3 Core Fundamentals Affecting the Network of 2020

By: Steve Hateley

The telecommunications landscape is shifting under operators’ feet.

Digital technology puts more services at consumers’ fingertips than ever before, lifting buyers’ expectations for personalization, independence and speed of delivery.At the same time, connectivity is no longer a telco-exclusive problem, as businesses from entertainment to healthcare are embracing digital services.

Meanwhile, entirely new verticals are springing up with mobility and connectivity at their heart – just take one look at how Uber and AirBnB have created the “sharing economy.”

The evolution of network technology empowers these fundamental changes, and the transformation will only become more dramatic as three emerging technologies take root: network function virtualization (NFV), 5G connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT).

By 2020, these interdependent technologies will radically transform how we consume, collect, interpret and act on data. They will enable a convergence of buying experiences, breaking down the artificial separation of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) siloes to create a universal business-to-human (B2H) reality.

Most of all, NFV, 5G and IoT will drive telco toward a new era of digital disruption, where the past 20 years of the status quo will no longer apply. Success in this new digital world will require new business relationships, compelling applications of futuristic technology and plenty of operator creativity. 

Defining the B2H Digital Buying Experience

Imagine today’s enterprise IT buyer. To acquire new hardware or IT services for his or her business, this individual must engage potential telco operators in a series of requests for information (RFIs), proposals (RFPs) and quotes (RFQs). Once an operator is selected, a back-and-forth planning process begins to hammer down specific project requirements, design, scope and cost. The project is reworked multiple times before it is finally implemented and, of course, that process could take on an entire life of its own.

Now imagine what happens when that same enterprise IT buyer leaves work at the end of the day. He or she may decide to buy a new pair of shoes, and with a few clicks on Amazon, Google or eBay, he or she is able to research options, compare prices, submit an order and define shipping preferences. All of this takes place in a matter of minutes and on any device.

Network technologies allow operators to deliver this exact purchase experience to B2C customers. But why not B2B buyers?

Why should these processes differ when, in fact, the technology that underpins both B2C and B2B purchasing is largely the same? Cloud-based technologies and high-speed connectivity enable a new digital buying process for both consumers and enterprises; but operators’ devotion to existing ways of working could stall a similar and potentially beneficial enterprise sales transformation.

Interestingly, more operators seem to recognize that the time is right to abandon the status quo and converge consumer and enterprise sales processes into a universal B2H approach. A Comptel survey of marketing and technology executives at 50 telcos worldwide found that 78 percent feel it’s difficult to maintain the separation between B2C and B2B and believe B2H is the better solution for the future.

That’s likely because, as the example above shows, enterprise buyers are just the same as B2C buyers. These individuals are all part of the same generation of digitally savvy do-it-yourself consumers who play by their own rules, resist pigeonhole-style marketing and demand to set their own terms. So, whether they are topping up their personal mobile data or ordering a fibre Internet service for the office, customers should be able to research, price, configure and order digital services online, on any device, without needing a sales person to hold their hand through the entire process.


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