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‘The market and ways of selling will evolve even more than before, especially with social media and online plays. Selling will become more of an old-fashioned word as the drive for customer service and belonging to a marketing idea will be the Holy Grail… ‘Clearly integration of online and retail “clicks to bricks and bricks to clicks“ is now an essential ingredient, but it’s morphing in various ways with the massive increase of social media approval that can seriously challenge a company or its products – or indeed create a gold rush. ‘The larger retail monopolies will apply pressure on the smaller businesses and we may well see more casualties during the year, as surely consolidation is just another word for major corporates taking ownership of a shrinking market. However, there are – as always – ways around for the smaller players.’ Carphone Warehouse is also looking towards online in 2017, with online trading director Laura Harricks telling Mobile: ‘The mobile will become the dominant device to shop from in the coming year and will lead to an increase in the number of late night (midnight) shoppers via multiple screens.’ Harricks went on to explain how this changes how a retailer reaches its audience: ‘It’s increased personalisation ie. serviced bespoke offers as a result of device detection. We also expect inspiring content through online and social channels to become more important in attracting higher-end customers, while social sharing will become more influential when it comes to purchasing.’ Will this trend be limited to B2C? Not according to co-founder Keith Curran, who explains: ‘Dealers who embrace digital change and use it to drive and grow their business will flourish, while those who resist the change will flounder.’

work harder than ever to retain their customer base.’ Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery also sees customer service as a major focus in 2017, telling Mobile: ‘In 2017 we want to build on being the ‘UK’s winning network’ and be recognised for the improvements we have made to make our customer services best in class. We are making positive progress in customer services but fixing it is our highest priority for 2017. ‘ For Telefonica UK’s digital director David Plumb, the changing nature of mobile technology provides additional opportunities for the brand to connect with and better serve its customers: ‘It’s a mind-set change and evolution of the way we live and work to create greater value from the things we do. Whether that’s helping NHS trusts help patients, hospitals and clinicians manage and share information more effectively meaning vital seconds are saved, or allowing consumers to control their heating, lights, locks and more with their phone while they’re on the go, these things improve the way we live and work.’

Network development

Customer service The UK mobile consumer is more powerful than ever, and changes to what they expect from and how they manage their mobile tariffs will impact how operators communicate with them in 2017. Three’s director of customer strategy Danny Dixon explains: ‘Your existing customer base is the core of your business and the best ambassadors for your brand. If you look after them they will stay longer, spend more and become advocates by telling their friends about the great service that they get. The rise of SIM-only, where contracts last as little as 30 days, means that operators must


December 2016

the launch of cable companies such as Comcast and Charter into the wireless space; both will look to leverage Wi-Fi assets and VoIP to deliver value.’ UK MVNA for Three’s network, x-Mobility, is also investing in using OTT tools to give MVNOs a greater range of freedom. Co-founder and CMO Shanks Kulam says:, ‘We believe the MVNO space will see more alternative offerings vs the vanilla models that dominate today. Examples include the FreedomPop Freemium type model, which leverages an app to significantly reduce the wholesale cost of the Voice/SMS as these go ‘over the top’. Other disruptive MVNO models are even SIM-free, such as and, both of which offer subscribers additional mobile numbers on their existing device via a VirtualSIM/OTT app. Clearly, services will continue to migrate from the traditional GSM network to the 4G+ Data network (both OTT and VoLTE), with subscriber data usage continuing to grow based on current and next-generation applications.

MVNOs escape the squeeze As detailed in the MVNO stability investigation i(p9-11), the reluctance of some mobile operators to compete in the MVNO space can force players to focus on budget users. However, there’s growing evidence that MVNOs are looking to use new technologies to play a disruptive role in both airtime and data services. FreedomPop CEO and co-founder Stephen Stokols says: ‘in the US, a key industry trend of 2017 is likely to be

Consumer expectations of 4G are changing, with EE’s MD of channels and trading, Ettiene Brandt, telling Mobile: ‘4G has crossed over from a “nice to have” to being essential, and that’s because of changes to how people are using mobile networks. Smartphones are so powerful and versatile, people use them for everything, from creativity with videos and pictures, to relying on them for work and keeping in touch with loved ones. And the critical thing is that they want to do all of this everywhere they go – not just at home, work, or in major cities and towns. ‘By September 2017, we predict 95% of EE customers will have 4G devices, and by the end of 2017 we’ll cover more than 92% of the UK geography by 2020 – so the amount of data, and places people can access 4G, will grow immensely. ‘We also firmly believe that more transparency about network data will be a trend in 2017 – we’ve called on the industry

Mobile December 2016  
Mobile December 2016