Comptel, Chess and Data Analytics in Italy

Posted: June 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This is a special guest post from Comptel Sales Manager Cristina Monacelli.

On June 13, Comptel hosted an event in Rome at the Finnish ambassador’s residence to introduce our solutions to the Italian telecommunications market. We really wanted to engage with the country’s communications service providers (CSPs) and this gathering gave us that opportunity.

CEO Juhani Hintikka shared the strategy behind Comptel’s slogan, ‘Making Data Beautiful,’ and illustrated the power of automating decision-making to drive business opportunities and build stronger customer relationships.

Luca Desiata, our keynote speaker of the evening, delivered a thought-provoking and powerful presentation on “Chess and Corporate Strategy.” He used the metaphor of chess as a guideline for a course of corporate strategy, leadership, decision-making and problem-solving.

In the latter part of the evening, the guests experienced exquisite Finnish delicacies, including fennel-salmon with horseradish and Rhubarb pie, as found in some of the country’s best traditional restaurants. And, of course, everyone enjoyed the taste of the fine Italian wines.

The Chess Game Behind Corporate Strategy

Desiata’s keynote speech began by outlining the game of chess itself – a game with deep historical roots and enduring cross-cultural fascination, and how it was influenced by strategic thinking, elegance, analytical skills, intuition and talent.

Chess has been used throughout history for a number of parallels but, strangely enough, never before for corporate strategy. It has contributed to the progress of information technology and artificial intelligence, and has been used to test war strategies and psychological theories, but businesses have been largely left out of the equation.

Since Desiata is a corporate strategy expert with a passion for this game, he decided to change that. His speech highlighted the powerful ideas in his new his book, which is appropriately titled  Chess and Corporate Strategy, and what business leaders can learn from this age-old game, including:

1. Advanced Strategic Thinking

Decades ago, experiments were conducted with some of the greatest chess champions. A team of psychologists asked the players to verbally explain the process of strategy elaboration behind a move, and discovered categories of thinking that are surprisingly similar to the ways of business strategy.

Some of the most poignant parallels were around decision-making biases and pitfalls in the process of strategy elaboration. Just like chess masters, executives have to reconsider all of the options on the table again and again, and make sure their decisions aren’t being weighed by pre-existing beliefs.

2. Negotiations

A game of chess is all about careful negotiations. Players trade pieces and spaces and hope they’re getting the better part of the deal.

Negotiations tournaments can mimic this process by dividing people into pairs to negotiate on a business case. These negotiations are repeated by changing pairs until, after a certain number of runs, the winner of the “tournament” emerges. The tournament dynamics highlight the transactional, prize-forming process, which in the last rounds tend to converge towards an equilibrium value determined by different elements such as technique, motivation and preparation.

3. Approach to Risk and Uncertainty Management

Risk-return matrices – like losing a Queen to take out a well-positioned Rook on the chessboard – are constantly applied to the financial and industrial portfolios. Desiata explained that the risk attitude of a chess player for choosing a variation is similar to the risk attitude of an investor. This establishes a quantitative parallel between chess and finance.

Chess and Corporate Strategy” by Luca Desiata has been offered at MIP – Politechnique of Milan Business School and at Bocconi University’s Executive MBA. Customized executive courses have been given for managers of major Italian companies.


Using Predictive Analytics to Put a Spin on Old Marketing Campaigns

Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Using Predictive Analytics to Put a Spin on Old Marketing Campaigns

Three years ago, I was writing my first blog post about how I had received a package from Formula One racer Kimi Räikkönen, the coolest guy in the universe. In Finland, as part of our school traditions, every first grader gets his or her first mobile phone at the age of seven. That is when our award-winning school system begins to educate our offspring in order to meet OECD and Pisa test requirements. The battle for these new mobile subscriptions is fierce, with communications service providers (CSPs) offering a wide range of options to parents and their kids.

