12/9/2009 12:40:00 PM
Have you missed the convergence boat?
Sometimes you need to take a step back to see the wood from the trees. So the question I wanted to ask, is have you missed the convergence boat? Or, to put it another way, did you realise it had set sail?
The convergence boat spent a long time in dock, it has to be said. Everyone’s been talking about this area for at least the last 10 years. But very few people had anything to physically sell – or profit from – other than hyperbole.
But then, solely in the last year, various strands of business telecoms started to converge, not because of any aforementioned hype, but more as a result of a whole set of industry triggers: from BT Wholesale unbundling to high street marketing of mobile broadband. From operator-level initiatives such as O2’s Joined Up to user level technologies like Wi-Fi equipped handsets.
Another factor that galvanised convergence into action has been the recession. It has forced the channel to diversify its offerings and, by default, join them up into ever-more compelling customer propositions.
If it’s not too early to make New Year’s resolutions, I’d suggest that our first is to put any ‘convergence is coming soon’ sales banter behind us. The second should be to make sure we are all marketing its existing, clearly definable business benefits.
Top of this list of business benefits should be customer savings. A business can save time and money by converging all of its communications requirements into one bill, and to one dealer. And that’s the whole gamut of comms: not just mobile and landline voice, but mobile and fixed-line internet. Plus there’s the hardware all this requires, from laptops to GPS-enabled mobile handsets.
Coming from distributor level, we can see the customer needs, the channel/dealer requirements and the operator and manufacturer offerings. It’s our job to string them all together into packages and processes that can profit everyone. Examples from just the past few months include Joined Up from O2, Avenir’s ‘free mobile broadband dongles for the channel’ incentive – a suite of business apps that focus on dealer margin –and joint landline/mobile provision.
So if you feel like you’re missing the convergence boat, it’s not too late to jump on board. And if you’re on board already, I think we’re in for a fascinating journey.