Telcos are failing to address the nanobusiness sector

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Omnisperience has released a new Green Paper outlining the emerging opportunity for B2B telecoms service providers and IT companies (ICT companies) in the form of a new type of business. Omnisperience argues that this new hidden sector of the business market is a huge opportunity for ICT firms seeking to find new sources of revenue from 5G and FTTP investments, but say it is currently being overlooked.

Introducing the nanobusiness

The market for telecoms and IT business services is traditionally divided into large enterprise, SME and microbusiness segments, but over the last few years the digital capabilities provided by these self-same companies has resulted in the emergence of a new type of business, which is smaller than any of these, and which Omnisperience have termed the ‘nanobusiness’.

“Omnisperience defines a nanobusiness as a business that employs less than one full time member of staff. It encompasses businesses that sell goods, creativity, services, labour or influence, as well as those that allow the commercial sharing of something that the person already owns.”

The Gig economy and Sharing economy are part of the new category, but nanobusinesses are more than just selling labour or services on digital on-demand platforms. The category incorporates selling physical goods, creative products and even influence. It includes the grey area of work and play where hobbies are being monetised for financial gain – as the term ‘user generated content’ (UGC) is stretched out of shape by part-time, semi-professional or amateur creators monetising content. 

The nanobusiness opportunity for ICT companies

The nanobusiness sector is an important one for ICT companies because people working in it rely on their mobile devices as essential tools to sell their labour, goods and services, and to connect with customers. They also need a host of other ICT services to enable them to create, deliver their services and run their businesses.

On the flip side of this opportunity, bigger businesses that want to utilise the services of nanobusinesses require communications, collaboration and cloud-based solutions to acquire and manage the skills they need, distribute work, and organise workers from anywhere in the world.

Key facts about nanobusiness

  • The term ‘nanobusiness’ derives from the analogy with SIM cards whereby nano-SIMs are smaller than micro-SIMs. Nanobusinesses are thus smaller than microbusinesses.
  • Nanobusinesses usually subscribe to consumer ICT packages but have hidden business needs that are not being met by consumer accounts. Telecoms providers are challenged with addressing these needs or seeing the opportunity flow away to other firms.
  • The nanobusiness market encompasses all skill levels – from people working as delivery drivers, couriers and taxi drivers, to micro-retailers and those providing highly skilled IT services. 
  • The gig and sharing economies are components of the nanobusiness market.
  • According to research by the University of Hertfordshire the UK’s gig economy doubled in size between 2016 and 2019. 7.5 million people in the UK have worked via a gig economy platform at some point in their working lives.
  • In 2017 there were 280,000 registered sellers trading on Amazon UK and 200,000 professional sellers on eBay UK.
  • Omnisperience forecasts that nanobusinesses will generate over $1 trillion in revenues by 2025.
  • ICT firms are losing out on this opportunity because they have an old-fashioned way of segmenting the business market, which is becoming increasingly out of step with economic reality. More people are working in microbusinesses than ever before, with 96% of businesses (5.6 million) in the UK having less than 10 employees (the EU definition of a microbusiness) and with millions more working in the nanobusiness sector.
  • With the advent of more automation and technologies such as robotics and AI, the number of people a business employs is not a reliable way of understanding businesses’ needs – particularly when it comes to ICT.

More information on nanobusinesses and link to download the accompanying free Green Paper here.

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