The velocity in how the world creates value has hastened considerably. We spent millennia as an agrarian economy, then came the industrial age that refines these commodities into manufactured goods. We have since evolved into the service economy and most will agree that we are now onto the experiential economy.
To appreciate what that means to us in the telecommunications business, perhaps we can take a moment to follow the journey of the humble coffee beans.
Coffee beans have long been traded as a commodity. That’s classic agrarian. But when someone roasts the beans and package them in sealed bags, the same coffee bean moves up in value. When the beans are grounded and turned into coffee, the economic value further increases. But when this cup of coffee is served in a nice ambiance with jazz music and comfortable sofas, it reaches the peak of its value.
Walt Disney mastered this concept long ago with their theme parks. It is less about the individual rides or popcorn, but the deep experience that one mesmerizes for years to come through well orchestrated planning, staging and precise execution. This painstaking effort creates a genuine and lasting response from the customers.
Simply put, in an experiential economy it is all about the authenticity felt by the customers.
Back to our world for a moment – I think it is not too harsh to say that many of us are still sorting out the service stage, let alone have time to evolve into the experiential stage. Fact is, for years, telephony (voice and SMS) is the primary – if not the only – product. In this environment, offering different price plans with varying buckets for voice, SMS and data is often viewed as service innovation.
In such an environment, we should not be surprised that considerable disconnect exists: while 80% of traditional service providers believe they are providing good customer experience, only 10% of their customers agree.
I suspect this disconnect partly stems from paradigm issues with the legacy business model. I believe, however, that LTE will be a catalyst to help the industry breakout and re-gear itself.
With LTE, we have the ability to deliver high-speed connectivity to a world that is increasingly mobile-first. That is good news, as the demand is insatiable. But we can’t be satisfied just with delivering bits faster, right? Most shareholders would certainly not settle for that.
We live in a world where the commodity is the 0’s and 1’s. Taking a key lesson from the journey of coffee beans could be instructive – we must go beyond transporting bits. As an industry, we must re-think how we can go beyond transport to create value for our customers. If your favorite neighborhood coffee shop can add value to the humble coffee beans, so can we.
It would not be a simple task. But being a modern digital telco not burdened by legacy infrastructure and paradigm will most certainly help.
LTE Asia will be taking place at the Suntec in Singapore on the 5-7th of October. To register now or apply for a free operator pass, please visit our website; www.lteconference.com/asia