A few weeks ago we were part of Informa’s Telco Cloud World Forum event in London, which – as its name suggests – is the premier event for telecoms operators to gather and talk about the myriad opportunities “cloud” can bring to their businesses.
As you would expect from such an event, there was plenty of posturing about how “the time is now” for telcos to adopt cloud to generate new revenues. The drama of declining income as a result of falling voice and data revenues was matched by the hype of potential for cloud services, with the newest range of forecasts proclaiming a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Somewhere between the hype and gloom is the reality. I don’t think there’s any question now that telcos’ need to capture the opportunities that cloud can offer, but the reality – at least heard in our workshop discussions – is that many telcos are still struggling to make any real headway. Despite some emerging success stories, proclamations from many participants are much the same as they were two years ago – my single greatest observation is – very little has changed. So the question you then have to ask, is why?
BCSG ran a workshop for over 20 telecoms operators and ISVs which looked at exactly how cloud can be adopted. This workshop was full of lively debate that enabled us to get the latest views on the hopes and challenges that telcos harbour.
The workshop was a great opportunity to get under the skin of what’s really going on and what needs to change to ensure greater success.
The small business (SMB) audience still remains an important opportunity for telcos particularly with SaaS propositions, however, the single biggest hindrance to success in this space is telcos’ ability to sell SaaS effectively.
Our discussions kept coming back to the fact that anyone expecting SaaS to be something that can be picked up and sold as a service alongside existing capabilities and offers is going to be sorely disappointed. Even the oldest words of advice, “use an incentivised front line sales teams” are not the silver bullet. The challenges that telcos face in selling SaaS boil down to how they approach their SMB customers and communicate the value available in any given SaaS package.
To reach the mass market customers need to be educated and guided to ensure they fully understand their own needs, know how the solution will address them and learn how to get the most value from it.
Fundamentally it comes down to a few basic points. Firstly, understand the customer, consider what they need to know and believe to progress towards purchasing and using the software. Secondly communicate in a way that takes the customer on a journey which builds understanding and buy-in in stages and isn’t necessarily totally focussed around the interaction they have with the front-line sales team. Thirdly, work with ISVs to provide insight, they are experts about their product. And finally, consider the tools you’ll need, such as marketing automation, landing pages, CRM, analytics, to bring the customer experience to life. These are all aspects that we address in our next generation Cloud Management Platform, which we launched at Telco Cloud World Forum.
Coming away from the event, I have to ask myself how I feel about what we learnt. I think overall, while there is still frustration, there’s still much opportunity to be seized, and an evident will to learn how to get better at selling SaaS to SMBs. The examples of success do have consistent factors that have underpinned them. Some of this detail is shared in our whitepaper Helping Telcos sell SaaS, and I look forward to be writing and sharing more of what we come across over the coming weeks and months. In the mean time we’d love to hear your experiences and lessons learned.
For more information on telecoms cloud services and how we can help you to implement your very own cloud application marketplace, visit our solutions for telcos page