2013 was a fascinating year for the telecommunications sector in Europe and saw service providers under serious pressure to differentiate themselves from competitors and deliver innovative new services, whilst at the same time simplify the customer experience and optimise operations. Moving into 2014 operators will have to continue to invest to differentiate themselves in the market, as well as consolidate their businesses to make sure they remain competitive in an ever evolving sector.
Here are our predictions for the top five trends for 2014:
Consolidation - Pressure from market saturation, increased competition, the search for new growth engines, and economic conditions, are driving service providers to rationalise their business and to consolidate. In the first half of 2013, M&A deals worth around €60 billion were announced in Europe’s telecommunications market, almost double the volume in the same period in 2012. We look set to see further growth in 2014.
Machine2Machine - When we realise that M2M growth rates are estimated to be in the region of 40% year-on-year we start to realise the affects that it will have on all of us as it continues to grow in 2014. The increase in the number of connected devices worldwide continues to rise rapidly with M2M connections making up an increasing proportion of the total. M2M is driven by the need for efficiency through automation, the desire to offer new functionality for existing systems and the development of new technologies. All of this is central to the importance of Return on Investment (ROI) on all business technology.
Networks - In 2014, we anticipate service providers will make the shift from LTE roll outs to monetising and optimising their major network investments. They will look to combine efficient deployment with innovative pricing strategies and a rich portfolio of services. This is something we have started to see in 2013 with Vodafone offering access to Sky Sports TV or Spotify Premium.
Big Data - While 2013 saw service providers tackling the operational challenges of managing big data, 2014 will see service providers start to shift towards realising the value of big data, and using it to help with internal and external data monetisation. This will also allow for a more seamless customer experience where consumers can expect a more personalised service such as sending proactive alerts to customers when they’re reaching data limits or offering deals by partnering with their favourite retailer.
Cloud - Some of the more traditional telecommunications challenges will move to the cloud as more established heavyweight players make private clouds more secure and safe for corporates. On the conferencing side more innovation will continue to draw more users in.