Accenture Report: Mobile Carriers Can't Keep Up with Customer Demands

Mobile carriers the world over have a fight on their hands if they want to keep up with customer demand, an Accenture report has found, and they’ll need to provide better technology and more products to keep up.

Service Provider Must Have’s

When it comes to mobile Web usage, there is little customers want more than security and high quality networks, the Mobile Web Watch 2013: The New Persuaders report found. The findings come from a survey of over 30,000 people in 26 countries on how they use their mobile devices, and what kind of services and products they are demanding.

In the B2B world, the need for security is just as acute, and customer demands are also making connected organizations more aware of just how powerful those voices really are. Mobility allows people and businesses to find products and services wherever they are, and for whatever purpose. Furthermore, the amount of information mobile devices create is just as transformative on account of it being a rich source of fodder for companies to analyze, segment and research.

For communications service providers (CSPs/mobile carriers) as Accenture calls them, the explosion of mobile usage brings to mind four critical questions, the report found.

  • Will customers pay more for better connectivity?
  • Are voice calls being phased out in favor of voice over Internet?
  • What are the demands for new services like mobile payments, personal cloud, location based advertising and augmented reality?
  • Who will own the customer in the future?

Overall, 31% of respondents said they were planning on buying a smartphone in the next 12 months, and that number grew to 39% in so called emerging markets, the report found. Similarly, 24% said they were planning on buying a tablet in the next 12 months, and that number jumped to 32% in emerging markets. Those emerging markets are fertile territory for service providers to hone their customer experience strategies that can then be introduced into the more mature markets.

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Wireless companies should focus maintaining their networks and offering more products if they want to keep customers.

Service in the Background

One of the report’s most confounding findings (for service providers) is that one third of customers in mature markets are more or less ambivalent about which provider they use, as long as that provider meets their needs. That doesn’t sound like loyalty, and indeed those providers look like they will need to keep working hard just to keep that number from going even higher.

The reason for that, the report found, is there is less demand for traditional voice service, and more demand for infrastructure heavy data. So called fourth generation technology is rolling out in the developed markets, and even that isn’t fast enough for the most connected customers. Still, speed seems to be the one element customers want the most of, so providers have litte choice but to invest there, and hope their other services can keep up.

63% of respondents said they were willing to pay additional costs for 4G mobile internet, the report found, and 76% said they would pay more in emerging markets. Of course, those are the places where 4G is least available, so that is perhaps a bit less surprising. In Russia and Brazil, it was even higher at 83%, representing the outliers in the emerging markets.

Some customers are also willing to pay more for other products like increased storage, and other cloud based services like online back up and sharing and collaboration services. Even in mature markets, over 60% of respondents were willing to pay at least US$ 5 extra per month for cloud based offerings. The other major service providers should look into is mobile payments, an area that could see good growth in emerging markets especially.

The New Persuaders

Is the mobile world being divided into a world of provider have’s and have nots? That could certainly turn out to be true, as the most connected among us demand more network speed and more products. These are the most influential customers, and their demands are helping drive more customers to speak up for what they want from providers.

In the B2B space, the fact consumers are still very high on security bodes well for mobile access. As long as carriers continue to focus on this, the bring your own device phenomenon will no doubt continue unabated. However, as with consumers, businesses will also benefit from faster networks, even if they do take longer to materialize. 

This is actually good news because slower networks could mean a less steep ramp up in BYOD activity. In other words, people won’t want to bring their device to work in really gargantuan numbers until the network speeds vastly improve. That could allow for a longer time frame for companies to work out their own internal command and control issues on the mobile front. Only when network speeds go up considerably will the inundation of mobile devices truly become overwhelming for organizations, and that scenario indeed seems to still be three to five years from now.

Image courtesy of Flickr user hankenstein