Service bundling: time to reinvent the wheel?

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Operators offering bundled utilities, telecoms, and other services to their customers isn’t a new idea. In recent years, such bundles have been a valuable tactic in pursuit of increased market share and reduced churn. The question now is how to increase the effectiveness of a proven strategy? How can bundling be enhanced by adding new offers and capabilities into a single service proposition?

Giving the people what they want: adding value to bundled services

Time doesn’t stand still. Double play, triple play, and quad play services have long since entered into the standard telecoms menu of services offered to the end-customer. That’s because the approach - selling desirable services bundled together - works; it benefits both the customer and the service provider. The pressing question today is can service bundling be made even more effective and, if so, how?

The answer, and doesn’t it always, lies in the data. The greater insight the service provider has into its customer’s preferences, the more likely to it is to be able to construct increasingly appealing bundles that take advantage of new network technologies. And among those players who offer bundled services, Mobile Virtual Network Operators are particularly well-placed to take a lead in answering the question because without the baggage that burdens network operators themselves, MVNOs can quickly select and exploit those opportunities that are likely to work best.

Services are at inflection point

Why is now the time act? Essentially, because the potential for innovation in bundling is being driven by network evolution. 5G networks inherently yield several areas ripe for exploitation because they enable the creation of attractive new services categories. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB), Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) are all examples of this. Look closely and it’s easy to see why.

New technologies in the network are enabling new services, and service bundles. First-mover advantage is within reach

EMB extends services by enabling a high data rate across a broad coverage area, increasing the capacity available to support peak rates by both volume and mobility. Examples of new services to benefit include 8K video streaming and immersive gaming; both popular and desirable in their own right: also potentially attractive components of a bundled offer.

mMTC supports maximal access by a large number of devices at any one time, providing connectivity to billions of generally low-complexity and power devices. Service examples here include smart barcode scanners and GPS tracking systems.

URLCC, meanwhile, is a variety of 5G network architecture that enables and ensures efficient data transfer with extreme low latency, shortening transmissions and even enabling them to overlap. This means reliable Cloud connectivity, a key practical example of the benefits being reliable wireless co-ordination among connected vehicles, as well as growing deployment of edge processing solutions.

The point here is that network evolution broadens the foundation on which service innovation is enabled. It provides the opportunity to bundle a range of new and increasingly desirable services. Now, with the pace of change increasing, is the time to secure first-mover advantage.

Tapping the technology: what works in bundled service innovation?

If network evolution is the foundation for service innovation, how can MVNOs build bundles that exploit the new opportunity?

While it’s easy enough to provide a shopping list of examples of innovation (for instance, bundles including social media access and video and audio streaming services) the key to identifying desirable and likely successful bundles is simply to ensure that decisions regarding the component parts of a bundle are insight driven. As we’ve seen, network evolution is providing new balls to juggle; the answer to which balls to select lies in the data.

This means understanding customer-related data to the extent that you can ensure that bundled offers are aligned with demand, feedback, analysis of customer interests, and more. With effort and the right technology backbone deployed, this can be achieved. In fact, other industries have already demonstrated the effectiveness of doing so. Examples include banking, where mobile payment authentication, money transfers, and online payments via mobile apps have quickly become table stakes competitive offerings, and insurance, where device insurance is now often an entry point to upselling a wider range of bundled services.

Enabling innovation service bundling: is there a fly in the ointment?

If the opportunity to innovate has been established, is execution the fly in the ointment? We’ve seen the roadmap towards something new but is the traditional bundling model (essentially overlaying multiple services with a common billing and customer care layer) enough to make things work and fully exploit the opportunity?

Probably not, because real-time service integration and coordination are required to push ahead. The MVNO’s prerequisite for the provision of bundled digital services is having access to a platform that readily enables integration with any combination of new service capabilities. In particular, that integration must enable real-time control of service availability and the services required operational parameters.

Meeting the challenge

To be in position to innovate and exploit the opportunities yielded by innovative service bundling, MVNOs must be able to deploy and leverage a complete solution for launching such value propositions. Critical aspects of the required platform include:

  • Highly scalable, providing a stable foundation for growth
  • Real-time service management, for products, pricing, and promotions
  • Supports full customer life cycle, from acquisition through to advocacy
  • Powerful, insightful business intelligence to support business growth and performance optimisation

Digitalk’s Mobile Cloud, established and proven as an enabler of commercial success for MVNOs for over a decade is one example of the bedrock on which the strategies that will underpin future success can be realised.

Of course, this blog has simply touched on the key points related to how MVNO’s can leverage a significant opportunity to drive incremental revenues and increase market share through innovative bundling founded on such a technology platform. If you’d like more detail on this important subject, please click here to download our new paper on how MVNOs can unlock new opportunities in service bundling.