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Is IoT the Final Nail in the Coffin for MNOs?


I think it is…if Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) don’t embrace IoT quickly into their business and establish partnerships/alliances with IoT technology providers.

Why?…because MNOs cannot keep squeezing more ARPU from their subscriber base. In 2008, in my closing remark as Chairman of the Customer Retention Forum in Singapore – I made a bold statement that did not sit well with my peers, “by 2020 most MNOs will become another utility company similar to Water and Electricity/Power companies. MNOs will just provide a pipe with no control of who and what travels thru those pipes. This is unavoidable if MNOs don’t recognize the OTT players as partners and the need to formalize the partnership into their business to ensure some level of control for MNOs. Don’t try to create your own OTT apps – leave it to the experts.” At that time, in 2008 it was the likes of Skype and Facebook, seen as OTT competitors to MNOs. Within 12 months of my closing remark…WhatsApp was formed in 2009 and today WhatsApp is not challenging MNOs but Skype. MNOs can’t do anything to stop subscribers from not only texting/chatting but also talking via WhatsApp. What is interesting…I am very sure since WhatsApp introduced voice call, there is a surge in voice per minute per subscriber, unfortunately to MNOs it’s via mobile data. And with the introduction of 4G-LTE, the quality of voice call is better via mobile data.

Now with IoT imminent, what should MNOs to avoid IoT becoming the final nail in their coffin?

  • INNER Realization

  • MNOs need a mindset-shift - a self-realization that they are not experts in IoT: recognize your weakness, therefore get help from the experts.

  • MNOs need to re-structure its business: look at creating an IoT division, especially for Go-To-Market strategy and execution.

  • 1st IoT implementation should be within the MNO’s business: it shall be the Case Study to have a proven model for Go-To-Market.

  • OUTER Realization

  • MNOs need to start establishing IoT technology partners to look at ways to create new revenue streams to embrace IoT.

  • MNOs should step-up and embrace the leadership role as “the” IoT player in the market that provides an end-to-end IoT solution across other Business Verticals (transportation, health-care, security & safety, etc.) and Consumers (especially MNOs’ own subscribers – another form of Extending Lifetime Value).

  • MNOs shall use their Service Centers as the IoT devise purchasing or collection centers for Consumers – therefore making these centers more profitable. [MNOs’ portals should allow online purchases of IoT devices and if possible bundle them with Mobile purchases – create packs, eg. SilverHair Package - Health Care.]

Gartner claims that by 2020 there will be about 25 Billion connected things by IoT devices. With an estimate that IoT will support total services spending of $263 billion by 2020.

MNOs are sitting on a gold-mine with IoT.

Something To Ponder (STP): Can MNOs claim to be IoT experts? Does MNO’s existing business structure – people, process and technology, enable them to learn, change/improve and Go-To-Market quickly and effectively to be IoT service provider?


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