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Talking Telecos, Marketplaces and 5G, with executives from Gotransverse, Mirakl, and Matrixx

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When you look down at your phone, do you see a little 5G symbol? Do you know what that means or what kind of service 5G is providing? To take it a step further, if you’re a business owner, are you connected to 5G? Is it helping your company move faster and operate more efficiently? 

Whatever the answers to those questions are, the problem remains that many of us, consumers and business owners alike, are still mostly in the dark about what 5G truly is, how it’s different, and why we’re actually only just scratching the surface of what 5G is capable of.

On this roundtable episode of Up Next in Commerce, I dove deep into the mysteries of 5G with Geoff Coleman, Chief Product Officer at GotransverseNatasha Sachdeva VP Solutions Engineering at Mirakl, and Olivier Smith, Technology Lead from the Office of the CTO at Matrixx. We discussed what 5G is and is not, how it’s currently being utilized, and what kind of possibilities will be opened up when 5G is made available in a more widespread manner. But to get there, it’s going to take a lot of partnership with telecom companies, enterprise software businesses, and cloud, platform and marketplace providers, which is what brought my three guests together. It was a really interesting discussion, and I hope you enjoy it!

Main Takeaways:

  • Making It Sticky: What makes something like a marketplace sticky for consumers is how seamless the experience is for everyone. Whether you are offering local goods or using a marketplace to bring more wide-ranging products from all over the world to customers’ in your backyard, whatever you’re selling matters less than how easy the shopping, transaction and delivery experience turns out.
  • How Marketplaces Create Growth and Opportunity for Sellers: There are limits to how ecommerce can grow and scale, and marketplaces offer a way to expand those opportunities. Marketplaces offer sellers speed and agility, along with resources that they cannot get elsewhere. 
  • Partner Up: As large and far-reaching as telecommunications companies are, even they cannot provide 5G to every industry. In order to advance the technology across all fields, partnerships with other large enterprise companies are necessary. This sets up a B2B2C model that requires finesse and understanding of different roles, particularly as it relates to delivering technology and services to the end consumer.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

 

“Our goal from the very beginning was to just rethink how telecom providers monetize their services. So when they earn revenue, they can do it in many different ways and we’re there to help them do that. Our founders realized really early on when you start thinking back at 3G and sort of the iPhone and as we moved into 4G that we were living in an all increasingly connected and also digital world. So what we realized and what our founders realized foremost was that we were still doing things like we were 20 years ago, right? We were charging for things in very old traditional ways and there was no innovation. So that’s really where MATRIXX comes in. We offer a digital commerce platform that is helping telecom providers monetize things in ways that are new and also more relevant for their customers.” –Olivier

“If you think about the commerce leaders in the space like Amazon and Alibaba, they’ve expanded B2B and B2C commerce through a platform business model. So this has been giving them that competitive advantage by connecting third party suppliers to drive the growth of their business without actually carrying the costs or even the risks of owning the goods and services that they offer online. Now, Mirakl for over the past nine years, we’ve been able to help businesses gain that platform advantage as well.” –Natasha

“When we think of 5G, we think, oh, we’ve heard 3G, we’ve heard of 4G, so 5G must be pretty much more of the same… Maybe just stronger, better, faster. And that’s not entirely incorrect, but it’s a very narrow view of it. So it’s actually a lot different. And so one way to look at it is 5G is really the network that’s designed for essentially all things. So you can call it the network for all things.” –Olivier

“I like to use the example, think about what 100 gigabytes of YouTube, if we could figure out, that’s 100 gigabytes of YouTube versus 100 gigabytes of a high resolution image being sent from an ambulance to the hospital, which one is more valuable? And I think that’s where we have an opportunity with 5G to start to recognize and to bring about some of that change, recognizing the value that’s being delivered by this huge investment that we’re making and the capabilities that 5G will offer us.” –Olivier

“Businesses are facing a tremendous pressure to innovate at this point in time and it’s make or break for them at the moment.” –Natasha

“There are limits to what ecommerce can do even at scale that it can provide. So as we go into this, as we think about marketplaces, it’s going to really speed up and bring that agility because there’s this whole network of sellers that can be accessed. There’s a whole host of offers, services that are being offered and provided that you can hook into a marketplace quick and rapidly and then be able to leverage expertise of organizations like Mirakl that have that marketplace experience to be able to build out the bundling of services and products that are needed to consumers quite easily and quite quickly as well.” –Natasha

“There is always an ongoing demand in the market itself, but the marketplace demand has more than doubled. There are limits to what ecommerce can do and the scale it can provide, but marketplaces will speed up and bring that agility because it opens up access and offers to sellers that aren’t available elsewhere.” –Natasha

“Really, to the end customer 5G should be a material. What they’re looking for is they’re looking for a product with a service that has possibly some communication component that is carried over the network. And so how do you make that seamless to the buyer? And really that is from the opportunity to make it seamless to the buyer and then to scale that so that you can bring in hundreds, if not thousands, of different products into your marketplace so that you can sell a lot of items.” –Geoff

“If you think of the iTunes app or the Apple app store, it works. If you think about what you get from AWS or what you get from a Salesforce marketplace, it works. You very rarely get things that you have to go back and say, no, this just doesn’t work together. So really that is going to be the key. And then for operators it’s going to be, how do you roll those out fast so that it’s not a 12-month development cycle to introduce a new product, a new bundled offering with one of their partners.” –Geoff

“If there’s any confusion about who owns the customer, then you’re going to have a problem because it’s like, oh, that’s not my problem. I just want to make the money. That’s going to be a disaster. The roles that you’re playing has to be super clear.” –Oliver

Bio

Geoff Coleman, is the Chief Product Officer at GoTransverse. He has been with the company for more than nine years. Previously, he served as AVP BSS Product Offerings at Comverse.

