Top 10 telecom trends for 2013

MDSL published its Top 10 Telecom Trends for 2013.

1. TEM, MDM and MAM market: further consolidation to come

2012 saw a raft of acquisitions, driven mainly by Tangoe burning their way through not one but two IPO war chests and buying anything not firmly bolted to the floor. However, they weren’t the only player — take, for example the recent announcement of Citrix’s proposed take-over of Zenprise.

As the bigger players continue to get bigger, there will be further consolidation in the TEM marketplace. However, one of the key requirements is the ability to deliver quickly and effectively – and here some of the larger providers have recently hit problems over delivery and scalability, particularly when it comes to deploying overseas. There is also a real problem with some of the larger players’ ability to incorporate their new purchases properly into their corporate cultures without shedding key staff in the process.

2. BYOD market will continue to see exponential growth

It’s sometimes difficult to determine whether a trend – and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is definitely still a trend – is becoming mainstream, because what is said in the media does not always reflect the reality we see in the enterprise. So despite a lot of hype in 2012 about the rapid spread of BYOD across every walk of life, our own experience shows that adoption has in fact been slower. That said, the trend continues at a steady pace and will definitely become mainstream during 2013.

3. M2M market set to take off

According to Machina Research, the number of machine-to-machine (M2M) connections world-wide will grow from 2 Billion at the end of last year and an expected 2.4 Billion at end-2012, to 18 Billion in 2022 – driven by the consumer electronics and intelligent building sectors, which together will account for 70% of the total. 90% of that $400 Billion will be generated via the service wrap while just 10% (or $9 Billion) will come from the provision of basic mobile connectivity, according to Machina. That means the largest growth in the M2M market is going to be in the services area, particularly around Software as a Service (SaaS)

Finally, next year will start to see the introduction of alternative communications methods for M2M devices, because SMS is not the cheapest technology or the most practical for every scenario – look out for very cheap “whitespace” radio technology!

4. The arrival of 4G does not signal the end of Fixed Line services for Enterprise

The launch of “EE’ and the arrival of 4G has been big news this year in the UK, and no wonder – the technology promises consumers super-fast download/upload speeds. However, the discerning consumer will be able to see through the marketing hype and notice that the going rate for a 4G price plan, which in the UK starts at £36 a month with 500Mb of data included, is not cheap.

In America, those who already enjoy 4G are experiencing 28Mbits download and 12Mbits upload speeds as a benchmark. This is definitely better than most of us currently get with Fixed Line broadband; however, if you want to stream video content over 4G at 28Mbits download speed, you’ll burn through your monthly data allowance faster than a mobile provider can smell a new profit opportunity. Meanwhile, as we all know, “all you can eat” unlimited data packages are rapidly becoming as rare as people without a mobile phone.

Unless 4G can compete with Fixed Line broadband on speed, cost and reliability, both consumers and businesses will stick to a Fixed Line broadband connection, at least for the foreseeable future.

5. The major challenge facing IT will not be controlling user’s devices, but their behavior

Some say BYOD is out of control. Part of the problem which led to the unstoppable entry of consumer devices into the enterprise was the strict control which many IT departments attempted to impose upon users. This would have been acceptable if there had not been so many holes in enterprise security — but there were (and still are), and business travellers and home-based employees soon began to exploit them. Modern enterprise also encourages multiple workplaces, which exacerbate the problem.

The other issue is cost. More applications means more bandwidth consumption which in turn, with the aforementioned demise of the unlimited data plan, means higher telecom spend – particularly when roaming overseas.

In 2013 organizations will start to realize that it’s critically important to rein in BYOD with a code of practice and policies which all staff must follow: produce a list of acceptable devices, operating systems, applications and other personally-owned or managed solutions; and apply internal MDM solutions to enforce them.

The real challenge for organizations next year will be re-educating users to understand the full implications of the new emancipation around mobile devices in the work-place, and the impact on the business of failure to comply with the new corporate policies. With great freedom comes great responsibility.

6. Windows 8 – the new BlackBerry?

With the increased sales of tablet computers generally – popularised, ironically, by IBM’s arch-nemesis Apple – we can expect to see Windows 8 gaining significant market share in 2013, at least in the mobile market.