This week, the same package arrived for the next class of first-graders – only this time, Angry Birds had replaced Mr. Räikkönen as the mascot. Finnish mobile operator DNA Finland sent a prepaid SIM card to every Finnish mom (including me) who had a child that was born in 2006 and entering the first grade. Three years ago, I thought that this campaign was extremely clever. Now, though, I’m wondering if DNA Finland could have learned something during the past three years. Sure, the mascot may have changed, but the campaign is largely the same. With new tools like predictive analytics available to CSPs, it seems like the marketing could become much more sophisticated.

DNA Finland knows that I am not their customer and the same applies to other household members. As Comptel’s recent global consumer study showed, having friends and family members who were using the same operator was the third most important factor (41%) for consumers when choosing a CSP. Does DNA Finland know that I didn’t choose them three years ago? Could this campaign have been better customised for mothers who aren’t already DNA Finland’s customers?

I have been waiting for Elisa’s counter offer and I’m wondering if they are using analytics to discover that I am extremely likely to bring them new business by August. After all,  our family already has a wide selection of Elisa’s offerings – four mobile subscriptions and one broadband (ADSL) connection. One mobile subscription is for the enterprise customer segment, our broadband connection is in the corporate segment and the rest of our SIM cards are under the consumer customer brand Saunalahti.

I can’t help but wonder if all that information is scattered across various silos and systems. That could make it difficult to apply analytics to all that data and leverage it for new marketing campaigns. Ulla Koivukoski, Comptel’s senior vice president of the analytics business unit, recently wrote  about the distinct silos in CSPs and how business units aren’t always looking to solve the same problems. Customer Experience is the issue that bridges the divide between all the competing business interests. And, while receiving an Angry Birds-themed package is nice, I would have remembered something that was personalised a lot more.

With current targeting methods marketers typically end up either with target groups that are too defined and small – it does not make sense to campaign or the campaign scope is too generic and therefore likelihood of inaccuracy increases, as the case in the angry birds campaign. Comptel Social Links can change the mind-set in marketing by combining the marketers’ expertise of selected target group with machine learning letting the algorithms find the customers most similar to the obvious customers. Predictive modelling results will be available for the marketing team instantly, resulting in more accurate hit rates for campaigns, higher customer satisfaction and finding optimal users for the product or service marketed.

CSPs want to make sure that customer service is as good as possible. If you’ve delivered a great customer experience, your efforts are turned into new business opportunities. The first step, though, is to find out just how to use the data you already have to deliver that customer experience. Maybe the next group of first graders will get packages that are a little more customised.


Is Big Data Actually Relevant for Your Business Strategy?

Posted: June 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

You can’t go far in the telecommunications industry – or nearly any other industry, for that matter – without hearing about the importance of big data. As we’ve mentioned before, with voice and text revenues declining, the art of applying analytics to customer data is moving into the spotlight. By monitoring how people are using data, communications service providers (CSPs) are hoping to discover new revenue streams and create more personailised marketing offers.

Paolo Sidoti, global managing director of Accenture’s Network Business Services group, recently explained to Light Reading that operators need to “reconnect with customers,” and big data analytics is the tool they’re using to do it. All of that sounds good in theory, but the reality isn’t as clear cut.

Accenture reported that just 22 percent of operators are “very satisfied” with their analytics tools. More than a third said they are “dissatisfied.” Another recent finding from the company indicated why that may be: CSPs are gathering a lot of data, but 61 percent said that it isn’t relevant for their business strategies.

Big Data Can Be a Big Mess

The emphasis on big data has inspired a lot of CSPs to pay closer to attention to what their customers are actually doing, but without a way to automate interactions and create an operational analytics program that automatically learns and adapts to use cases over time, big data can create more work than it’s worth. No CMO wants to sit in front of the computer sorting through 100,000 different customer profiles to try and manually predict who would top-up to watch a video on their phone, and then try to figure out what campaign would work best.

That’s why, in its raw form, it’s hard to make big data relevant for any business strategy. The information is simply too diverse and disorganised to use, and not every solution fits the bill. Accenture’s findings showed that 93 percent of the operators surveyed said they needed new or improved products to help with analytics. With so many CSPs saying they need better tools, it’s no wonder they’re disappointed with big data. If you can’t properly sort and operationalise the data, then it will never be useful for building better relationships with customers.