Natasha Sachdeva, is the VP Solutions Engineering at Mirakl. She is e​​xperienced in leading a cross-functional team with over a decade of software engineering experience within a variety of industries, including telecom, online gaming, and ecommerce.

Olivier Smith, is the Technology Lead from the Office of the CTO at MATRIXX. He has more than 20 years of success in designing, testing, deploying, and maintaining enterprise IT applications for businesses around the globe


Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

 

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Up Next In Commerce I’m your host, Stephanie Postles, CEO at Mission.org. Today we have an epic round table where we’re going to be covering 5G and marketplaces, and I’ve brought on the experts to go through all of this. And I’m going to let each of you guys introduce yourself. So first Natasha, I’ll start with you. What is your name and where are you from?

Natasha:

Hi, I’m Natasha Sachdeva. I’m the VP of solutions engineering at Mirakl.

Stephanie:

Awesome. Geoff, you’re next up.

Geoff:

Hi, I’m Geoff Coleman. I’m chief product officer at Gotransverse.

Stephanie:

Amazing. Olivier.

Olivier:

Yeah. Hi, I’m Olivier Smith and I am a technical lead at MATRIXX Software, part of the CTO office.

Stephanie:

Cool. So to get everyone kind of grounded on where you guys are from, I want to go through what the companies do, just so everyone kind of have a good starting point. So maybe, Olivier, let’s start off with what is MATRIXX? Give me a bit of background.

Olivier:

Yeah. Sure. So MATRIXX, we’re a product company. We were founded around 2009 and really our goal from the very beginning was to just rethink how telecom providers monetize their services. So when they earn revenue, they can do it in many different ways and we’re there to help them do that.

Olivier:

Our founders realized really early on when you start thinking back at 3G and sort of the iPhone and as we moved into 4G that we were living in an all increasingly connected and also digital world. So what we realized and what our founders realized foremost was that we were still doing things like we were 20 years ago, right?

Olivier:

We were charging for things in very old traditional ways and there was no innovation. So that’s really where MATRIXX comes in. We offer a digital commerce platform that is helping telecom providers monetize things in ways that are new and also more relevant for their customers.

Stephanie:

Cool. Seems so needed. I’m just thinking of all the ideas and ways that could help current providers that I work with. Natasha, how about you? Tell me a bit about miracle. What do you do there and what is Mirakl?

Natasha:

Yeah. Definitely. So if you think about the commerce leaders in the space like Amazon and Alibaba, they’ve expanded B2B and B2C commerce through a platform business model. So this has been giving them that competitive advantage by connecting third party suppliers to drive the growth of their business without actually carrying the costs or even the risks of owning the goods and services that they offer online.

Natasha:

Now, Mirakl for over the past nine years, we’ve been able to help businesses gain that platform advantage as well. So Mirakl empowers more than 300 of the world’s leading enterprises, including SalonCentric by L’Oreal USA, Madewell and Toyota material handling to power their marketplaces to improve profitability and a better customer experience.

Stephanie:

Cool. And then what is your day-to-day tab look like there?

Natasha:

Yeah. So as the VP of solutions engineering, I manage a team across the Americas and APAC that are the subject matter experts within the sales team. So we go out and talk about the benefits and the values and as well as demonstrate the capabilities of the platform.

Stephanie:

Awesome. Geoff, how about you? You’re up next. Tell me a bit about Gotransverse. What’s your role and what is Gotransverse?

Geoff:

Gotransverse is a software as a service monetization platform built by people who came out of the telco billing space. A number of it we all worked for the major telecom billing companies in the past realized that moving to the cloud 12 years ago was the right thing to do. So built from scratch a purpose built monetization platform that’s SaaS based, no custom code, everybody on the same product.

Stephanie:

Cool. And what does your day-to-day look like?

Geoff:

My day-to-day is managing our product team, which includes our product management group, our architecture group and our engineering group.

Stephanie:

Cool. Sounds like a lot. So I think maybe the best way to start the conversation is kind of also talking about 5G as a starting point. What does the landscape look like right now? What are some of the big innovations happening and maybe what are the biggest surprises? So maybe, Olivier, I might start with you and then Geoff and Natasha hop in whenever you want.

Olivier:

Yeah. Sure. So, well, it’s an interesting angle. I mean, I would think maybe starting off a little bit by just saying I think when we think of 5G, we think, oh, we we’ve heard 3G, we’ve heard of 4G, so 5G must be pretty much more the same.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Just better a little better.

Olivier:

Maybe just stronger, better, faster. And that’s not entirely incorrect, but it’s a very narrow view of it. So it’s actually a lot different. And so one way to look at it is 5G is really the network that’s designed for essentially all things. So you can call it the network for all things. So it’s not just about fast broadband, but it will also cater to mass IoT.

Olivier:

So connecting billions of devices that may be very simple instruments or sensors used across all industries like agriculture or manufacturing, but then there’s also capabilities that are part of 5G to deliver ultra-reliable and low latency communications. So in a nutshell, what happens is you end up moving away from what has traditionally been best effort type of networks to very purpose networks defined for very specific types of applications.

