Telecoms Network Equipment Manufacturers Move to Create an Interoperability Initiative… Finally

Posted: May 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Telecoms Network Equipment Manufacturers Move to Create an Interoperability Initiative… Finally

At Comptel, we’ve prided ourselves on being an Operations Support System Independent Software Vendor (OSS ISV) that can span across different standards and interfaces. For us, that flexibility is crucial to building and providing a dynamic system that we know will fit all of our customers’ needs. That said, I won’t hide the fact that to make sure our software runs just as well on one telecom network equipment manufacturers (NEM) technology than another’s requires significant effort from our team.

That’s why we were interested to see that Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), three of the world’s largest telecom NEMs, have decided to launch an OSS interoperability initiative (OSSii).  In short, the businesses agreed to sign bilateral, cross-licensing agreements that will ostensibly help foster the development of a standardised interface from their equipment.

We’re curious about where this initiative will lead. TM Forum has been working on standardised interfaces for fifteen years, and we can’t help but wonder if this could be the start of a rival organisation. Huawei’s OSS & wireless networks president Jiang Wangcheng said that the OSSii will “provide operators in all markets the ability to fully capitalise on the best OSS solutions available”, reducing operating costs and time-to-market, but most of the top ISV OSS solutions already have very sophisticated interface development kits that allow for support, time-to-market flexibility and interoperability.

Could this OSSii instead be meant to help these big NEMs capture a larger slice of the OSS pie for their own services and SI organisations? Nevertheless by simplifying interface challenges, the market could take on a new dynamic.

Innovating on Top of an Interface

Most OSS ISVs like Comptel have already accomplished what Ericsson, Huawei and NSN are trying to do. We’ve had to develop solutions that communicate across different platforms and systems out of sheer necessity. Comptel has solved the interoperability issues of telecoms vendors with products that work across the board. The real challenge now is integrating existing and new networks to deliver convergent services in a way that maximises reusability and capacity.

The OSSii is a move in the right direction for these three NEMs, who have been guarding their licenses and interfaces very closely up until now. We hope that, once they have developed a standardised interface, they will join OSS ISVs to help revolutionise the space of concept-to-cash, Service Defined Network (SDN) and other upcoming changes in the telecom industry. This is where we think the future is—beyond operability and resource management, into the realm of profitable service growth.


Globally Evangelising #MWC13 – “Barcelona-in-a-Box”

Posted: May 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mobile World Congress 2013 (MWC) in Barcelona had the highest attendance ever with 72,000 visitors. Every year, many of our customers do not have the opportunity to attend or meet us there, and to that end we created a customer workshop concept ‘Barcelona-in-a-Box’.  The idea is simple – if you couldn’t attend MWC, we bring it to you.

We built the workshop concept on three key industry topics which were discussed during MWC and continue to be on the agenda of almost every CSP.

To set the scene for the Barcelona-in-a-Box sessions, we shared our observations on the industry, based on extensive and in-depth discussions with major operators across the globe, insight we have gained from industry analysts and an independently commissioned report.

These observations addressed increasing smartphone penetration and how it’s driving up data usage, but not necessarily increasing revenues – largely due to pressure by OTT services such as WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube and Facebook (to name a few). Secondly, we discussed how bundled tariffs and packages are increasingly attractive to mobile subscribers, assisting CSPs with customer “lock-in” and positively driving up revenues. We highlighted the next evolution of the bundled approach through creation of fully shared data plans, as seen in the US market for example. Finally, as an observation we deliberated that while LTE rollouts are still in their early stages, the importance of attracting the right high-use customers to adopt the highly valued (and highly subsidised) handsets is key for accelerating ROI on those infrastructures.

To ensure that we have the correct data on consumer needs in place, we at each session discussed the locally relevant results of the consumer survey, Customers Yearn for the Personal Touch from Their Mobile Operators, we made at the end of 2012 with Vanson Bourne, an independent research firm. We polled 6,000 consumers from 12 countries across EMEA, Latin America and Asia Pacific on their service usage and spending habits, as well as their relationships and satisfaction with their mobile operators.

