What Makes a Great Partnership?
When the value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. As service providers around the world are continuing their journey to transform themselves to”experience providers“, one potential avenue for increased revenue is creative new partnerships with web service providers, or WSPs. WSPs like Google, Yahoo, MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Travelocity, EBay and others, are establishing themselves as essential to consumers, and are driving huge increases in time spent on-line and overall bandwidth consumption. Service providers to some extent are struggling to monetize this growth in traffic on their networks, and in fact, some have gotten in trouble with regulators and in the court of public opinion by trying to”manage” WSP traffic. Service providers would be far better served by exploring how to create win-win partnerships with these companies, ones that both differentiate traditional service providers with existing and new consumer customers and position them as essential and value-add participants in successful delivery of the WSPs’ offerings. There are a number of very promising service provider capabilities in which WSPs would likely be willing to invest, and which would create very compelling mutual value for both sides. For example, the network can provide location and presence information for WSPs, along with additional information about what content, applications, or stores each customer actually accesses. This enables WSPs and SPs to deliver more targeted advertising and content offers, increasing the value of each advertising impression and actual sales transactions for highly valued content.An example of this type of relationship is between Sky and Google. Sky has formed a precision advertising alliance with Google in which Google’s advertising platform will be used across Sky’s network of sites. The partners will explore the potential of advertising on mobile phones, with the option of moving into TV advertising, potentially using data gathered from Sky’s set-top boxes to target customers.Another SP asset is its operations and”channel” relationship with customers. Today, many SPs touch the consumer with a retail presence (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile branded stores), indirect channels (e.g., Time Warner Cable’s relationship with Best Buy), customer service and sales call centers (complete with customer account information), and monthly billing relationships with end users. These channels can be used for marketing WSP services, and can be used to sell services and process transactions on behalf of WSPs. SPs can bundle (on their bill) or physically”mash up” WSP services to create higher value customer offerings. For example, Verizon Wireless and TiVo have integrated their products. Verizon Wireless customers can browse television listings and program their TiVo digital video recorders from their cell phones. The deal increases use of Verizon’s premium services, and helps attract customers more likely to use Verizon’s other multimedia capabilities. Another example is AT&T and Yahoo! -in 2001, they formed an alliance to deliver broadband services to consumers and small businesses. The co-branded service offers subscribers access to a variety of Yahoo! content and tools, including a personalized homepage, e-mail, storage, security, parental controls, instant messaging, music, and gaming. The two companies share broadband DSL, e-commerce, and ad revenues.There is another winner in this equation. Imagine the possibilities as a consumer of services tailored for your interests and brought to you seamlessly by your service provider. What if you were in your car, you heard a song you liked on the radio, and you could whip out your mobile phone and use it to purchase, download and store the song automatically in your iTunes music library? What if you were able to opt in to receive special travel offers to anywhere in the world through your local service provider? What if the offer included links to Rick Steve’s or Fodors or Frommer’s,”mashed up” with video clips of the destination and MapQuest routes to local attractions, so you could choose what or where you want to visit, plan your itinerary, buy tickets to attractions before you get there, use your mobile phone to get and follow directions from your hotel, and scan a barcode on your mobile phone when you arrive to gain admittance? Or add on to the capability to program your DVR from the road -what if you could access video surveillance of your home while you’re traveling, so you know your home is safe while you’re gone?The sky is the limit! Not only could SPs and WSPs gain revenue from working together – imagine how loyal a subscriber you might become if your SP were to give you access to even a fraction of these kinds of innovative new service offerings. Now that would truly be a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.P.S. OK, I think I might be an Internet addict, too-