Olivier:

And what those exact killer apps might be, that’s the part that we’ll start to see here soon. But very, very different. So really it’s a network that’s going to allow us to move across all kinds of industries and bring very new innovation and new types of services we’ve never seen before.

Stephanie:

That’s interesting. So I just had on someone from Avery Dennison the other day and he was talking about how they’re essentially putting digital triggers on every part of the supply chain and every part of even a piece of produce like knowing the temperature that it got to. But then thinking about how to actually get that data seems exactly what you’re talking about of actually building that network to be able to receive it. Because right now, I mean, maybe it’s possible. I don’t know. You tell me, I guess.

Olivier:

Well, that’s right. And then certain instances some of that is capable, but using maybe some different technologies part of it is, I mean, you look at so many angles and aspects, for example, the consumption. How much energy does it require? So if you think about very small devices that are located remotely, if being connected means draining a lot of energy then it’s not a solution that’s going to be very viable. This is again where 5G has addressed many of these concerns. So those are the types of examples that you’ll be seeing in the coming years.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I’ve also heard people kind of shifting to think about things as in value and thinking about their business as a whole. And it’s kind of moving to a more, not consumer language, but it’s not as technical where before it’s very much in transactions and how many items can we even have in there. So how has that shift been happening? Where now I feel like it’s becoming more mainstream to kind of view 5G and the shift to that in a way that’s actually going to help businesses and set them up for success. It just seems like the terminology has been changing a bit.

Olivier:

For a company like MATRIXX this is where we are working very much with our product and with our customers to look and reimagine how things are monetized, right?

Olivier:

Because we’ve been doing things like charging for how many messages you send, or how long your telephone call was, and how much data you’re using. But some of those are relics from the past and some of them have never really made sense. I mean, even today many of us will say, well, exactly what’s one gigabyte of data? What can I do with it?

Olivier:

So what we’re doing is we’re really looking as you start seeing all these different types of services recognizing that we need to find ways to charge that are more meaningful. So that might be charging based on access to something. For example, as a consumer, how many times I’m accessing a game, or maybe from where am I accessing this particular service. And maybe paying for that differently, or what’s actually being carried.

Olivier:

So imagine I like to use the example, think about what 100 gigabytes of YouTube, if we could figure out, that’s 100 gigabytes of YouTube versus 100 gigabytes of a high resolution image being sent from an ambulance to the hospital, which one is more valuable? And I think that’s where we have an opportunity with 5G to start to recognize and to bring about some of that change, recognizing the value that’s being delivered by this huge investment that we’re making and the capabilities that 5G will offer us.

Stephanie:

Cool. Love that. Natasha, I see you nodding your head over there. Do you have any thoughts around 5G and kind of what it’s bringing to us right now? Or what you’re excited about?

Natasha:

Yeah. I think as Olivier mentioned, there’s the innovation and these smaller, different, and new unique offerings that are coming up. And so the pace is going to continue to go up and in order for service providers to be able to provide this value, we need to be able to open up their platform or open up their business model to be able to leverage the different innovation that’s being generated and provided throughout the industry and be able to provide that to their businesses as well as to other consumers as well. So definitely see that there is a need for this solution right now as we’re coming into this new world of 5G.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I mean, that’s perfectly tying into the marketplace conversation, which I wanted to touch on heavily. At one point, it’s like you would hear 4G and 5G, but as a consumer you’re like, well, I can’t get it. For some reason it’s not being offered to me right now. I have to wait until either go to this city to get it or get a different provider.

Stephanie:

And, I mean, the whole concept of marketplaces obviously allows a lot of new sellers to come in, consumers benefit. So I want to talk a bit about that of how we see that shaping up right now. And, Natasha, maybe you’d be best to start and then we can go over to Geoff because I know he’s got some ideas too around that.

Natasha:

Yeah. Definitely. I think businesses are facing a tremendous pressure to innovate at this point in time and it’s make or break for them at the moment. I think there’s always an ongoing demand within the market itself.

Natasha:

And what we found in the last year is that marketplaces and the growth of marketplaces has actually doubled that over commerce and e-commerce. And I’ve been in the e-commerce space for the past 14 years. And so when you think about that, certainly there are limits to what e-commerce can do even at scale that it can provide. So as we go into this, as we think about marketplaces, it’s going to really speed up and bring that agility because there’s this whole network of sellers that can be accessed.

Natasha:

There’s a whole host of offers, services that are being offered and provided that you can hook into a marketplace quick and rapidly and then be able to leverage expertise of organizations like Mirakl that have that marketplace experience to be able to build out the bundling of services and products that are needed to consumers quite easily and quite quickly as well.

Stephanie:

It kind of reminds me when I bought my house here in Austin. And, I mean, there was essentially kind of a marketplace and also a concierge who helped everything set up at once and it was amazing, but it also made me think what if there were many of these marketplaces? Too many. I mean, I’ve had them come on the show, a couple of different CEOs who are building marketplaces.

Stephanie:

And it made me wonder, at what point are there too many marketplaces and then they unbundled them again. I mean, we’ve seen that the bundling and unbundling effect going on over the past decade. So how do we know if there’s too many or the perfect amount? I mean, Geoff, what are your thoughts around what makes a marketplace good and people coming back versus now, it’s just there to be there?

