Management World 2012: The Importance of Dynamicity for Innovation

Posted: May 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

While the weather remained unexpectedly warm here in Dublin, the conversations at Management World 2012 also heated up this week. Like Keith Willetts discussed in his keynote session, dealing with competition from over-the-top (OTT) players, combating churn and managing revenue growth were big areas of focus at TM Forum’s annual flagship conference. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a session that touched upon these industry challenges and really reinforced the overall theme of innovation.

Henk Ensing, technical consultant for TNO Information & Communication Technology, a Dutch institute for applied science that specialises in helping companies innovate, covered the potential for dynamic billing and why communications service providers (CSPs) need to inject some new thinking into their charging concepts and business processes. He highlighted that the key elements to dynamicity were analysing transaction-based usage, applying intelligent business rules and considering the contextual status of individual customers. Coincidentally, these were the main attributes for Comptel’s own Contextual Intelligence for Telco (CIQ4T) perspective.

Henk went on to state that dynamic billing brings the element of customer trust to a new level and illustrated this with an analogy comparing CSPs to fresh produce market merchants. Many people have a regular routine of going to the market on the weekend, generally stopping by their favorite vendors for particular foods. The vendors, in turn, are familiarised with their customers’ preferences and can tailor the products they sell accordingly or make recommendations on complimentary additional products based on their extensive experience with the produce—further strengthening their interactions. The vendors, however, don’t always have fixed prices on their produce, which may vary depending on factors like the season and supply. Yet, what keeps the customers coming back? It’s the relationships the vendors are building and nurturing.

Similarly, dynamic billing is based on strong customer relationships where each transaction is a unique opportunity to create a positive end-user experience. Taking into account the context of and appropriately targeting each individual customer interaction is key though. For example, CSPs should consider where the customer is in his or her lifecycle and what products will fit his or her specific needs and wants, at an appropriate time that adds true value.

Policies that govern charging and the network have an important role to play in understanding and implementing this dynamic ability. According to Henk, the beauty of dynamicity is that these policies can be changed in real time based on customers’ evolving requirements. Say, if someone gets paid every two weeks, he or she can opt to make a payment during that time and customise it depending on his or her personal preferences.

Henk’s thoughts on dynamic billing and charging concepts fit in nicely with the discussions at Management World 2012 and reflected Comptel’s own thinking on how CSP innovation needs to evolve. Analysing customer behaviour is just one step of the process, but intelligently determining their contexts to make interactions more relevant and personalised will significantly result in a high quality of experience and improve CSPs’ bottom lines. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening loyalty through a focus on relationship enhancement.

Management World 2012: Do What You Do Best

Posted: May 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World 2012: Do What You Do Best

Hello from Ireland, or as they say in Gaelic, Dia dhuit! Comptel is having a fantastic start to this year’s Management World 2012 – where the sun is shining and the Guinness is never in short supply. This year’s theme is “Rethinking Communications – Enabling Connected Life”, and the key undertones so far seem to be innovation, the customer experience and revenue monetisation.

The keynote speakers on day one of the conference touched on some interesting points to this end. In particular, TM Forum chairman Keith Willets began with the humbling statistic that there are now six billion people connected on the planet, who are cumulatively driving the speed-up of change – a “digital tornado,” he called it.

As this digital revolution occurs, so too comes fundamental changes to mobile architecture, and the big question is – can communications service providers (CSPs) adapt quickly enough and deliver the innovation levels that will be required to survive and prosper? Keith also talked about CSPs needing to continue to break down product silos with IP services and find ways to work with over-the-top (OTT) providers, as well as described this new digital economy as SAASification – with new exciting opportunities emerging for simplified service offerings in various verticals including healthcare, energy and M2M.

So how do you rise to the top of the digital world? Keith assured the audience – do what you do best, and forget the rest. Innovation will be huge, so instead of punishing failure, encourage risk-taking. Look to collaborate and partner with other telecoms software and CSPs to enable and maintain innovation.

And, analytics’ use for personalising products and tailoring services for customers will play a big part at the end. Ultimately, success will come from customer centricity and, in particular, real-time, individualised engagement – after all, Keith asserted, it’s now the customer that holds all of the power!

We’re looking forward to the rest of Management World 2012, and if you’re interested in speaking with us, then swing by the Comptel booth, #64!

