Telcos hold the key to the future smart home, says Accenture

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Communications service providers (CSPs) can be the ‘ecosystem orchestrator’ in the emerging smart home of the future, according to a recently published book from Accenture.

The Future Home in the 5G Era: Next Generation Strategies and Business Models for Hyper-Connected Living envisions future hyper-connected homes that offer personalised services for remote work and learning, healthcare, social communication, immersive entertainment, childcare and advanced ageing care.

It is written by Jefferson Wang, Global 5G Offering Co-Lead and Managing Director, Technology Strategy & Advisory at Accenture, and Boris Maurer, Managing Director, Communications & Media Industry Lead for Europe at Accenture.

The authors say that CSPs’ history of trusted consumer relationships and technology capabilities, specifically with 5G, will enable them to create new business models “that drive platform-based innovation and reinvent customer experiences in this space”.

The book was written before the coronavirus crisis struck but many of its themes have come to the fore during it.

“The recent challenges spurred by the COVID-19 global pandemic have only highlighted the importance of the home,” said Wang. “More of the global population now works from home, educates children at home, games and entertains and even interacts with doctors at home. This changes the definition of the home and CSPs can mobilise to adapt to these changes to play a critical role in supporting consumers, businesses and governments in the future home.”

Ecosystem approach

The book stresses the need for a collaborative approach, which includes both technology systems from device manufacturers, platform providers and app designers as well as input from companies in sectors such as healthcare and consumer goods, and says that CSPs are in the prime position to be central enablers of this ecosystem.

“The trend toward integrating home, work, care, play and other needs into a new digital lifestyle under one roof is making the demand for the Future Home greater than ever; as is the need to safeguard its construction and dwellers,” said Maurer. “The broad ecosystem that must come together to reinvent, shape and design products and services for the Future Home must also deliver, manage and store these solutions in a trustworthy way. All partners must put cloud, data privacy and security at the centre of their strategies.”

For CSPs to assume this position of “ecosystem orchestrator”, the book recommends key steps they should take to transform the structure and culture of their businesses, including:

•    Reinvent the front office digitally to create a proactive, real-time customer experience, giving consumers a sense of control over their home.
•    Revamp the back office to become lean and agile, supporting the dynamic business models required and their high-frequency customer interactions.
•    Train staff in the new skills needed to operate effectively in a new service world.

•   Adopt rapid product development to keep pace with ever-changing consumer demands.
•   Build agile technology platforms that can scale rapidly and accommodate ecosystems involving a wide array of partners.
•   Activate a pervasive connectivity layer which binds 5G and all the other elements together to provide ubiquitous connectivity.

“By putting human needs at the core of their strategy, CSPs can become the ecosystem orchestrator needed for the future to start taking shape today. They hold the key to transforming the fragmented digital infrastructure of our homes, and provision the seamless future that serves our expanding in-home needs while also driving lasting business growth,” Wang said.