Join Comptel and NET at Management World Americas 2012 Next Week

Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Join Comptel and NET at Management World Americas 2012 Next Week

It’s that time of year again – Management World Americas is about to kick off, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be presenting on day one of the conference in the Cable Summit with Rodrigo Duclos, CIO of NET. Part of a track on “The Road to Applied Success”, our session will cover the Brasilian cable multiple system operator’s (MSO) OSS/BSS transformation project and evolution to provide a richer customer experience.

Due to skyrocketing demand for broadband services, NET wanted to develop a more sophisticated quota management system, using the Comptel Mediation system, to enhance its communications offerings and personalise service and price plans for subscribers. Rodrigo will explain how the cable MSO was able to automate the mediation process and more intelligently analyse customers’ broadband consumption, and discuss the benefits this can bring to NET’s business. For instance, it allows for more advanced charging models based on service use and gives subscribers the power to control and monitor their usage and bills in real time—resulting in more streamlined operations, a flexible and creative business model and an enhanced customer experience.

Again, I’m very excited to share this great case study with Management World Americas attendees. I hope you will come see the presentation on Monday, 3 December at 10:30 a.m. EST in the Cable Summit or visit the Comptel booth (#7) in the expo hall.


Men at Work Down Under

Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Events | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Men at Work Down Under

We all know that during these uncertain economic times, life in business might not be always that easy, don’t we?  However, I’m a strong believer in positivism and its power of energizing people.  Therefore, I took the opportunity to write this small blog to share the joy and enthusiasm of my dear colleagues Down Under.

We in Comptel have worked hard to transform the company from a traditional, if I dare to say maybe a bit dull telco engineering company, to a faster moving and an agile Internet-age software  company.  After ten months in Comptel, I have experienced an amazing spirit of ”Make it Happen”, which is also one of our four core values. The recent recognition by Frost & Sullivan is only one example of the results of our dedication.

I was personally inspired by the pictures the team sent to me after the Awards Banquet on the 20th of November 2012 in Australia.  It is wonderful to see Men at Work Down Under with such big smiles while knowing that they really put their hearts into it and give their best  effort to bring the highest customer value in their respective markets.

The other reason to write this blog is to remind of our thought leadership in Contextual Intelligence For Telco (CIQ4T). The comment from Mr. Mark Dougan, managing director, Australia & New Zealand, Frost & Sullivan confirms that we have succeeded in differentiating with our approach:  “The company has proven its ability to not only effectively operate and grow in the competitive market, but also, with the debut of its CIQ4T, fuel OSS innovation and raise the bar for CSPs’ customer engagement practices.”

Simply put, Contextual Intelligence (CI) is the principle of understanding a uniqueness of a person and the circumstances, ( i.e. the context) and turning that understanding into an opportunity. This is a valid guideline for various business situations as well as for life in general.  If you happen to be around Orlando next week, visit us at Management World Americas, 2-6 December 2012 to hear more.


CSPs’ Role in Multi-Stakeholder Telecom Projects

Posted: November 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , | Comments Off on CSPs’ Role in Multi-Stakeholder Telecom Projects

Recently, the U.S. Air Force announced that it is shutting down its next-generation, billion-dollar logistics management software project after its implementation was consistently stalled, and goals went unmet. This multi-stakeholder project started in 2005 and was designed to save billions of dollars by streamlining supply chain management and replacing more than 200 legacy IT systems and 500 interfaces. With such promising benefits, the decision to scrap this project raises more questions than answers: Why did it take so long, and so much money, to realise this project wasn’t going to pan out? What planning process was in place that allowed this to happen?

Drawing Parallels with Telecom and OSS Projects

Projects in the telecom industry have similar implementation challenges, especially because of the numerous stakeholders involved like network suppliers, OSS/BSS vendors, system integrators, VAS providers, in-house IT and various communications service provider (CSP) departments. Such a landscape of not just stakeholders but also systems and processes results in high complexity and risk, meaning there are many ways project execution can go wrong. For instance, individual vendors may promise more than they can deliver, system integrators might not take end-to-end responsibility, and CSPs could miss some important details. These gaps in ownerships, stakes, understandings, initiatives and interoperability create a snowball effect over time, leading to project delays that could mean disaster.

