Data analysis is crirical as the telecom industry faces increasing difficulty as operators globally continue to suffer declining profits.
Those in Africa face even stiffer competition, plying their trade amid growth and polarized markets despite being the region with the highest penetration, growth and profitability rates.
The race to stay competitive has birthed new frontiers; extracting deep insights from data analysis to make accurate projections of the future while positioning for advantage, is key.
There is no gainsaying that MNOs sit on a treasure trove of call data record based information from subscribers but gathering credible intelligence from them is the bane. Data analysis now forms a core of the telecom market verticals, juggling expert insights with consumer behaviour in order to innovate targeted solutions towards subscribers.
Here we discuss five insights that can effectively shape the African MNO industry and why MNOs should prepare for them.
1: 5G and IoT
The foundations for the 5G framework are being set, and as touted, will be the connective tissue for the Internet of Things (IoT). In the coming years, IoT will become a critical engine for growth in the telecom ecosystem. Connected cars, homes etc will give rise to new opportunities. A rapid investment across this telecom portfolio is of critical importance for revenue growth.
Gartner estimates that the number of IoT devices will total approximately 21 billion by 2020. Granted, this number will undoubtedly be less in Africa who is always slightly behind, but mobile operators should strive to monetize their networks with this trend.
How will all these devices connect to networks?
Then there are critical IoT applications like medical monitoring devices and telepresence which require superior reliability and low latency. These applications need specialised connection technologies.
loT is going to be a game changer in the telecoms industry, and to stay in the forefront, MNOs will need to start preparing for it by using smart data analysis.
2: Video penetration
Video potentials remain untapped as penetration is still very low. The Middle East and Africa video consumption revenue of $5 to $6 per capita compare dismally with those of other countries and regions. For example, $30 per capita consumption revenue is obtainable in Brazil, China, India, and Russia.
Addressing this requires pursuance of investments in video-compression technology. An MNO can drastically shoot up video consumption rate if compression is suitable for 2G/3G networks which are, for the most part, available to the African growth market.
3: Big data capabilities
IoT is about to give way to a data explosion which needs correlated investment in essential infrastructure.
MNOs are however incapable of delivering such a capital-intensive framework without an imbalance in capital expenditure and immediate revenue. Market consolidation and other forms of partnerships such as asset sharing are feasible options to explore.
Multiple MNOs may not be the right model for the developing African telecom market in the nearest future.
According to QZ, smartphone usage in Africa doubled in 2016. With lowering smartphone prices, it’s no wonder Africa’s experiencing internet usage growth numbers the likes of 599.900% between 2000 and 2017 in Somalia and 1,027,354% in the Congo.
As a result of rapid mobile internet usage, many providers have turned to mobile applications, but so far, have not been able to make a significant impact in this direction.
MNOs simply cannot remain idle, only offering the pipes for internet access, but how will MNOs create long-term value from mobile data?
It is vital they use data analysis to create strategies built around three pillars:
- Ecosystem integration
As ATKearney coined it, MNOs need to become smart enablers.
With customer satisfaction studies revealing that while consumers are being forced to interact more with technical companies because of digitization, almost half of them are dissatisfied with the experience.
MNO companies need to up their game in terms of customer experience (CX) and this calls for digitization of their own processes. Since it’s predictable that the majority of MNOs will neglect this area, MNOs who do use digitization to increase customer satisfaction are guaranteed an edge over their competitors.
Digitization also allows telecom companies to reboot their market position and develop innovative solutions for customers. While African companies recognise the need for digitization as a top priority, few are even close to remotely capturing its full potential. A Microsoft study shows that only 48% of South African organisations have begun their journey into digitization.
Here’s a double-edged question for MNOs: firstly how will MNOs cater to the digitization trend, and secondly, how can MNOs themselves start their own digital transformation?
The answer is provided by deep data analysis to establish robust customer-analytics insight and capabilities.