In addition to vivid discussion on the common challenges and local consumer needs, some of the sessions included live demonstrations that showcased the solutions that Comptel has developed to address the needs of its customer. We showed the benefits of the Comptel Event-Analysis-Action strategic framework with:

  • Robust and highly automated Comptel Fulfillment that supports service innovation and better customer interaction while reducing costs
  • ‘Plug ‘n’ Play’ Catalog-Driven product creation that allows building and adapting marketable products quickly from established service components, accelerating new revenues and allowing agile responses to market changes
  • Comptel Social Links, predictive analytics to improve and automate every-day decision-making at each customer touch point and serve customers based on their individual needs and techniques of finding the right customers for new products.

We have already taken Barcelona-in-a-Box across the Middle East, Europe and Asia receiving great acclaim for our initiative and its content, being quoted as having “a fresh approach” to actively engaging with our customers. The Comptel team has enjoyed the lively debates and sense of shared understanding of the industry state and prospects for the future. Based on the feedback, we have validated that Comptel is in-sync with CSPs and our solutions suitably address their needs. We are excited to see which topics are on top of the agenda for Barcelona in 2014!


Passionate about Adding Value

Posted: May 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Passionate about Adding Value

A good month ago I changed my position from heading Marketing and Communications to leading the newly established Analytics Business Unit in Comptel. Since then, I have had six customer meetings in the Middle East Africa and Asia Pacific regions in addition to the kick-off workshop with the new team and one week of holiday. To sum up, I could state that my past six weeks have not been boring.

Ulla Koivukoski and her new Analytics Business Unit at kick-off

Some of my friends and my dear daughter have asked about the constant source of energy to go for something unknown or new. Advanced analytics is still taking its baby steps in the telecommunications industry. One friend was teasing that wouldn’t it be nicer just to focus on gardening and fishing instead of running constantly into new challenges. The answer to the latter question is naturally yes, but when one has the passion for something else, why not to go for it as long as the inspiration and motivation is there? And the former question? I simply love my job and my colleagues from whom I learn everyday something, if nothing more, about myself.

What keeps me going then?

Think back to one of those moments when you succeeded in making somebody really happy and were appreciated for it? How did you feel? I’m sure you felt good. It’s the same with my job. Those of you who have been in the technology business know that it’s not always bed of roses when delivering complex solutions. However, when you have delivered the solution and see the satisfied smile on the customer’s face, you can feel good as well. You might not be as emotional in this sense as I am, but it’s maybe worth reminding that customer satisfaction and customer profitability have a strong correlation.

During the trips to the regions, it was my great pleasure to meet one of our customers whose marketing team was very happy with the results which we had delivered together with them. I also met some communications service providers (CSP) who don’t yet have our analytics, but who got nearly as excited as I about the business opportunities we could bring to them. To be fair, I must admit that I also visited a customer site, where we are still in the building phase and are a bit learning the environment and way of working. However, I was really delighted to experience the spirit of collaboration “to build the success for both parties”, as the customer stated.

How do I know whether we are adding value?

The hot topic of the entire ICT world is Big Data. There is a lot of hype around it and some scepticism, whether the CSPs can ever really monetise it. In telecommunications, the tendency has been to invest in large systems and then start building something valuable on top of it. The market is changing faster than it used to, and maybe there is a need for more dynamic and ready thought-out solutions to address specific business issues? This is the way how we think we can help derive value from Big Data. We have been working on specific business cases that are based on some of the real results from our projects. Naturally we have applied them in fashion that protects our customer’s anonymity but are still very enthusiastic about the opportunity, for example, to help CSPs prevent churn to both stop wasting their marketing OPEX and get more revenue per customer. One exciting opportunity is related to new technology launches such as LTE, but there are many more.

