Despite persistent fears of a surveillance state and artificial intelligence, the smart device market continues to expand with little chance of collapse. Accordingly, some of the sessions at the 2017 Canadian Telecom Summit (CTS17) focussed on how the telecommunications industry players in Canada are adapting to the rapid evolution of interconnected devices and an increasing shift to digital media.
Included in these discussions (full program available here) were a keynote address by Sanjay Mewada (Chief Strategy Officer of Netcracker) on the shift to digital services and impact of tech giants expanding their territory on the competition telecom players will increasingly face. Companies like Netcracker provide business support and operation support systems, software-defined networking, and network functions virtualization to help communication service providers meet the expectations of their customers.
At the CTS17, Mewada emphasized the importance of moving away from traditional communication services and towards the adoption of digital models in order to thrive in the modern telecommunications industry. He highlighted that emerging features, like being able to proactively control bandwidth allocation to optimize and enable active monitoring of usage by customers, are setting new standards for internet service providers.
With Google’s priority device system (allowing consumers to choose which device on a Wi-Fi network receives the fastest connection) and Wi-Fi mesh network system already on the market, Mewada asked if consumers “would really want to go back to not having any control over the allocation of your bandwidth?” Indeed, once these features become “a matter of priority and focus” in the eyes of telecommunication corporations, more and more consumers will “know what is possible, [and] no longer like to stay with the bare minimum,” he said.
So, what is the outcome of tech giants like Google, Apple, and Hulu introducing new features into the telecom sector? “Why did Google have to come in to show a cable service provider how to be a digital service provider?,” he asked.
Mewada noted, “it is not about coming up with a brand-new thing, it is about providing the consumer with the right digital experience.” This shift to focussing on the client experience is key in ensuring the success of the telecommunication industry and not losing substantial market share to tech competitors.
Of course, with any adaptation also comes challenge. Mewada emphasized how the need to accelerate the delivery of new services to market remains hurdle for services providers. With the expectations of clients constantly changing and the avant-garde of the home-digital experience being increasingly bombarded with new innovations, according to Mewada there “needs to be a retooling of the processes” behind moving products from conception to implementation.
Mewada noted that the innovations provided by Google, Netflix, and other tech giants are actually blessings in disguise because they “open the market to expect new things” from service providers. In response, service providers merely “need to be there to provide that” to stay competitive, he said.
One approach involves adopting a “fast-fail” model. The fast-fail model seeks to optimize the movement of a digital service from conception to market through the use of small sample sizes as a preliminary testing ground. If it succeeds, then escalate – if it fails, then forget it and move on. While fairly new to telecommunications, this model has been adopted by Alphabet’s X research division, which applies the model to everything from driverless cars to augmented reality eyewear.
Furthermore, he noted that part of remaining successful in the contemporary market will involve anticipating future trends and shortening the turn-around time for providing clients with the same quality of services and products competitors offer. When applications like Uber and Snapchat can rise to billion dollar valuations in the span of a couple years, having an interdisciplinary team that is ready to roll out high-quality services is of the utmost importance for preventing clients from switching to a more up-to-date provider.
In the end, keeping pace with the rapidly evolving tech sector is paramount to remaining competitive and maintaining and expanding a telecom business’s market share. Accordingly, clients will consistently expect to receive the latest and greatest in home entertainment and utility without feeling left behind tech giants, like Google and Apple, who are putting pressure on the telecommunication sector to offer a higher standard of service. In a dynamic and fast-paced field, perhaps Netcracker’s slogan of a business’s “most important step [they will take being] their next one” captures the pressure traditional telecommunications service providers will feel if they do not approach the industry proactively.
Dominic Cerilli is the IPilogue content editor and social media coordinator as well as a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.
The Canadian Telecom Summit brings together the leadership of Canada’s telecom, broadcast, and IT industries. For its 16th year, the CTS focussed on “Competition, Investment and Innovation: Driving Canada’s Digital Future” and featured keynote presentations and panel discussions on the range of issues facing industry and public policy makers in Canada. IP Osgoode and the IPilogue team members thank the CTS’ organizers (Mark Goldberg and Michael Sone) and Wind River for their generous support to allow us to attend.