Geoff:

I mean, really what makes it good, what makes it sticky is a good customer experience. So really for the consumer whether it’s a business or a person buying something, it’s making sure the experience is seamless. So in all lot of talk about 5G, but really to the end customer 5G should be a material. What they’re looking for is they’re looking for a product with a service that has possibly some communication component that is carried over the network.

Geoff:

And so how do you make that seamless to the buyer?

Stephanie:

So when thinking about what to provide customers to keep them sticky, I’m imagining kind of a local level marketplace too where you’re able to kind of partner and get unique things that maybe others can’t provide. How do you think about creating the stickiness, especially at maybe the local level where there’s things going on around you, there could be partnerships all around you, you just have to kind of secure them and then be able to offer them to your customers. Or is that even part of the play?

Geoff:

I’m not sure about locality really because it’s about getting the customer the options they want to buy. So it may not be just local. It may not be local products. Customers know about those. It may be introducing customers to products that are made somewhere else, but now offering it up and making sure communications and the networking is all in place so it works seamlessly no matter where they are.

Stephanie:

Are there any things that you see happening that you’re like, oh, I see this working and being successful when they offer these kinds of things? What do you see actually working right now when it comes to having these marketplaces and giving good offerings?

Geoff:

I think it comes back to it being seamless. That it truly being if you look at a marketplace, if you think of the iTunes app or the Apple app store, it works. If you think about what you get from AWS or what you get from a Salesforce marketplace, it works. You very rarely get things that you have to go back and say, no, this just doesn’t work together. So really that is going to be the key. And then for operators it’s going to be, how do you roll those out fast so that it’s not a 12-month development cycle to introduce a new product, a new bundled offering with one of their partners.

Stephanie:

Olivier, any thoughts on that?

Olivier:

Yeah. No, well, I mean maybe I’m just kind of reflecting that I think just kind of from what Natasha and what Geoff was saying starting first by what makes this successful is, of course, being super focused on the customer, whether that’s a business or a consumer. But I think the other side is also being super focused on the partnerships. So making it very easy for them.

Olivier:

And you obviously want to… I like to think about the marketplace as a, call it a virtual place where you’re also fostering collaboration more than just, hey, I’ve got something to sell in your marketplace.

Olivier:

But I think if we look at it from the perspective of a telecom provider, if that is their marketplace, then one of the things that they should be looking to do is to create that cooperation, to facilitate it, to encourage the innovation so that this new products can be developed, whether they’re for the local and adapt, let’s say, it’s partners from a local market and including those. So I think you’ve got to have both sides. You’ve got to really have focus on the end customer, but also on the partners that you’re working with to bring those solutions to life.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Nat.

Natasha:

And I think to add to what Olivier is saying is that the operator, the businesses really do know their customers the best, right? So when it comes to deciding what that offering is in curating that it’s going to align with their branded promise or their brand innovation that they have that they’re offering, but also giving them that flexibility to be able to bring what the customer needs to them as well.

Natasha:

And so I think that’s really important to consider with the marketplace. So whether it’s something that’s a local offering to something that is available mainstream or widespread, I think is where you get that flexibility in a marketplace as well.

Stephanie:

Yeah. So when thinking about it from the telecom provider perspective, what are maybe some of the hesitancy with taking part in a marketplace and partnering around that? What kind of things do you see on that?

Olivier:

I mean, I’m going to jump in on that one and just say, again, a little historically we look at 3G and 4G, I mean, there’s been some partnerships, but I mean, the reality is there’s been a huge investment, right? And 3G networks, 4G networks, the telecom providers have put a massive amounts of money. The people who did really, really well were the ones who were kind of what we called it over the top, right?

Olivier:

The digital disruptors, the Amazons, the Netflix, they did great because they have access to the customer. They’re not paying anything to use that infrastructure. So I almost would turn it around and say that what’s needed now is really to recognize that you need those partnerships. They’re almost the frenemies in some cases, but really start to find ways to work with those that may in some cases will be your direct competitor. I think that’s going to be an important aspect.

Geoff:

Yeah. I mean, I think if you look at what the telcos have sold in the past, there’s been primarily they’re services led or they’re products led, and then they’ve had add-ons. They’ve had handsets or various accessories for your phone, but they haven’t really led with products that have nothing at the face of it to do with a communications or a phone call or a network event that they are something else that is now leveraging that sitting on top of that as Olivier said. I mean, the over the top players, one of our customers is Starz Arabia, their delivery of video service to the handset, that type of thing.

Stephanie:

So then what brings your three companies together? How are you all working together and how are you working with Salesforce right now?

Olivier:

So one of the ways that we’re working together is we’re all part of one of the same industry associations called TM Forum. And this is something that we have recently been working together on a project.

Olivier:

And essentially the TM Forum is a place for both the telecom providers, but also suppliers to basically work on the digital transformation that telco is going through and has been going through for some period of time and looking at basically solving some of those challenges, right?

Olivier:

What are we going to do in 5G? How are we going to make it better, faster? How do we make money? And there’s opportunities through TM Forum for companies like ourselves to work together and basically try to look at how can you realize the marketplace? How can you do that quickly? How can you bring new revenues to both the telecom provider and its partners? And so that’s how we’ve been recently working together.

Geoff:

I think I would add though that our companies really have very similar DNAs in a way in that we come from large enterprise type product companies, but now we’ve moved to being more SaaS web or cloud native platforms and really leveraging a configured not code model so that it’s not a customization for every one of the operators.

