2014 predictions: Operators

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EE CEO Olaf Swantee says it will be the year of wearable technology, O2 business director Ben Dowd sees the future of IT being ‘BYOE’, Vodafone CEO Jeroen Hoencamp forecasts growth in mobile payments and Three CEO Dave Dyson thinks data will be important as 4G grows

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Olaf Swantee – CEO, EE

Over the next 12 months expect to see continued innovation in the mobile form factors and devices that we use to live our connected lives.
For smartphones, we are already seeing the first curved screen form factors and smart watches re-entered the market with a bang in 2013. Plus, we have the hugely exciting world of augmented and virtual reality on the horizon with the likes of Google Glass.

In fact, 2014 will be a massive year for a more personal kind of technology – the much-lauded “wearable” technology. From glasses to broaches, rings to wristbands, we’ll be pinning our technology to our very selves, making us more connected, and more integrated with networks and the world around us. But we’ve been here before. Smartwatches are nothing new – they’ve been around for decades. The question is, is the time right when connectivity, technology, and form factor collide and create enough of a force of innovation and excitement that consumers finally embrace wearable technology.

We shall see. What I am sure of is that connectivity and the network will remain the glue that will enable us to control our digital lives seamlessly across devices, whether for work or play, from the connected home to the mobile workplace of the future.

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Ben Dowd – Business Director, O2 UK

Last year was a banner year for business technology in the UK. For one, we saw the arrival of widespread 4G, which as it builds will create an environment of truly ubiquitous connectivity. That’s driven other trends as well: mobile advertising continues to grow into a dominant market, enhanced by additional capabilities afforded by faster connections. Greater connectivity is also fuelling the growth of big data, which we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg from so far. Those trends will continue into 2014.

The future of IT isn’t bring-your-own-device, it’s bring-your-own-everything. From business smartphone apps to cloud services like Dropbox and Office 365, we’re nearing the end of the era in which IT departments prescribed hardware and software for employees – and the beginning of an era in which employees simply source their own IT solutions. Businesses need to act now to put policies in place to support this growing demand from the workforce.

For retail, your average high street shop is a creature of a bygone era, designed around immovable point-of-sale systems tethered to fixed connection points. The rise of mobile payment systems for retailers and consumers alike is creating huge opportunities. The question for me is, will we continue to see baby steps towards innovation or will we finally see a retail revolution?

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Jeroen Hoencamp – CEO, Vodafone UK

2014 will see the content revolution continue as 4G enables consumers to get the most out of their mobile devices by using them to access sport, music, film and other content no matter where they are. In 2014 many consumers will leave their cards and coins at home and manage their daily transactions efficiently and securely using their smartphone. It will signal the beginning of the end of the traditional wallet as smartphones become a very personal device requiring personalised offerings.

In enterprise, 2014 will be the year of total communications with companies looking for one communications partner rather than numerous suppliers. While 2013 saw the launch of a competitive 4G marketplace, 2014 will see the explosion of enterprise applications,taking advantage of increased network investment and 4G.

Successful businesses will also look to redefine the role of the IT director. Skill sets are changing and expectations are rising: we will see senior IT directors shifting from a reactionary role to taking a front seat in the development of the overall business strategy.

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Dave Dyson – CEO, Three UK

In 2014, data experience will be the major focus for UK mobile consumers. There will be greater scrutiny of the performance and reliability of data services and customers will rightly expect a strong and consistent network.

Data will be the major battleground for operators and this will drive a better service for all UK mobile customers.

Operators will need to offer the right allowances to let their customers enjoy the internet on their mobile.

While data usage will continue to grow, there won’t be any major shift in the types of apps and services customers use in 2014. 4G will drive more data usage, but it won’t change the way customers behave in the short term. In the medium term – 2015 and beyond – apps and services will catch up to the opportunity provided by 4G speeds and we’ll start to see more speed-hungry apps.

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