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Executive Viewpoint 2017 Prediction: CSG International – Beyond the Buzzwords

Beyond the Buzzwords – Three Trends to Watch in 2017: B2B2X, Video Service Providers & CX

2016 was a big year for communication service providers and the pressure to introduce new digital services to consumers on-the-go reached an all-time high. Looking back to my 2016 predictions piece, I projected that service providers would be increasingly pressed with the need to transform their business models to better serve digital consumers – while also trying to manage traditional networks and systems.

While that certainly proved true and will continue to be a huge initiative for providers across the globe, as an industry, we also can’t take our eyes off three more emerging trends that will shape the communications services landscape in the coming year:

B2B2X Business Models, Enabled by the IoT, Will Take Shape

2017 may just be the year when we see “B2B2X” business models contributing more significantly to a service provider’s revenues.  We are now past the era of multi-device, and are moving into an era of “multi-connected devices” and that makes a service provider’s ability to move data to both businesses and consumers more important than ever.  The IoT has introduced a whole new level of connectivity to the industry – from sensors knowing when you’re out of laundry detergent and automatically ordering more, to new advances in e-healthcare, the IoT-driven customer experience will become more sophisticated, and continue to spur innovations across all industry verticals in 2017.

The IoT-powered evolution will better position the service provider to drive profits from selling network and data services in a “B2B2X” model – delivering digital services to anynumber of end-users – including enterprise, retail, partner, suppliers or end consumers.  To actually monetize the IoT requires service providers to operate on an open, interoperable, and virtualized digital services platform. Ecosystems of partners will be needed to deliver digital services, also making the ability to manage and settle revenues with myriad partners a critical component of a service provider’s infrastructure.

Internet Tech Giants Will Dive Heavily Into Video – Especially Live Content

Netflix has partnered with Comcast to deliver a unified user experience that eliminates the need to toggle between TV inputs, creating a seamless experience that allows a user to browse Netflix and Comcast content simultaneously.  This is a great example of the two titans in the industry, that have been bitter rivals in the past, partnering to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Earlier this year, Facebook rolled out a new feature on its social network which allows users to stream live video.  The significance of this should not be overlooked.  Technology has evolved to a point where anyone can produce live content and broadcast it around the world.  With this new capability, Facebook has signed contracts with over 100 media companies and celebrities to deliver content for their live-streaming service.

This season, the NFL’s Thursday Night Football got an unexpected new home– Twitter. The Thursday Night Football streaming deal with the NFL transformed the streaming, sports and live/premium content viewing experience – and corresponding customer viewing experience expectations.

Streaming live, premium content enables consumers to access content and information in real-time on their device of preference and in 2017, social networks and streaming services will look to usher in the next generation experience that puts viewers closer to the action – or even in the action by leveraging virtual reality.

It will not be long before tech giants like Google and Amazon follow Facebook and Twitter’s lead with live content, and cash into the business and customer experience benefits that content partnerships present – especially when it comes to live streaming. In fact, YouTube also wants in on the action and Amazon is looking to negotiate deals with the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League for the rights to carry live games.

Going Beyond Personalization in 2017 Means Being Everywhere Consumers Are

The power of personalization will separate the exceptional customer experience from the average in 2017. Beyond just mobile, being everywhere consumers are and providing them with a personalized customer experience will be critical in 2017. What will this look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Consumers already expect service providers to make recommendations for new content and services, but the stakes are set to get higher.  Personalization will evolve to include recommendations based on device, content, viewing preferences, location, demographic and behavioral data. Consumers will also want the ability to build their own, personalized, content packages – a custom mix of streamed, live and on-demand content rather than choosing from pre-exiting bundles of channels or services.
  • A focus on 5G services in 2017 will transform data into the new gold for service providers. By taking advantage of the consumer demand for data services, providers will explore opportunities to create more sophisticated app experiences. They will especially look to leverage geolocation data within the app experience – enabling them to offer promotions and services exactly where their customer is.
  • Service providers will also work to deliver customer experiences where their customer wants to be. This means they will cater to each specific consumer’s customer service preference – whether it be at a physical kiosk, online support page, mobile app or retail store front. In 2017, tailoring the offer, and service experience, to the buyer will be more essential than ever before.

Looking forward to seeing what the next year will hold for the industry’s digital transformation initiatives – and to being part of the ride.

CSG International

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