Insistence on Collective Responsibility

To help prevent this, it’s important for CSPs to be very knowledgeable about the big picture apart from being very detail oriented. Knowing the big picture ensures that the CSP can keep a firm grasp on the various parties engaged, and to what capacity, as well as each party’s weight and significance during the course of a project. On the other hand, being detail-oriented ensures that the CSP knows how to negotiate a meaningful, clear and unrelenting scope of work for each party. The scope of work distributed across different stakeholders should be collectively exhaustive and aspects like dependencies and engagement service level agreements (SLAs) should be very clearly stated and agreed upon in advance.
This can ensure that any conflicts of interest are alleviated, so vendors can act in the best interest of the project at hand to guarantee its collective success. Vendors like Comptel can play a very leading and helpful role in bringing different parties together to agree on a clearly documented scope at the very outset. This can involve details such as key objectives, success factors, project scheduling and budgeting, and risks.

Ensuring a Collaborative Project Roadmap

In my opinion, the CSP’s role in ensuring a collaborative project roadmap involving OSS/BSS vendors and system integrators is crucial. CSPs can define project execution models at the very outset and play an important role in overall project leadership and governance to ensure delivery within the constraints of budget, time and scope.
Furthermore, it is the CSP’s leadership alone that can contain the many simultaneous business-to-business relationships at any cost and without letting any party indulge in a game of blames. Success being the only ultimate benchmark, CSPs should trickle it down to all of its suppliers in unequivocal terms.


‘More Policy is needed!’

Posted: November 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

As continuation to my colleague Simo’s blog on “Now I Understand What You Mean with Contextual Intelligence in Policy Control and Charging” , I would like to share some congress highlights on the major discussion points and development trends in the market.

Maintaining the current network investment pace is becoming impossible, and therefore CSPs are actively seeking ways to capitalize on data services and co-operate with OTT players to diverge the data revenue growth curve and offload mobile data onto their own or partner’s WiFi networks. It’s obvious that video drives broadband traffic. Therefore CSPs absolutely need to understand customers’ usage patterns, how they behave in the network and what their value for the CSP, to implement efficient segmentation tools that allow prioritising the customers who need more bandwidth.

There was also a lively discussion about the tactics of creating and offering data services, touching on topics like rapid and easy service creation, data and bandwidth bundles, add-on data packages, personalisation and quality of experience. These elements are at the center of the CSP’s radar screen, contributing heavily to revenue generation and monetisation. The life time span of data packages will diminish significantly, as customers expect a broad, personalised and frequently updated service portfolio to be available. In order to fulfill this requirement, analytics capabilities have found their way into the heart of the policy control and charging offering palette, providing customer insights, predictive capabilities, churn management tools and automated marketing campaigns executed contextually at the right time to the right customers.

The ubiquitously available policy control capabilities and tools were widely recognised as the mainstream future trend, going beyond the pure network-centric approach to devices, cloud, M2M, service delivery and OTT. In short, Policy is needed everywhere in the ecosystem. The implementation is very much business-objective and use case driven, dictated by the business and service requirements and the CSP’s existing network architecture. Depending on the CSP’s set-up, the implementation scope can be fulfilled based on policy control, charging, customer management and analytics functions. Policy control is needed to protect and serve your interests.


“Now I Understand What You Mean with Contextual Intelligence in Policy Control and Charging”

Posted: November 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on “Now I Understand What You Mean with Contextual Intelligence in Policy Control and Charging”

Last week I attended the Broadband Traffic Management event in London, gave a speech on analytics-driven Policy Control and participated in a panel on Over the Top (OTT) and Communications Service Providers (CSPs): ‘What are the Obstacles for Two Sided Business Models?

The need for policy control is evident.  CSPs cannot keep on investing in the networks to the same extent they have been doing in the past. The costs are too heavy, and CSPs are actively looking for smarter and faster ways to monetize data.  The key topics of the conference mostly span around Wifi offload (lightly, but there), OTT (heavily, how to partner), video (heavily, how to control). Video is considered the main culprit in consuming all the bandwidth, and CSPs are very worried about the growth.

