Nick Jennings: A reflection on 2022
How would you summarise 2022?
2022 was an exciting year for Separate Reality. We worked with amazing clients, both old and new, and on some truly fascinating projects.
The core product in our portfolio is the SR-SSB, Separate Reality’s Smart Service Bus, an advanced integration platform which has been designed to streamline processes and unify customer experiences. It was initially created for the telecoms sector however the beauty of the SR-SSB is its agility and adaptability. We can plug into the many systems a customer has, tailor it to customer journeys and touchpoints, and customise it to the needs of the end users, to name but a few things. This means the SR-SSB can benefit businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, from insurance and utilities companies to communications and fintech organisations and healthcare providers.
This year, we were able to harness the flexibility of the SR-SSB and expertise of our team to expand into new sectors, such as media. In fact, we will be sharing some of these new application stories in the weeks to come, please do keep an eye out for them!
In the past year we have also refreshed our brand, messaging, and website to better reflect the breadth of our offer and in-house capabilities; expanded our team with the appointment of James Martin as a Software Engineer; and joined TM Forum, a global association for the telecoms sector. It has been an interesting and busy year for the Separate Reality team!
The pandemic impacted companies, and individuals, across the globe and so to have many things to celebrate in 2022 truly means a lot to us.
What’s been your biggest business highlight over the past 12 months?
In 2022 we celebrated our 20th anniversary. This was a momentous milestone and is a testament to the hard work, innovative approach, and dedication of our team. It also gave me a great opportunity to reflect on how far the company has advanced and how much we have accomplished since we launched.
Since I founded Separate Reality in 2002, our team has grown considerably and so has our product stack which now includes point of sale solutions, an app framework, web framework, portals, call centre solutions, an off-the-shelf payment solution, and the SR-SSB. What’s more, we have expanded our geographical reach and spanned out into new sectors. I’m incredibly proud of all that we have achieved but one of the things that most fills me with the pride is that the reason I established the business – to deliver innovative software solutions to transform and optimise digital ecosystems – remains at the heart of the business and each of our experts embodies this ethos.
What industry changes or demands did you witness in 2022?
The pandemic brought a seismic shift to most industries and with that came a large shift towards digital-driven customer service and customer experience. In line with this, we have seen an increase in demand from companies, particularly SME communication service providers who want to maintain a competitive edge, to deliver a digitised customer experience.
What has also been interesting to witness is a change in the perception of what makes data valuable. In previous years, businesses sought digital tools which allowed them to extract data, as an example on system performance. However, as technology has evolved so has the value of data. It is an incredibly powerful tool for businesses as it can help drive efficiencies, increase revenue, improve customer experience, and even inform product and service development. But data in its raw form, whilst insightful is not where it is its most impactful. It is the analysis, output and application of the data that gives it intrinsic value.
Organisations therefore no longer want systems from which they can solely extract data, they want technology and processes which can, with integrity, automatically and seamlessly capture and analyse data which adds real value to their business. For example, data regarding user behaviour.
Moving forward, companies will have to navigate providing their customer with data which can provide tangible benefits to their business whilst adhering to ever-increasing data regulations.
What industry changes or advancements do you anticipate for 2023?
If captured and used correctly data is one of the most valuable assets a company can have, for the many reasons mentioned. I expect that this will lead to a greater demand for predictive analytics, a complex form of data analysis which harnesses historical data to predict future behaviour, outcomes and events.
In recent years many telecoms providers have focused their efforts on the B2C market even expanding their services to cover broadband, media and data services to meet consumer demand. In 2023 and beyond, it is anticipated that there will be a growing number of telecom providers making a concerted effort to maximise on opportunities in the B2B market and become enterprise service providers. Whilst many CSPs have or do operate in the B2B space the main focus for the majority of providers has been the B2C market and this is about to change. The change comes as CSPs are seeking to maximise on their investment into 5G and businesses are expecting more from their providers than just core connectivity.
In fact, there was an interesting report compiled by TM Forum in October 2022, Telco revenue growth – taking it to the next level, that found that of the 208 responding companies only 5% of respondents felt that the best opportunities for (revenue and profit) growth within their organisation are in the B2C industry in contrast to 30% of respondents who felt it was in the B2B/enterprise industry, and an overwhelming 62% felt that it was in a combination of B2B and B2C markets. The remaining 3% felt there were no opportunities.
Organisations will need to offer B2B customers the agility, service-levels, and experience that they deliver to the consumer market. What will be critical for many businesses is identifying and maximising on the B2B opportunities, whilst ensuring that they can still deliver to their consumer markets, and to the standard expected from their customers. For many CSPs this may require investment, resource management, and redefining their proposition to their enterprise market.
Looking ahead, what will 2023 bring for Separate Reality?
I would like 2023 to see us further our reach in these new global industries, such as fintech and media, and maintain our foothold in the telecoms industry.
The digital space is continually evolving, and it is important that we evolve alongside it. We pride ourselves on keeping our fingers on the pulse of the technology industry to ensure we can provide our customers with the highest calibre solutions and services, all in line with industry best practice. Therefore, I’m sure 2023 will also bring many learning curves, new ideas, and opportunities.
And finally, to all our colleagues, customers, and contacts across the globe, I hope 2023 brings health, happiness and prosperity.
Mark Newman, Chief Analyst, TM Forum and Dean Ramsay, Principal Analyst, TM Forum (September 2022). Telco revenue growth – taking it to the next level, TM Forum. https://inform.tmforum.org/research-and-analysis/reports/telco-revenue-growth-taking-it-to-the-next-level/