Geoff:

It’s not a separate set of code that really working on a single product platform that is also meant to integrate with other players, that has passed kindergarten and plays well with others. I think that really having that background that we have in the space, but then having come to the new way of doing things makes it a good fit of the four partners working together.

Natasha:

Yeah. Definitely. And to add to what Geoff was saying, Mirakl is that platform back off of platform that’s an API first platform that integrates into that rest of that e-commerce ecosystem, namely Salesforce commerce cloud as well. So we have a pre-built connector that allows us to wire up the necessary APIs that are needed to power an e-commerce frontend experience that has a marketplace component to it quite quickly. So really getting that goes back to that comment about agility and getting operators to market faster when it comes to building out a marketplace.

Stephanie:

Geoff, go ahead.

Geoff:

But as Olivier said, we’ve recently done this catalyst project, the four companies, and we did that really without any serious coding being done, no changes to the underlying source code of the individual products. They just worked together because they’re all made to integrate with others.

Stephanie:

Great. And then I know you guys have a project title B2B DX, so what exactly does that mean?

Olivier:

Yeah. So, I mean, just to put a little bit of context on it. I mean, if you go back to sort of one of your earlier questions really, what’s 5G and why is it different? And one of the things that I think we need to remember is telecom providers will not be able to provide these extremely deep and rich experiences across every industry, right?

Olivier:

They’ve already kind of discussed the fact that there’s got to be partnerships. And so B2B DX is just a reflection of that new type of business model. Instead of what was traditionally telecom provider would sell B2B or B2C, now you’re going on beyond that and saying, I might sell to another business who in turn may sell to a consumer or to a business.

Olivier:

And so what it really means is that telecom providers will also have different roles to play. They may the owning the end customer relationship in some instances, and others they may be enabling the partner to provide a service that they could not have done without the telco’s involvement.

Stephanie:

Okay. So then I’m thinking there should be a lot of education here, not only from the telcos going to their consumer or customer, and then also to the customer after that. How should they think about the education piece of not only the first level, but then also the second or third level depending on who’s actually selling to the final end user?

Olivier:

Yeah. I mean, when you say education, so I think, again, maybe to start by saying, if there’s any confusion about who owns the customer, then you’re going to have a problem because it’s like, oh, that’s not my problem. I just want to make the money. That’s going to be a disaster. The roles that you’re playing has to be super clear.

Olivier:

And again, I don’t want to speculate what’s going to be… I don’t think there’ll be one model. I think there’re going to be different ones. There’ll be revenue share type of models. There’ll be models where it’s very hands off. But it really depends on the given service that’s being provided and who can really bring something to the table for that. So I think to be seen really a little bit.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I mean, I like this because it feels like it’s also moving towards the mode of a very decentralized type of model, where you’re like, well, I don’t know what the actual model will look like or who’s going to actually own the customer. And I mean, that’s where the world is moving right now. And so then it’s kind of everyone has to be responsible for the training and the customer service. And everyone has to kind of say yes to that depending on who’s owning that final relationship.

Olivier:

Yeah. Well, one other thing I can add to maybe just to clarify, I mean, with 5G, if you think about take a B2B2X service, and we actually, within our project that we were working on recently, we had a product and a service that we used and basically to illustrate the marketplace and some of the concepts around monetization. And what we looked at is, for example, the B2B part, if you will. So a telecom provider is working with a helmet manufacturer, a bicycle helmet manufacturer.

Olivier:

And then the telco provider is offering some very specific network capabilities. I’m not going to bore you with some of the detailed names there, but basically saying, we know exactly what you need to provide that safety experience with a helmet. We know what’s going to be required to prevent an injury or in worse case, death from taking place. You can’t just go well, what’s best effort. We’ll see if it works, right? That service will never fly.

Olivier:

This is where the responsibility between different parties in that business relationship will be super important to say, I’m providing you this service and I’m guaranteeing you that this network will provide that particular capability as it’s needed. And then the end customer and their relationship with whoever it might be is relying on the sort of entire chain, if you will, for doing its part.

Stephanie:

Yeah. And I think just staying true to your word with the customer just feels so important, especially around these types of services. I mean, I can just imagine so many moments where I buy one kind of Internet quality, and then they’re like, “Well, you’re getting this.” And I’m running my little website being like, “No, I’m only getting a 10 upload speed.” And they’re like, “You’re paying for 1,000.

Stephanie:

I think you have 1,000.” I’m like, “I see that I’m not.” That actually makes for a way worse customer experience when you think you should be getting something and then you’re not, and there’s nothing that can happen. But it seems like making sure that you can actually do what you say and say what you’re going to do is a great motto for this whole industry as they’re starting to make their offerings and getting in front of consumers.

Olivier:

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s to your point. What we’ve seen in the past has always been best effort. Means there is no guarantee. Sometimes it’s really good and other days it’s not. And that’s sorry, but that’s how it works. But that’s the difference.

Olivier:

I mean, that’s really part of the game change here is the fact that you will be able to say, I need these specific speeds or response times in the network to power this particular service or product. And by being able to guarantee it, then imagine, again, all these types of autonomous driving, or robotics, or manufacturing. It’s not going to be possible if it only works sometimes.

