Channel Forecast: Riding the intelligent mobile data wave

As we contemplate the impact of industry change and the disruptive time ahead, intelligent mobile data demands special attention in terms of how it can deliver a competitive advantage and to understand the pre-conditions that must be in place for it to generate value for resellers. That was the focus of last month’s Channel Forecast Insight Session led by Jola Chief Sales Officer Lee Broxson and Pangea Sales Director Bernie McPhillips.

Bernie McPhillipsResellers are facing into a comms sector supercharged by the 2G/3G sunset, the PSTN shutdown, the rise of mobile data solutions and the proliferation of 5G – and when these transformations are added together the potential impact is huge.Jola and Pangea are at the forefront of this sweeping technology transition, and introducing intelligent mobile data applications just as businesses plan to go all IP will enable resellers to emerge stronger and more competitive, believes (pictured left) McPhillips. “If resellers don’t have an intelligent mobile data strategy they can only address those use cases and applications that can be swapped to a fixed line,” he said.

“There are many areas where SoGEA and fibre are not available, and there’s many applications that don’t need high bandwidth. It’s easier to rapidly deploy a cellular solution rather than trying to dig up every road in the country. This represents a significant opportunity for channel partners and now is the time to act. We are reaching a point where resellers will be at a competitive disadvantage if they can’t address all of the available opportunities.”

There are many uses cases and deliverables that are leading us to a mobile future

The impact of intelligent mobile data is already strongly felt, creating new possibilities across all sectors, noted McPhillips. He cited many advantages including the ‘clever things’ that can be done with multi-network SIMs, along with static IPs and web content filtering at network level, for example. “There are many value adds, that’s why we call it intelligent mobile data,” he stated. “We’re reaching a tipping point in the market where people are starting to ask why wouldn’t I want intelligent mobile data.”

For resellers, the priority is to factor intelligent mobile data into their technology roadmaps to ensure market competitiveness, believes (pictured left) Broxson. “You hear people talk about 1.5 million PSTN connections,” he said. “If as a channel we can take 10 per cent of that total it would make a huge difference to the reseller community. In every area of our sector people are talking about the PSTN switch off. In many cases fixed line connectivity is the answer but in a high percentage of locations SoGEA is not supported or fixed line is not financially viable. These cases will benefit from moving to a 4G or 5G application. But everybody, whether an ISP, MSP or reseller, without mobile data in their portfolio is at an immediate disadvantage.”

Connected world
Broxson provided a glimpse into the future of connectivity and where he thinks the market is heading, highlighting that today’s 20 billion connected devices is set to hit 70 billion in seven years time. “There are many applications moving away from fixed line over to LTE,” he added. “The risk is that customer bases will be targeted by suppliers that deliver mobile data solutions. Our biggest competitors are always the networks but being an aggregator gives us an advantage. We are able to differentiate with options from single to multi-network. Every player in the market should have an option to work with an aggregator.”

Rethinking strategy to embrace mobile data does not mean reconfiguring how your business operates. That said, to take advantage of intelligent mobile data opportunities resellers will require strategic guidance. “Don’t reinvent the wheel – the biggest opportunities will be right under your nose in your existing customer base,” added McPhillips. “We as aggregators support you, find and qualify the opportunities, ask the right questions, overcome objections and close deals. There are opportunities in every business sector, and you don’t need to start all over again.”

There are many uses cases and deliverables that are leading us to a mobile future

The potential impact of an intelligent mobile data strategy across all sectors is significant, but to realise these opportunities resellers will likely require supportive channel partnerships that add lasting value. “Intelligent mobile data is a long-term strategy,” explained Broxson. “You need to work with the supplier and they need to work with you.”

It is worth repeating that resellers can address a broad scope of opportunities linked to the PSTN switch off, noted McPhillips. “As well as 5G back-up boosting the value of the sale you can start looking outside the customers’ site – vehicles, engineers with handheld devices, signature capture devices etc – these all need connecting too,” he said. “For years I’ve been trying to bust the myth that IoT, M2M and intelligent mobile data means little revenue. There are increasingly big data applications like connectivity for always-on CCTV. We have SIM cards using more that 1.5 terabytes a month. There is everything from the sublimely small to the ridiculously large.

“This isn’t a value add that sits next to a portfolio – it’s a huge industry in its own right. Connected devices are growing far more quickly than the global population. A strategy to connect things rather than people makes more sense given the rate of growth. And the more you let us in the more we can work together as strategic partners, find, qualify and win these opportunities.”

While resellers will need to take stock of their portfolio model, it is also key to understand that they need not reinvent the wheel in order to enable an intelligent mobile data strategy. “There are so many uses cases and deliverables that are leading us to a mobile future,” stated Broxson. “The opportunity is in customer bases and we can help partners better understand the verticals they are working in, the applications being consumed in those verticals and the pain points end users are experiencing. The channel needs to work with people like Pangea and Jola to understand the solutions we have put together for other partners.”

Tipping point
For resellers, the key is to see intelligent mobile data at least as fundamental as fixed line, and understand the extent to which mobile could influence their long-term market competitiveness. According to Broxson, the industry is already at a tipping point where 5G can replace fixed line services. “Infrastructure across the UK is expanding, the altnets are delivering huge backhaul for mobile providers and the cost of delivering services is becoming cheaper,” he added. “As a fixed line replacement 5G is a viable option.”

The promise of 5G has reverberated around the industry for years. But now, says McPhillips, its time has come and no mobile data strategy should ignore 5G. “They go hand in hand,” he stated. “5G not only makes mobile data a credible alternative as a back-up to fixed line, it is a potential mobile-first solution that offers fast mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency, network slicing and real-time data transfer, with a connection density of up to a million users per square kilometre. There is big shift into rural areas which is also exiting for the channel.

“Resellers should be aware that the intelligent mobile data market is far from saturated. With the 2G/3G switch off, the PSTN closure and proliferation of 5G, there’s never been a better time to get involved. And the more you let us in, the more we can help.”

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