So, I attended recent Wi-Fi Global Congress at San Francisco. It was one of the exciting discussion forums that I participated in, especially on Wi-Fi.
It reminded me about the Design thinking workshops that people or companies conduct to come up with disruptive technologies to address needs.
About Design Thinking
Design thinking is a process that includes “building up” ideas with an extensive brainstorming by all the players in the ecosystem or stakeholders without any inhibitions. The process encourages them to share any input that might be related to the topic as this unearths hidden elements, any ambiguities in the situation and wrong/incomplete assumptions. Design Thinking is about knowing how to successfully approach and solve difficult, multi-dimensional problems so that individuals and businesses will be able to improve their own problem solving processes and skills.
Design thinking has 5 stages
Define – Decide on the issue at hand and agree on who the audience is
Research – Take into account opinions of though leaders, end-users, project supporters, influencers, investors, critics and etc. Also, collect examples of similar attempts done and success stories
Ideation – Identifying the stated and unstated needs of the end-users and generate as many ideas as possible to solve the identified needs
Prototype – Refine the ideas and create working prototypes of the ideas. There can be multiple drafts and seek feedback from diverse group of people including actual end-users
Test and Learn – Test the concepts and prototype in actual conditions or simulated environments. Gather feedback from the consumer and check if the solution meets its goals. Measure the success criteria, collect relevant data, document it and see if it can improved
What happened at Wi-Fi Global Congress
Discussion started by stating how Wi-Fi has become more than a basic necessity
Then the discussion moved to as to why we need Wi-Fi now? From the operator perspective, following are the broad observations made
- Mobile Network Operators are losing ground due to declining revenues
- Traffic is massive and spectrum is not necessarily sufficient enough to meet the demand
- Small cells are not happening as predicted
- Wi-Fi is everywhere – everybody wants it
- Wi-Fi is probably the largest opportunity in telecoms right now
Let us see how the design thinking process was adopted at Wi-Fi Global Congress
Issue Identified and defined
The 2 day conference was centered around what the subscriber needs today, what is it that creates a “wow” experience for him and how the operator should be providing the same to the subscriber while monetizing the subscriber experience amicably.
The audience of the conference was practically everyone in the Wi-Fi ecosystem. Equipment providers, Service Management Platform providers like SURE!, System Integrators and Analytics providers.
There was an elaborate discussion on the following worldwide Next Generation Hotspot(NGH) Commercial Deployments
- US- Townstream, Boingo, Time Warner Cable
- Asia – KT, NTT docomo, SKT, Telkom Indonesia
- Europe – Orange
- South America- Linktel
- Middle east – Mobily
Operators and the ecosystem partners discussed in length their experiences while deploying NGH at their locations and how well it was received by the subscribers. Many partners like BandwidthX also discussed about many strides they have been making in building solutions for providing seamless connectivity to the customers while not breaking the back of the operator.
Several ideas were tossed around to provide the seamless, secure connectivity to the subscriber irrespective of the network he originates and terminates. Some of them namely are
- Effective mobile data offload models ensuring Always Best Connected experience to the customer while optimizing the network costs
- International roaming partnerships and revenue settlement models
- Network planning by relying on Public Wi-Fi and Private Wi-Fi that are sometimes more stringer than the mobile networks in those areas
- Quality of Services requirements and methods of meeting the same always and at any place
- Monetizing free Wi-Fi services and premium Wi-Fi services
- Actionable analytics (For example: Location Aware Analytics) to improve the experience of the customers and earning more Average revenue per User(ARPU)
Many live cases like San Francisco City Wi-Fi. Comcast Xfinity, SK Telecom Wi-Fi deployments were shared and other operators could gather a lot of information on the deployment challenges and monetizing opportunities like the following
Example 1: NGH Experience at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014
- SK Telecom participated in NGH based Wi-Fi roaming experience at MWC 2014, and provided free Wi-Fi service to the subscribers using HS 2.0 capable device.
- SK Telecom users accounted for 52% of the total call volume and 55% of the entire traffic during MWC 2014, which was ranked first among 19 operators who participated in NGH experience.
Example 2: Digital Magazine Service
- Instead of paper magazines, shop customers can use digital magazines with their own device only in the coverage of specific AP.
- A device in the dedicated shop request the access to Content Server, and Contents Server check AP info to Digital Magazine Service Server.
Example 3: Store visitor Analytics Service
- Wi-Fi AP in a store collects MAC addresses and RSSIs from visitor’s devices regularly and sends them to BizWise Platform server.
- Based on the collected information, Store Visitor Analysis Service Server provides the number of visitors by hour or day, the duration of stay, the ratio of revisit, and visitor’s age/gender.
Apart from this many working prototypes and scenarios were demonstrated in the exhibition space at WGC.
Test and Learn
WBA encouraged all the participants to discuss amongst themselves and come up with more and more ideas with the existing infrastructure and upcoming prevalence of Wi-Fi enabled devices and NGH/Hotspot 2.0 enabled infrastructure. The conference was not only a good opportunity to know what’s happening around in the Wi-F world but also helped to meet interesting people and forge mutually beneficial partnerships. The group will be meeting again in May 2015 at London to exchange enriched ideas and more success stories.
This is where I feel SURE! Wi-Fi Service Management platform would be making a difference enriching subscriber experience with the learning derived at WGC.
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