Two Strong Approaches for Facilitating Improved CSP Business Performance

Posted: May 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s been some time since I last shared updates on Comptel’s business and strategy, but I was inspired to blog after listening to our team’s briefing for Management World 2012.

Over the past several months, I have continued to travel and meet with customers and partners around the world. It is interesting to see that everybody wants to become more efficient, while growing their top lines and improving their business performance—but in the various regions, the approaches communications service providers (CSP) have taken to achieve these goals have been very different.

Recalling these dialogs, I am confident that the event-analysis-action strategic framework Comptel has developed is capable of addressing most of their needs and seeing through their business objectives. So, I’m excited to highlight two strong approaches for facilitating improved CSP business performance, which we are on hand to discuss and demonstrate this week in Dublin.

Let me first touch upon Contextual Intelligence for Telco (CIQ4T), a completely new approach that can help CSPs take customer experience management to the next level and fully maximise their business opportunities. The concept comes from another discipline but is one we felt was critical for CSPs to leverage.

Utilising advanced predictive analytics technology, CIQ4T allows CSPs to gain an understanding of the uniqueness of individual subscribers and circumstances, and leverage that knowledge to predict behaviours and market changes, in turn, reducing churn, boosting customer engagement and realising better business.

What does that mean exactly? As Comptel’s vice president of analytics, Matti Aksela, shares in this video, the key characteristics in CIQ4T are contextual real-time insights, advanced predictive analytics and the fact that all of this intelligence can be translated into timely and relevant action. By leveraging historical and real-time data and predictive modelling to provide unique insights into future customer behaviours, CSPs can determine more targeted, appropriate and timely offerings for increased ARPU.

CIQ4T also provides the foundation for dynamic profiling and segmentation for service bundles and campaigns, makes mobile advertising more relevant and informs network operations with an estimation of usage volumes and types of devices in use for optimised asset utilisation. All of this contributes to most of the areas where CSPs want to focus—and so far, our customer implementations and proof-of-concepts have demonstrated encouraging results. One of the cases, which targeted a specific customer segment (top 10% of monthly users),has already showed a 21% reduction in churn and 25% increase in revenue.

This is only the first step in bringing the CIQ4T approach to life, but I’m expecting it to become a necessity for CSPs, as more recognise that their customers want personalised, real-time interaction and the importance of targeting the right individual with the right offering at the right time.

Next, I’d like to mention the progress of our fulfillment offering and how our Next Generation Fulfillment strategy has come to fruition. Likewise, this is a much-needed component for CSPs to ensure a high customer experience, particularly at the first point of engagement, in order to remain competitive and to drive profitable business.

Our real-time, high-performance, catalog-driven and fully integrated fulfillment platform monitors and expedites the end-to-end process from service order capture to service delivery with precision and with minimal human intervention, which greatly reduces the likelihood of failed orders, disappointed customers and, ultimately, lost revenue.

We will be announcing in the coming weeks and months how CSPs are leveraging Comptel Fulfillment to accelerate time-to-revenue for new products; support service innovation to help gain first-mover advantage; and ensure accurate and consistent product launches and deployments, optimising the customer experience and leading to improved retention and ARPU.

Again, I am confident that this development will meet the changing service aggregation needs, enable true innovation for market leadership and set CSPs out on the right path in today’s increasingly complex telecoms environment.

I hope we will have a chance to ‘co’nverse on facilitating improved CSP business performance at Management World 2012 this week, and wish everyone a very productive and ‘co’llaborative tradeshow.

Comptel Launches New Version of its Fulfillment Product

Posted: May 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Launches New Version of its Fulfillment Product

Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of Comptel Fulfillment 8, the latest version of our catalog-driven platform that enables communications service providers (CSPs) to streamline and manage the end-to-end process of service order capture to service delivery.

This new version of Comptel Fulfillment was designed specifically to reduce the complexity of today’s multi-faceted, blended communications environment and expedite the deployment and launch of rich communications services. For instance, the highly performing platform, which brings to life our Next Generation Fulfillment strategy unveiled last autumn, enables CSPs to manage a broader portfolio of products and services. This includes the inclusion of third-party applications and content, which supplements the traditional product offerings of the CSP—and simplified service creation with the link to an agile and efficient service catalog.

On top of that, Comptel Fulfillment 8 monitors and expedites the end-to-end process from service-order capture to service delivery with precision and minimal human intervention, which greatly reduces the likelihood of failed orders, disappointed customers and ultimately lost revenue. Utilising a common platform and fully integrated components, such as a statefully aware service and resource inventory, the product understands the status and context of CSPs’ networks, customers and service use – and its open flexibility makes rapidly responding to changing market requirements easier.

