Q&A with Thandi Demanet of Tessellate Advisory

Digitalisation offers a world of opportunities across all sectors, not least of which, of course, telecommunications.

Guest author

February 24, 2020

4 Min Read
Q&A with Thandi Demanet of Tessellate Advisory

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Thandi Demanet, Director of Tessellate Advisory, sits down for an exclusive Q&A with the MVNOs Series to talk data and digitalisation.

What new business opportunities is digitalisation bringing to MVNOs?

Digitalisation offers a world of opportunities across all sectors, not least of which, of course, telecommunications. For MVNOs, the opportunity is the same, however they benefit from intrinsic advantages such as generally being more agile in structure, not dealing with as much legacy both from a technology and a cultural viewpoint…  Unfortunately, they also face unique challenges in the form of being largely reliant on MNOs, steep competition and in some cases the regulatory environment in which they operate (including gaps). MVNOs can and should innovate and experiment with new business models and partnerships which they can certainly do more swiftly than incumbents. This includes (but isn’t limited to) becoming partners with MNOs in new ways, collaborating to deliver new services and drive revenue for all in the value chain. Successfully seizing digital opportunities will depend on the ability to create and manage the right ecosystems, internally and externally. It’s also time for MVNOs to firmly address enterprise markets, especially in light of advanced digital services like IoT and 5G, find or create new markets, work with disruptors, or indeed become disruptors.

How can MVNOs harness data to maximise their business potential?

Data can be used to gain customer insight and drive loyalty, but also to uncover niches opportunities. We’ve heard the cliché about data being the new oil and the real value (like in oil) coming from refining it – analytical capabilities and looking beyond the data is what is needed, uncovering gaps and new market segments based on new services customers aren’t necessarily asking for yet. Data can be leveraged to harness “blue ocean” opportunities as well as enhance “red ocean” business – ultimately it comes down to the leadership’s (and board’s) vision and appetite for risk. Data in itself is a business, one with significant risks and potential rewards, but that is another topic.

What advice do you have for MVNO start-ups trying to succeed in the saturated MVNO market?

Following on from the previous question, those who succeed in a highly competitive, saturated (“red ocean”) market need to uncover new markets, develop new services for new needs that people/businesses may not realise they want or need yet. Visionaries like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs didn’t wait for the public to ask for a car or iPhone, they created demand by creating the product. A service that adds value to a business or customer segment is one with potential, then the business model wrapped around it is another issue and in the context of the digital economy, a considerable on stemming from the complexity of managing ecosystem monetisation models. The key is to identify an opportunity and go for it, not to wait to have the perfect plan or everything set up, but to move forward with a minimum viable strategy and be prepared to pivot as needed.

Are there any innovative MVNO business models that have caught your attention? Why?

Partnerships and ecosystems are the way forward as no individual organisation can singlehandedly deliver a complex digital service required by customers (whether enterprise or retail) in the digital, connected world. While opportunities are multiplied by these business models and while risk is shared, so too is reward and effective monetization models are still not in place. Commercial collaboration is unavoidable, but there remains a lot of work to be done on the financial engineering side. MVNOs have an opportunity to innovate and lead here. It’s about leveraging capabilities to co-create value.

Which disruptive tech should MVNOs be keeping an eye on in 2020 and beyond?

All the usual suspects, 5G, AI, IoT, DLT (distributed ledger technologies), AR/VR. These can be leveraged by MVNOs themselves to optimise their own operations and can also provide new sources of revenue. That said, companies should have a strategic plan before embarking on costly tech implementation initiatives and avoid just going with trends “because everyone in the market is going that way”. Again, partnering can be a great model to take advantage of and/or experiment with these.

You are set to chair a track at MVNOs World Congress 2020. Can you tell us a bit about why you are attending? What you will be doing there?

I’m very much looking forward to chairing the IoT track at MVNOs World Congress and getting into some deep discussions with industry leaders. This is always a great event to attend, it’s truly unique in bringing the breadth of the MVNOs community together and provides a level platform for peers, partners and of course competitors to engage and steer the industry forwards. IoT holds huge opportunity for digital and telecommunications service providers and I can’t wait to learn more about how MVNOs are seeing their future in this space, what actions they are taking and how they are innovating. It will be interesting to see as well how much the topic of 5G comes up in this track.


If you liked these insights from Thandi, make sure to catch her talk at MVNOs World Congress 2020 in Berlin, 27 – 30 April.

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