How will consumers communicate in 2020?

New technologies, changes in customer behavior and increasing regulatory requirements have transformed the communications industry in recent years. It is hard to predict how the sector will develop, and at what speed.

In the absence of a crystal ball to allow us to read the future, Ernst & Young has developed a scenario study for the telecommunication industry. The focal question of this study is: “How will consumers communicate in 2020?” Based on two key uncertainties, the study explores four divergent scenarios for 2020. Click here to use our interactive video and see which one of the four scenarios best represents your view of the future.

The challenge is to become and be recognized by your customers as an honest and reliable guide, who serves as a "portal" to new services.

Here’s a brief look at each of the four scenarios:

Scenario 1: full speed ahead
Scandals and serious data breaches made customers more aware of the risks of cyber crime. They joined forces to demand openness and transparency. A combination of consumer pressure and the threat of government intervention encouraged companies to reach cooperation agreements and establish principles that promote integrity, openness and transparency. Consumers are empowered.

It is vital that brands embrace the shift in consumer power. Customers will begin to choose a smaller number of organizations with which they want to maintain primary relationships. In addition, co-creation is an opportunity to build strong relationships with customers.

Scenario 2: roller coaster
There is a lack of cooperation within the industry, and adequate privacy regulation and security provision is lacking. Cyber criminals target companies and consumers. People are worried, but ignorance and denial prevail. With 24/7 connection bringing a bombardment of information, consumers don’t know how to make a good comparison.

It is likely this scenario would produce winning and losing consortia of companies that develop compatible products. It is crucial to select the right partners. With customers indifferent to advertisements, it is essential to be distinctive in the way you approach your customers, e.g., by offering high-quality products.

Scenario 3: speed limit control
To control internet safety and security, governments have imposed heavy regulation, which has slowed down innovation. Organizations must implement these costly new regulations and show compliance in order to gain customer trust. This limits the resources and incentive to develop innovative products.

The big challenge for companies is to develop products and services as easy to use and as convenient as possible, within the regulatory restrictions. Customers will tend to choose companies that have a positive and proven record on security and privacy, and favor brands with a reliable reputation.

Scenario 4: gear down
Neither government nor industry has been able to provide a solution to the growing abuse of consumer information. As a result, customers have turned against innovation and virtualization. Social media and online shopping have lost popularity, and people prefer to go to physical stores and to pay in cash.

The main challenge is to (re)gain the trust of the customer. It is essential to improve the company’s reputation as a reliable organization. Consumers are reluctant to make online payments and prefer to pay in cash. It is key to make their preferred payment methods convenient for them.

The complete article was written by:

  • Pieter Verhees
    Telecommunications Leader, EMEIA Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, The Netherlands
  • Astrid Wisse
    Telecommunications Director, EMEIA Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, The Netherlands
  • Bart Reede
    Telecommunications Manager, EMEIA Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, The Netherlands

Read the full articlepdf904.15 kB

EY refers to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG), a UK private company limited by guarantee. EYG is the principal governance entity of the global EY organization and does not provide any service to clients. Services are provided by EYG member firms. Each of EYG and its member firms is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity's acts or omissions. Certain content on this site may have been prepared by one or more EYG member firms