Telecom operators are pursuing a variety of strategies as they struggle to win in their converging, complex markets. One of the most intriguing strategies, rightfully pursued by only a few, is becoming an experience provider: offering customers a compelling combination of targeted applications and content, and a high level of online user experience. This is a difficult path for many telecom operators to follow, but it holds promise for those who have enough of the requisite capabilities, and who are willing to invest.
The capabilities needed for this strategy include developing innovative new applications and services, creating world-class user interfaces, and delivering excellent customer service. NTT DoCoMo Inc., a Japanese provider of mobile voice, data, and multimedia services to more than 58 million customers, is an early exemplar. It offers a wide variety of innovative services, including an e-wallet, an advanced personalized information app combining data from a variety of sources, and access to music, video clips, and games. Key to its success has been complete end-to-end control of the value chain, along with a strong pipeline of new product offerings and service delivery options. It boasts the top ranking in its market for customer satisfaction, and a rapidly growing customer base. DoCoMo’s personalized app “i-concier,” for example, has garnered 6.2 million subscribers since its launch in late 2008.
The model isn’t limited to the most advanced telecom markets, such as Japan. Türk Telekomünikasyon AS, Turkey’s largest telecom operator, provides a variety of Internet offerings — including telemedicine services, audio with children’s music and spoken fairy tales, and two e-learning portals — through a simple user interface, as well as innovative devices such as a video-calling device for the home. The telemedicine subsidiary alone brought in US$18 million in revenue in 2008.