CEO, IDATE DigiWorld
For some of us here at IDATE DigiWorld, the month of June was devoted to launching the 2015 edition of our DigiWorld Yearbook in London, Paris and Brussels, in that order.
It was not without some modicum of pride that our chairman, François Barrault, was able to rally top-flight special guests for the occasion. In the photos below, you will no doubt recognise the CEOs of BT (London), of Publicis, Orange, Bouygues Telecom and BlaBlaCar (Paris), and the CEO of Proximus (Brussels). I should also like to extend my warmest thanks to the other speakers from Ericsson, Google, IBM, and Verizon, and to the many people in attendance, including a fabulous turnout by DigiWorld Institute members.
Of course, IDATE teams had their role to play at what has become the “DigiWorld Future” series of conferences. This was the inaugural year for these forward-looking events whose purpose was to deliver our snapshots of the Internet, telecoms and TV markets in 2025, and to debate the core trends for the coming decade.
For the sake of brevity, I will confine myself here to just a few words about five major trends.
The great digital shake-up
The DigiWorld is no longer restricted to the few sectors that our Institute has been tracking from the outset (IT, Internet, telecoms, medias). Over recent months, digital innovation has taken hold as vital for company heads in all sectors – insurance, health, automotive, travel, tourism, etc. – which naturally has an impact on ICT sectors as well. We discussed the “softwarisation” of telecoms to underscore the growing influence of network virtualisation, through SDN and NFV.
Acceleration of telecom industry M&A deals
It is no surprise that Europe’s ailing economy has resulted in most markets going from four to three mobile operators. Less expected everywhere and by everyone has been the acceleration in the fixed-mobile convergence trend which is expected to go a long way in shaping the future of continental markets, and now the UK as well. Also noteworthy in recent times are the more or less direct links between mergers and acquisitions on either side of the Atlantic. What remains to be seen in Europe is whether the current spate of mostly in-market deals will led to more complex cross-border deals which seem inevitable, but whose potential synergies are less overt.
The GAFA quartet, i.e. Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, have increased their market power in recent months by combining their first-mover assets with a strategy platform that enjoys a cyclical effect: as customer numbers grow so does ad revenue, which in turn makes it possible to attract more content and applications, which attracts more customers, and so on. But does this mean that special rules need to be devised for platforms, or should they be covered by existing telecom regulation? Whenever possible, it would make the most sense to apply existing (competition, contract, consumer, privacy, tax, etc.) laws to ensure fair and equal treatment for players along the chain. We also need to factor in innovation and, for instance, the emergence of new disrupters in vertical markets (Uber, Airbnb and the like) who are also not short on ambition, not to mention veteran heavyweights, such as automotive industry leaders that have no intention of allowing their products – to quote one of our speakers – to become a “smartphone on wheels”.
China’s new digital ambitions
When we talk of disruptions we also need to talk about the new Internet giants who grew up in China. We have seen Tencent and later Alibaba launch their IPOs on the New York exchange, and invest in a growing stable of promising start-ups in the US and Europe. So only a fool would think that China is just the place where iPhones are made.
Content is king, still
The combination of ubiquitous high-speed Internet and a proliferation of screens is fuelling two major upheavals in the TV industry. Today, it is not hard to imagine global distribution strategies that largely by-pass traditional home network operators. Access to premium content will be based more and more on the size of the programme and the ability to pay for itself. Second, viewing is becoming an increasingly individual pastime with users making more personal choices. This marks a break with mass media structures and the traditional models offered to advertisers. As a result, European broadcasters, which are even more fragmented than telcos, need help in accelerating their digital transformation.
I’ll stop there, and let you discover for yourself a more detailed look at current trends and future scenarios in DigiWorld Yearbook 2015, along with datasets and analyses of the digital economy’s main markets.
It only remains for me to say that we look forward to seeing you at the upcoming DigiWorld Summit (17 to 19 November 2015): Digital First, with a great many surprises in store.
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