One key aspect to utilising the data is to make sure it is available in a timely manner, which is something Comptel has been doing for our customers by online mediation solutions. While data does not really have an expiration data, waiting months and expecting to get the same value is just not very realistic. But purely focusing on the event at hand isn’t the solution, either.

We believe that creating an individual profile from customer data and combining it  with the true context of the subscriber is the key. We also work in-depth with our customers on slower moving data and can provide excellent results there, but if I were sitting on the other side of the table, I would want a solution that takes advantage of streaming data.

Comptel’s predictive and automated analytics solves the problems of big data with powerful, machine-learning capabilities that ensure automated actions are taken at the right time to the right audience, with the right context. It’s in this way that CSPs can leverage big data analytics to customise their campaigns to each individual customer’s preferences and unique needs. More importantly, the insights that are delivered are helpful to the overall business strategy, too, making it easier to integrate analytics into customer loyalty and marketing programmes.

The use of big data for CPSs is not limited to marketing functions, either. Comptel provides predictive analytics solutions to operationalise use cases that will help show the value of data across networks and the impact and cost of different solutions on the technical environment. Additionally, predictive analytics can be linked to the subscriber level and help optimise policy-throttling activities.

Big data is also about breaking down the siloes. Rather than treating your network as one pillar of your business and the customer as the other, analytics is applied to data across the company. As we’ve said before, the future of marketing is networks and the future of networks is marketing. By bridging silos across the organisation, CSPs create a better end-to-end user experience – and with the vast volumes and huge dimensionality of this data, the way to do this efficiently is through machine learning and predictive modeling instead of trying to work within the scope of humanly manageable data.

Overcoming the Second Hurdle

In a lot of ways, the disappointment CSPs are feeling is a good sign, because it shows there’s an awareness of big data’s potential. While solutions are in use to address some parts of the problem, most operators are still experimenting with what works best for their businesses. But it’s reassuring that they’re so aggressively trying to figure that out and appreciate the value that big data can bring.

Comptel strives to stay beside CSPs every step of the way. A business strategy needs the right tools to work, and our array of solutions for big data analytics has helped businesses achieve an accuracy rate of 80 percent and outperform the competition 90 percent of the time. We’re determined to help transform big data across all of an operator’s units and siloes into actionable insights, and augment it with additional data sources from outside of the operator environment, such as social media. That way, data can become an organised and operational asset that can be used to build business and better customer relationships.


Predicting the Next Big Thing in the Bulgarian Telco Market

Posted: June 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World, Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Predicting the Next Big Thing in the Bulgarian Telco Market

Tram in Sofia City CentreThis week, we hosted a media event in Sofia, Bulgaria, where we have an important global service delivery site. We employ more than 70 IT professionals there and are hoping to grow this office in the coming years. Our team caters to European and Middle East and African customers—quite often in cooperation with our global service delivery team based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The theme for the event was built around the Barcelona-in-the Box concept, but this time, we wanted to highlight the Bulgarian market. Ulla Koivukoski gave a presentation entitled “Bulgaria on the Global Mobile Map,” which covered three main themes: Enriching the User Experience – Enriching the Operator, Big Data, and Business Transformation – Reshaping the Operator.

What we learned is that the Bulgarian mobile market is very similar to the markets in most European Union (EU) countries. For example, the number of post-paid customers is high when compared to the prepaid market, which accounts for just one-third of subscribers. The challenges in the Bulgarian market are also very similar to others in the EU. According to Business Monitor, the mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) in Bulgaria declined 25.3 percent in 2012, while mobile sector growth was at 5.5 percent and reaching 167.1 percent market penetration.

This means that communications service providers’ revenues are getting thinner, and at the same time, there are investment plans for bringing LTE to the market. The Bulgarian fixed broadband market is very advanced, and therefore, customers also have great expectations for mobile data.

