Saturday, May 15, 2021

Nigeria’s 9Mobile targets new customers with IOT and AI

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Nigeria’s 4th largest telecom operator, 9Mobile, which controls 9% market share, serving 15.4 million subscribers, has a New Year message: the firm will use IoT and machine learning to find new markets and territories. The Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet, hopes to recapture the old Etisalat Nigeria moment through product innovation at scale.

“From an aggressive enhancement of network capacity and innovative features to boost HD voice and video/data services, LTE network coverage expansion to 15 new cities, more innovative data offerings including triple play and streaming service, to digital services that support your everyday needs such as our 9Pay payment service, we are set to break fallow grounds in emerging areas like Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning capabilities to drive superior customer experience,” Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet, said

If they do execute in that space, that would be the phase 3 of the mobile telephony era: 2000s gave us the era of voice; 2010s gave us mobile internet, and 2020s will deliver amalgam of services like IoT built on the mobile connectivity which I expect to become ubiquitous by 2022.

Yet, 9Mobile should not see the revenue paralysis as purely technology-anchored. Yes, the biggest problem in Nigerian telecom is not just innovating on technology. The players must innovate on business model also. It is that business model innovation that would enable companies like 9Mobile to use the customer data to create new revenue models to fund these new ambitious projects.

Data connectivity

I am surprised the company is not banking on using its customer data (under the right privacy) to architect this new future. Until someone can use the data telcos have captured via SIM card registration to build contract-based revenue system, among others, this harmattan of revenue erosion will remain.

Build a faster network, someone buys $1 worth of mobile internet credit, and spends 3 hours on WhatsApp calling someone in London. You have not helped yourself immensely as a telco. But if you get that person to buy a monthly package, then, it is immaterial what he does with his phone. That redesign of using customer data to create new revenue streams would be catalytic to the survival of the industry.

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