Coronavirus: How is the DSP scorecard measuring up?

Google Meet and Zoom meetings will likely become emblematic reminders of 2020. Source: Google

Google Meet and Zoom meetings will likely become emblematic reminders of 2020. Source: Google

  • We’re now about three months in to what historians are characterising as one of the most profound and disruptive events in  world economic history
  • What is known of its impact on telecoms and aspiring Digital Service Providers (DSPs) so far?

It may sound callous, but leaving aside the human impact of the virus, there are bound to be bad, downright ugly and even helpful outcomes stemming from the runaway Covid-19 virus and the subsequent lockdown (the animal population, however, is thriving). 

Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are no doubt trying to keep up with some of the current thinking around this as it evolves. With the DSP Leaders World Forum opening this week, here’s a rough and ready scorecard.

1 Earning its spurs: First and foremost, the DSP model itself has won a big tick as the telecoms networks have generally stood up well to large fluctuations in demand as people moved online en masse. Glitches are generally being identified and fixed and, at this stage, it’s safe to say that the more digital and automated the service provider, the better they’ve proved themselves able to cope. This is a real achievement and means DSPs of all kinds (online service and content providers included) can be assured of continuing political support as essential infrastructure to help the economy withstand shocks in the future. There will be more of those. Climate change impacts will be next.

2 Loonies: The absurd conspiracy theory that linked the virus to the build-out of 5G will hopefully soon be laughed and scorned out of existence, not least because protesters will realise that mobile services are one of the keys to their own economic survival (and probably their main way of organising protests and mast burnings). ‘Radio wave dread’ will probably, like the virus itself, be back in waves, but it will ultimately be contained by tracking, tracing and intellectual distancing. 

3 Connectivity demand: It’s been given a boost which will certainly sustain as more people make arrangements to work from home either permanently or, more likely, on a periodic basis. This is very good for equipment and applications providers who are already busy enabling ‘work at home‘ facilities. But while it represents a good (not large) margin connectivity business in the main for DSPs, it almost certainly won’t be a surefire way to generate high margin DSP services for home working. It’s not possible to compete with entities  prepared to give meeting- and IP-based communication services away for free. 

4 Coping with consumer change: There is going to be a lot of that and DSPs should be able to make the best of it by paying close attention to data that might help inform their service strategies. According to various researchers,  surveys suggest that the majority of consumers are spending more time on “self care”, mental well-being and exercise at home;  less on  jewellery fashion and beauty  . They are very focused on food waste and shopping healthily and sustainably. The research also indicates that this won’t be a flash-in-the-pan, go to the gym for a month after new year and then forget about it, affair. These trends have been visible for a while but the pandemic has put a rocket under them.  That means they are here to stay for at least the next decade, possibly longer. One outcome from these consumer changes is a greater use of home shopping and online services generally. That means connectivity will enjoy sustained demand. 

5 Coping with consumer change using data: DSPs are in a position to gather, analyse and use data (as long as they’re allowed to) on movement and footfall, time spent doing ‘x’, not doing ‘y’ and so on. This helps define their own service strategies and unearths new service options. It might also create opportunities to sell data to other entities. On a less controversial note, this supreme data collecting ability is very likely to be instrumental in successful government virus ‘track and trace’ programmes, using smartphone apps. If successful in helping to squash the virus even before a vaccine is made safely available, it will be another huge positive political tick on the DSP scorecard.

See also:

The coronavirus has shone a spotlight on the importance of fixed broadband

Working from home: will the pandemic signal the beginning of the end for office life?

As Covid-19 continues to hit home, what’s the role of the DSP?

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