Parallel Lines: Networks must step up

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Recent research from the US by the Yankee Group shows the mobile phone is replacing the traditional home landline with one in eight US households going down this route. This trend of ‘cutting the cord’ should be a clear warning sign to UK mobile dealers.

The research also shows consumers are driving more than 50 per cent of enterprise purchase decisions. In other words, the way we organise our own communications with one number, one device, one email skin, and the use of social network solutions, is set to become the norm.

This shows the demand for a less formal, more flexible communications system is there right now. And so the mobile networks must act now or risk losing out to OEMs.

In the UK, we still haven’t seen a formal launch of a technical and commercial converged product from the networks. There has been much talk, but nothing concrete as yet.

O2’s Joined Up is a bolted together solution that dealers can offer. Vodafone’s new proposition looks good, but it is early days, and it must ensure it is strong or it may lose out to VoIP providers and OEMs who can develop similar solutions.

It’s common practice that what people do in their personal life translates into their working life. This suggests it won’t be long before more companies are also cutting the cord and looking to other providers to offer a more integrated and flexible solution that works for them on the move as well as it does in the office.

This trend of business practices mirroring personal life is evident in the meteoric rise of social media over recent years. What started with YouTube and Facebook being used by people in their spare time has progressed to its usage as a sales tool and a successful method of customer engagement for many businesses and brands.

Most business people already have smartphones to help manage their workload, whether it’s answering emails on the move or having access to calendars and contacts from the comfort of their own home. This is the Martini effect – being contactable anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

The market is waiting for a product that will allow communications to be truly unified. It’s imperative the product is both cost effective and high quality.

The systems we have seen so far in the US have tended to compromise on call quality when the transition between landline and mobile occurs, but UK consumers tend to be more savvy and won’t tolerate imperfections.

Full article in Mobile News issue 464 (May 25, 2010).

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