This week has been another inspirational week for me

Although I did not have time to participate in the Management World 2013 in Nice, I can remotely celebrate the announcements which we have posted at the event. Naturally the greatest pleasure was the Pipeline Innovation Award of the Customer Experience Management for Comptel Social Links. The other news, such as the innovations intent with a cloud computing leader, Salesforce.com and collaboration with Tech Mahindra Limited show that we as a company have succeeded to encourage our people to come up with non-traditional ways of delivering customer value and to understand the importance of partnerships.

The first weeks with the Analytics Business Unit have been hectic and I don’t expect anything less from the future, but there is so much positive momentum and customer interaction that it keeps me and the team going.


A Telco Paradox: Declining Revenues, but More Demand than Ever

Posted: May 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on A Telco Paradox: Declining Revenues, but More Demand than Ever

At Management World 2013 in Nice, France, Keith Willets, the chairman of TM Forum, highlighted something that’s on the mind of every communications service provider (CSP): declining revenues. A lot of this decline isn’t from competition and certainly isn’t from a lack of demand, either. It’s from the radical changes in mobile usage habits around the world.

The drastic decline in SMS, amounting to about $30 billion in lost revenue last year, is one example that Willets mentioned. The text message is swiftly being replaced by IP-driven services like iMessage, leaving no room for CSPs to build new opportunities in the same space. Instead, as Willets explained, they need to look elsewhere.

The Customer Conundrum

Amid the panicking about changing consumer habits, there’s something even more important that’s fallen to the wayside: the consumers themselves. The telecommunications industry has six billion customers around the world, and Willets reminded everyone at Management World 2013 that telco is ranked in the lowest quartile for customer experience.

Changing the way CSPs interact with customers was part of Willets’s survival kit for this “digital storm.” He listed data analytics, real-time offers and bundles as being critical for operators to build a sustainable business and better relationships with customers.

Willets’ point was simple: if CSPs treat their customers well, they’ll be more tolerant and forgiving. In a world where CSPs are scrambling to create new revenue streams, the customer has to stay top-of-mind.

Overcoming the Paradox with Personalisation

What I heard from Willets’s speech was everything that Comptel has been working on. With traditional sources of revenue declining steeply, CSPs have to recalibrate by focusing on personal, customised offers that serve to engage, delight and sell to customers at the same time.

Predictive analytics should be at the core of this approach. If CSPs can use big data to hone in on customers’ behaviours and needs—and automatically and proactively leverage that knowledge for new business opportunities—then this era of sweeping change across the telco industry will clearly be change for the better.


Comptel Forms Two New Partnerships to Help CSPs Focus on Customer Experience and Smarter Operations

Posted: May 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

The past few months have been very busy at Comptel. In addition to getting ready for Management World 2013 in Nice next week, we’ve been building partnerships with other organisations that also believe in taking customer experience to the next level for communications service providers (CSPs). By working with like-minded businesses, we have been able to not just help CSPs adapt to current trends, but plan for the future, too.

Here are our two latest joint offerings with our newest partners:

1. Adaptive Next Generation Service Assurance with Accanto Systems

First, we have partnered with Accanto Systems, a pioneer in customer experience management solutions for converged networks, to include Comptel Convergent Mediation with Accanto’s Intelligent Customer Experience Management (iCEM) platform. The result is a powerful, advanced network traffic monitoring tool that empowers CSPs with real-time, actionable intelligence they can leverage to deliver a better quality of service and quality of experience.

The Adaptive Next Generation Service Assurance offering will be critical as CSPs work to accommodate the explosive growth of data traffic and connected device usage, while simultaneously deploying new technologies such as LTE. It’ll be especially handy for service operations because it will enable them to drill down into available data to create a holistic view of network, service and device usage.