During the event at Grand Hotel Sofia, the attendees shared their views about the Bulgarian mobile market. Most people admitted that they very seldom use mobile data, instead relying on open Wi-Fi networks that are widely available. Local operators could turn things around and monetise this traffic using LTE or operator-owned Wi-Fi.  We also brought new ideas concerning how to apply our ‘Event’-‘Analysis’-‘Action’ strategy to build business and showed one use case demonstrating how we can derive value from data with operational predictive analytics.

Comptel is ‘Making Data Beautiful’ with automated decisions that drive action, and we were honored to show the attendees in Sofia just how we do that.


The Power of a Brand That Delivers on Its Promise

Posted: June 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , | Comments Off on The Power of a Brand That Delivers on Its Promise

Sometimes, a brand can become so powerful that it can carry the entire organisation and even take over as a corporate identity.  We come across many stories where a brand becomes larger than life, bigger than the corporation running it, thus creating the ultimate experience for the customer. That’s the sign that a brand has fully delivered on its promise.

At Comptel, we did a brand refresh last year to align with our ‘Event-Analysis-Action’ strategy; the essence of it is captured in our slogan, ‘Making Data Beautiful’. Such a simple brand promise requires serious behind-the-scenes planning, because we have to tackle the complex, real-world scenarios behind Big Data, and introduce Comptel’s technological innovation and strategic framework as a key differentiator.

So how do we make data beautiful? I usually get this question from a lot of different people, from journalists to customers to new employees.  My answer is simple: we specialise in telecommunications and have been serving companies that have staggering amounts of data (Comptel processes 20 percent of global mobile data) for more than 26 years. This data has been collected, processed and analysed—and turned from intelligence into real-time opportunities for our customers. Ultimately, what we do brings people closer to their interests and their loved ones. We think that is beautiful.

The tag line expresses not just what Comptel does, but how we feel about our brand. It combines the rational (data) with the emotional (beautiful). Together, these two values basically define our company. We apply analytics to data in a way that allows for intelligent decisions, smart operations and the automation of customer interactions—turning Big Data into business opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs).

We recently got recognised for our ability to take CSPs to the next level in customer experience management. Such recognition not only endorses our brand but also helps to quantify value for our customers.

We are constantly thinking of partnerships to enhance our portfolio and fulfill our brand promise to our customers. Recently, we’ve been working with salesforce.com to commercialise the smart order validation opportunity. Comptel showcases the value of our growing portfolio to our customers through a solid track record of reducing costs, supporting service innovation, enabling operational excellence and improving the quality of customer interactions for CSPs across the globe.

Creating and maintaining a valuable brand may look easy, but it involves great thought leadership, engaging the right audience and constant validation to support your positioning in the market. Your brand helps build the perception of your organisation, and it goes much further than just your logo. After all, you need to stand out to be noticed, and what is a better way to be noticed than being a brand that delivers on its promise?

Image: 123ref.com

Voice is a Concern, Data Brings Promise to CSPs

Posted: June 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Voice has turned into a voice of concern for CPS, since the voice & text messaging businesses don’t grow anymore: On the contrary, the revenues are declining.  The telecom industry is undergoing a thorough transformation, and as a result, Data is becoming more important day by day. The word on the street (or in space) is that he’s getting BIG.

Those who are most willing to accept the shifting landscape and try to figure out completely new business and revenue models are most likely to come out strong. Our guy Data really likes to crunch numbers and analyze information to arrive at the right conclusion. In a similar fashion, CSPs need automated predictive analytics to enrich information about the customer to provide attractive and accurate offers quickly, allow personalization, predict/prevent churn and identify fraud, create enhanced customer profiling and superior quality of experience.

