The birth of autonomous and connected cars will not only reshape the way that people get around–it will also present many challenges and opportunities for businesses. In particular, the new transportation ecosystem–which is likely to result in vehicles that are connected and shared–has big implications for telecommunication companies, including wireless carriers, infrastructure providers, and equipment vendors.

On Tuesday, a report by Deloitte titled Connecting the future of mobility: Reimagining the role of telecommunications in the new transportation ecosystem outlined the various future states of transportation, offering recommendations for how telecommunication companies can succeed in the coming environment.

“As transportation options improve in breadth and level of integration to support intermodal mobility experiences, customer expectations are becoming increasingly sophisticated,” said David Smud, telecom sector leader for Deloitte’s Future of Mobility practice. “If telecom companies can continue to develop a full range of capabilities that meet these needs, while aligning with core strategies and smart go-to-market ideas, they will be able to expand revenue opportunities beyond traditional boundaries.”

According to Deloitte, there are four potential “future states” in transportation. They are:

Future State 1: Consumers still own vehicles, and there are small steps taken towards driver-assist technologies and growth in number of connected vehicles.

Future State 2: Ridesharing continues to expand, and connectivity services emerge from managing fleets of shared vehicles.

Future State 3: “Full autonomous capabilities become a reality,” which means that a lot of data is generated. Also, passengers consume even more data in transit.

Future State 4: Autonomous driving and car sharing come together, which means new experiences for passengers, new services, and managing connectivity of fleets.

According to the report, these future states will bring “a new mobility ecosystem that is connected, seamless, efficient, and intermodal.” Value from these future states will be “derived from consumer-centric data, systems, and services-oriented business models.”

Telecom companies have a unique position in any of these potential futures. According to the report, an increased demand for “on-the-go content would require new types of audio/video content aggregation and delivery methods to provide interoperability for different types of content, including voice, text, social media, video streaming, and virtual reality.” In other words, screens will move from our homes and smartphones straight into our vehicles, providing new entertainment and social experiences for passengers.

So how can telecom companies take advantage of the new transportation landscape? Here are four recommendations from Deloitte:

1. Stick with the core strategy

The report warns that companies may be “tempted” to pursue “new and innovative technologies and monetization opportunities.” However, businesses should stay focused on their mission and target strategies that align with their specific core mission.

SEE: Our autonomous future: How driverless cars will be the first robots we learn to trust (TechRepublic)

2. Rationalize and prioritize investments

Companies should outline multi-year strategies that include which capabilities they want to develop. Investments can span IoT tech, 5G, network security, digitization of content, and autonomous tech. According to the report, telecom businesses should “prioritize investments in developing or acquiring must-have capabilities that help to efficiently target vertically integrated opportunities and/or provide a foundation that allows them to scale and broaden the services they deliver.”

3. Create “go-to-market partnerships”

The new landscape means that telecom businesses will likely face competition in areas that they have not traditionally been part of their domain. In these spaces, companies should “aggressively build out their service portfolio by pursuing go-to-market partnerships and cross-industry alliances that provide access to these opportunity areas while allowing them to bring the power of their core offerings to bear through enabling connectivity and content delivery,” the report said. This will result in a “valuable foot in the door to help telecom companies build brand permission in this space.”

4. Be adaptable

Telecom companies should be ready to “realign strategies as the external environment evolves,” the report said. “They should allow for adequate incubation for mobility innovations and experimentation by providing a measure of insulation from usual market pressures that call for immediate results and returns.” The report also calls for businesses to look out for “signposts” that point to how quickly autonomous and connected vehicles will be adopted, including how soon society is ready to adopt these vehicles, tech advances, and regulations.

The report concludes that telecom businesses will begin to compete against not only peer companies, but also “Silicon Valley giants and automotive OEMs,” all of whom are looking to gain a foothold in the connected car space.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A report by Deloitte addresses how telecom businesses will be affected by changes in the transportation landscape–specifically, the introduction of autonomous and connected vehicles.
  2. According to the report, the integration of connected and shared vehicles will provide major opportunities for telecom companies, in terms of offering a space for new in-transit experiences.
  3. The report outlines four guidelines for how telecom companies can “win” in this new space, including: Stick to the core strategy; rationalize and prioritize investments; Create “go-to-market partnerships”; and be adaptable.

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