Who Do You Trust?
1:00 PM -- At last week's CTIA show, both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CTO John Donovan and Telcordia Technologies Inc. VP-Strategy Grant Lenahan laid out a strategy for carriers to deliver highly advanced and personalized new services designed to delight consumers into paying more for their wireless services. (See CTIA 2011: AT&T's Donovan Backs Innovation Through Openness and Telcordia: Telecom Needs More Marketing Savvy.)
At the heart of both of their presentations was the notion that wireless carriers make much more intelligent use of information they already own -- about their customers and about their own networks.
This is hardly a new idea, but it raises an old concern: Are consumers willing to trust their service providers enough to allow them to use information tied to presence, demographics and interests to make services more interesting and timely?
Lenehan argues that,if service providers offer discounts or other deals in exchange for opting in to provide specific personal information and a guarantee that such information is only shared anonymously to augment service and never sold, consumers will take a chance.
I admit I remain a bit skeptical, jaded by past experience. A year ago, I changed service providers and discovered with my first bill that my new carrier had added an "e" to the end of my first name. That became an easy barometer of how often my information was misused and it was frequent. Among the most persistent of unsolicited sales pitches that arrived to Carole Wilson were those from competitors of my new service provider -- apparently in the zeal to make a buck on my new info, the service provider wasn't particularly discerning about its sales.
Lenehan may be on track in saying carriers will have to essentially "buy" the right to use customer info, but I think they will have even larger barriers to overcome. Large incumbents, in particular, are too closely associated with "Big Brother" oversight for many consumers, and that could be a greater challenge to overcome to new potential services than any challenges of technology or integration.
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading