Murray Steyn
Murray Steyn Executive Head: Wholesale

At the global carrier community’s annual London gathering this year, Europe 2018 GCCM, a panel discussion featuring leading industry minds engaged on the topic of wholesalers and what the future holds for them.

A new breed of wholesaler emerges at Europe 2018 GCCM

Titled The New Breed of Wholesalers, the discussion explored a number of existential questions facing the wholesale sector, with some fascinating and useful insights. Alessia Capitaneo and Chloe Zornitta were in attendance.

The discussion opened on the point, made by moderator and CEO of Hot Telecom, Isabelle Paradis, that there is a need to see the wholesale business with a “new set of eyes”. Previously, wholesalers were in the business of connecting services but the mandate has been shifting to become more about connecting people and providing bespoke connectivity solutions. This means wholesalers are now required to go a step further to focus on the end user and begin tailoring services to their specific requirements and preferences.

In terms of ICT progress, every innovation is becoming a revolution and that is impacting the wholesale business, Paradis said. Wholesalers will increasingly be at the centre of the telecoms industry in the role of enablers and advisers simplifying the business for consumers.

Paradis identified four catchwords that would lead wholesalers to success:

  1. Personalisation: The personal touch is becoming more important and wholesalers have opportunities to offer customers more value, especially in terms of real-time contextual information.
  2. Security: Any solution offered to customers must be secure and it’s important to provide  transparency.
  3. Control: End users need to be empowered with choices through customisable plans.  
  4. Connected fabric: Connectivity is becoming “like the air we breathe”, essential, omnipresent and ever-expanding.

Mark Daley, director of corporate strategy and product at Epsilon, said it was an exciting space to be in. He advised wholesalers to look at the cloud ecosystem and pointed to Internet as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) as defining the direction in which telecoms were evolving.

Daley said that Epsilon saw itself as an orchestrator in the PaaS stack with access to cabling and infrastructure, which the company was packaging and presenting to enterprise service providers or to the enterprises themselves. It has been seizing opportunities by presenting its capabilities as a resource for someone else to orchestrate and package consumer offerings.

He explained: “It positions us in a much more creative and value-added environment even though you might say we’re doing less by enabling other people to do stuff with our stuff. But it’s actually creating much more opportunity, a lot more value and a lot more stickiness for us.”

While other panelists shared his optimism for the future of wholesale, Andreas Hipp, founder and CEO of Cataleya, cautioned that there were two possible futures for today’s wholesalers to pursue. One was the infrastructure game and it was best for those in that space to focus on this, he said. The other is the service enablement space. Wholesalers who want to get out of the commodity space must move up the value chain, but then it becomes complicated. It will be tough without a differentiator or a service that solves problems and complexities, warned Hipp.

Paradis suggested that the next big disruption to affect wholesale would be blockchain technology. It could prove to be an enabler for transformation or it could be a threat, she said. An attendee spoke up about the blockchain experimentation his company and its partners were involved in. He explained that it would enable real-time contracting and real-time, on-demand wholesale pricing which would fundamentally shift how the billing system and switching would work in future. It was still in the early phases, but he advised wholesalers who aim to become digital enablers to seriously look into blockchain technology.

A solid understanding of the retail market is necessary for wholesalers to create solutions with end users in mind. In the past, it was enough to simply offer components, but the panel agreed that wholesalers who were prepared to transition towards creating solutions would be best placed to meet the challenges of the future. This will be the new breed of wholesaler and a partner with Internet Solutions’ reach, experience and level of infrastructure investment is best placed to help you grow. Get in touch to find out more.

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