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How operators can drive revenues in the shared economy era

From Airbnb to Uber, the shared economy, or collaborative consumption as it is sometimes known, has rapidly grown in popularity. It is the concept where something that is not being used is “shared” based on a “what’s mine, is yours” understanding. And the shared economy is said to be worth over $25bn.

Taking this concept to heart, a number of mobile operators have launched shared data plans to encourage subscribers to share their data among family– and for the workplace. This article looks at what strategies operators can adopt to drive revenues in the era of the shared economy.

The first shared data plans were launched in the United States back in 2012 by Verizon and AT&T. They proved popular and their customer numbers grew by millions. Why are shared plans popular?

On average households have between five to eight internet-connected devices. Families can spread their voice and data pool across different devices among family members – so no voice or data goes unused.

Looking beyond the household, the enterprise market offers a lucrative opportunity for mobile operators to introduce shared data plans to increase their customer base and drive revenues. Yet, what makes some mobile operators shy away from introducing the ‘shared wallet’ concept?

Some operators are unsure whether they need to make a full-scale revamp to their billing platforms. Others are unsure if their systems can effectively handle simultaneous ‘always on’ sessions from different devices. A number of carriers are simply unsure about what strategies and tactics they need to adopt in order to make shared data plans a success.

Maximizing the shared data plan opportunity

First and foremost, carriers should not ignore the lucrative opportunity that shared data plans offer. Put simply, it can build customer loyalty. Here’s how operators can maximize this opportunity:

  • Empower the subscriber: The technology available today allows carriers to provide subscribers with not just granular information on their bills, but also to manage and control their voice and data minutes across different devices. As such, shared data offers more control to the subscriber.
  • Offer value-driven bundles: Operators should look beyond voice, data and SMS to secure new revenue streams. Shared data plans with voice, data and a media bundle would offer good value to the subscriber. And therefore it makes commercial sense to partner with content providers to offer subscribers an enhanced shared plan. Already, some mobile operators have started offering Netflix as part of their bundles to households. In the enterprise market, mobile operators should look to offer shared plans with enhanced offers such that include VPNs, secure conference calling and location services.
  • Recognize and prioritize VIP data traffic: Traditionally, data traffic relied on billing systems. These systems however, have not been able to meet today’s data volumes which have grown exponentially. Carriers should use the advanced network optimization and traffic recognition solutions to provide enterprise customers with a VIP data service. In business every second counts. Faster data services would be an attractive proposition to the enterprise market where speed could make or break a deal. A VIP data service would provide the mobile operator with a competitive edge and an important revenue stream.

Last and by no means least, operators need to launch their offerings fast to stay ahead in this ultra-competitive marketplace. Carriers do not need to overhaul their entire billing systems to introduce shared data plans. Policy management systems available today enable carriers to launch their shared data propositions with relative ease – and be part of the shared economy. The fact is, a number of mobile operators have launched innovative plans which have attracted customers – among households and enterprises – and secured lucrative revenue streams.