Five new businesses for Telefonica Digital

Telefonica recently restructured its business units and now has a separate business unit called Telefonica Digital that is ran from the UK and has several offices around the world: Sillicon Valley, Madrid, etc.

Telefonica Digital is a clear sign that the traditional telecommunication business is no longer going to be the growth engine for Telefonica. So what should Telefonica Digital focus on. Here are five ideas. Some are already partially in progress but ease-of-use, consistency and completeness often can be improved.

1) Become the European Netflix

Google and others are likely to enter into the European market for all-you-can-eat video-on-demand, a.k.a. pay a monthly fee and see all movies, music, series, documentaries, etc. you want. Netflix is the American success story however there is still a window of opportunity to become the European one. Having great content is key in this market. However the most important competitor is not a company but a protocol: P2P. Some European countries have high piracy rates. People are getting accustomed to downloading movies and music for free. The longer Hollywood holds on to high prices in the digital age, the more chances there are that people will not want to pay any more for content. Even when all-you-can-eat service becomes available. Sometimes it is better to have every family pay €15/month then to have almost nobody pay €20/DVD.

2) Long-Tail Partner Eco-System

Open system for partners, big and small, to easily integrate into Telefonica’s back-office systems. Partners should be able to:

  • charge customers and handle recurring subscriptions
  • have single sign-on solutions and access to user profiles
  • update Telefonica’s inventory and CRM systems without magic
  • provision Telefonica’s base services (e.g. numbering plans, VLANs, etc.) in one-two-three
  • long-tail monitoring and alarming
  • long-tail settlement engine
  • long-tail support systems
  • Escrow and standardized contracts
  • Standard revenue sharing arrangements in which partners get the lion share.

Having a long list of long-tail partners will boost innovation at a relatively small cost. A regular operator takes 12-24 months from idea to production launch. In the digital era, new services should be launched daily. Without partners this is impossible. Telefonica should focus on lowering the entry level so two people in their garage can benefit as well.

3) Telco & Mobile PaaS

Offer easy to use telecom APIs to key assets like billing, network quality of service, user profiles, micropayment subscriptions, etc. Allow developers to integrate these telecom APIs into SaaS and mobile apps/SaaS. Have tools to easily create mobile SaaS and native apps. A cloud-based environment to host SaaS. Have a marketplace where customers can easily buy and provision the combined solutions. Solutions to support customers that need help for solutions they have purchased.

4) M2M PaaS

Similar to Telco PaaS but for machine-to-machine and the Internet of Things. Specific hardware plug-and-play functionality, backoffice plugins for monitoring/alarming/management interfaces, etc.

5) The Paypal of Mobile Payment

Operators have a limited time left before alternative systems will disrupt the micro-payment “oligopoly”. NFC solutions, micro-payment subscriptions, mobile payment, etc. are still not standard. Mostly not because of technical limitations but because the whole eco-system wants to see a high margin business. High-volume low-margin would however change the potential of short-term success. What if a micro-subscription (€0,10/month) would leave a merchant with €0,09 instead of €0,05 or less? The window of opportunity is closing fast however…

  1. October 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Great article. Particularly like number 2 – the long tail ecosystem. As you imply, the same infrastructure to enable his could also speed up delivery on their core services.

  2. November 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

    $author After I read this article I was very impressed. I enjoyed every paragraph very much. This content is well-planned and written. This is great work.

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