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The Forgotten “BYOD” Stakeholder – the Service Provider!

When you think of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Perhaps it is the Enterprise IT department and their concerns over security. Or maybe you are thinking about the other side of the coin and employees worrying about their privacy. Whilst these are concerns that have had the unbridled attention of the mobile and technology industries they don’t address the elephant in the room. The fact that there is enormous potential for service providers to add to their portfolio of offerings and make significant increases to the average revenue generated per user (ARPU). Jose Romero, Vice President Product Strategy & Marketing, Movius Interactive Corporation sheds some light on the opportunity.

A Trend We Should Get Behind

At times BYOD seems like a runaway freight train. According to a Cisco survey published last year, 89 percent of IT departments enable BYOD in some form and in China alone 97 percent of IT managers are seeing a growth in the trend with the vast majority seeing it as a positive thing. According to the same survey, more than half of the workers in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Mexico are using mobile devices for work and a significant percentage are asked to use their own devices.

Splitting the Bills Increases Revenues 

The unbridled success for BYOD spells only one thing for service providers. It is a massive opportunity to increase revenues. Telefonica has deployed a dual line solution in its Latin American subsidiaries for a number of years now. Its selling point is that it enables a user to have a second mobile number on one phone using just one SIM card with one of the most notable applications being to split business from pleasure. This has increased ARPU by more than 20 percent – a very significant figure I am sure you will agree.

This is counterintuitive I hear you scream?  No, in reality, it makes perfect sense.  Companies usually deal with employees using their own mobile phones for a combination of business and pleasure in one of two ways. Either by identifying each action and deciding whether it was business or personal, then itemizing the billing to specifically charge for each call or text. Or they set a stipend, whereby each month an employee will have a set budget to use for communications. The problem with the first option is that it is not great from a privacy perspective and takes a lot of admin. The latter can either be exploited by wise guy employees or restrict the most hungry and successful in the team. When employees worry less about whether they should make a call they are both more successful and more likely to spend more money with the service provider.

Opening a New Front to Combat OTT Revenue Erosion

Smartphones are contributing to a serious decline in mobile service provider SMS revenue stream. Collectively, billions of dollars of SMS revenue is being lost each year to over the top (OTT) messaging services because of smartphones. According to a recent  piece of research carried out by Gartner, global smart phone sales exceeded feature phone sales for the first time this year. Operators therefore are and should be looking for news ways to boost revenues.

Adding BYOD solutions is one such way. Deploying the same technology that enables BYOD in order to go over the top of rivals is another way. Consumers will no longer be resigned to having a single operator and might have separate accounts on the same handset. This would open the market to a fluidity that doesn’t currently exist and change the ground rules entirely.  Sufficed to say it could be a very useful tool for generating new revenue streams and could create some bold new approaches for coming to the market.  Perhaps the second account could be just for data… This could be packaged by the service providers in any number of wonderful and exciting ways.

BYOD More than the Sum of its Parts

The potential here is tremendous. Get 20 percent increased ARPU just for giving people the option of segregating business from pleasure on their smartphone. Engage the same technology to open up and change the market altogether? One thing is for sure, it is imperative to look at the issues holistically. If you consider just security, IT, the carrier or just the BYOD-owner, you can end up with a distortion of what is really needed and ultimately what will lead to the greatest growth in revenues.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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