The Web is dead: where does that leave telcos?

Mathieu HORN
September 12, 2022
The web has been dying for a long time, but we’ve been slow to notice. The rise of mobile devices, and the fact that the younger generation barely knows how to use a laptop was the final nail in its coffin.

The battlefield has moved to the not so small screen of our beloved smartphones where we all spend 5 to 7 hours a day staring at some estimates show. What’s the best way to interact with users on these devices where the fight for attention is constant?

Back in the days, Google pushed for HTML 5 web-based applications. This was the obvious choice: web languages and javascript have been rapidly spreading amongst the developper community and browsers have been pushing the enveloppe in terms of capabilities. But Apple killed the game by deciding to open the App Store. Now everyone wants an app, and they want it on their phone.

Just look at all big new services that have taken the world by storm. Whether it is transportation with Uber or Grab in Asia, food ordering with Deliveroo or, more interestingly, banking with Revolut in Europe for instance, the app is the favourite, if not the only, way to sign-up and interact with the service. The benefits of the app are huge: your smartphone is always in your pocket, you have access to native functions that enable you benefit from native hardware features like the camera, GPS, orientation sensors and what-not.

Everyone has been jumping into the app bandwagon but, where does that leave telcos ?

Mobile operators are very much to thank for this smartphone revolution: they invested in the networks, upgrading from 2G to 5G in 20 years, they massively helped the distribution of devices through their retail stores and often their subsidy policies. However, one could argue that they have been slow to adjust their own business processes to this new reality. Some just did not get the memo at all.

That’s a bit harsh maybe. Operators have invested massively in their digital transformation, starting with their ability to sell online.  Further, by developing selfcare functionalities, they allowed customers to be more autonomous.  But that’s been largely targeted to the web PC experience.  Most have invested in a selfcare app as well but the customer acquisition part is still very much PC based contrary to Revolut where the app is both the means to register and manage its bank account.

Now eSIM is here and it’s changing the game. No need to wait for the SIM card to be shipped home after you signed up online for your service. Customers can literally sign-up, register and start surfing in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a streamlined experience and an operator mobile App capable of managing the entire customer lifecycle.  This emerges as the best way to deliver this seamless experience.  The world will divide in those who are able to adapt to this new reality and those who will struggle because their digital stores are not real-time and cannot be easily blended into the selfcare App.

It’s not often that a new technology so profoundly challenges an established status quo. The upcoming commercial battle for market share will not be only on network innovation or price, we’re going back to good-old distribution power. Only this time, it’s not a question of how many retail stores you can align in a given geography, it’s going to be how powerful your Mobile App will be.

Make no mistake, this battle for the best App is not only a question of nice and effective design. The App is only as good as the underlying business processes it can trigger. This transformation will touch the core of the telco BSS systems that will need to get rid of batch processes in favour of real-time, unify commercial and provisioning systems, and integrate eSIM servers so the app can download eSIM profiles at the end of the registration process.

Is this even possible with legacy systems that have been conceived in the pre-smartphone era? How far can you push the legacy architecture to adapt to this challenge? At a certain point, there is only so much you can ask from your existing stack. It’s time for a new breed of BSS solutions: cloud-native, App-native, real-time.

So let’s get experimenting with the next generation of BSS because the battle of the Apps has already started.

Find out more about how triPica can help reinvent your model with our BSS for Telecom.

Mathieu HORN

CEO at triPica

15 years of Telco experience in France including SFR and Joe mobile (digital MVNO) ESSEC & INSEAD