Geoff:

I mean, for the carriers or for the communication provider really, 5G is almost going back to the really old landline days, for those of us who remember dial phones, where you picked up your phone, you always had dial tone. I can never remember growing up never having dial tone. And that type of reliability has not been there in the mobile world to date. And that’s one of the promises of 5G is to get that level of reliability back into the communications network.

Stephanie:

The one thing that I’m very excited about hearing about this though, is just all the opportunities to come. Once this is more in place and you’ve got competition and you’ve got really good providers coming to the top, what are you all most excited about right now as you kind of see things playing out? You see these marketplaces popping up, 5G, what are you most excited about? Maybe Geoff, I’ll start with you because you look super excited.

Geoff:

To me, there is a huge opportunity here for us to enable, as we say, to supercharge their revenue, because we can give them the ability to bring new products, new bundles. It’s really not just the product, but it’s the bundling of a product from one provider with possibly other products, but then bundling that in with the network services and giving that to their consumers in a very fast time to market way.

Stephanie:

Okay. Olivier, what about you?

Olivier:

Yeah. I would agree. I think maybe this is a selfish perspective of it, and I’ve been working in telecom for a pretty long time, longer than I care to admit. But it’s almost like with any technology, right? It’s like, “Oh, do you have 4G? Or do you have 5G? How many bars do you have?” Ultimately, what I care about personally, and I think what most businesses will care about is that it actually works, and it provides whether it’s efficiency gains, or if it allows them to manufacture something at a higher quality.

Olivier:

In this day and age, if we can make better use of our resources and be more efficient, so if you think about smart agriculture or smart cities, that’s the kind of thing that I go, wow. It’s one of the reasons why I got into technology in the first place because the ability to really make massive change is there. And so it’s very exciting.

Stephanie:

Love that. Natasha, what about you? What are you most excited about?

Natasha:

Yeah. What I’m most excited about is that opportunity for innovation, continued innovation, and even disruption as well. So it’s similar to what both Olivier and Geoff have said. And I agree with them completely. It’s about being able to get the value that the consumers of are looking for or in expecting and demanding to them in a convenient and easy way when they want it as well.

Natasha:

It’s about also being able to be proactive and also responding to those needs. So gaining insight of what your consumers are looking for, what they’re expecting, and then being able to prepare for that and offer that. So continue that deep relationship with your consumer as well.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Do you think this is an industry where consumers even know what to ask for? Because I’m thinking right now as myself, I mean, Olivier and Geoff said like, “It is what it is. I get what I get.” Do you think they even know what to ask for? Or do you think you all will kind of be the driving force to be able to be like, here’s now the new standard. Here’s what you should be expecting going forward?

Geoff:

I mean, I think it’s really, they don’t know what to ask for, but it’s once they get that experience and once they get that always on experience, then that becomes the expectation moving forward. Once you set the customer’s expectations, that is the new norm. So it’s really about getting the service, getting it all set up. If that’s seamless, that gives a really good experience. They will remember that. They will go buy more. If it works, day after day after day, they will buy more.

Stephanie:

Yeah. It’s kind of Amazon, once everyone had Amazon and they’re kind of like, “Now I need two day shipping or one day shipping. That’s just the new thing.” And then you see all the new DTC companies popping up, they’re trying to compete and they’re like, “Well, the customer is used to two day shipping.

Stephanie:

So I guess I have to offer that.” And that’s kind of what I see is about to happen here as well. It’s once we get access to this new level of quick connectivity, we’re not going to be able to go back, and everyone is just going to have to kind of rise together.

Geoff:

No, I fully agree. I mean, having been with a non-traditional Internet service provider for a couple years now, I would not go back to one of the traditional ones that was on a whole bunch of different legacy networks that had been cobbled together.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I agree. So the one thing I want to touch on a bit too is around the fulfillment piece, thinking about all the things that need to be shipped out depending on what’s being ordered. And I want to hear how you guys are thinking about fulfilling things or helping with that because it just seems like a lot of new things are about to be starting to be shipped out to these businesses, consumers. Well, we haven’t even had access to it in the past.

Geoff:

I mean, I think here we’re really leveraging some of the assets from Salesforce with a strong workflow engine underlying so that you can manage that whole fulfillment chain because you are going to have different people fulfilling different parts of an order.

Geoff:

They just need to know what has been fulfilled, when it’s their turn to do the next piece, or what can be done in parallel, and at any time, to be able to see and track that status of where everything is. And to give the customer that update where everything is. Going back to the Amazon example, I can ask Alexa, where is my package. And she will tell me.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I think that transparency is definitely going to be key, knowing exactly when will I get it. I mean, I always talk about this on the show, ordering a couch and them saying you’ll have it in two weeks and it was six months. And the whole time it was very confusing. And that actually made me much more unhappy than just telling me from the start, it’s going to be six months for your couch. Just sit on the ground for a while.

Olivier:

And Geoff mentioned a little while ago, one of the things that brought us together is companies. We share some of the DNA, the mindset there, and transparency, in a digital experience, it’s everything to your point. So whether that’s what Salesforce is looking at, or AFTA, or Mirakl, or any of us, you constantly need to make sure that the customer has visibility and control over whatever they’re purchasing and buying.

Olivier:

So they don’t feel like, well, I’ll find out at the end of the month how much I owe or I’ll find out next week if it actually arrives or not. So it’s that every step of the way and building the trust. I mean, that’s what you’re doing. By creating that visibility and that control, you’re building the trust.