The main message of my speech was to fundamentally state that “rules-driven PCC is not going to lead to success” and “policy control needs to be augmented with real-time predictive analytics”. One of the use cases I presented was a so called “intelligent turbo boost” which brings the possibility to dynamically alter the bandwidth, price and duration based on congestion and subscribers’ propensity to pay – as opposed to  the standard “bandwidth boost of 1Mbit/s for 1 hour for 2 euros”.  The second use case example introduced “contextual video optimization” which means using subscribers’ propensity for deciding how much video is optimized for a specific session instead of using rules that are static and fixed. The difference in approach is that humans are hardly driven by static rules, and therefore building the environment on a way where fixed rules define how everything works is really counter-productive.

I received very good feedback after the presentation. Most discussions ended up in the conclusion that pools of rules are very hard to maintain, and they hardly ever meet the subscribers’ expectations. They are looking for a service provider that can offer a selection of personalized data packages which flexibly responds to their needs on-the-spot and within a particular context.  That is something we would like call contextually intelligent customer experience management.


AfricaCom 2012 – Making Data Beautiful

Posted: November 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on AfricaCom 2012 – Making Data Beautiful

Tuesday 13th November was day 1 of the 2012 AfricaCom event in Cape Town. This is the first year it has been extended to 3 days, with day 1 being a ‘preview day’ … and I will confess to having been ‘worried’ that it would have ‘watered down’ the event. But I was wrong! Yesterday was probably the busiest first day Comptel has ever had at AfricaCom in 4 years of attending. With the organisers, claiming a record 8,000 pre-registrations and expecting 7,000 to arrive and with today being the keynotes, things can only get busier. So anyway, here are a few thoughts from day 1:

1.    Informa, the event organisers, presented an overview of the opportunities in the Africa market. Customer Engagement Management (CEM) was a big part of this, and it is clear that as competition heats up, and customers become more demanding in Africa, operators need to get more personalised and targeted with their offerings and customer engagement strategies. Perhaps it is best to quote the original releases as it says it better than I can paraphrase: “There is more depth to a mobile operator’s customer base in Africa than two or three years ago and, for this reason, MNOs need to gain a greater insight into their customers’ behavior and offer them services that match their individual needs and preferences. Using this insight to design new business models … will enable a more compelling and personalized set of services to a wider variety of customer segments

2.    And if the test of this was interest in finding solutions for it, then it is spot on! The majority of conversations yesterday with operators visiting our stand was about customer insight, serving customers more personally and better targeting of services to meet individual’s needs. These conversations could have been about simple analytics or segmentation … but they were more: they were about individual subscribers being treated as individuals. … and best of all was being able to explain how Comptel’s Social Links product can meet this by allowing CSPs to better determine customers’ needs, wants, likes and dislikes at a granular level based on historical and real-time data and predictive modelling … and in context.

3.    We have the best stand in the show!!!  Not my words only … but several visitors made this statement. Not the biggest or fanciest … but one that perfectly illustrates our tagline of “Making Data Beautiful” … a calm, clean and organised beacon of illumination among the chaotic hustle and bustle of the show.  And our engagement solutions built around the “Event-Analysis-Action” paradigm is brought to life as it slowly rotates on our back wall turning heads of passers-by … literally! Come see for yourselves at stand #C05.


Comptel participates in 2nd Zain Technology Conference in Dubai

Posted: November 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Comptel participates in 2nd Zain Technology Conference in Dubai

The second Zain Technology Conference was held in Dubai on 5th – 7th of November. Comptel participated actively with a booth presence for the entire three days, and we were also part of the series of presentations by vendors and partners who were invited to present at this conference.

Zain Group is based in Kuwait and has a commercial presence in 8 countries across the Middle East and North Africa (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Sudan, and in Lebanon). The group has over 6,000 employees, and they provide mobile voice and data services to over 41.3 million active individual and business customers as of September 30, 2012.

In his welcome speech, Mr Hisham Akbar, Deputy CEO and COO of Zain Group, talked about deploying technology that is aimed at serving the customer first and foremost. This strategy links very well with our focus on providing a holistic customer view to CSPs, including customers’ social, demographic, behavioural and contextual attributes. CIQ4T leverages our strength in event data processing and real-time action-taking to ensure a continually high quality of experience.

