(This article was transcribed from our sister community, PMA, Customer Marketing Summit from 2021.)

This was a conversation between:

Ryan Tollofson, Director of Emerging Communications & Strategic Marketing (previously Director of Next Gen Communication & Implementation Services) at Telus Partner Solutions.

Ayushman Sen, Director of Stategy and Sales Enablement (previously Director of Customer Marketing) at Telus Partner Solutions.

Have you seen an evolution of new customer segments in the telco space?

Ayushman Sen: The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that segments have evolved significantly over time. I'll just give a snapshot of the last 30 years. There was a time when telco connectivity fundamentally meant landlines – most of us are old enough to remember that from our younger years. The internet was in its infancy and connectivity over long distances was expensive and dominated by national carriers.

Think about where we are today. It’s such a different word. There are so many different ways in which connectivity is done. We still have landlines – they’re not yet completely dead. We also have voice over internet – think of WhatsApp and Zoom and all the other over-the-top applications that allow us to talk to each other. There’s video chat, and there’s interactive chat, where you can collaborate and work with each other.

What was at one point in time a sector based purely on voice communication has now spread into different types of communication, cooperation, and collaboration between different people, and different tools allow you to do those different things.

As an individual, you probably use different solutions for different requirements. You probably call your parents on the phone and use something like WhatsApp to talk to your friends. At work, you might be using Microsoft Teams or something similar.

Looking at how communication has transformed and spread allows us to appreciate how, within the communication service provider industry, we now have multiple different entities, segments, and ways to provide that service.

Let's take a very specific example to answer your question. Broadly speaking, we have two categories of communication services in telco today. One is where we provide the solution directly to the customer, whether it's a consumer or a business. A good example is when you buy a mobile phone from Telus, you are dealing directly with a telco – us.

Now let's take the other category, where you use a network that was built by a telecommunications company, but you don’t deal directly with that company. A very simple example of that would be a Zoom call. The internet is flowing on a telecommunication infrastructure – either a phone line or the internet – but the interface is provided by a different entity.

That means that we, as the wholesale telecommunication service provider, need to think about how to enable the end customer. We, of course, continue to invest in our direct catering, but it is just as important that we take responsibility for ensuring that these secondary ways of reaching the end customers are equally enabled and efficient, so that we can do our part to support communication for business or personal needs.

Ryan Tollofson: Ayush, I agree completely with you.

One way to look at it is that telcos were once in the business of providing dial tone, and then internet, but we’re more in the information management business today, and that changes who we're dealing with.

In the carrier services or wholesale arm, we focus on enabling other telcos, but now we're also dealing with media companies and advertisers. We're in a world of media. There's lots of convergence happening, and that changes who our customers are, and therefore how we approach them, reach them, and engage them.

How are you adjusting to this change in customer segments?