Stephanie:

Yeah. So when thinking about the trust and transparency piece and kind of having this marketplace, how often should a consumer be tapped into be like, hey, here’s a new offering. How do you think about bringing them back and wanting them to kind of review all their options again and kind of staying in touch with them, keeping an open line of communication. How do you think about that with these marketplaces?

Natasha:

Yeah. I think one of the things that we’ve seen from our customers and their experience is that they’ll recognize that they’ll have customers that come and engage with them once. And it usually is around the different milestones within their life. And so what they’re able to do by offering different complimentary products or services within their business and their commerce platform through a marketplace is to follow them through that life.

Natasha:

So perhaps, maybe starting off with a new home, what are going to be the things that they would need to create a connected home, a connected experience to then maybe starting a family and having a family plan or then maybe into what you would need to have a connected experience with your baby.

Natasha:

So having that technology and enabling that. And then so on as they continue to move throughout their life, their stages in their life, so to speak. So I think that’s something that we’ve certainly seen as a benefit and a means by which to be able to continue to increase that customer lifetime value through that customer’s lifetime journey.

Stephanie:

I love that. I mean, it’s kind of like get a new house. Now you need 10 ring cameras instead of five and you probably need this baby monitor that’s connected. That’s great.

Natasha:

Absolutely. I’m a new mom, and what we see now-

Stephanie:

Congrats.

Natasha:

Thank you. And what they see now are these little socks that you can put on the baby when they sleep at night. And it will track their heart rate, their oxygen levels, et cetera, and so on and have that all connected into your phone to be able to see and monitor your baby. So it’s happening, right? There’s all of this information and data that we’re collecting throughout our entire life journey.

Stephanie:

It’s wild when I look at all this stuff now that’s on the market for babies because I didn’t use any of that for any of my three boys. I mean, they’re still young and they somehow are still alive. I don’t know. But I look at everything that’s out there and I’m like, how did I not have this? That’s great. It’s the little outlet thing or whatever. I’m like I need that.

Natasha:

Yeah, exactly.

Stephanie:

Olivier, anything to add to baby talk or anything else?

Olivier:

No. Thank goodness I spent all the of money that I needed to 10 years ago, 15 years ago on all the latest gadgets that there was made available at that time.

Stephanie:

Cool. Geoff, anything to add to that piece?

Geoff:

No. I mean, I think the communication providers have an opportunity because they can see what kind of traffic any given device or any given account is generating. And from that, they can make some inferences, but they have to also be careful it doesn’t make them sound creepy at times.

Geoff:

But to give the right advice of what to buy, but it’s more just being able to easily find on their marketplace, the services that their customers want so that their customers don’t end up going elsewhere because most purchases are not somebody reaching out to you and saying, hey, you really need this. It’s you realizing you have a need and going and starting to research. And it’s at that point that it’s got to be easy to find. And if it comes from a provider you trust, then much easier to get the business done quickly.

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can see a lot of benefits to having kind of AI and personalization running behind the scenes to see exactly what they might need, how they’re looking for things, and offering new products in that manner. So for the last 10 minutes, I actually think it’d be fun to kind of flip it. Since you guys are all companies working together, I want to hear if you guys have questions for each other. Who wants to start? Olivier, you look excited about this. You should start.

Olivier:

Yeah. I mean, maybe just, Natasha, I’m thinking a little bit about marketplace. I’m no expert, but I think about 5G and I know that there’s opportunities with 5G for new consumer offerings. We’ve been talking about it today. It could be the next connected baby device or faster Internet. But there’s a whole lot more that really starts to go into business, right?

Olivier:

I mean, business opportunities for selling services to enterprises, and how they can then take that into their individual markets. Maybe just share some thoughts on the marketplace in terms of reaching enterprise customers, not just consumers like ourselves, but enterprise customers.

Natasha:

Absolutely. And that’s what we see a lot of. It’s not just conversations with businesses that are trying to provide for end consumers like us, but also in that B2B space as well and enterprises. They too also are looking to create offerings for their types of customers as well. And we’re seeing a lot of innovation and expectations.

Natasha:

And a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s people that are powering and is the power behind enterprise businesses as well. So the expectations that we have in our day-to-day lives, we’re bringing with us every day when we come into the office. And so those are the types of experiences that we’re starting to have.

Natasha:

And so when it comes to enterprise and marketplaces, it’s about being able to, again, bring a lot of that innovation at a quick pace and growth and at scale to enterprises as well. And it’s also about creating that customer experience that we’ve been talking about. So having a richer relationship with the businesses as well is what we’re seeing. So it’s very similar, and the interest is picking up significantly over the past few years as well in that B2B space.

Olivier:

Thanks.

Stephanie:

Great. See, I knew this would work.

Stephanie:

Geoff or Natasha, what about you all? Any questions? Geoff, you look you’re dying to ask one.

Geoff:

No. I mean, one on MATRIXX. I’ve got a lot of ex colleagues who work for MATRIXX. So I pretty up on what they’re doing. Haven’t heard what they’re doing about 6G. And yes, 6G definition has started from a standard because 5G hasn’t been fully rolled out. So we got to go to the next version. And then I guess, Natasha, where do you see the marketplace is going, not just a sell through from one vendor, but really a bundling of offers from multiple vendors and then being sold through.

