The move from the old plastic SIM to its embedded, digital version is yet another, huge step towards complete digitization of the connectivity experience being offered by mobile operators.
And while this change has great potential to impact the end-customer experience, the effect for the entire connectivity value chain will be even greater.
Indeed, what started as a niche technology to enable consumers to make calls directly from their Apple Watch, is set, in the coming years, to become a mainstream technology for all types of connected devices and lines of business.
Yet many communications service providers are failing to assess the full magnitude of this change and as a result, are missing out on the opportunity to get prepared. And while the process will be gradual, the plastic SIM is ultimately doomed to disappear from our lives (much in the same way as photographic film, DVDs and VHS cassettes). As a pioneer of the eSIM enablement & management domain, I’d like to share my perspectives of the impending impact on mobile operators, and the corresponding implications.
So here’s my ‘Quick CxO guide to eSIM’:
- Look at eSIM holistically rather than as a point or a temporary problem to be solved. It’s a fundamental change your organization needs to embrace.
- eSIM is relevant to all LOBs – consumer, enterprise, M2M, IoT, MVNOs, roaming, channels and so on. Don’t overlook any of these domains when working on your long-term strategic eSIM plan.
- eSIM was originally created as a technology, but your job is to transform it into a working, easy-to-use and seamless service.
- As part of your journey to adopting eSIM, your organization will need to learn and deploy many new technologies, standards and interfaces. Get ready for a fun journey that will never end. All market players are continually evolving their solutions and yesterday’s reality isn’t necessarily relevant today.
- eSIM is an ecosystem play. You’ll need to work closely with device manufacturers of all sizes and characteristics, eSIM database vendors, entitlements vendors, orchestrators, enterprise applications, online internet players and many more. Having the right technology infrastructure is key to becoming a successful part of this ecosystem.
- Your systems were built around the 20-year-old plastic SIM technology, which is tuned to support manual SIM management. To support an e-SIM environment, you’ll need to evolve your BSS, CSR, NOC, reporting and other internal platforms.
- While the move from physical to digital provides greater flexibility, it also raises the risk for system errors. For example, while a plastic SIM can’t be simultaneously installed in two devices, with the digital version, a customer can forget to delete their profile before moving to another device. Furthermore, the number of permutations of user or system errors (move, delete, cancel, buy and more) in the digital version is much higher – all of which much be addressed before launch.
- If you want to do e-SIM right, you’ll need to invest a lot and be prepared that it may take several years to realize your ROI. But there also ways to lower your risk and shorten time to market by adopting a more relaxed, pay-as-you-grow business model.
- Ensuring an excellent customer experience is your most important task. Remember that years before WhatsApp, WeChat and Telegram, we had Multimedia Messaging (MMS), which despite offering similar features, provided an “impossible-to-use” experience and ended as a complete failure.
- You may be tempted to go for a “quick and dirty” approach (let’s launch Apple Watch and see what’s next). Yet it risks investing unreusable, tremendous effort in return for poor results. For example, while you prompt your customers to activate your service by scanning a physical or digital QR code, the experience is cumbersome, non-intuitive and effort-intensive. And most likely, you’ll end up with unhappy customers and an overwhelmed customer care center. A better approach for example, could be to provide ‘zero- touch’ digital experience via your own MNO app. This should be completed of course by supporting eSIM in all customer-facing channels- PoS, CSR and other self-service channels.
To sum up, supporting eSIM is a journey. To set off on the right foot, be prepared to scale exponentially, adopt new interfaces and methods quickly, onboard many partners and devices seamlessly, and constantly innovate with new offerings and experiences.
And if you’re wondering how I can be so confident about my eSIM knowledge and what it takes to create a really good e-SIM solution? It’s because we already built it!