Most of the operators in our part of the world face challenges in effective customer segmentation and ARPU growth. Moreover, the introduction of new content and media services are critical issues for service providers. Comptel’s ability in using advanced analytics enables the CSPs to apply predictive, contextual intelligence to everyday decision-making.

Comptel was able to generate interest in use cases, especially as the aim of the conference was to get Zain, its operations, and its technology partners to agree on how to achieve a greater convergence on a wide range of technologies and customer experience management tools by using new approaches.

The event hosted  a variety of participants from network partners to IT with over 40 companies under one roof. The audience consisted of Zain Group Technology (NW&IT), Wholesale, Procurement, Strategy & BD, Commercial functions and operations (NW&IT).

Overall, it was a great collaborative effort from Zain Group to get their key message across to the relevant stakeholders who can better map the plan and drive the successful implementation together with the group.


Succeeding in OSS Project Engagements – Insights from MEA

Posted: November 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World, Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Succeeding in OSS Project Engagements – Insights from MEA

A learning organisation is the sum-total of the experiences of its people. At Comptel, we take great pride in having delivered on excellent projects, and the lessons we have learned through them are our prised possession. To a large extent, a distinctive pattern begins to emerge from the various projects and engagements conducted in each region. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) is no exception – its unique characteristics come through its many region-specific best practices, as well as the lessons and cultural themes we have accumulated through our commitment to our customers.

When it comes to the success of a project, leadership is an important aspect– from managing project charters and negotiating scopes, to resolving conflicts and involving stakeholders, to addressing resources and process implications. From my experience in MEA, I’ve seen six elements of success emerge that stem from strong leadership.

1. Trademarks
First, it is very important that a project be ‘trademarked’ both internally and externally. This should go hand-in-hand with the company’s corporate strategy and bear an inspiring slogan that attracts everyone’s contribution. Externally, with the customer, the trademark should bear in succinct terms the top 2-3 goals and objectives sought from the project. These should be posted at all times as the overriding milestones for all stakeholders, especially the customer. Internally, this should become more of a symbol that people can relate to in daily activities, when talking by the water coolers, for instance. Last, it should be attached to a group of influential sponsors, decision-makers and key participants, who can help develop an inclination across company ranks to make the project successful.

2. Strong Launch
The project should be kicked off like the Olympics. What I mean by this is that everyone should feel willing and ready to be a part of an exciting new journey. The most important thing is making sure that the project leadership is technology savvy and capable of understanding the complexities involved. A sense of control, responsibility, raw skill and effective management can only be inculcated by a project manager with extensive domain expertise. This, in my humble opinion, can be a deciding factor for a project’s success at the very outset. The project leader should then be able to recruit a balanced team and prepare for a strong launch.

3. Alignment
The project leader should have a comprehensive, organisation-wide understanding of the customer’s business units (e.g. commercial, network, human resources, finance), business processes (TM Forum standards can help), key stakeholders, parallel vendors and existing IT and systems landscape. This helps align the project to all of these various entities, so that any risk is taken care of proactively, and all parties/resources are marshaled to a collective success.

4. Clear Scope
It’s important that the project leader is actively involved alongside any sales staff in negotiating, understanding and freezing the scope of a project. The scope should be very clearly documented and have approval from all key stakeholders. This can involve details such as key objectives, success factors, project scheduling and budgeting, and risks. Again, it takes a project leader proficient in that domain to effectively record the different requirements, needs, assumptions and risks.

5. Communication
The project leader should be able to develop a very clear communications methodology to ensure transparency and a real-time window into the project’s workings. He or she should be able to identify ‘what messages’ need to be passed to ‘which stakeholders’ at ‘what intervals’ through ‘what methods and channels’ with ‘what level of severity’. The communications methodology should be able to integrate and harmonise the many artifacts of project communication including meetings, emails, progress reports, workshops and portals.

6. Motivation
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the project leader should strive to be a true source of motivation, energy and inspiration for the whole team. A confident and independent leader can take hold of a project without letting control sink away to distant and irrelevant corners of the organisation. He or she should be bold enough to take calculated risks and use the team’s best energies to create win-win situations with the customer. An effective project leader manages and resolves conflicts through creative ideas and through the power of communication. A dynamic leader is imaginative enough to adapt the fabric of the project to the changing strategic needs of the customer and of his or her own organisation. Finally,  he or she should be able to culminate all of these leadership themes into closing the project, celebrating it like a hard-earned victory, learning from its course and moving on to the next challenge with a bigger, more self-assured poise.