Natasha:

Yeah, definitely. So I think what we’re seeing there is, again, it’s that operator that’s trying to build that relationship. And they’re doing so by extending across through these sellers to be able to create the most appropriate offering. And so through that, there certainly are ways within a marketplace platform to provide the infrastructure to do that, not only from a bundling standpoint, but what we were talking about earlier as well, from the rest of the infrastructure that goes along with the marketplace.

Natasha:

So the fulfillment aspect of it as well by bringing all of these providers together within a central marketplace platform like Mirakl. Then an order that’s placed or a bundle that’s been created can be split out and then managed individually, but then rolled up to a commerce experience to create that unified view and that transparency to the end consumer and to the end business customer, as well as to the operator.

Natasha:

But in addition to it, it’s also service providing, being able to create the right customer service experience as well. So I think that it can be facilitated quite easily through that regardless of who’s actually fulfilling or providing that good or service.

Stephanie:

Great. What is 6G going to feel like? Someone tell me. What will that look like, if anyone has any ideas or thoughts? No one. No one is going to bet. Olivier says no.

Olivier:

Yeah. I feel like we’ve got so much ahead of us with 5G, right? I mean, again, it’s most of us, even if you’ve seen today 5G on a phone, it’s not the true 5G. It’s a precursor. It’s basically just a start. And typically, you talk about 10 years before you shift to the next generation of mobile technology. So I think we’ve got a while. Let’s get something out of 5G. But I’m sure those who have some time to look at 6G will.

Stephanie:

Okay. I was just imagining me riding around on the cloud, finger guns out, just tapping into every IoT device as I go. Not possible. Natasha, do you have any questions for Geoff or Olivier?

Natasha:

Yeah, I do. My first job out of university was actually working for a software company that was creating value added services for telco providers. So it would be text five year friends for free, and then it would do all of the calculations to get those on the bill at the end. So things have changed a lot since then. Olivier, to what you mentioned, what does true 5G look like? What is that going to be?

Olivier:

Oh, wow. So I mean, that’s a very, very good question because I think back to… I think it’ll look very different depending on what the service is, right? So, I mean, that’s maybe an awkward way to answer it, but to start off with it, certainly some of us are going to recognize 5G as wow, I can do things. I can download something super-fast or I can upload it really fast. Oh, that’s 5G.

Olivier:

It’s just a small part of the whole overall picture. Some of the things we’ll never see. Hopefully, we’ll benefit though from them. So again, you think about 5G, there is a huge, I call it the enterprise or business opportunity, really that to bring about connected services and products that has never been possible before because either it was too expensive or there was coverage issues.

Olivier:

You couldn’t connect that many devices to a network. It just simply wasn’t feasible. Now that starts to happen. I think what we’ll see is we’ll start to see conveniences. We’ll see quality improvements. And again, things hopefully that will benefit, but not necessarily directly see using our resources or growing food in a more efficient way or healthcare or navigation.

Olivier:

The opportunities are really limitless. Hopefully, it’ll be improving our life, but we won’t necessarily be, oh, it’s the next great app or great game. I’m sure there’ll be some of those too. But I think many of it just simply will help us live safer and more comfortable and hopefully also more less resource intensive lives.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Which is kind of the core to technology advancements in general. It’s things just get better and you don’t always notice it. Actually, when you stop noticing it, that’s probably when it’s as good as it can get.

Olivier:

Yeah. Well, it was funny because actually earlier today we were talking, and we were the 6G question and I was just thinking to myself, in my mind I go, and I hate to use this example, if you take an iPad or something. And one of the things that many of us sort of, even if you’re not Apple fan, you kind of realize that they made it extremely easy to use and they didn’t really have to think about, was this a 3G, 2G or how much memory or how fast? It didn’t really matter because it was the experience.

Olivier:

And I think that’s something I’m hoping that we’ll see with 5G. It’s really about that experience, that seamless experience improving our lives, improving the things we do day to day. We don’t really care if it’s 5G. It’s underpinning everything we do.

Geoff:

Yeah. And I mean, I think from a provider’s point of view, the real thing will be, can 5G truly replace the last wire. So that is where the costs are, that’s where the resource intensive uses. You think of all the copper that still has to get relayed when a hurricane goes through Louisiana and they’ve got to restring all of that cable again. Can 5G truly replace that? If it can, then it will benefit everybody.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Cool. I love that. That was a great place to end the interview. I really liked kind of having you guys ask each other questions. I feel like I need to do that going forward, but my future interviews is only one person. So I guess they’d be putting that back on me. Never mind. It only works in a round table.

Stephanie:

Anyways, Geoff, Natasha, Olivier, thank you all so much for coming on here and hanging out. It was really good to hear you guys’ perspectives. Where can people find out more about the work all of you are doing or individually? You can go Natasha, Geoff, Olivier. You can all go.

Geoff:

Certainly, the work we’re doing, as Olivier said, the work on the TM Forum is all at the tmforum.org. TM Forum is all one word. And there’s lots of interesting catalyst projects. Ours is the most interesting, if I do say so myself. From a company gotransverse.com.

Stephanie:

Cool. Natasha.

Natasha:

For more information on Mirakl, you can go to mirakl.com.

Stephanie:

Amazing. Olivier, you’re last.

Olivier:

Yeah. And if you want to learn more about MATRIXX and what we do, we are at MATRIXX, M-A-T-R-I-X-X.com.

Stephanie:

Cool. Thank you so much, everyone.

 

Episode 155