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CMO, whatcha gonna do?!

- What do you think we should do? The new CMO looked at me across his big dark wooden desk. I was 27 years old, and on my second assignment for Ericsson’s business consulting division. We were alone, and I realised my experience would likely not be enough to come up with an impressive answer.

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-Eehh, well… what do you think you should do? I stuttered. 

While I nervously looked at him, I thought that there would be no way that I could get away with just repeating the question. He was the CMO of a mobile operator serving close to 200 million consumers. 

He zoned out for a second or two, thoughts somewhere in the future. Then he openly shared some ideas with me. And to my relief I was able to comment on these ideas regarding his consumer offerings and wanted market position – and we had a good conversation. 

My colleagues and I helped the new CMO to validate ideas and generate new ones that could work in his market. As we had implemented the Charging solution, we knew from experience how we best could apply the different features. We also implemented a segmentation model for their market, which targeted customers with offering suites based on the professional and personal interests of different groups. For instance, the trendy youth segment grew by 50% in two months after we introduced partnerships with music and fashion companies. 

This all happened in a highly competitive pre-paid dominated market. Consumers would often have several SIM cards, or multi-SIM phones, and choose whatever operator had the best deal on. One feature that I wish we tried was to let callers get some credit when they received calls. This would have encouraged people to keep their SIM card in use and decrease the risk of switching. This would of course only last until a competitor copied the model, but I was confident the 2-3 months of exclusivity would have built a good customer base that we then could retain through other features and offers. 

Over the next couple of years, I found myself in similar situations with telecom operators as diverse as the markets they operated in. And through these projects I realised that the experience we have in Ericsson can be extremely valuable to a CMO figuring out the next steps. 

For all of them, they saw a big challenge in getting consumers to value data. But maybe that itself is a false problem? The OTT players have captured key parts of the value chain, that operators should have had the first mover advantage on. Could the solution here be joining forces with some of these players, rather than trying to beat them? 

In this series of three blog post, I’d like to share some of my key learnings from working with tier one mobile operators across emerging marketsSome of the lesson can be applied in developed markets too – but that is probably a separate discussion. 

Before you read my next post, I encourage you to deepen your understanding of what the world looks like in terms of mobile technology uptake and subscriber numbers. Start experimenting with our Mobility Report Visualizer. It’s easy to sort markets per technology, and it gives an idea of what type of services you could offer where. https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report 

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At the Ericsson Blog, we provide insight to make complex ideas on technology, innovation and business simple. In a world that is increasingly complex, we are on a quest for easy.