How many times recently have you had a conversation – over a crisp glass of white perhaps – and with friends or family who have no idea what you do (“Billing, ah, how nice.”) about data? You know, the ones that go ‘well, I have this deal from Vodafone (other carriers are available) which includes a gigabyte of data.’
And while others round the table nod sagely and sip the crisp white, you have this overwhelming urge to ask what a gigabyte is, or what it does.
Try it. It is quite fun. The answers vary, of course, but they will generally be along the lines of ‘well, of course, you will know that, being in the business. I think it gets me some music, but probably not a video. Anyway, I know it gets me my email, which is good.’
In other words, customers have absolutely no idea what data is. None. And they certainly have no idea how much data they are using or have used. Nor it seems do us telecoms professionals. One senior IT professional used $200 of data while roaming in France the other day. He had started using a map application so that he could roam to the Acropolis and TM Forum Live. His carrier in the States alerted him, of course, except they did so two hours after the event. Which he was not pleased about.
We need to get away from the word data. Data is a dirty word.
Operators who insist on bundling data or try and market data are pushing themselves down the same commodity cul-de-sac as they did when they gave everything away for free and then tried to get customers to pay for it.
Sell products not services. Sell Facebook not data. Sell secure storage, not cloudy data services.
One operator at the event in Nice is doing exactly this, and it is awesome in its simplicity.
They are selling 100 Facebook and 10 YouTube sessions a month. Or a different level and combination of these and other popular applications. They are selling them for a set price.
Customers know what they are getting. They know that they will not face a huge and unexpected bill. They do not worry that the 15 minute YouTube clip, or even the two minute one – you know, the one where the cat saves the kid from the dog – will run them out of credit or make them hit their limit.
It is clear and simple and customers love it.
Let us get beyond data. Please. For everyone’s sake.