The point is that Windows 8, no matter what anyone may say, is not an OS for the enterprise PC but specifically for the enterprise tablet market. As sales of tablets outpace PCs and the BYOD movement continues to gain momentum, it looks as though Windows 8, albeit at a stately pace, will begin to take over in some of the areas Apple is missing – although, whether it will pass IOS or Android any time soon is doubtful , given the lead both of those players have built in the market. RIM’s BlackBerry, however, clearly looks vulnerable despite good reviews for its upcoming BB10 OS.

7. Vendors providing MDM-style services with their core offering become the new norm

The Mobile Device Management market is maturing rapidly, although recent research from AOTMP shows nearly 60% of companies in the USA are still undecided on what solution to implement. The twin pressures of an opportunity of that size and the fact that MDM is now the “must have” function for any large organization trying to manage its mobile telecom estate, mean it’s only a matter of time before we see the network providers themselves offering MDM-style functionality with their core services. This mirrors the trend we’re already starting to see in the Telecom Expense Management market.

At the same time, we can expect to see a wave of consolidation in response among the smaller players in the market. Whether those provider-sourced offerings will retain the range of features and level of innovation available from the smaller firms specializing in this area, and exactly how the market will respond when asked to start trusting “poachers turned gamekeeper”, is less clear.

8. IP-based P2P messaging set to overtake SMS (at least, on smartphones)

In 2013 IP-based messaging (IM) will finally overtake SMS, at least on smartphones in the West and in the area of peer-to-peer communications. Or will it?

More than one researcher has forecast that Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) in one form or another will displace SMS – if not now, then in the near future. And it’s undoubtedly true that MIM applications such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp, not to mention social networking tools such as FaceBook and Twitter, are rapidly gaining ground where SMS used to rein supreme. Whole gangs of BlackBerry-toting teenagers remain loyal to the brand simply because they rely on BBM to keep in touch with what’s happening in their network.

The problem is that there are so many caveats. First, you need a smartphone – and, despite recent price drops, there are large parts of the world where these are still completely out of reach, financially, for the vast majority of the population. Second, you need a fixed price, unlimited data plan – and, as we forecast last year, these are rapidly becoming an endangered if not extinct species. Finally, it excludes the whole new area of Machine-to-Person communication via SMS, or which more in a moment.

9. SMS providers will find new routes to extend the life-cycle

Tyntec, a mobile interaction service provider, predicts that the market for Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging is set to explode. One simple example: the machine-generated text message you receive from your dentist, reminding you of your upcoming appointment later this week.

Tyntec go on to point out how the internet industry itself is extending email and social networking services using SMS. ABI Research estimates that social networks and portals will be generating 314 Billion SMS messages pa by 2015: for example, Facebook is using SMS to extend its reach in developing countries while Twitter already enables users to tweet via text messaging. Elsewhere, app developers and marketers are driving up demand for A2P messaging, as they increasingly turn to push messaging and SMS to drive downloads and boost customer engagement.

SMS may well have come of age, but it’s by no means over the hill.

10. “TEM” as a proposition will broaden into a new offering – birth of a new acronym?

The rapid moves which enterprises have had to take towards more effective management of their mobile devices is also having consequences in our understanding of what we traditionally understand by the term “Telecom Expense Management”. If, as some suggest we should, we abandon the old terminology in favor of a something more reflective of the Rise of the Mobile, what part in the new description does Fixed Line telecom play?

Meanwhile, the realization is growing among existing customers that there’s more to TEM than simply identifying different areas of over-spend and over-charging on your most recent invoice and claiming it back from your vendor(s). There’s no point in disputing the charge for a leased line into an office in Paris which mysteriously appeared on your last bill, if it turns out your own office ordered it but no-one told you. TEM has, and always will, go far beyond simple expense management to cover the full process from initial user request through authorization, ordering, vendor receipt and delivery to inventory update and invoicing – in other words, the entire Telecom Lifecycle Management process.

Perhaps 2013 will be the year TEM also comes of age and gives birth to a whole new acronym.

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