The personalised approach to driving mobile revenues

The personalised approach to driving mobile revenues

Stuart Cochran
Stuart Cochran

Stuart Cochran, chief technology officer at Evolving Systems, on how mobile operators can generate more money from subscribers

At a time of unprecedented competition, a new survey by Evolving Systems provides some valuable insights for Europe’s mobile phone operators looking for fresh ways to generate incremental income from their existing subscriber base. This is no easy task in what are typically already saturated markets, with some countries experiencing mobile phone penetration rates of up to 140%.

In particular, the recent survey, which polled the views of 400 prepaid mobile phone subscribers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, highlights the potential for new revenue streams from the adoption of personalised service offerings to prepaid customers.


Common ground

Common to all geographies surveyed, almost one third of respondents confirmed for example that they would be willing to pay extra for the ability to select their own number, depending on cost, with French and Italian users in particular voicing a positive response.And, of those prepared to pay a premium, 25% confirmed they would be willing to pay between Euro 6-50 for such an added value service.

What is equally attractive is that, in each of the countries surveyed, this market opportunity is as yet largely untapped. Despite their high level of enthusiasm for personalised services, only 13% of French users and 21% of those in Italy, for example, had been given the option to choose their own number when buying a prepaid SIM.

And the exciting scope of this opportunity is reinforced by the separate finding that prepaid users are happy to spend money on mobile services, with 90% of UK subscribers already spending more than £5 per month.

Until now, when prepaid users have been offered personalised mobile services, it has typically been provided through a retail store. By contrast, few subscribers have been able to access such services via their mobile phone screen, as this presents both technical and logistical difficulties for the operator, especially if pre-provisioning their SIM cards as a means of activation.

However, when asked in the survey how they would like to choose the number, respondents reacted positively to the option of selecting it via the phone’s screen.


Dynamic number allocation

In meeting this identified demand, it is now possible to allocate numbers dynamically, providing an opportunity to offer number selection to prepaid subscribers at the time of first use via the handset. A menu containing a series of questions can be presented to the user on the handset when the SIM is first switched on. This provides a list of available numbers and can also include a search for vanity or golden numbers, which correspond to letters on the keypad and spell particular words.

Also, because the system is in the operator’s network and connected to its IT infrastructure, users have access through their handset to a greater range of numbers than the retailer has available on site. This is not only more convenient for the subscriber but also enhances the user experience by offering a wider choice of numbers.

This in turn creates furthers revenue opportunities, as the same handset-based dialogue that supports number choice can also be used to offer other services, from cheaper home-based calls to bundled voice tariffs for families.

Today’s market is evolving rapidly, with the growth of mobile broadband fuelled by the availability of new devices that connect with the wireless broadband network. These sophisticated communications tools uniformly contain SIM cards, offering operators an opportunity for engagement similar to that offered by traditional mobile handsets. The main difference is that this needs to be offered to devices with a broad range of form factors.


Selected SIM provisioning

The key to success here is that the selected SIM provisioning solution allows operators to be both device- and location-aware. There is a major distinction between the kind of marketing message suitable for delivery to a feature phone connected to a GPRS network and that appropriate for a mobile broadband network connected iPad with a large colour screen.

The best solutions will fit the engagement point to the device type. For example, users of connected devices should automatically be taken to an easy-to-use web landing page that they can personalise according to their specific requirements, allowing them to choose suitable price plans and data limits. This browser-based approach also enables the operator to promote its brand and deliver high-impact and highly persuasive marketing campaigns.

In short, this personalised approach offers a rare example of technology development, vendor need for new markets and changing user demand coinciding to provide a perfect window of opportunity in creating truly value added services.

Evolving Systems provides activation, dynamic SIM allocation and number management software and services to communication providers globally, helping them to improve process efficiency, reduce costs and enhance their customer’s experience.

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