“We are happy to partner with Comptel and announce our joint offering to the market,” says Jarkko Multanen, CEO of Accanto Systems. “By combining Comptel’s convergent mediation product with our iCEM platform, we believe we can effectively address the performance management challenges that CSPs currently face, and at the same time, create new opportunities by providing visibility into the customer experience.”

2. Comptel Fulfillment Integration with Salesforce.com

Our other new partnership is with cloud computing leader Salesforce.com. Initially, we have entered a non-commercial agreement in order to revolutionise the way CSPs think about sales, service and innovation by integrating Comptel Fulfillment, our leading platform for catalog-driven order orchestration, with Salesforce.com. This will allow CSPs to better focus on accuracy and timeliness of service delivery.

“Comptel recognises that our customers are driving their focus to becoming ‘customer companies’ and that we need to leverage our platform to help them accelerate their transformation,” says Antti Koskela, senior vice president and CTO of Comptel. “Our next-generation fulfillment platform allows us to innovate in the areas that are most important in helping CSPs focus on the customer experience.”

The Future is Customer-Focused

Both of our partnerships are in line with what Comptel believes is the future of all CSPs: personalising service for every individual customer. We are determined to continue innovating to help CSPs with this mission and when we find a partner working toward the same goal, everybody wins.

Comptel will be at Management World 2013 in Nice, France from 14 -16 May. Stop by at Agora 2#11 if you’re interested in talking more about the future of CSPs and customer experience management. If we’re not there and you want to meet, please send us an email at comptel.marketing@comptel.com.


Breaking the Language Barrier Between CMOs and CIOs

Posted: May 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Traditionally, the telecommunications industry has been separated by a common language: the language of business. CIOs and CTOs, along with their respective teams, have been controlling networks and performance optimisation, while CMOs usually focus on business growth objectives like sales, churn and retention.

What this means is that CIOs’ and CTOs’ performance is evaluated by different metrics than CMOs, so they are concerned about different things. When I attended Mobile World Congress 2013, I witnessed this firsthand. In one corner, communications service provider (CSP) CIOs and CTOs were discussing the impact of cloud, M2M and LTE on their networks. Meanwhile, CMOs and CEOs talked about consumer devices, apps and the latest movements in the market.

The hurdle CSP executives face now is that, to take advantage of the latest innovations and meet their respective objectives, they have to work closer together than ever before.

Painting the Big Picture

Within most CSPs, there are distinct silos. Teams from different organisations rarely talk about the same issues and aren’t often looking to solve the same problems. However, one issue that bridges this divide is customer experience. CSPs want to make sure that customer service is as good as possible. If you’ve delivered a great customer experience, your efforts are praised…no matter what team you’re on.

This is where CIOs, CTOs and CMOs have to discover common ground. As networks expand and markets change, CMOs are going to have to learn more about network optimisation, and CIOs and CTOs will have to start thinking about analytics, marketing and service personlisation. Thanks to technologically complex innovations like predictive analytics, marketing and technology are now inextricably linked.

I believe that every team can acknowledge that one of their top priorities is creating a seamless process that allows the business to define and maximise a customer’s lifetime value. By shifting the focus from network or business metrics to customer experience metrics, CSPs can change the dialogue between silos.

A Holistic Experience

In the telco industry, the future of networks is marketing and the future of marketing is networks. When a customer is using data across a network, CMOs now need to know how the data is being used. This allows for real-time, targeted marketing campaigns aligned with customer usage trends.

These kinds of findings would be impossible without the help of the CTO and CIO, as they track the performance and behaviours across a network. Likewise, advanced, automated marketing campaigns are going to impact networks in new ways.

By uniting silos with the common goal of creating a better customer experience, teams can finally break the language barrier and work toward shared objectives. This shift won’t just help revolutionise things for customers, it could help revolutionise things for CSPs, too.

Comptel will be at Management World 2013 in Nice, France from 14 -16 May. Stop by if you’re there and we can talk more about the future of CSP marketing!