With customer expectations continuing to rise, CSPs are under tremendous pressure to meet, and exceed demand with fast, accurate and customised service delivery. We’re proud that our new fulfillment solution enables this by giving CSPs superior command of their products and services and the ability to better incorporate innovations into their offerings. For more information, read today’s full announcement on Comptel Fulfillment 8.

Reflecting on My First Three Months with Comptel

Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reflecting on My First Three Months with Comptel

I promised to write a follow-up blog post after completing Comptel’s rebranding and spending one quarter with the company. I was especially inspired to do this after one of the Finnish business papers asked me to describe how I felt after having spent 100 days in my new role—but in just one sentence.

Requests for this type of ‘elevator pitch’ can be extremely difficult, particularly to be so concise, but mine came pretty easily: “It’s refreshing to be in a company where the values are high on senior leaders’ agendas and present in everything we do.” And after sharing this ‘elevator pitch’, it became even clearer to me that my colleagues, who have been with the company a bit longer, have positively experienced the change Comptel has gone through in the past year, and that other newcomers like me have also welcomed the spirit of the highly knowledgeable and friendly people we have.

In the last blog post, I also discussed the ‘love business’ and how the majority of consumers feel like they haven’t been getting enough love from their communications service providers (CSPs). I feel like discussing this softer side of doing business is critical for any organisation that wants to succeed. So, I’ve tried to summarise our corporate values and make them a bit more concrete with a couple of my own recent experiences as examples.

For instance, last week, I had the privilege of participating in a session where the core members of our analytics team shared their backgrounds and where they would like to see Comptel go in this space. There were many fascinating stories with members of the group talking about their Ph.D.s in mathematics, shared passions for solving problems, and journeys from battling trial and error to ultimately achieving real success when demonstrating how their algorithms can help CSPs get closer to their customers (e.g. predicting the churners with extreme accuracy). This was the perfect setting for showing our excitement about the value add we deliver to our customers and our focus on constantly making things happen and improving the results. I regret that I did not capture those stories via video, but we will soon have a short one featuring Matti Aksela, vice president of analytics. (In the meantime, you can read about Matti’s views on customer experience management in the April-May issue of VanillaPlus,)

Similarly, I visited three of our main offices: Sao Paulo, Brasil; Reading, U.K.; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and found that it was really refreshing to see positive energy, close collaboration at both the global and regional levels, and a strong desire to meet our customers’ needs. And, respect, which is challenging to execute across all individuals in an organisation, was clearly evident as well. I believe the diverse cultural mix across our global organisation lends well to the way respect is shown and expressed—whether it is related to customer requirements or collegial collaboration.

Am I still in a honeymoon phase with Comptel? I don’t think so after hearing that long-time employees share the same feelings—and that they were the ones who established and have made our corporate values happen. The key to this: believing that nothing is impossible and being able to put egos aside and respecting decisions made as a team versus as individuals.

It’s interesting to see how our four values—passion, united, respect and make it happen—are related. It is a bit difficult to make the most out of oneself without passion, and business today is such a complex entity of variables that nobody can make it alone; thus, it is critical to unite and collaborate. Without respect, we cannot ensure that our work is fully resourced and timed to deliver the expected results, such as the processing of more than half a billion network transactions daily for Telefónica Central America.

Comptel’s business outlook is ambitious, requiring constantly winning new customers and enhancing our portfolio by launching new products, solutions and services—all while improving our productivity. The key to achieving these objectives is to align all of the forces needed to reach these goals, ensure a shared direction, keep people motivated and tweak the environment to produce winning teams. I believe that well-implemented values like ours provide fuel for the engine needed to deliver such promises to the market.

This was my reflection from my past three months at Comptel, but as I’m more of a forward-looking person, I would like to briefly highlight our presence at Management World 2012 next week. We are excited to meet with customers, partners and prospects, and discuss how we can help CSPs understand the status and context of their networks and their customers and their service use, rapidly respond to changing market requirements and, more importantly, institute the best approaches for predicting churners and generating new revenue opportunities for better business. We are all passionate and excited about showing how our ‘event-analysis-action’ strategic framework has been operationalised. Hope to see you in Dublin and ‘co’nverse on making data even more beautiful!