These types of leaders deliver on strategic opportunities, resulting in increased revenues through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and references, and ultimately happier customers.


Over-The-Top – play, an opportunity for communications service providers?

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Over-the-top-players (OTT) have been seen as a big threat to the traditional Communications service Providers (CSP).  In short, the traffic generated by the OTT players is congesting the communications networks in which the CSPs have invested hundreds of millions of Euros, while the same OTT players also bring home most of the revenue streams. The Telco industry has been discussing the topic already for quite a while now, and – as often – the market and business disruptions have been seen as a threat rather than an opportunity.

As an example, CSP executives around Europe and the Middle East gathered at a conference in January 2011 to share experiences on how to compete with Google, Skype and others, that is, the dreaded, revenue-hoarding global OTT players. (Source: Global Telecom Business). Other commentaries, such as this from Ovum,  remind the CSPs that they should rethink their business model and become a part of the OTT value chain. The list of similar examples just goes on.

Let’s recall some of the earlier disruptions to see if there is anything we could learn.  Although the Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) phenomenon was more or less a local disruption while the OTT players of today are truly global, there might be something worth noticing from those days. Many of the MVNOs in the early phase were established in an opportunistic manner to cash in on the disruption quickly, while trusting that the traditional CSPs will buy them out simply because CSPs should see them as a competitive threat. This also happened in many markets.  After attempting to fight against the grain, many CSPs started to see the MVNO business model as an opportunity, although with the strong encouragement of regulatory bodies . Some CSPs have taken the role of selling the network assets to the MVNOs and some have built their own MVNO business to differentiate within specific customer segments. A good example of the differentiation strategy is E-Plus, who still in June 2012 was the jewel in KPN’s crown. E-Plus established its own MVNO, Ay Yildiz, with a segmented offering to several million (statistic vary from 2.5 to 4 million depending on the definition) Turkish people in Germany, who communicate with their relatives inside the country and between Turkey and Germany.

Some of the leading CSPs have taken similar steps in capturing the OTT opportunity rather than seeing it as a threat. Naturally, there are multiple approaches. One good example is Telefonica whose Jose Valles explains how Telco’s are in a unique position to take advantage of opportunities to facilitate OTT services through their relationship with users. The example by Zain Deputy CEO and COO, Hisham Akbar, is another instance of the CSP leveraging their competences and assets to build a whole sale service.  Zain sells network infrastructure to other players to deliver a wider variety of OTT-type of services and applications to Zain’s customers.

Where there is a threat, there is also an opportunity. However, it often requires the courage to go for the opportunity instead of fighting the inevitable change.


Counting Down to AfricaCom 2012

Posted: November 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Counting Down to AfricaCom 2012

Working in marketing, I am constantly trying to identify which conferences are the right fit for showcasing various products and solutions. While conducting these searches, Comptel, like other practical companies, often finds itself targeting the fastest growing market: Africa. It may come as no surprise, then, that Comptel will have a stand at the 15th annual AfricaCom conference taking place 13-15 November in Cape Town. This year’s thought-provoking programme promises to reflect Africa’s potential to influence a market already filled with vibrant new dynamics.

At the show, we will have a dedicated team of experts on-site that are happy to speak with communications service providers (CSPs) about the true value we can bring to their business by driving innovation and growing lifetime value through real-time, personalised customer engagement.  The Comptel team is looking forward to demonstrating how to reduce churn by transforming data into actionable intelligence. Acting on this intelligence, in addition to maximising customer lifetime value, helps CSPs distinguish themselves amidst a competitive market. The company will also discuss how to achieve accelerated and accurate advanced service deployments to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty and their propensity to spend.

Will you also be attending the conference? If so, be sure to stop by Comptel’s stand, #C05, to find out how the right integrated mediation, policy control, charging, service fulfilment and predictive social analytics capabilities can deliver a fresh approach to telecommunications business for greater profitability.

To set up a meeting in advance, please contact comptel.marketing@comptel.com. Looking forward to seeing you in Cape Town!