Innovation race

Borne from a pioneering spirit, the communications industry has always been innovative, and it continues to make a significant impact on how we communicate with each other.

Think about it, the very first downloadable app, the ringtone, made its debut twenty years ago. In the late 1990s, only 4% of the world’s population had Internet access, yet today this has increased to more than 55%[1]. Mobile phones are now ubiquitous and have 5.1 billion users[2], with virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home beginning to become just as pervasive.

We are crossing the threshold to the connected era, where the Internet of Things (IoT) will increasingly change the way we live through the connected home, autonomous vehicles, wearables, entertainment and more. As the connectivity backbone for IoT, service provider networks are fundamental to broaden the scope and reach of IoT applications. And a key enabler to these life-changing experiences will be the rollout of 5G networks.

On the flip side of this innovation is increasing competition from both traditional and new rivals, with digital native competitors able to launch new and groundbreaking offerings at the speed of light.

Here are four steps every service provider can take to win the innovation race and stop the competition in their tracks:

  • Accelerate the pace of introducing new products and services to the market and update them frequently by employing DevOps and microservices methodologies
  • Ensure new products work as expected and customers receive superior experiences
  • Use the power of innovation to anticipate issues and improve the customer experience
  • Clearly explain new products and services in customer communications, such as the bill

With continuous innovation becoming the norm, service providers will be increasingly challenged to clearly communicate new products and offers, as well as the value they deliver. While services and handsets have changed beyond recognition over the past two decades, one simple, but often overlooked tactic – the bill – largely remains a 1990s artifact. Customers today are much more demanding, so bills that remain vague in the digital era will increasingly result in frustration, bill shock, bill dread, and/or increased contact center traffic from customers who need clarification on charges.

It’s time to bring the bill into the digital age. Improving bill design helps service providers boost operational efficiency, enhance the customer experience and increase profitability. When done right, the bill has the potential to be a brand ambassador, a valued customer touchpoint and a means to increase customer loyalty. But getting it right requires a flexible approach to billing. Bills need to keep pace with the rate of innovation and to do that, service providers need an agile platform that enables quick evolution of the bill design.

In fact, improving bill design can actually drive innovation. Money saved from bill-related calls to care can be routed to innovative endeavors. When will you give your bills a new lease of life?

[1] Source: CI Almanac, ITU

[2] Source: GSMA