LIVE FROM APPS WORLD LONDON: GP Singh, director of Group Strategy for SingTel, highlighted the threats to operators from the emergence of new business models in the mobile industry, as an increasing number of companies stake their claim on parts of the mobile value chain. In his presentation, Singh noted that “the best defence is likely to be a good offence,” and that operators “need to take initiative in spaces where carriers have a natural right to win.”
“Really, we have very strong assets that can be used in the applications and the new internet world, it’s about learning to use them. I don’t think that most of us have learned to use them very well, but we do have assets,” Singh (pictured) said. However, in order to do this, the “transformation required to embrace change is larger than most realise.”
“The application space provides an opportunity. We see it as a big, big opportunity for operators. And you know, we’ve not cracked it, I don’t think anyone’s cracked how they should look at applications. We’re trying things,” he observed.
According to the executive, operators are facing threats from a number of categories, including “free rider” applications which use telco infrastructure to generate revenue solely for others, such as VoIP and messaging apps. In addition, operators are seeing disintermediation, as other companies insert themselves into the value chain.
Also set to provide a challenge are new data-heavy technologies which place heavy demands on operator networks, but for low returns. This includes cloud-based services, HD media streaming, and games and social services.
Singh suggested a number of assets operators can look to use to secure their position in their value chain. This includes “owning the subscriber,” including managing end-user data and linking social connections; and using their key assets and infrastructure, for example by exposing APIs and trusted billing relationships to new service partners.
It was also noted that operators need to develop new revenue schemes, including support for advertising, usage-based and revenue share/transaction-oriented models; and tap into new growth opportunities – including in mobile apps. “It’s a big mindset change,” he acknowledged.
“We are on our way with this transformation, and hopefully in a few years we will have a different future,” Singh concluded.