The phrase “Digital Darwinism” seems to be growing in the popular vernacular amongst the tech and telecoms communities.
It is a phrase used to highlight and illustrate the notion that, to be successful in the digital era, business must constantly adapt to their environments to survive and flourish; whether that is against the background of economic crisis and uncertainty, or whether it is to compete against growing disruptive technology and constantly changing consumers habits, the principle is the same – adapt to survive.
While the ‘adapt to survive’ principal, used in the right context, is highly laudable and insome cases essential, managing such revolutionary change may have its own challenges. This point is illustrated well within the telecoms industry by the appearance of over-the-top messaging applications and IP based messaging solutions. Some OTT companies founded less than 4 years ago is handling twenty billion messages per day in July 2013, growing from ten billion in August 2012 and one billion the previous October. This is tremendous in terms of growth and highlights that more messages are now being sent across new platforms across multiple-channels and multiple devices. While SMS and MMS have been stalwarts for many consumers over the years, we are witnessing a revolution where all industry players need to adapt, reset and bring something new to the table to survive and succeed.
Our recent research on Mobile Value Added Services across Latin America showed that countries like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina are seeing dramatic growth in smartphone adoption. This growth is set to continue and consumers are gaining access to more feature rich and capable mobile devices that can utilise multiple messaging platforms including OTT apps to Social networks with chat functionality. The onward march of Smartphone adoption is a global trend; where, in conjunction with this, we are seeing messaging services co-exist together depending on the user’s messaging habits and also consumer expectations for reach, reliability and enriched features. In Mexico, for instance, 98% of smartphone owners use more than one instant messaging application with 89% of them also using SMS. This underscores both the threat and opportunity for mobile operators.
The reality is that messaging, in all forms, be it OTT, IP, IM or SMS have had a dramatic explosion across all markets. We are now sending more messages across the mobile platform than at any time in human history. This revolution means operators, in particular, need to revolutionise how they deliver their messaging solutions to consumers. While it is fair to say that SMS is still a lucrative source of revenue and is far from end of life, the opportunities to deliver richer and more unified communication services, should be a clear and present objective.
Operators have one tremendous advantage – the direct connection to the end-user and the data on what that end-user is doing with their device – by leveraging this relationship and the network intelligence, operators can provide communication solutions that are exciting, tailored and resonate with its audience – be it the consumer or enterprise. By combining mobile device independence with even richer communication features that are simple to use and easy to monetise, they really could have something that is revolutionary. The fact today remains that there is no single service that can achieve it all (yet). The clock is ticking however, because disruption comes out of the blue and who knows what the next big thing will be that challenges the status quo.
The time is now to adapt to this new reality – we all have a chance to build the next big thing -If you don’t adapt to your environment, you become a dinosaur, and we all know how that story ends…..