Poll: What’s Your Biggest Priority over the Next Year?

Posted: May 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Last month, we polled Compelling Conversations on OSS readers on their customer engagement habits. Primarily relevant for communications service providers, the informal survey asked about when you’re most likely to interact with customers. Fifty-percent of respondents told us they were most likely to engage in order to create upsell opportunities, followed by a three-way tie (16.7%) between engaging at the point sale, point of complaint and when contracts are up for renewal. You can see the full results here.

This month, we’re curious to know where your business priorities stand, as new technologies continue to roll out and customer expectations remain high. We’re looking forward to your responses—and again welcome you to share any thoughts in the “Comments” section below, especially if you select “Other”.

Telefónica Central America Unifies Its Mediation Systems Across Four Countries with Comptel

Posted: May 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Telefónica Central America Unifies Its Mediation Systems Across Four Countries with Comptel

By Andre Kutwak, Solution Architect, Latin America, Comptel

(Scroll down for a Spanish version of the following blog post.)

We are all very excited with the latest news coming from our growing Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) region. After a very diligent process, Comptel has been selected as the mediation provider for the entire Central America cluster of the Telefónica Group. This project involves dozens of network elements and other OSS/BSS system interfaces, as well as the processing of over half a billion network transactions a day!

This win truly shows the power of building strong customer relationships, which we at Comptel emphasise. We have already mediated Telefónica Guatemala’s and El Salvador’s traffic for the last 10 years, and this partnership culminated with the consolidation of Panama and Nicaragua under the latest version of our product. We are committed to making this partnership with the Telefónica Group even stronger moving forward.

We could single out a few aspects of our convergent mediation offering that really differentiates it from others on the market. For instance, Comptel Convergent Mediation provides the flexibility and independence to build on new interfaces and business rules; the scalability, optimised performance and reliability communications service providers need to manage the increasing number of network transactions; and a friendly user interface and automatic reprocessing tools. Plus, we have vast experience with OSS consolidation projects. All of this, along with enabling the streamlining of processes across Telefónica Central America, will contribute to a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) to Telefónica Group, faster time-to-market and ultimately, an improved customer experience.

Telefónica Centroamérica unifica sistemas de mediación en cuatro países con Comptel

Estamos todos muy contentos con las últimas noticias provenientes de nuestra región de Caribe y América Latina. Después de un proceso exhaustivo Comptel ha sido seleccionada como el proveedor de la mediación para el conjunto de operadoras de América Central del grupo Telefónica. Este proyecto incluye interface a decenas de elementos de red como a otros sistemas de OSS/BSS, así como el procesamiento de más de quinientos millones de transacciones en la red por día!

Este proyecto muestra verdaderamente la fuerza de la construcción de relaciones sólidas con clientes, algo que tanto enfatizamos aquí en Comptel, puesto que ya estamos mediando el tráfico de Telefónica Guatemala y de Telefónica El Salvador desde hace más de 10 años; este trabajo en equipo continua ahora con la consolidación de Panamá y Nicaragua utilizando la última versión de nuestra solución de Mediación Convergente.

Podríamos destacar algunos aspectos en nuestra solución que realmente lo diferencian de las otras soluciones en el mercado tales como: flexibilidad e independencia en la creación de nuevas interfaces y reglas de negocio, escalabilidad, rendimiento optimizado, la fiabilidad, la interfaz de usuario amigable, herramientas automáticas de reprocesamiento y grandes experiencia y referencia en los proyectos de consolidación de OSS. Todo esto junto con la consolidación de procesos en la organización va a contribuir a un costo total de propiedad menor para el Grupo Telefónica, así como menor tiempo de lanzamiento al mercado de nuevos productos, lo que sin duda conducirá a una mejor experiencia del cliente.

SVIAZ / Expo Comm: From Russia with Love

Posted: May 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Next week, Comptel will be attending SVIAZ / Expo Comm in Moscow, Russia. For over 30 years, this event has been an excellent place for telecom industry professionals to network, promote technology and exchange information. This year, it has attracted more than 600 exhibiting companies from 26 nations and will likely see about 35,000 attendees. We are very excited to be taking part in such a significant conference, and to bring our “Making Data Beautiful” message to those in Russia, CIS and other areas of Eastern Europe (like we previously did around EurasiaCom in Turkey).

