- Network operators are trusted sources in the consumer world; can this translate into the business world?
- There is an opportunity for operators to be leaders in the cloud services ecosystem given their technological position.
A recent, exhaustive, global study by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab research group indicates that – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – network operators are tops when it comes to trust. The context is information privacy and data security, and the issue is what online companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and all the others should be allowed to do with the information shared by the consumer in their application environments.
According to the study, it seems that consumers are increasingly okay with the fact that, for example, their activities in a search engine platform are shared with potential advertisers. However, what they demand is more transparency about what is being done with their information, when, and with whom.
Network operators have a potential opportunity in this context to position themselves as a trusted source for online activities, given their technological position, with everything going over their networks, and this apparent trust advantage with consumers worldwide. Now, they just have to figure out how to make money doing it.
I wonder, too, if the same characteristics can be applied to enterprise IT and cloud services. While we know from our own Current Analysis studies that generally businesses do not think of network operators first (or second or third, for that matter) when they think of cloud services, this has more to do with the IT department’s lack of experience with operators as IT service providers than any problem with trust. It is likely, again given their technological position and their long-term experience in sensitively handling data, that operators are very well trusted on issues such as security, reliability, and – crucially – accountability.
This last issue, accountability, is likely to become a very central concern as enterprises try moving more and more of their application portfolio into the cloud, and this is where network operators can possibly find their most natural position in the enterprise cloud ecosystem. The capability to provide performance guarantees at various levels, for example, and to discuss security in a truly end-to-end manner – at least from one end of the cloud to the other – puts operators in more or less the ideal position to be the trusted source for cloud services, working with XaaS partners as aggregators, go-to-market platforms, integrators, or all of the above.
In short, the opportunity is there for operators to be the leaders of the enterprise IT cloud ecosystem, providing they can bring their security credentials to the fore and execute on a focused, well-thought-out strategy that places as much emphasis on partnerships and collaboration as on their own branded services.