We have seen monumental changes over the last 10 years in technology, speed of innovation and online social interaction – much of which has been driven by mobile technology. From the massive adoption of the smartphone to the explosive popularity of IoT-enabled everything, the proliferation of mobile apps, the rapid acceptance of cloud-based services and the embrace of mobile money payments, the pace of change has been exponential and mind boggling. And this list only scratches the surface when you consider the economies of developing nations that have been elevated by the introduction and adoption of the mobile phone. The smartphone as the “everything” device or “remote control” of people’s lives has irrevocably changed how we live, work and play.

I have been fortunate to have been in the wireless industry since 1990 and have seen and experienced many of the changes this extraordinary technology has made throughout the world. As fun as it is to look back, though, I much prefer the attitude of essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau: “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” So, with Thoreau’s guidance front of mind, I thought I’d share a few of what I believe will be significant technology trends as we kick off 2020 and a new decade.

Prediction 1: 5G cashflow pressures will accelerate service innovation in new areas

As 5G enters its ramp-up phase, global operators will chase the early adopters. Why? With total global operator 5G investment expected to reach $1 trillion according to the GSMA, ROI pressures will push operators to embrace innovative and lucrative new revenue opportunities. We’re already seeing this take place with many tier one global operators making significant moves, from entering into the content, media, streaming and advertising business to deploying advanced messaging services on top of RCS or offering enterprise IoT and other digital and cloud services. The pace of these sorts of activities and movement into other markets and spaces will continue to pick up as the operator looks for 5G ROI as we enter the first half of the decade. 

Prediction 2: Personal cloud will to continue to grow as a smartphone revenue multiplier.

Personal consumer content that is predominantly stored on a mobile device is now largely viewed by consumers as more valuable than the hardware. Therefore, paying a small monthly fee for storage to know all their very personal content is safe and secure will become an accepted norm. Apple and Google have taken advantage of this, and both enjoy a rapidly expanding storage billing relationship with a growing number of customers. 

As we move into the 2020s and the number of apps consumers use increases, including those for music and mobile gaming, more and more wireless operators will recognize the significant benefits of providing their own branded personal cloud services and will put a claim on their share of this recurring revenue opportunity. This ability to improve customer experience by keeping content secure and sharable through individual or family-oriented services in tandem with the ability to back-up and restore functionality via the cloud will become a powerful smartphone revenue multiplier for operators across the globe. 

Prediction 3: As operators, brands and other TMT organizations continue to embrace their customers’ preferences for digital communications, these organizations will increase investment in and accelerate digital transformation projects designed to optimize customer journeys and experiences.

2020 will be a critical year for TMT organizations as they seek to seamlessly and sensibly integrate emerging technologies like messaging, chatbots, AI and process automation into digital customer journeys. They understand that today’s customers make decisions not only based on product and price but also on their personal interactions with brands. 

The drive to solidify brand loyalty and retention through an excellent customer experience will increasingly propel companies to prioritize investments into building outstanding customer journeys. We live in a world today where loyalty can exist for a day and disappear the next. Never have consumers had so many choices and such an easy method of “churning” – regardless of the service, brand or product. To the consumer, everything is replaceable in many respects. 

Although the thinking is almost trite, the customer experience – whether in a B2B or B2B2C or B2C environment – must be critically evaluated at every touchpoint and investments must be made to achieve the best possible outcome. My experience in this area has shown me that it often is difficult to decide where to begin and what actions will provide the biggest bang-for-the-buck, but the paralysis of indecision or, even worse, trying to do it all, is much more detrimental. 

A focus on providing an excellent customer experience that will allow customers to decide how they want to do business with an organization instead of letting that organization’s system limitations make the decision. This will require businesses to work with partners who have the right platforms and capabilities, such as the ability to harness AI, messaging and bots, that will allow for pre-emptive customer service, personalized offers and more. This will be critical to hold a customer, drive improved acquisition and retain as much loyalty as possible. 

Prediction 4: Global operators will follow the lead of U.S. and Japanese operators and collaborate to compete in next generation messaging.

As we enter a new decade, advanced messaging will continue to evolve as a fully commercial digital marketplace. In 2019, the Japanese operators were first to launch an operator-led rich communications services (RCS)-based messaging service called +Message. The four largest operators in the United States are expected to launch a similar service in 2020. I fully expect operators in other countries to follow Japan and the U.S. examples of operator collaboration and create similar interoperable messaging ecosystems. 

For operators, the ability to give brands and businesses a new marketing channel to interact directly with their customers creates incredible consumer engagement as well as a possible new revenue stream. Meanwhile, brands gain access to a highly desired, permission-based, private-by-design channel to connect with their customers. Consumers reap the convenience of group voice and video to communicate both with their friends and the brands they love – all through one app. Advanced multimedia messaging collaboration delivers for brands, operators and consumers. 

Prediction 5: Enterprise and industrial IoT services will go mainstream.

Enterprise and industrial IoT activity will see explosive growth over the next few years for several reasons. First, the vast majority of the challenges that held adoption during the last decade have started to fade. The acceleration of 5G deployments provides the speed, capacity and reliable connections required for truly effective IoT services. 

Second, new legislation and proven gains in productivity and efficiency along with the resulting significant cost savings from early adopters will make the lure of IoT impossible to ignore. We’ve already seen how the deployment of smart building solutions drastically optimizes energy consumption across facilities. And with the passing of new regulations such as New York City’s Local Law 97, an ambitious and historic piece of legislation, good intentions no longer suffice. IoT provides pathways for compliance in sustainability. Successful use cases focused on energy efficiency and emission reduction will propel enterprises and industries forward on their own IoT journeys.

I cannot wait to see what happens in the next 10 years. One thing I am sure of, however, is that mobile technology will be at the center of everything playing a key role as innovators look to improve our daily lives and solve global challenges. Here’s to 2020!

The post Mobile tech investment and innovation: Five predictions for 2020 and beyond (Reader Forum) appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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