It’s no longer news to anyone that customers pay a lot of attention to the price of their plans and quality of service when choosing the CSP, but it’s really important to realize how much the social circle influences a customer’s purchasing decision. A Vanson Bourne study indicated that globally more than 40% choose their CSP based on the experiences and influence from their friends and family. Understanding this playing field and social network sure sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

The processing, enriching and analyzing of big data to make it valuable and actionable requires a considerable amount of automisation, otherwise tackling such an immense amount of information becomes a daunting proposition.  An example of such automisation is the realtime decision-making process that defines, when and how to react to poor quality of service by identifying customers who are the most affected by it, to be able to launch a proactive retention or marketing campaign.

However, Data had to learn something else in addition to ‘mathematics’. If you want to connect with people on an emotional level, pure ‘mathematics, statistics and analytics’ aren’t simply going to cut it. You need creative ways to win the hearts and minds of people, and to do that, you have to understand them as individuals. Knowing your customers enables CSP to act proactively with the best possible personalized offering and contextually at the right time. An example of such offering is the proactive identification of those customers who need an upgrade for the data package because their usage pattern has changed. Or the proactive identification of those customers who are using multiple SIM cards from different CSPs. To prevent them from churning and making them to prioritize your offering, it’s relevant to know what their personal preferences are.

In addition to the ‘usual suspects‘ in the telecom ecosystem like customers, CSPs, vendors, OTTs (Internet Service Providers), additionally there are the newcomers from the ‘Internet of Things’ (such as energy, retailers, health, education, automobile, …) who can together with telecoms build unique value propositions where both parties can win. The struggle against the OTTs is transforming into a co-operative approach which allows value-adding joint propositions letting CSPs tap into the OTT’s revenue.

Some have suggested a premium charging model for LTE but many operators are distancing from this approach as it makes LTE generally unaffordable and unattractive for many customers, causing many to stay with their current 3G/HSPA+ plans. The essence of the discussion is to find other ways and means to generate revenue which places the emphasis on developing the co-operation between OTTs and CSPs. Identifying new revenue sources is essential, but we should not forget to keep an eye on the cost base. What’s interesting is that there seems to be a direct relation between subsidized LTE handsets and the CSP’s EBITDA margin: the subsidized handsets have a negative impact on the CSP’s margin which makes it important to know who’s really going to use the CSP’s LTE services (Source: www.tefficient.com ). The solution is to pinpoint those LTE users who really consume LTE services with the help of predictive analytics, instead of choosing the expensive strategy to subsidize LTE handsets for everyone. Please refer to the white paper written by Tefficient: ‘Why mass marketing is inefficient when launching LTE’,

On top of these above mentioned, there’s quite a lot of dynamics around identifying Quad Play opportunities in the CSPs’ business plans at the moment. Bundling broadband, TV, mobile, and fixed creates sticky services and customers, improves the revenue flow and reduces churn significantly, compared to the single or triple play. CSPs are seeking ways to provide these types of offering models by acquiring them or through co-operation. Tackling this kind of complex, multi-service and multi-technology order process requires a common platform with a fully integrated, catalog-driven approach to service order orchestration if you would like to fight the costly order fallouts. And when you add a robust Fulfillment environment enriched with analytics-driven smart order validation that closely monitors the end-to-end process of service-order capture to service delivery, you’re really good to go.

At the same time, shared accounts or multi-device/multi-user accounts are gaining more importance as an offering model, attracting not only users with several gadgets but also families and small business users utilising the same shared account for their data usage. These models are offered with no limit for voice & text usage but with limits on the data plans.  The new era clearly concentrates monetisation on data services. Some CSPs are even bold enough to talk about replicating the same model to their WiFi users, meaning that data usage limits would be imposed on home broadband users as well.

All in all, a lot of interesting topics circling around the market, and many CSPs have sent out ‘trial balloons’ to test the market response.  The known common denominator is that Data will be the future monetisation engine for CSPs, and BIG Data is the way to gain relevant information on customer’s preferences, personalisation and predictions for their ‘next move’. A horizontal and high-performant mediation layer contributes to the collection and processing of BIG data; and enriching the customer and network data with predictive analytics, human expertise and machine learning to automate decision-making. This is a viable way to go forward when combatting churn, generating new revenue and offering bespoke data service packages to customers.