HomeMobile EuropeWhy so complicated?

    Why so complicated?


    If there is one word that defines the mobile business at the moment it’s complicated. Everything is massively more complicated than is used to be — the 3G air interface; call handling and management systems; content management platforms; service delivery platforms; billing and customer care etc., etc. And, of course, the most complicated of all is the integration of these and everything else that goes to make up a modern mobile operator’s business.

    It is incredible to think how the amount of infrastructure it takes to deliver next generation data services differs from that required to deliver voice.  And yet, despite this explosion of support and delivery systems, everyone is expecting 3G to work well from day one. It would be fantastic to believe that this will be true but the delays in getting the very basics — the radio infrastructure and handsets — to reach the levels of performance required, suggest that this will not be the case.
    There will be teething problems and we must all expect these. There may even be a few major headaches that have to be worked through, particularly when it comes to ensuring services continue to work effectively when roaming. However, the most important thing is that every business recognises where it fits into the market and what money it can make out of the market.
    That, at least, is a simple message, but unfortunately it is not a simple process. Success in the mobile community has, more often than not, resulted from technical excellence. However, achieving this no longer warrants the issuing of a gold pass to success, it just gives a company the opportunity to succeed: without it failure is inevitable; with it there is a possibility to succeed but only if the business model is right.
    Whether the business is infrastructure, software or service based, the pre-requisites are the same: identify a need in the market and provide a solution for it. Experience now tells us that those most likely to succeed are those that provide a complete solution to the customer. Blackberry-based mobile email solutions which provide customers with a complete and easy-to-understand proposition have been more successful that other systems which promise more functionality but require more effort from the user. Vodafone Live! has become a standard bearer for the marketing of multimedia services as the complexities of delivering GPRS and MMS are hidden behind the smiling faces of David Beckham and Michael Schumacher as they play games on their phones. We are now beginning to understand that this is not devaluing the technical achievements, it is marketing them effectively.
    These are obviously operator examples but the same is true for the vendor community. Supplying one element of a system is not enough. Whether delivered through partnerships or internal development, operators need to be offered a complete solution. The truth is that most mobile operators do not have the resources — financial or human — to waste on pulling together disparate technologies for services based on location, payment, information etc. The mobile market is now operating as a very mature business and all who want to sell their products and make money must clearly explain what need it meets or what problem it solves. Without this they will surely fail, even is they have navigated their way successfully through the most complicated of technical mazes.