Russia, the world’s largest country by territory—stretching from Europe to the North Pacific Ocean—and the continent’s largest telecom market, will continue to be a key growth area for information and communications technology (ICT) products and services. This is especially due to the number of mobile subscribers having quickly surpassed 240 million, and the demand for data, driven by 3G and LTE connectivity, continuing to take hold.

Russia has generated long-term business prospects for Comptel since the company opened an office there in 2007, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to increase our footprint and get closer to customers and partners in the region. We hope that you’ll visit Comptel’s booth (#83D06) to ‘co’nverse on increasing customer engagement through service fulfillment, predictive analytics and policy control and charging, among other OSS products, and capitalising on the business opportunities available to communications service providers across Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe.

We are look forward to seeing you at SVIAZ / Expo Comm in Moscow!

Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part Two

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In my last post, I touched on what LTE-A is and the benefits we can expect from it, including much more bandwidth. However, there is some room for improvement with this technology.

The Price Issue

First and foremost, there are cost issues related to the massive performance increase. For instance, if you have a mobile broadband bundle with a capacity of 2 GB, this could quickly be consumed in roughly 15-20 seconds. If you’re a heavy user today and spend about 30 GB a month, at maximum capacity, it would not last long in LTE-A. Depending on how the service is put to market, consumers could end up paying a fortune for its speed—hindering adoption and prolonging the transition to LTE-A.

So why will it be so pricey? There are a few fundamental reasons. First, the cell in LTE-A is smaller but much faster than those found in previous generations. So this means that we will have more cells (think of these as the roadside ‘towers’), but they will most likely be built into streetlight poles and other facilities in addition to physical towers. Here’s where the price comes into play—each cell has a cost. In addition, each of those cells needs to be connected to the core network somehow (typically microwave radio or optic cable), and with more cells comes more cables and more complex networks.

Also, each cell needs to transport more data as bandwidth grows. Thus, the infrastructure to support such bandwidth requires major investments by communications service providers (CSPs), including in new technologies like small cell devices for more specific locations. We can also expect more fibre rollouts, which will need to be connected to all kinds of routers, switches and repeaters in the telecom network. These will all need to be planned, installed and operated. While we assume that efficiency increases in hardware over time (smaller space and faster speed) and power consumption decreases, all this infrastructure will have a major impact when it comes to cost. In addition to the purchase and operations, the cost of labour for actually digging up the ground, laying the cables and filling the ground can really add up.

What about Vendors?

This means a lot of various things for software vendors like Comptel and others in the OSS/BSS and Service Provider IT (SPIT) field? We believe the infrastructure rollout will need to be as automated as possible to drive the need for an excellent fulfillment process, logical network connections and efficient resource management. This will, in turn, reduce wasted time and money. The increase in bandwidth will likely drive more customer offerings and drive the need for service orchestration and catalog-driven order management. The complexity of the service must be conveyed in a way that makes sense for customer segments using the network capacity, and various service bundles should be prepared and proposed.

One may, however, discover that there are so many different ways to bundle these services that they completely avoid it and allow customers to self-personalise their subscriptions in advance or just in time. CSPs will naturally want to charge and control this usage and the bandwidth that customers are getting, such as services without quota restrictions like music streaming with a fixed monthly fee. Perhaps they can consider time-, location- or service-specific profiles of policies that enable customers to enjoy the vast capacity at full speed.

With this in mind, we already enjoy a degree of granularity like watching a TV series at full capacity, while others view it at a lesser quality, all enabled by policy control and online charging systems. We’re also starting to see CSPs analysing and adapting their customer engagement through intelligent interactions like free services and campaign offers, better matching service profile configurations and other things that better suite personal preferences of usage. All of these services need to be activated, changed and deactivated in real time with a provisioning and activation engine that can scale to the vast speed and low latency.

Likewise, the usage data will be so diverse and vast in its volume that a next-generation mediation system with massive scalability is needed to enable managing the online feeds of data and transactions securely and to adapt the data from various sources and formats with all of the potential various destinations (and their formats). This layer we saw formed in the CDR/file world will also be very necessary in the new online/diameter world.

In summary, behind the acronym LTE-A, there is a promise of vast bandwidth, which no matter how you look at it, will surely benefit us, especially as many other innovations can then be applied to it. There are some hurdles to overcome, but just as many opportunities presented with the technology.

If you’re interested in talking about LTE-A a bit more, please leave a comment or come to our booth at the upcoming Management World 2012, taking place in Dublin in May, to chat with me about it.