Worryingly, little more than half of respondents viewed telecoms providers as being likely or very likely to provide the lead in richer communications, despite their intrinsic advantage of being able to provide a richer communication experience by combining the intelligence of a smartphone with the intelligence resident in the network.
Telecoms providers are viewed by the industry as being slow to adopt these new richer communication services, with 54% expecting to see telcos rollout richer services in one to three years time. Even more surprisingly, nearly a third (30%) believe that it will take between three and five years for these services to be rolled out by telcos.
Asked to rank some of the most important factors for the creation and rollout of richer communications, respondents highlighted a number of key areas. Infrastructure was cited by 79%, whereas a slightly lower number of 76% said relevant market offerings were vital, and speed of service rollout was something 73% of respondents agreed with as an important factor.
As for smartphones themselves, the internet is seen as being the most important feature of smartphones in the next five years, with 82% citing it as important or very important. The second most popular feature was apps (77%) and third integrated connectivity between online presence and smartphones (62%). Despite companies such as Apple pushing video calling as the future of communication, nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) see it as unimportant or very unimportant, showing the disconnect between providers and the industry itself. Personalised service offerings are also seen as being important or very important by over three quarters of respondents (76%).
The research results support what has been a long-held industry view that telcos are slow to adapt to change and innovate, and as a result, run the risk of being out-manoeuvred by over the top providers such as Google. But they also show a significant awareness in the market of richer communications and the benefits they can deliver, said Jeff Gordon, CEO, OpenCloud. If service providers want to be a Smart Pipe, they have to speed up their innovation and subsequent rollout of services, and not continue their traditional way of developing at a stately pace. We think that network operators are better placed to provide these richer communication services as they have the infrastructure to be able to harness both device and network intelligence, putting them far ahead of the over the top competitors who are muscling in on their territory.