News Column

Mobile consumers offer rich pickings for telcos ecosystem

May 14, 2014

Mbugua Njihia -1

The most awaited corporate report this week was that of local mobile operator Safaricom, and the results did not disappoint and pointed to the evolving cash rich ecosystem that is mobile.

Factors that lead to, and will continue to determine, bottom-line growth for those invested in one way or another in mobile are in plain sight for the discerning.

It is telling, when with four operators and 31.3 million mobile connections 65 per cent of new mobile phone purchases are smartphones.

Marry that with a new political dispensation that has 47 county governments hunting for solutions to better serve the citizen.

The counties are flush with cash and already looking to mobile platforms to offer the most cost effective proposition for revenue assurance, information dissemination, healthcare service delivery, agricultural emancipation, financial inclusion and governance.

Opportunity attracts many suitors and we have played audience to a morphing telecoms environment with the licensing of new market entrants as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

This has seen incumbents open up network inventory allowing for more innovation to thrive.

Two examples of this is voice connectivity via Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to certain channel partners that will drive innovation on voice, which in many ways is more ubiquitous than SMS looked at in the rural context.

SIP is a signalling communications protocol widely used for controlling multimedia communication sessions such as voice and video calls over Internet Protocol (IP) networks.

Second is the number parsing that allows for personalisation of mobile services and most importantly easier service on boarding.

Coupled with the potential for micro billing, this holds the key to double digit growth in value added services revenue. These have been available in other markets globally but paranoia had network operators lock down on access.

Mobile money, used by over 20 million mobile subscribers, makes headway into value added services allowing for a faster return on investment.

Mobile coverage has increased to 96 per cent of the population and there are now over 3,500 3G sites in the country.

This means it is now easier and cheaper to funnel in consumers to VAS services as brands and content owners can more accurately predict ROI and therefore have a better feel for marketing budgets and expected churn.

Innovation remains a mainstay in the various hubs and labs. We are seeing applications of new channels such as WhatsApp to deliver services differently, reducing the load on network infrastructure but retaining the ability to bill.

Reduced costs of engagement raises the bottom-line. The connected mobile consumer offers rich pickings both short and long term.  

Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic. Twitter - @mbuguanjihia

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Source: Business Daily (Kenya)

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