Why Operators Should Think ‘Location-First’

The connectivity space has been experiencing several mega-trends that will profoundly change the way participants architect their go-to-market strategies. Among these trends are 5G, the shift to cloud-based applications and the pushing of content to the edge. Each of these trends places an emphasis on the network and forces companies to put location insight front and center in their sales and marketing decisions. Instilling a “location-first” mindset will position market players for tremendous expansion while failing to adopt this approach will significantly hinder growth.

Ben Edmond, Connected2Fiber

Ben Edmond, Connected2Fiber

With respect to 5G, its advent isn’t just about faster wireless capabilities, but also the proliferation of antennas and the fiber needed to enable them. The industry is expected to spend considerably on 5G buildout, with approximately $250 billion in spend projected over the next five years in the United States alone to support new applications from augmented reality to driverless vehicles. Fiber will be built everywhere and the “last-mile” supply structure will become increasingly fragmented. For service providers to capitalize on their buildouts, they will need location-based intelligence on each of the assets to identify the optimal places to install and sell their connectivity.

Cloud Shows Staying Power

Cloud-based applications have proven that they’re here to stay. There has been a transformational shift away from co-locating employees and applications on-premises and towards moving critical applications to the cloud in order to take advantage of the economics and convenience that it provides. This migration will almost certainly continue and will put an increased emphasis on the need for reliable, fast connectivity. Service providers, resellers and other suppliers of connectivity will have to recognize the location-specific connectivity needs of businesses that are migrating to the cloud in order to capitalize on their changing network requirements.

Finally, the “push to the edge” is a trend that reflects the way in which consumption patterns are changing and enterprises are adapting to meet them. Content, from the likes of providers such as Netflix, is being consumed in massive quantities and the consumer expectation is that this content will be delivered quickly and with little to no delay. To meet user expectations, enterprises are shifting from a centralized flow of traffic to pushing content to users in a distributed manner. This will put pressure on enterprises to orchestrate how networks are architected so that content is delivered quickly, and consumers are satisfied. In doing so, enterprises need to be very careful when selecting the locations where their data centers reside, as this could have a significant impact on their business.

These mega-trends are forcing a re-evaluation of relationships and mindsets in the world of connectivity. Service providers will need to shift to a location-based go-to-market model if they are to maximize revenue growth. For instance, network operators armed with rich, location-based intelligence can ensure they’re participating in the right deals with the right products and at the right prices specific to a physical location or group of locations, enhancing sales prospecting and win rates.

The idea behind a location-first strategy is to turn each physical location into its own marketplace. This requires gaining a deep understanding of the supply, demand and serviceability aspects of a particular location. Network operators, for instance, must understand aspects of a location, such as how many tenants there are, which industries they’re in, if there is a potential partner or competitor present or nearby and if they have connectivity at or around the location. Only when this information has been accurately gathered can the provider decide if and how to participate.

Enterprises delivering application content to users need to understand location-specific information, such as network providers that service a prospective location, proximity to cloud on-ramps and other factors, to assess viability.

Assessment Is Key

In adopting a location-first strategy, market players will need to take an honest look at their technology stack to identify where location-based insight is missing. They will need to identify how to complement their existing CRM, marketing automation and data layer capabilities with insight that is specific to a physical location, whether it be network or tenant-oriented. They will need to take a hard look at their ability to assess a location from a supply, demand and serviceability perspective.

The insight gathered from that data, once composed, will form the basis of a new and prosperous go-to-market approach with location at the center of it all.

Forging a location-first mindset will drive tremendous growth for participants in the connectivity space, as players from network operators to applications providers will make more intelligent, informed decisions about the locations they prospect and select to drive their revenue growth. It will no doubt be a challenging process to break old mindsets and methods in order to build for the future. Once achieved, however, a location-first strategy will empower organizations to not merely survive in the new world, but to grow and thrive.

Ben Edmond is CEO of Connected2Fiber in Milford, Mass.