There’s been a lot of talk about an explosion in the number of mobile devices. Whether you talk to an analyst, a vendor or service provider, everyone has a slightly different take on how many we can expect in circulation by 2020. What everyone does agree on is that the number of devices will be exponentially greater than it is now—potentially around 50 billion.

Aside from the infrastructure challenges that this growth surge represents, there’s a tremendous amount of upside. At the opposite end of each device will be businesses and consumers looking for information, experiences, and content or the capability to manage and control the devices For communications service providers (CSP) this provides an opportunity to add value for customers. No longer are they merely the providers of the network that ties together the endpoints. They can also be the purveyors of services that traverse the network.  For example, imagine a telecom operator that enables businesses to pay their employees via a SIM card, or deposit and send money from their mobile phone!

But for all the upside, this expected growth is sure to present challenges on multiple fronts.  Microsoft empowers the path to new possibilities by collaborating with CSPs to envision the future and drive innovation; creating solutions to accelerate business processes; and helping enhance agility of CSPs to transform and compete. With a host of potent solutions and our deep partner ecosystem, Microsoft delivers the speed, agility, vision and resources Communications Service Providers (CSPs) need to meet these challenges.  One of our partners is Tribold, focused on business and operational support systems that help CSPs quickly develop and deliver new services and experiences for their customers. Tribold is now developing a version of its Enterprise Product Management solution that works with Windows Azure. For CSPs, this allows them to combine the functionality of Enterprise Product Management and the benefit of cloud computing deployments. 

Cablemás, a CSP based in Mexico City, worked with Microsoft partner UNIKAto take advantage of cloud computing as well.  The company used a Microsoft Exchange Online cloud service to extend e-mail messaging to its 2,500 offsite employees, enabling them to better serve customers and making the company more competitive — without adding IT infrastructure. More details of their deployment is available here.

Telefónica del Perú, was looking for a sales and customer service solution that would cut down on the number of customers who hung up in due to frustrating wait times. After the company rolled out a new solution based on the Customer Care Accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, customer wait times have been cut by half.

Microsoft also offers business intelligence, sales and support, and digital marketing solutions. Together they can help CSPs generate greater business insight into the type of services customers are looking for, compete and serve their customers more effectively, and create engaging online experiences for their customers.  Focusing on these business essentials will go a long way toward helping CSPs ride the next wave of growth.