through content, payments and the connected home becoming an increasing priority. 
These issues will impact players throughout the industry as we move into 2013, and the way in which they respond will help drive success in this increasingly competitive market. For the UK, the health of businesses in these industries is vital to helping return the economy to growth. Given the dramatic changes the industry is experiencing, many businesses will continue to face major challenges.

However, those that can adapt and keep their focus flexible as the industry continually develops, will be best equipped to succeed.

Stuart Orr is managing director of the communications division at Accenture UK & Ireland. 

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