Food for Thought


Food for Thought

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 29, 2013

Mobile communications has taken over the world. That’s clear if you just look around at what most people are doing at any public event, or within your own household. The point that wireless communications is center stage was crystal clear at the recent Mobile World Congress, where companies like Ericsson and Samsung (News - Alert) spent a fortune on their massive exhibit spaces with attractive furnishings and extensive culinary spreads.

And did I mention the food in Ericsson’s (News - Alert) booth?

But I digress.

The point of this column is to talk about views and forecasts for mobile and to point out some of the recent developments in this arena.

New data on the wireless space from the GSMA (News - Alert) and A.T. Kearney, which recently released a report called “The Mobile Economy 2013”, puts the number of worldwide mobile subscribers at 3.2 billion, meaning nearly half of the people on the planet now use mobile communications. And that number continues to grow, with the expectation that

700 million subscribers will come aboard by 2017, meaning there will be 4 billion mobile subscribers in 2018.

Here are a few other stats from the report:

·         At the end of 2012, there were 6.8 billion mobile connections worldwide.

·         That figure expected to grow to 9.7 billion by the end of 2017.

·         Mobile broadband accounted for 1.6 billion of these connections in 2012.

·         That is expected to increase to 5.1 billion in 2017.

“Mobile is a vibrant and evolving industry at the heart of everyday life for billions of people around the world,” says Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA. “Mobile has gone beyond being a mere communications tool to one that provides life-enhancing, and in some cases life-saving, services to men, women and children.”

Mobile is also a key driver of the economy. According to the report, mobile ecosystem revenues are $1.6 trillion, or 2.2 percent of the global gross domestic product.

And in 2017 companies in the mobile ecosystem area expected to employ nearly 10 million people globally.

“The mobile industry’s economic impact reaches far beyond its already-impressive $1.6 trillion in revenues, to boost individual well-being, corporate productivity and government funding,” notes Mark Page, leader of A.T. Kearney’s Communications, Media and Technology practice and co-author of the report. “As the market expands with the spread of smartphones, 4G networks and innovative applications across the globe, the challenge for mobile operators is to stake their claim to a share of the associated revenue growth. Cross-industry initiatives … will be essential to operators in ensuring a central position in the mobile ecosystem value chain.”

Some other particularly interesting data points on the mobile front come from research and consulting giant Accenture (News - Alert), which recently released The Accenture 2013 CIO Mobility Survey.

The survey indicates that most (79 percent) CIOs believe mobility will generate significant sources of new revenue for their businesses, and most expect to invest 31 to 40 percent of their discretionary budgets to achieve that goal. That’s up from 19 percent of CIOs surveyed by Accenture in 2012. The current survey also reveals that 84 percent of the CIOs interviewed believe mobility will significantly improve interactions between their companies and their customers.

Here are a few other data bullets from the 2013 survey:

·         46 percent of CIOs plan to make workflow changes to better incorporate mobility in the year ahead;

·         73 percent believe mobility will impact their business as much or more than the web revolution of the late 90s;

·         58 percent of CIOs work for organizations that have a moderately developed formal mobile strategy;

·         and 23 percent have an extensively-developed formal mobile strategy.

“It’s encouraging that companies are embracing the importance of mobility but they need to go further by identifying the top areas for mobile deployment,” says Jin Lee, senior managing director of Accenture Mobility. “In particular they should look at areas that will grow, such as connected devices, and conduct a ‘gap analysis’ to determine how to catch up, or even better, get ahead of the curve. Other critical considerations include investments, budget allocation, re-training staff, hiring mobile expertise, and leveraging external experts to help develop or implement mobility strategies.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi