6 minute read 9 Aug. 2021
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Decoding the digital home: key post-pandemic TMT trends

Rohit Puri

EY National TMT Industry Sector Leader

Not your average telecom strategist. British-born global citizen, focused on the development of the telecoms industry. Fluent in all things Bollywood.

Stuart McEwen

EY Canada Associate Partner, Business Consulting

Transformation leader, strategist and digital enthusiast. Enthusiastic about the possibilities we unlock by pairing the power of data with smart, creative thinking. Passionate about architecture.

6 minute read 9 Aug. 2021
Related topics Cybersecurity TMT

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  • Decoding the digital home 2021 - Multi-market findings

Technology, media & entertainment, and telecommunications companies must lean into the post-pandemic market

Competition for the digital home is fierce across telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology (TMT) companies. Even so, goodwill gains made by pandemic-driven demand may be lulling some content and connectivity players into a false sense of security when they should be continuing to innovate to get ahead. Becoming complacent would be a mistake.

As the pandemic recedes, what you do next to capitalize on this turning point, how you create new value and how you evolve your brand can bolster customer retention and grow relationships in a market where these factors will absolutely influence your long-term results.

The digital home industry is ripe for disruption, and organizations that seize opportunities now will be well positioned to dominate this space down the road.

In EY’s Decoding the digital home 2021 survey, we heard from more than 17,500 households — including 2,500 in Canada — on consumer attitudes around digital connectivity, technology and content consumption inside the home. The insights shared surface three key themes that are shaping the digital home in Canada:

  1. Creating new value has never mattered more
  2. Owning the digital home is key
  3. Striking the right balance on privacy powers progress

By the numbers:

Canadian highlights
On the upside graphic
On the flipside graphic

1. Creating new value has never mattered more

Competition for consumers’ time and money is poised to skyrocket as the world reopens, out-of-home entertainment options abound, and TMT companies’ quasi-monopoly on fun begins to vanish. Right now, Canadians are more reliant on connectivity and content than ever. Nearly half (49%) of households have seen their TV and digital streaming needs increase over the course of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 38% say they’re more engaged with the latest home technology.

With so many pouring disposable income into massive internet/phone packages, streaming platforms and smart home devices, it’s been a golden time for the TMT industry. The value you create as consumers re-engage with out-of-home entertainment will play a defining role in loyalty going forward.

On the upside: a rising tide lifts all boats, and most TMT organizations are heading into the reopening with a considerable amount of customer satisfaction to buoy their momentum. The majority (60%) of Canadian households say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their broadband provider’s technical support. And telecom companies appear to have successfully pivoted from delivering speed to delivering reliability. Some 50% of households agreed that reliability involves more than broadband speed alone, which redefines the very way consumers value your services.

Innovating and delivering new kinds of value in a compelling way to secure a continued share of Canadian wallets as consumers venture back out into the world is key. Choices will need to be made and budgets reimagined. Give customers good reason to continue investing with you by creating new reasons to stick around in a world of evolving choice.

How can you address this opportunity to create new value?
  • Get creative about adding value to a household. New products, services or add-ons can change the way consumers view a provider’s role in the digital home. Rather than simply enabling content, providers can step right into this stack and offer value up the chain. Work backwards from customers’ needs and friction points to offer non-financial goodwill enhancers. More than half of respondents (55%) agree they pay too much for content they don’t watch, and 48% believe their service provider doesn’t do enough to ensure they’re on the best-value deal. TMT companies should rethink the way they provide offerings to their customers to change the way consumers perceive your role in their home.

  • Aggregate your offerings. Successfully combining multiple streaming platforms into one interface makes life easier for consumers. Many (43%) use streaming as the primary means of watching preferred shows and films. With millions of consumers subscribing to multiple platforms — and struggling to navigate different platforms, payment structures and passwords — providers that successfully combine individual services into one interface can create new value for customers. That includes the 35% of survey respondents who say the pandemic made them realize it’s best to centralize their connectivity and content needs with a single supplier.

  • Rethink traditional models to help consumers simplify. Old models won’t work in this new world. Consumers are increasingly less willing to pay for bulk cable packages just to access a specialty channel or two. That feeds digital fatigue. In fact, more than one-third of consumers say they’re willing to make room in their budgets by scaling back pay-TV spend and there could be a lot more cord-cutting or cord-shaving to come. At the same time, no one wants to navigate between a host of different interfaces to locate content or understand what they’re paying for — and they’re expecting pay-TV and streaming providers to do something about it. Abandoning existing approaches to bundling and creating new ways of helping consumers access what they love, when and where they want it, can help you stand out.

2. Owning the digital home is key.

Creating a meaningful end-to-end digital home relationship can set TMT companies apart. So many smart devices compete for time, budget and tech support. This environment is leading to confusion and disconnects. Providers that bridge from delivering on typical value drivers — like speed or reliability — to becoming valuable one-stop-shop solution providers for the digitally connected home can seize a huge opportunity.

For example, more and more tech solutions are positioned as plug-and-play. In reality, over one-third of households aren’t confident setting up internet-connected appliances. Same goes for TV apps, where one in five consider setup and use to be complicated. That makes people more likely to tap into help at a time when 19% of Canadian customers say they’re dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with TMT customer support. From poor overall outcomes to lengthy resolutions and a lack of quality information, complaints abound. Multiply those findings across the multiple devices and services at the heart of the digital home today, and that can add up to a whole lot of frustration.

