So what happens when a consumer purchases and then tries to get started with a new, more open smartphone device on a new, more open mobile network?
If operators aren’t careful, the answer is: chaos.
And that chaos has the potential to not only result in a painful customer (or worst case scenario ex-customer) experience but substantial call center/support costs as well.
We recently talked about this topic with Omar Tellez, executive VP and CMO of Synchronoss, which provides back-office platforms to enable service providers and OEMs to help automate subscriber activation, order management and service provisioning for connected devices.
Synchronoss got a big boost when it won the deal to activate Apple’s iPhone online (and then took a hit when Apple and AT&T pulled activations back into their retail locations).
That was more than a year ago. Since then, Synchronoss not only is still doing some iPhone activations (the vendor does 100% of Apple and AT&T Web site-purchased iPhone applications today) but it’s won more deals, including with Nokia USA and a deal earlier this month with Time Warner Cable.
In the end, everything the company learned in its iPhone dealings “is very relevant to the issues we’re seeing in the market today. Many people divide the wireless space into ‘BI’ and ‘AI’ — before the iPhone and after the iPhone,” said Tellez. “What’s happened in terms of OEMs [like Apple] becoming stronger and many more open initiatives on the operating side of the equation is that the whole ecoystem has changed.”
Before, said Tellez, operators controlled the sales channel and customer experience. Today, device manufacturers and even retailers like Best Buy “are taking a much more aggressive role.”
The newest version of Synchronoss’s ConvergenceNow platform is targeted at just these type of connected device retail — and e-tail — environments and has features not just for service providers but OEMs and retailers as well.
As the open mobile value chain continues to evolve, exactly who controls the purchase, pre-qualification, credit check and other processes will continue to evolve and change as well. Overall, though, “you’ll have more parties involved and more marrying or caching of customer information up front.
All of that leads up to a new kind of service activation, where a combination of operator services and apps and content from a variety of other parties are added to the purchase, activated on the phone and delivered via an entirely new type of customer purchase experience, Tellez said.
“At the end of the day, the learning of the past six months is that when this environment enables more players, and not just the operator, to provide for a customer’s needs,” he said. “It’s a very interesting time in the mobile value chain.”