Internet Service Provider: what is the future challenge for the industry?

What is the future challenge for the industry of Internet Service Provider? Today Internet Service Provider is faced with an environment that is characterized by complex challenges, but also full of opportunities. These challenges are played out on technology and people. In this post, we’ll explore how to win on both of these fronts.

Can you imagine your life and work without the Internet? Probably not. If you think about it, it is a relatively “young” revolution. The World Wide Web was born in 1991, and even in the late 1990s, there were very few homes and offices that were connected to the “net”. Fiber optic cable and wifi networks arrived only after 2000. The first iPhone was presented by Steve Jobs in 2007.

Fast forward to today, there are about 4.7 billion Internet users worldwide. This is up from 800 million in 2010 and only 100 million in 2000. This growth curve is impressive, and what’s more, there is still a lot of margin for growth. Today, about 40% of the world’s population is still without internet access (source).

Even more important: the spread of the Internet is the seed from which digital transformation has flourished, which is the greatest turning point the world has known since the Industrial Revolution. Once again, it is a very young revolution that still has enormous potential yet to be realized. This is all the more true in the current unprecedented and complicated period that we are experiencing today.

 

Internet Service Provider in the post Covid-19 world

What is the challenge for Internet Service Provider after this phase of emergency? The Internet and digital transformation are the biggest revolution in several centuries; and digital has been (and is) our greatest ally in the hectic phases of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, digital transformation has helped us in incredibly valuable ways during this emergency. First of all, it has made it possible for a series of daily actions, which previously took place almost exclusively in an in-person mode, to move increasingly online: from prescriptions to paying bills, to buying goods of any kind. This has allowed people to avoid large gatherings and crowds in order to stop the spread of the virus. 

Then there is a second aspect, one that is no less important, and it is the economy.

During the lockdown, digital has kept the economy going. Online sales, of course, have peaked like never before. A large number of companies have resorted to Smart Working, adopting collaboration systems (almost always in the cloud) that are efficient, easy to use, and customized. Then there is the educational environment, where schools were forced to rapidly set up distance learning systems during the emergency (not always in an optimal way, it must be said), always thanks to digital (to learn more about the impact and importance of digital during and after Covid-19, download our ebook).

It must be emphasized: the growth of digital accelerated by this emergency will not end with the emergency itself. Therefore, from this crisis, great opportunities may arise. Who supplies the raw material at the basis of digital, the foundation on which all this architecture is based? Internet Service Providers. Companies in business today find themselves competing in a world of continuous change. They must always be looking ahead in order to spot the new trends first in order to maintain their position and their competitive advantage.

So, where are we headed? Two sides, which may appear separate and distinct, are actually in a closer relationship than ever before. On one side we have “technology”; on the other “people”. These two sides come together in “personalization”, an area where  companies like Doxee are specialized, and which is a fundamental and increasingly essential weapon for Internet Service Providers. We will come back to this later in the post.

 

Technology: the race to 5G

Connectivity technologies are developing at a rapid pace. This is no surprise given the increasing amounts of data and the number of internet users, as we mentioned above. What is their importance for Internet Service Provider?

It’s not just a question of users. The consumption of data from mobile is growing at an annual rate of 40% (repubblica.it); this increase requires a great effort from the network and, consequently, for Internet Service Providers. We have seen the “dress rehearsal” of this overload during the lockdown period, when data traffic increased by 10%. At the same time, according to an article by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica (published on May 4), the speed of Internet networks in the first four months of 2020 decreased by 24.28  as a national average, compared to the previous period.

The good news is that the network has held up well, and overall there have been no major inefficiencies. However, connectivity has never been so precious and indispensable and we need to accelerate

This is the importance of 5G technology, which is fundamental not only for guaranteeing faster access to the private network, but above all to achieve a complete digital transformation of the economic and social system. Think of the increasingly widespread implementation of Smart Working and the importance of sharing data in real time, with almost zero latency. Even more importantly, consider the IoT (the Internet of things) revolution. In the immediate future, millions of objects will communicate with each other. At the same time, they will be a new source of data to explore and exploit to improve business, economic, and social processes. 

The IoT is the true pivot of Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities, a possible turning point in mobility, with self-driving cars, and with an increasingly digital healthcare made possible by wearable devices (also connected). All of these are factors that, if combined, can bring greater efficiency, greater productivity, higher quality of life, precise and dynamic monitoring of consumption and emissions, and great attention to environmental sustainability.

All of this is connected in a virtuous circle. But it will never be triggered unless the underlying connectivity technology improves. In a nutshell, this explains the importance of 5G. The future will start from here.

 

Companies are increasingly tailored to the user

The telecommunications sector, and Internet Service Provider in particular, is experiencing a phase of great technological transformation. The other great element to be taken into consideration is the openness and fluidity of the market, which in turn translates into increasingly close and complicated competition between players in the sector. It’s not just about prices and tariffs. Quite the opposite: it’s mainly about people and Customer Service.

Consider this data:

  • 90% of Americans choose one company over another based on the quality of the Customer Service (business.trustpilot.com);
  • on average, a satisfied American customer will speak well of the Customer Experience with at least 9 people. However, he will share his bad experience with at least 16 people (helpscout.com);
  • according to recent research by Forbes, a poor Customer Service is responsible for losses of around $75 billion;
  • according to a Bain & Company study, it costs 6 to 7 times more to win a new customer than to retain one (inc.com).

The real goal Internet Service Providers must aim for is customer loyalty, with the consequent reduction of the churn rate. It’s about putting people at the center of their business. This is where you win (or lose) the market challenges of the present and future, but how to do it, concretely?

 

Technology + people = personalization

Even as the business world is continuing to change at a rapid pace, the secret of loyalty has remained almost unchanged for centuries. And it is this: getting to know your customers and addressing them in a personalized way, based on their characteristics, their behavior, and their possible future needs. In essence, it’s about knowing your customers and anticipating and influencing their desires.

Can this mechanism be implemented even if we are talking about thousands or millions of customers scattered all over the globe? The answer is yes. It’s all thanks to “Big Data” – the digital traces that we all leave online, from all our devices.

Internet Service Providers must learn to capitalize on this treasure (and they are already doing so): therefore, collect this data and store it by completely digitizing their Customer Base. To thoroughly and surgically track the Customer Journey (which is increasingly cross-channel), and then to interpret this enormous amount of information, naturally with ad-hoc Artificial Intelligence systems.

The result? The result of this is a company who intimately knows its own audience of users, who subdivides it into more and more specific targets to hit with tailor-made communications and operations, all the way to addressing individuals, in one-to-one mode. This is what we mean when we talk about personalization.

An example of great success, in this regard, is Fastweb, the Italian Internet Service Provider who is known for Customer Service. Fastweb has been working with Doxee, a company specialized in personalization processes, the dematerialization of business processes, and the management of communication with customers (to learn more about the results of this fruitful partnership, download the Fastweb case study, here).

Finally, the circle is closed. Internet Service Providers are faced with major challenges for both technology and customer loyalty. These two challenges can, and must, be met simultaneously.