"Accelerating VAS Acquisitions in a Covid World "

   Mobile services have played a transformational role in people’s lives in 2020. Even before the pandemic, in 2019 mobile technologies and services across Asia Pacific generated 5.3% GDP, a contribution that amounted to over $1.6 trillion of economic value added. Mobile network operators saw a 20% uplift in data traffic and up to 70% increase in voice calls in response to lockdowns and country-wide restrictions. During the most stringent restrictions, MNOs provided much-needed support services that enabled people to switch to a mostly digital way of life whether for work, education or leisure.

         The pandemic also aptly demonstrated how quickly digital services could be brought to market. Mobile value-added services (VAS) in education, healthcare, finance and entertainment became a lifeline for many. What’s more, Covid-19 caused a dramatic acceleration in the existing consumer trend towards digital. For instance, we know shoppers have been shifting to online for many years, but the uplift in e-commerce penetration due to Covid-19 is estimated at 67%. And by 2021 73% of online shopping will be done by mobile. Now that the ‘new normal’ is wholly digital, the question for operators is how to continue the mobile VAS momentum.

         The VAS market is set to grow USD 342.50 billion in the next four years. Digital services offer valuable, relevant and affordable digital experiences to consumers. They are the de facto point of differentiation for operators. Yet despite their pivotal role, research from Ovum and Upstream found that prior to the pandemic only 12% of consumers view operators as their main provider of digital services. There’s a clear opportunity for MNOs to up their game, change consumer perceptions and dramatically increase their mobile VAS acquisitions. After all, MNOs have a treasure trove of subscriber data that can not only improve network efficiency, but also interpret usage habits and likely preferences. When combined with a front-end mechanism that transforms the customer experience with tailored, relevant digital services, MNOs can tap into the many new sources of revenue that digital services generate.

             To that end, MNOs looking to maximize their VAS acquisitions need to embrace sophisticated data-driven marketing with multi-channel campaigns and promotional mechanics that feel fresh and relevant. Building out this capability in-house is one option, although another approach that MNOs are increasingly turning to is to partner with specialist drivers of digital services that deliver instant impact and results. As we enter the 5G era and begin to emerge out of the shadow of the pandemic, the future for MNOs is bright. However, digital services acquisitions are hotly contested territory. In the great VAS landgrab, the winners will be the operators who are best able to optimize the customer experience.

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