Providing end-to-end customer experience that enables unified support, value and cybersecurity across the multitude of smart devices could be a powerful way to strengthen customer retention. Repositioning yourself as a single source of truth, capable of eliminating friction points and cultivating a seamless, holistic digital home experience can be a springboard to future success.

What can you do today?
  • Build on newfound consumer prominence. You’ve got a lot of goodwill right now due to the pandemic. Reframe the relationship around a more comprehensive approach to set yourself apart going forward. Some 35% of Canadians say it’s better to get all their connectivity and content from a single supplier. Yet more than one in five consumers are willing to switch service providers in the next year. Cut through the noise to become a leader that delivers comprehensive support and value from a single place, and you just might dominate the digital home going forward.

  • Demystify tech and provide practical guidance. From explaining the benefits of 5G — over 60% of survey respondents aren’t aware of its features and benefits — to offering up practical tips on connected smart home devices, any pain point you can dial down across the digital home spectrum can generate customer loyalty. Consider that 55% believe they pay too much for content they don’t watch, 48% agree their service provider doesn’t do enough to ensure they’re on the best-value plan, and over half of respondents aren’t aware of the features and benefits of smart home products. If you can improve their experience overall by offering real insight, advice, guidance and practical support, you can turn the tables on overpricing fears by delivering something entirely different.

  • Eliminate silos to aggregate connectivity and content. Provide solutions that knit these two elements together, creating one less thing for customers to navigate and sort through on their own. Nearly half of users favour a centralized smart home ecosystem. Provide holistic services and support from a centralized place to lead the TMT pack. Better collaboration can also help provide industry-wide solutions to wellbeing challenges around digital fatigue.

3. Striking the right balance on privacy powers progress.

Case in point: 27% of Canadian households report using online health services for the very first time during the pandemic. Given the potential privacy issues around health care, you’d think cautious consumers would avoid these digital services given the risk of personal information being compromised. Similarly, continued adoption of smartphones and social media suggest consumers are less concerned than they let on. But that’s no reason to take your foot off the gas where privacy is concerned. More than half say they’d be interested in opting for additional security and privacy features as part of their fixed broadband bundle.  Beyond compliance, TMT companies should generate data trust—and thus, customer trust—by demonstrating that their platforms are ready to protect customer information.

The disconnect between what consumers say and what they do represents a unique opportunity for TMT companies to explore. Thirty-six percent of households feel providers can improve the relevance of content they recommend, which would require making use of customer information. Be bolder in your approach to both do more with the data you have and strengthen defences to keep it safe. Canadian providers have been hesitant to leverage customer data due to the potential for major consumer backlash. Yet they seem increasingly relaxed about how their data is used — if a provider can demonstrate enough value in exchange.

“Canadians are concerned about protecting their personal information but, according to this study, there’s a gap between what Canadian consumers say about privacy, and what they do. That dichotomy represents a unique opportunity,” says Roobi Alam, EY Canada Privacy & Data Trust Leader. “Businesses must strike the right balance in the way they use and protect customer information. Doing so can unlock a host of new possibilities, if built on the foundations of customer trust. It’s crucial to provide value and transparency on how personal information will be used, and to work relentlessly to protect it and comply with privacy regulations.”

How can you address this opportunity head on?
  • Be bullish about the use of information. Put customers at the centre of the decision-making process on how personal information will be used. Figure out what your customers are looking for, and then securely and responsibly use the data you have to develop customized solutions that offer a uniquely powerful user experience.

  • Provide value in exchange for personal information.  We have access to more customer data than at any other time in history. Employ that data well, define the proper protection mechanisms, be open and transparent to enable data trust and you could effectively deepen relationships and strengthen loyalty in a sea of competition. When your customers trust you, they are more likely to consent to their data being used to securely personalize and improve the user experience.

About the survey

Decoding the digital home 2021 is a global EY survey that explores consumer attitudes towards digital connectivity, technology and content consumption in the home. Conducted annually by EY professionals, the study considers consumer attitudes to broadband and internet connectivity, TV and smart home technology, customer support experiences, and levels of trust in service from technology, connectivity and content providers. The insights from the online survey of 17,500 households, gathered from six countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US), opens the door into the nuances of today’s digital household.

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What’s the bottom line?

The only constant is change. As the pandemic gives way to the next normal, TMT companies in Canada have a unique opportunity to adapt right alongside their customers’ evolving realities. Doing so can open up new routes to growth, cultivate a compelling role within the digital home, and strike a strategic balance between data protection and usage to develop greater data trust with your customers. Standing still now puts you at risk of falling behind.

What matters most in the digital home? Infographic

What matters most in the digital home?

Click to view infographic 

About this article

Rohit Puri

EY National TMT Industry Sector Leader

Not your average telecom strategist. British-born global citizen, focused on the development of the telecoms industry. Fluent in all things Bollywood.

Stuart McEwen

EY Canada Associate Partner, Business Consulting

Transformation leader, strategist and digital enthusiast. Enthusiastic about the possibilities we unlock by pairing the power of data with smart, creative thinking. Passionate about architecture.

Related topics Cybersecurity TMT