The fifth-generation network (5G) is projected to generate a trillion dollars over the next decade, and the communications service providers (CSPs) who have spent billions of dollars rolling out the network are angling to capture as much of this new revenue as possible. Despite industry chatter about cloud gaming and the Metaverse being killer use cases for 5G, many CSPs acknowledge that the true money-makers will come from serving enterprise (B2B) customers. How well-positioned are CSPs to succeed in this new, B2B-driven era of 5G? In a recently published report entitled, “Techco Imperatives for Monetizing B2B in the 5G Era”, Oracle explored current inadequacies with the B2B customer experience and how digital engagement tools can be used to deliver and monetise better experiences for enterprise customers. Here are three key findings from the research:
1. Challenges in Serving B2B Customers
Service providers have so far struggled to provide a holistic value and engagement model to drive lasting B2B relationships outside of connectivity and communications. Some key gaps in the B2B 5G value proposition include the relative immaturity of key technologies promised by 5G, an unwillingness or inability to move to a dynamic pricing model, lack of an end-to-end centralized customer engagement platform, and general B2B sales approaches based on legacy capabilities.
The real value in 5G enterprise services will come from more advanced use cases targeted to specific industries. These will evolve over time, but partner ecosystems will be critical. Partners will require tools and platforms that enable rapid onboarding and service delivery. Only then can service providers leverage the capabilities, technologies, and relationships of these partners to capture customer value.
New use cases will require new pricing models and levers, often potentially dynamic in nature. Pricing will need to be flexible to accommodate dynamic usage profiles and patterns. Yet, at the same time, these models will need to be transparent and clearly visible to enterprise customers. This is not how service providers price products today.
Service provider legacy systems are static in nature, not agile, and dispersed. Outdated product catalogue systems are overloaded, hard to update, constrain time to market, and most definitely do not provide a seamless end-to-end digital experience. Enterprise customers are not served from consolidated and consistent data sources, instead relying on scattered, siloed IT resources with the service provider. This all makes it very challenging to deliver services to B2B customers quickly and with high standards.
2. Meeting Enterprise Customers Where They Are
Enterprise customers are not a monolithic group. Different types require different digital approaches, based on the complexity and sophistication of the enterprise. Smaller enterprise customers can be addressed with a high level of automated processes and targeting. However, the higher value enterprise customers require service providers balance standard integration and high-touch proactive relationship management with strong coordination between systems, and high-touch customisation throughout the customer journey.
One thing that is clear is that enterprise customers are collaborating and exploring partnerships to produce more transformative solutions. Whether through partnership portals linked to procurement systems or partner engagement platforms, enterprises across a wide array of industries are finding ways to link directly with their suppliers and collaborators. Friction and inefficiency in collaboration are greatly reduced, allowing enterprises to better serve their customers.
Service providers can best serve large enterprises by integrating into their portals. However, this requires a focus on security and compliance; these characteristics are fundamental to being able to integrate into the enterprise partner portals.
3. Lessons Learned from SaaS and Cloud Service Providers
Looking at adjacent industries, we see software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud service providers, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle, relying on digital engagement platforms to build and maintain relationships with partners and enterprise customers. Customized and powerful dashboards deliver the insights and functionality necessary for enterprise customers to feel empowered and in control of their customer experience.
Learning platforms and online communities are often used by SaaS and cloud service providers to educate and engage customers. Learning ecosystems help to smooth the customer experience with professional online training. SaaS providers build customer connection through online communities– either peer-to-peer or as digital events.
The partner ecosystem, vital for expanding capabilities across industries and use cases, similarly benefits from digital engagement platforms. Partner onboarding, digital marketplaces, online self-help resources, and digital events all help the partner ecosystem thrive.
Final Takeaway: CSPs are Well-Positioned to Monetise Enterprise 5G Services
Service providers are in an excellent position to capture B2B value, but some key strategic enhancements will be necessary.
Service providers will need to transition from a product focus to an industry-based solution focus. Partners will become increasingly important in some key verticals and use cases. Modern and efficient digital engagement platforms will be necessary to be seen as a preferred vendor. CSPs can employ learning platforms and community forums to directly connect with customers, smoothing their experience in a social and digital way.