Once upon a time, mobile operators competed on network quality and tariff plans. The race was to trumpet 99.999 percent availability and then focus the entire organization on the next technical achievement.
Can we still say that today? Not really. Today, it is about price and the coolest smartphones. Do you have the iPhone? No? Well, do you have the best Android phone then?
So how do operators compete then? Some have started the long shift towards a user experience focus, trying to create their own sticky services.
This is crucial as operators take on new over-the-top (OTT) voice and texting players. By their very nature, OTT players are a few steps higher on the user experience ladder. These OTT players are going to offer innovative, user-focused services for free, or based on a freemium model. They will be innovative about integrating voice in a whole array of services, from traditional phone calls to a whole range of HTML5-based web solutions.
This does not mean that operator networks do not matter. They do. But they have to be built and then optimized to ensure the specific types of service quality that end users demand.
There are immediate payoffs to a user experience focus, as clear goals help system architects come together to optimize systems, focusing on the points where users actually interact with a network . It can cut time to market, and it does not have to go against traditional telecom values like standardization. In fact, user experience and standards go hand in hand – it just depends what you base your standards on.
In our connected world, people are getting impatient with services that do not work exactly as they need them. You can see this already in the “Bring Your Own Device” trend in enterprise communication, as employees reject what they see as inefficient solutions.
Sony sees this big picture now, even as a company traditionally focussed on technology and hardware. According to its new CEO, user experience is the only way forward.
It can be hard not to go with your gut feeling and not to trust a new technology for its own sake. But, after all, can you really put yourself in the shoes of a 75-year-old Japanese woman on the Tokyo subway? Do you know her communication needs? You need to observe and get real feedback.
It can’t just be about launching the latest thing anymore.