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Senior exec at Russian giant MTS says carriers need to focus on partnership management and internal processes to succeed in the Internet world
November 20, 2009
Mobile operators need to identify, foster, and then, most importantly, properly manage a set of key partnerships if they're to survive in the new world of converged telecom, Web, IT, and entertainment services.
That's the view of Michael Hecker, VP of strategy and corporate development at Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT), which recently added significant Russian fixed broadband assets to the 91.7 million mobile customers it has in Russia (nearly 62 million users) and five neighboring markets. (See MTS Reports Q3, Russia on the Rebound?, and MTS Takes Over Comstar-UTS.)
Hecker told the audience at this week's FT World Telecoms Conference in London that "mobile [operators] are becoming Internet companies, and we can't master the Internet environment by ourselves."
He said it was clear that telecom operators do not have the resources or know-how to develop a search engine or create the next Facebook , so the partnering model is "the key to success."
That model, said Hecker, needs to involve a dedicated focus on the management of partners (suppliers, channels, outsourcers, applications developers) and customers -- quite different to the traditional carrier focus on the network infrastructure.
He cited Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) as a classic example of a company that has built its recent success around iTunes, the iPhone and iPod, and its App Store.
"Apple doesn't physically make anything -- its success comes from its ability to manage partnership and industry relationships," whether with manufacturers, sales channels, developers, or mobile operators.
Hecker is so set on such relationships becoming a key focus for operators that he believes "partnership management" should be added to the key performance indicators (KPIs) by which mobile operators and their staff are measured.
The MTS man is also convinced that operators can gain a great deal of operational efficiency without getting sucked into the marketing messages of the telecom sector's vendors.
"There's an industry myth created by vendors that you need to invest in new systems to improve customer experience and [internal] operations," Hecker told Light Reading on the conference sidelines. Operators can make advances in customer retention, customer satisfaction, and deliver operational efficiencies using "conventional [IT] systems -- you just need to be focus on being efficient, create some targets, and develop focused projects," he stated.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading
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