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Enriching communications globally: Tuenti experience

I had the great opportunity to speak at the MVNO World Congress ‘16 about the great deal of innovation that Tuenti, as part of the Telefonica Group, is launching in different markets. We are here to disrupt. By all means. No compromises. Let’s take LATAM as a very good example of this, as the region that we first selected to start our international operations as part of Telefonica’s digital strategy and strengthening its solid position in the continent.

In my opinion, it is not possible to shoot general statements about this region as a whole. There are huge differences in legal & business landscapes, market maturity, infrastructure availability, etc. ranging from quite saturated markets with high MVNO presence (as in México) to others that are still to be regulated and with no operating MVNOs at the moment (as in Perú), or cases where number portability is not even allowed yet (as in Guatemala). All in all, there are common places for all of them that should be top-of-mind for a truly digital operator: huge smartphone penetration increase expectations, 4G network deployment plans (many of them carried by Telefonica itself), one third of the population between 15 and 24 years old, extensive use of messaging apps, VoIP apps in the rise lately… All this is creating the perfect storm for an unquestioned dominance of OTT services over more traditional telco propositions, who see their voice & messaging revenues reduced in favor of OTT solutions. Is this analysis only valid for LATAM? I don’t think so. Some of the statistics may vary from market to market, however the fact that IP-comms are solving some customer’s needs much better than the traditional telco services are doing is a global phenomenon. Is this a threat or an opportunity?

Indeed, for an operator intending to be relevant in the comms arena, the question is not whether we should incorporate OTT and IP-Comms solutions within our commercial proposition (don’t do it and your product will become a commodity while the real value resides somewhere else), the real question is how we should do it. If we want to simplify, we have two different alternatives:

  1. Low integration level, such as Facebook for free (zero-rated), or including Spotify premium within your offer. Well, you may gain some customers, but the experience that they demand is provided by someone you don’t control. Hence, you don’t drive the value, the satisfaction, the profit, the growth… Besides, it is so easy to replicate and enter into a red ocean... We’d rather have a strong financial muscle if we choose this path, as we’ll end up talking about pricing.
  2. High integration level, such as offering a white-label solution or developing your own OTT service. Here you will retain the e2e customer value, enhance the user experience, build on your brand, foster the loyalty and drive growth. And the best is: nearly 80% of your customers will trust you, as their operator, to provide them with an OTT solution, and they will reward you by staying longer with you!

In Tuenti, we have used all our previous experience as one of the most successful technology start-ups in Spain, the great team that made that possible and Telefonica’s support to build the best end-to-end digital experience. We developed VoIP app2app functionality about 5 years ago, and we offered it totally free to our customers in Spain (yes, it did not consume any data from your plan!). That was only the start… now our Spanish customers enjoy the possibility to call from our app to any GSM or fixed-line number nation-wide and to 40 other international countries with no extra cost. That’s what we call VozDigital. We didn’t stop here, then we allowed them to also answer the calls directly in the app or the web. And we are not talking about app2app calling… we are talking about calls to-and-from your GSM number, that you can handle literally everywhere, 100% portable, in any device where you are logged in, just with a data connection. Afraid of leaving the phone at home, running out of battery or travelling abroad? You just need one device (any mobile, PC, tablet… your colleague’s sitting next to you will make it) and a data connection (like your hotel’s wifi) and you have all your conversations history, your contacts agenda, your dialer, your voicemail, your SMSs, your customer support, your account management, your SIM restoration, your top-up and purchase flows… Total control of your data directly in your hands. Yes, welcome to Tuenti’s full Cloudphone experience.

We are bringing this innovation to new markets that can benefit from it (Tuenti is already operating in 5 countries and a top-notch global digital telco), and evolving our digital experience very rapidly at the same time: let’s imagine for a while that anybody could enjoy the full Cloudphone experience just by downloading the app from the store… no need to purchase a Tuenti SIM card. You will have your contacts agenda in the cloud, possibility to make VoIP calls to any number, access from any device… and keeping your current operator’s number! Easy and costless. As part of the global deployment, it’s already been launched in Spain. If you have a Spanish line, try it. Just download the Tuenti app and you’ll have a Cloudphone of your own (click here and watch how it works). 

This digital experience must not only generate trust in people, providing our customers with all transparency and control of their data, but it also should be available anywhere and 100% portable, not restricted to certain platforms or devices. These two important aspects, well positioned as part of the Telefónica’s strategy towards a robust digital economy, are vital. Actually, if our offering lacks these characteristics, people will simply not use it.

Tuenti is always in beta. Our teams continuously design, launch, learn, improve, iterate... We listen carefully to our customers, learn from them, then we apply short development cycles and minimum integration. This translates into quick innovation in the telco business available everywhere.  As a result, our customers love it. We do have very high satisfaction and engagement ratios, together with one of the most relevant member-get-member programs, but these are just numbers… what we are really proud of is to see how much our customers are recommending our experience to their contacts circle, enlarging the Tuenti family day by day.

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Jorge Sánchez Valverde 

Director of International Business Development of Tuenti