Are MVNOs taking AI seriously enough?

Are MVNOs taking AI seriously enough?

by | May 27, 2024 | Artificial Intelligence, MVNO

Around this time last year, over 1000 leading experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) wrote an open letter calling for a pause in the development of AI. The dangers to humanity were laid bare “Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.”

In the months running up to the petition, ChatGPT had created a sensation. There seemed to be a daily story about the tech and its abilities.

Nothing’s changed. With students being accused of plagiarism, numerous examples of ‘hallucinations’ (convincing but untrue answers), through to the more recent ‘flirty’ style of chat, generative AI has continued to cause a storm.

Despite this, I can see that over the last year, more and more people and brands are ‘giving it a go’. From the short task of writing LinkedIn posts to more involved automation of repetitive process, to the extraordinary use in handset development (see Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy AI), there are reasons to celebrate AI. Where human intelligence is applied to provide guardrails, it shows the potential for AI to solve all sorts of boardroom dilemmas including productivity, capacity and profitability.

Can MVNOs really take advantage given the tight operating models?

Answering this question relates, I think, to the new world of digital landscapes and what digitalisation offers established and fledging MVNOs. I’m referring to those who often struggle to invest in technology and resource on a similar scale to that of their MNO compatriots and become over-reliant on their network host ‘sharing’ capability.

Of most interest, should be the decision intelligence applications that are being developed to help MVNOs extract information from their ‘data lakes’ and use it to grow, and give customers a better experience and service.

This time last year there were only a few early adopters, and the results were promising. Fast forward to today, and there are some meaty case studies that show what can be done in a matter of months. A multi-national MVNO with 16m subscribers boosted incremental revenue by $150,000 in the first month. An East African MVNO doubled sales campaign conversion rates and an operator in Asia Pacific reduced churn by 10% in very little time.

You name it, decision intelligence has helped to grow the base value with tailored offers, improve margin, profitability, reduce churn and develop more meaningful propositions.

I can’t see this stopping, and it will become crucially important to MVNO markets as time goes on. To my mind, when the economic landscape has changed so dramatically, MVNOs can no longer justify doing the same thing to grow their business.

Indeed, the events I’ve attended over the last year, have considered how MVNOs should respond to changing consumer behaviour if they want to continue to grow their base. All the debates have concluded that smart use of data is imperative and as such there’s a much wider recognition that AI can help uncover the data points that will optimise acquisition and retention.

Democratisation of CVM

One of the best examples I’ve heard relates to wholesale optimisation, where AI was being used to predict customer usage and cross check it across the bundle they had bought. This analysis isn’t easy or quick for a human to do, but the machine changed this status quo. Used correctly, AI can help MVNOs determine the best and profitable plan or bundle to apply to a customer account, look at the upsell and cross sell opportunities, and predict and intervene on churn.

It’s a great fallacy that achieving the outcomes above will cost the earth because you’ll need a huge data science team. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve seen small operators and MVNOs use their existing skil,l available budget and SaaS tools to double acquisition, pinpoint where marketing budget should be spent and make a four-fold improvement to automated top up subscriptions.

As MVNOs make steps towards digital transformation, so they must also look at the applications they will use and make wise decisions about where they invest. My hope is that MVNOs will make this the year in which they consider the new breed of applications that can help them make better, more informed decisions and innovate new industry models. Customers are restless with high expectations. The MVNOs who fail to recognise this will squander their base.


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