These days, many people take it for granted that they can stay informed, connected, and entertained anytime and anywhere.
But as with any change, these new capabilities and new expectations bring new challenges. With more devices, ubiquitous internet access, and content digitized at their finger tips, consumers now face new struggles– from managing content libraries fragmented across devices to worrying that they’re paying again and again for the same song or movie in order to access it when and where they want.
As Connected Life continues to evolve, the advancing front is being driven by the cloud. The cloud provides answers to the new challenges consumers face living their Connected Lives.
Indeed, cloud-enabled enhancements are already impacting the level of Connected Life services that consumers enjoy and, increasingly, demand.
With new enhancements made possible through the cloud, service providers can meet and accelerate consumer demand. These can include 1) unified data management, 2) automatic backup, and 3) automatic data sync (make data management easy); 4) any device/location, 5) immediate access, and 6) seamless switching (move information across devices, from anywhere); 7) one-time payment and 8 ) single-menu access (choose what I want across services, but pay only once); 9) remote monitor/automatic fix and 10) the ability to add new capabilities automatically (make it easy to get Connected Life services); 11) advanced sharing and 12) the ability to see peer recommendations (match online social behavior to real-life social behavior).
Cisco IBSG’s “Service Delivery and Consumer Cloud” Connected Life Market Watch study, conducted in 2011, found that for 75 percent of customers, their attitude toward underlying service provider services—such as mobile internet or video services – were positively impacted by at least one of the 12 previously mentioned consumer cloud enhancements. On average, 68 percent of the respondents were more likely to buy a Connected Life service if it contained even a single cloud enhancement.
Interestingly the survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 U.S. broadband consumers, found up to 24 percent of the respondents already expected certain cloud enhancements to be included with their Connected Life service. Twenty-four percent, 21 percent and 18 percent of consumers, respectively expect one-time payment, immediate access, and remote monitoring/automatic fixing to be included in their Connected Life services. And these consumers will react negatively if these cloud enhancements are not present.
The good news for service providers is that they are well positioned as the providers of Connected Life services. The study tested consumers’ buying concerns and preferences for an Internet-to-TV solution around eight different aspects of the experience from upfront cost and ease of selection to ease of set up and reliability. Along all eight purchasing criteria, more consumers felt they would have a better experience with a service provider than with a retail or online solution. Service providers have a commanding lead in troubleshooting (71 percent) and ease of setup (65 percent). They also lead in ongoing cost, features, and ease of selection, though by a smaller margin. Of concern, however, their margin of lead in ongoing costs—which was rated highest in importance—was the slimmest. Service providers led the retail or online option by 47 percent to 42 percent.
Overall 34 percent of consumers strongly preferred the service provider option, while 18 percent favored retail or online. While another 18 percent were indifferent, 30 percent remain “in play,” offering service providers an opportunity to tout their advantage in reliability to expand their market base.
The overall lessons for service providers in Cisco IBSG’s survey should be clear. More consumers will embrace Connected Life services as they are simplified and expanded with strategically placed cloud enhancements. To expand their share in Connected Life services, service providers can look to the ‘In Play’ consumers. This group – 30 percent of consumers – are ‘up for grabs’ and by addressing their perception of service provider costs, ease of selection and features, service providers can increase their lead over retail/online players.
In general, service providers should welcome the winds of change. That advancing cloud front brings an opportunity to capitalize on an already advantageous position while increasing their market share for Connected Life services.