I love the phrase ‘stick to your knitting’, it’s so simple and self-defining. I dare say most people will think of their grandmother when picturing the act of knitting. It has a calm, and comfortable air to it. Despite all the advances in all sorts of areas, the art of knitting is still unchanged, useful and valued. It takes the time and effort investment of the knitter to master and the result is something others can value and trust.
For Telcos I see the phrase as being particularly apt as they look to tackle the emergent needs of the business market. Whether they are the dominant player in their territory or not, the business market in the past have evaluated them in similiar fashion. Many business users have looked to the carriers first for the core capabilities they provide, namely voice and data access and for the most part sourcing and subsidising their mobile devices.
The corollary of the above is that businesses evaluate differently solutions Telcos develop and offer which begin to stray beyond these core pillars of trust and strength - organisations as well don't always look first to a carrier for solutions that go beyond the core capabilities they have offered in the past.
Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions can fall squarely into this same category. For some juicy insights on this grab the Ernst & Young Beyond Connectivity Telco Report
So how do Telcos solve this conundrum? It’s quite simple, partner or acquire. Both are effective solutions but partnering is the clear winner in my book. Here’s 5 steps to partnering success:
1. Be Choosy - seek out best of breed solution providers with whom to partner.
- Leverage the domain expertise and established credibility of the partner.
- Take advantage of the targeted investment by that partner to deliver the right solution to the right customer problem.
- Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel.
2. Resell don’t reinvent
- Strengthen the Telco proposition of single-bill convenience for the customer. You’ve already invested so much in the infrastructure to do it.
- More products/solutions, more stickiness!
3. Enjoy your new Support network –
- Leverage the existing and established support processes for the new solution.
- Save initial and ongoing training costs and time.
- Resolve customer issues faster and more effectively.
4. Don’t miss the boat – faster time to market.
- No lengthy development cycles.
- The right solution at the right time.
5. It’s good to be the middle man –
- Deliver on proposition to partner with, not profit from your business customers.
- Help them transition from legacy processes to digital solutions.
- Take a leadership position by embracing partnering.
By definition a system works optimally when each component is performing the function it was designed to do. In the very same way, Telcos facing this new horizon of business mobility needs will best set themselves up for success, by sticking to their knitting and choose to partner with the best specialist solution providers they can find who have built their entire existence by sticking to theirs.