With the Christmas paraphernalia taking over the retail stores, it must be time for 2010 predictions.
One of the first out of the gate is trendwatching.com with their 2010 top ten consumer trends.
Taking each of the ten in turn and how they apply to Telcos.
Business as Unusual ~ Sustainability is the new focus. Companies will have to ‘move with the culture’ not just pay lip service to being a good corporate citizen. Companies will have to become more honest, transparent and collaborative.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Continue efforts such as the sharing of cell towers and other basic infrastructure. Aggressively encourage the recycling of mobile phones through incentives. Get rid of the ‘nickel and dime’ philosophy that pervades the industry (example here)
Urbany ~ more and more people are living in cities (>50%). Urban areas are becoming the epicenter for trend setting and innovation. Opportunity exists in urban pride, tying one’s identity to the culture, character and environment of your city.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Mobile Telcos have typically focused on urban areas first, however they have become very national in scope. Opportunities in the city environment is better coordination between open WiFi and cellular service and City-specific based app collections.
Real-time Reviews ~ Twitter, Facebook and other social networks encourage people to share just about everything and their success is well documented . Coupled with feedback over time this builds a web of knowledge (crowd sourcing is a good example).
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Telcos are the transportation system for social networks. This is an area were they can add real value by providing optimized linkages across multiple social networks and reputation sites such as Yelp.
(F)luxury ~ with so many different customer segments, luxury is being redefined. It is not just the biggest or most expensive but more aligned with scarcity and status from the perspective of the beholder. How luxury will be defined is very much up for grabs.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Not much. As providers of what is at heart a commodity service, Telcos really aren’t viewed as a luxury but more of a necessity.
Mass Mingling ~ Contrary to prior views where the online world (games, social networks etc.) was going to lead to a legion of housebound anti-social consumers. The opposite is proving true, the online world is proving to be a catalyst for getting people out of their homes and into social situations.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ I think this is a very strong trend for the Telcos. Telephony at its very basic is all about social interaction. Telcos can take the lead joining the online and ‘real’ worlds. Services like presence, smart calendaring, location based services are just a few that come to mind.
Eco-Easy ~ For the numerous ecologically sound proposals to be successful they must focus on two key attributes; sustainability and ease-of-use.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Telcos should be leaders in this area. There are a number of efforts such as online billing and eco-friendly handsets but there is no underlying strategic mantra (lots of green washing). For example when T-Mobile USA wanted to move their customers to online billing, they decided to charge for paper bills as opposed to reducing the bill of those subscribers who signed up. The former puts all the costs on the consumer while the latter splits the cost. I guess it is the difference between rewarding good behaviour (positive reinforcement ) and the opposite.
Tracking & Alerting ~ “Tracking and Alerting is the new Searching”. Alerting is relevant information finding consumers based on their preferences. Tracking is correlated with transparency, where is my order, how is tax money being spent etc. Twitter has become a dominant player in the Tracking & Alerting space.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ The Telcos have a natural advantage in this space – they know where you are (location), what you are doing (presence) and have the mechanism in place to bill for small charges. They have yet to exploit this natural advantage allowing others (especially Google) to dominate. With the advent of ‘augmented reality’ they have yet another chance to participate.
Embedded Generosity ~ making donating and giving as painless as possible. There has been a rise in collaborative giving (where does my grocery bag refund go?)
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Nothing really specific. The use of premium SMS for charitable giving is one way they can facilitate this trend.
Profile Myning ~ A shift from behavioural targeting (companies mining the data they have on you to sell you something else) to where the consumer is in control of what data is shared and with whom and when. Opportunities exist for the trusted broker to disclose to others purchasing decisions as well as companies that can manage one’s digital estate.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ This is a new business opportunity for Telcos but needs to be separate from their day-to-day business.
Maturalism ~ A blending of Mature and Materialism. How to be edgy and hip (culturally aligned) without disenfranchising your base. One has to only look at the movie business to see that yesterday’s risqué is today’s ho-hum.
What does this mean for Telcos? ~ Trouble minding the application catalog – me thinks.