CSG International: Ian Watterson's 2016 Trends

So far, the digital economy has not been adequately monetised, says CSG’s Ian Watterson – but this has to change in 2016…

Which developing or emerging markets (regions / countries) do you cover?

The CSG Asia Pacific region includes emerging markets countries varying in size and developmental status from India, through China to Myanmar and Vietnam. We have 67 customers for our business support solutions, in 21 countries in the region. As a global company though, we cover the world, and hence other developing markets around the globe.

What are your main hardware and/or services focus areas?

CSG International provides customer and revenue management software and operations to over 500 services providers around the world in the telecommunications, cable and satellite provider sector, and increasingly in the media and entertainment segments as well as in other digital services industries.  CSG provides software, services and operations for these clients that drive their customer engagement and manage their revenue streams at large scale.

What are the top market and customer trends that will drive change in your area during 2016, and why?

There is no doubt that the digital economy is affecting the operational and go-to-market strategy of nearly every organisation, both corporate and government, in almost every industry. And with communications being so integral to the digital economy, Communications Services Providers (CSPs) are well-placed to be the backbone of the ecosystems that are emerging to support digital initiatives. So from a CSP’s point of view, we believe there are two imperatives: being innovative to take advantages of digital economy opportunities; and being nimble to respond quickly to changing market needs and to support the ways customers are embracing the digital world. We believe that CSPS in the developing markets have a huge opportunity to lead the way, because they are the most innovative and nimble players in the market – it is in their DNA to react quickly to competitive and other pressures, and to respond quickly to opportunities.

What are the solutions that will make the greatest impact in your area during 2016, and why?

With the digital economy having such a massive impact, from a CSG perspective it is the supporting business solutions that will make the difference for CSPs. The emphasis so far has often been on the word “digital” rather than the word “economy.” This has to change. Organisations are investing in their futures by leaping into the digital economy, and, bluntly, they need to make money. The role of business support solutions is to put the emphasis back on the “economy” part – to monetise the ideas and initiatives that CSPs and their partners develop. Pragmatically, we believe that CSPS need to look at solutions that exploit digitisation firstly for internal efficiencies – the next evolution of self-care for example – and secondly for go-to-market activities.  There has been experimentation to date, but now BSS needs to be embraced strategically, with a focus on profitably charging for the value inherent in digital services.

What changes need to be made to speed up developments and what can hold them back?

Change is the operative word here. CSPs need to transform themselves to meet the needs of the digital economy. There are three aspects to this transformation – and technology is only one part of them. Firstly, they need to transform their organisational culture, and an inability to do that will be the biggest single roadblock holding them back. The second transformation is in business models, where the golden rule is flexibility. It’s becoming apparent that in the new digital world, business models will be constantly changing in an attempt to reflect the best setup for addressing the needs of customers – and for CSPs, many of those customers will be enterprises grappling with the challenges of the digital world too. So the third leg of the stool – technology – has to be flexible enough to support changing business models that reflect the changing needs of customers.

Which technologies will be the most important in emerging markets in 2016?

4G/LTE; Mobile Data; IoT; M2M; SaaS; Business / Enterprise Apps; OTT; Mergers & Consolidations

Explain why your selections will be important in 2016.

We believe that as emerging markets adopt LTE, the digital economy will open up for them, particularly in the enterprise space. For example, the growth of enterprise IoT/ M2M in APAC will be phenomenal, led largely in the emerging markets by China, but also in India and Indonesia by government-led initiatives. Cloud-based enterprise offerings will also be enabled by the faster connection speeds of LTE, facilitating always-on connectivity, given appropriate charging mechanisms.

CSG believes that M&A activity will increase in 2016, with India leading the way, as the industry has already started to hear rumours about. Multi-nationals throughout APAC may well start to either flex their muscles or consolidate in chosen market areas. This will mean periods of change in each relevant country – and hence opportunity for competitors.

Ian Watterson is the MD of Asia Pacific at CSG International.

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