New Android Tech Is Telco's Best Opportunity Yet

Man holding Android phone with Google Assist on screen

There were some cool new tech upgrades hitting the news this week.

The Google I/O Conference in sunny California made the news, with a slew of practical upgrades to the Android operating system that made people sit up and take notice.


Image of fox on map on Android phone

Take maps – forget holding your smartphone in front of you and slowly walking forward while you see which way the blue dot is heading (and invariably doing a complete 180 seconds later!) – now you can use your camera from the Maps application to visibly see where you are, and which way to go! There’s even a cute red fox to follow if you like that sort of thing!

Google Lens

Image of googles lens identifying a breed of dog it is taking a picture of

Then there is Google Lens – a huge commerce-enabler that is going to drive a massive amount of revenue for Google. See something you like? Open your camera and your phone will tell you what it is. This is AR-meets-AI in a way that will simply blow your mind. The impact on online shopping is going to be huge. Now you won’t need to type something into your favourite online portal, you don’t even need SAY what you want (take that Alexa!), but now, you can show your phone what you want and BAM! Click it, buy it – and no doubt Google gets a micro slice of the overall transaction. Wow!


Google Assistant logo

Away from the conference, there has been an explosion in voice tech, and that of the Assistant. Be it Google, Alexa, Siri or Cortana – wait, isn’t there even a Bixby? – voice is the new battleground for your attention, how to run your life, and how to get more slices of your spending dollar. I for one have tinkered with Google Home, with some success and failure. And I’ve managed to program the lights in a few of my rooms to come on with just my voice (switching them on with your phone is SOOO last year!).

man pointing to camera with super imposed logos for keys, data, wifi etc on it
Where do you go for support in setting all of this up? Wouldn’t it be great if it was your local neighbourhood telco store?

An Opportunity for Telco

So, who teaches you all of this stuff?

It certainly is NOT the place where you bought your device(s) from, and that is a huge missed opportunity for the Telco, not to mention a headache for the OEMs.

Telco Retail is changing, but far too slowly. Retail itself is changing, again, a little slowly for my liking.

Retail is not a word now that’s only associated with Brick and Mortar. Retail is where the transaction happens.

Forget “Omni-Channel” – that is something we created that customers do not care about.

Consumers nowadays want what they want – when they want it.

Physical Retail is the place that needs to change, fast. Where once retail was about fulfilment, it is now about immersion, entertainment, and education. “Try Before You Buy” is something that is impossible to replicate online. Even with huge leaps forward in AR and VR, it will still be many years, if not generations, before we get enough haptic feedback to make this concept something that can happen in the home.

black woman looking at camera wearing Virtual Reality headset
Virtual Reality CANNOT replace the concept of ‘Try Before You Buy’

Immersion, Entertainment, Education

So, large, flagship stores need to embody the “IEE Concept” mentioned above:

Immersion – I need to understand your brand and experience everything it can do for me. Your world needs to be something I want to step inside.

Entertainment – Dramatize what is possible with your products. Show me what they can do and allow me to have a great experience while I’m in your space. After all, I have left my home to come and see you, so make it good!

Education – Help me. Show me. Skill me. Equip me with things I did not know before. If I have a problem, make it easy to help me. If I don’t have a problem, invest time in showing me something I did not already know.

As Telco Operators struggle to avoid becoming the 21st century’s version of the electric company, as they battle OTT players and new tech trying to eat their lunch, they NEED to use their deep pockets to understand this.

Some have got it right. Witness the AT&T flagship store in San Francisco. Wow! It is all about selling stories – not things. We can get ‘things’ anywhere – our phones can give us that. A story is much more powerful and connects with us in a way that a ‘thing’ cannot. A story makes us want to BUY.

Why It Matters

So why should Telco’s care about Google Maps, or how to program your light switches using Alexa?

The customer. Their relevancy to the customer. They sold the device in the first place. They power the device out of home, and via their fixed line broadband, they power the devices IN the home. So, the day the Telco just becomes a commodity to be switched on and off – or I can churn from one operator to another and no-one bats an eyelid – that’s the day the Telco starts the slippery slope towards oblivion, and a 1-2% loss in revenue a year for 20+ years.

I’ve led huge retail transformations that put the customer at the centre, empowering the staff and delighting and engaging both existing and potential customers alike.

Selling stories is the tactic for you to WIN. If I were you, I’d be showing and telling some amazing Google stories right now – shifting a lot of Android inventory, connecting a lot of new customers and winning market share in the process.

Offering insight and concrete solutions for telcos looking to take their business to the next level.

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