It’s Time for Telco to Get Transparent about Data

Posted: July 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on It’s Time for Telco to Get Transparent about Data

For the past few months, consumers have been rocked by government and corporate scandals involving their mobile data.

It’s fair to say that people have been a little taken aback due to all the revelations of mobile activities being tracked, stored and observed.

As long as there’s that suspicion in the marketplace, it’s going to be hard for companies to achieve any success with Big Data that doesn’t come at the cost of consumer trust.

Here, we see a confluence of two factors: consumers are becoming more aware of how their data is being used, and companies are becoming more interested in using that data. The problem is that neither party wants to give up its end of the bargain.

Today, a lot of communications service providers (CSPs) know that Big Data analytics is a powerful tool to personalise marketing, reduce churn and optimise business processes. Most also know that countries have very stringent – and often very different – regulations about how telecoms data can be used. Meanwhile, consumers are sharing data across social media networks, websites and through mobile apps at all hours of the day.

So how can CSPs find a middle ground where consumers are happy, but all that data can be used in a secure way to help their businesses?

The Two Ways to Use Mobile Data

Primarily, CSPs rely on mobile data to deduce two things: general results and specific activities. That’s the difference between Big Data and “small data.”

Big Data is leveraged as market research and is usually anonymous. By monitoring huge segments of customer data, CSPs can determine how people use their mobile data, at what times and for what activities. This makes it easy to create personalised campaigns for different customer profiles.

Small data is more personal, because it is used to create a profile of an individual’s decisions and actions.

The latter can cause some uneasiness among consumers, unless they know exactly how that data is being used and that, in the long run, it’s going to benefit them somehow. A campaign offering a temporary upgrade in bandwidth to someone suffering from stuttering speeds on his/her phone is handy, but a campaign offering a temporary upgrade in bandwidth for the exact hours on a Saturday night someone watches a mobile video can be unsettling.

Companies and consumers are still struggling to find that fine line between how all of this data is used, but one thing is clear right now: there are a lot of Big Data plans that are ambitious, bold and completely ambiguous.

CSPs that have been intrigued by Big Data analytics invest a lot of time and resources to collect as much data as possible, but then are left with a flood of unfocused insights that are impossible to leverage. At the same time, consumers will get suspicious when they realize that their CSP has been tracking how they spend every moment on their phones.

The solution is that CSPs must become very transparent on how they collect and use data. That will please customers and encourage businesses to make their Big Data efforts more granular, more segmented and ultimately more actionable.

An original version of this article appeared on TelecomAsia.net and TelecomsEMEA.net.

Jouko Ahvenainen is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Grow VC Group. In the 1990s, Jouko worked for Nokia in Europe and Asia, and then lead the 3G practice at Capgemini globally. Over the last 12 years, he has been an entrepreneur, investor and
founder of Xtract.


Catalog-driven Fulfillment Gets Validation, Concept-to-Cash Gains a New Guise

Posted: July 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Catalog-driven Fulfillment Gets Validation, Concept-to-Cash Gains a New Guise

Comptel is encouraged to see that Sigma Systems’ recent acquisition of Tribold further validates our lead in terms of championing catalog-driven fulfillment for communications service providers (CSPs). Comptel initially introduced the catalog-driven fulfillment concept in 2010, and affirmed our market leader position through the Comptel Fulfillment platform release in 2012, which is now in active deployment with customers appreciating the real value of the catalog-driven approach.

At that time, many of our customers were questioning the difference between our catalog approach (technical abstraction and simplification for faster time-to-market through process repeatability) and that of the commercial catalog (product definition and linkage to the commercial process such as CPQ). This debate was further discussed in blog posts “Viewpoint – The Single or Dual Catalog Conundrum” and “More on the Catalog Conundrum.”

In catalog-driven fulfillment, the service catalog acts as the brains of the system. This means that service order management, provisioning and activation systems are able to not only retrieve product decompositions from the catalog, but also use that information when orchestrating and fulfilling orders. Additionally, in a well-architected solution, workflow components can be designed within order management, which can be published for discovery by the service catalog.

Comptel’s catalog-driven approach to service fulfillment works independently of workflow design, effectively decoupling product lifecycle management from the technical processes required to implement services. When technical product information is managed in Comptel Catalog, a customer has better visibility on deliverable products. Additionally, he/she will find it easier to define new products that can be delivered without complex and lengthy workflow creation and modifications.

It’s interesting that Sigma has chosen the concept of “Idea to Install” to explain the joint value of the aforementioned companies. Effectively, it’s another phrase invented to explain a traditional fulfillment northbound (BSS) and southbound (NEM) integration, accompanying phrases such as Order-to-Activate and Concept-to-Cash (which brings in the additional vector of revenue management).

There is trend forming among CSPs towards operational transformation, aimed at aligning systems closer to actual customer processes and the management of the customer experience (also known as the creation of the “Customer Company”). So is this north – south level of pre-integration relevant anymore when you consider the need for a more multi-dimensional integration approach towards Over-the-Top (OTT) providers and value-added applications? Only time will tell.

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Comptel Recognised by Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific as Most Innovative Telecom OSS / BSS Vendor of the Year

Posted: July 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Recognised by Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific as Most Innovative Telecom OSS / BSS Vendor of the Year

Comptel is pleased to announce that Frost & Sullivan has named it the Most Innovative Telecom OSS / BSS Vendor of the Year. The analyst firm’s annual Asia Pacific ICT awards program is given to companies that displayed growth in performance and groundbreaking achievements. In addition to those metrics, Frost & Sullivan examined nominees’ major customer acquisitions, portfolio diversity and product innovation.

Kari Jokela, vice president, Asia Pacific, was on tap to receive the award in a ceremony at the St. Regis in Singapore.

Specifically, Comptel Social Links, which was introduced to the APAC market and globally in 2012 following the acquisition of Xtract, has been key to our continuing innovation in the market and raising the bar when it comes to customer experience management. The integration of the advanced predictive analytics technology into our proven mediation and fulfillment software platform has challenged the traditional OSS / BSS approach, and allowed communications service providers to integrate their sales, technology and marketing organisations, and transform their Big Data into big opportunities. This has placed us in a unique position in the market.

We are honored to receive this award, because it shows that Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific believes in our Event – Analysis – Action strategic framework. We know that our customers and partners not just on the continent but also worldwide share our belief in that strategy, too, and are realising the powerful impact that automated decision-making and customer interaction can have on their businesses.

We would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate our customer Robi Axiata Limited, who were named Emerging Market Service Provider of the Year during the awards ceremony.

Thank you, and there are plenty of more exciting things to come in 2013 and beyond!


Around the World

Posted: July 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Around the WorldBilling & OSS World
Operators Exaggerate the OTT Threat

Ovum recently released a report further highlighting the need for telcos to innovate in order to negate the threat of Over-the-Top (OTT) providers. After evaluating more than 3,500 new service launches since 2009, the global analyst firm concluded it’s fine to compete with OTT providers, but that the real trick may be to collaborate more. The analysts examined the approaches taken by companies such as Google and Apple to establish themselves in the app ecosystem, and noted the lackluster success of CSPs should really come as no surprise. Simply put: telcos were too selective when choosing partners and overburdened their prospective allies with unrealistic revenue expectations.

The report goes on to recommend using partnerships to scout for new ideas, indicating the importance of prioritising innovations that exploit the centrality of operators’ networks. Similar to the approach recently suggested by our own Steve Hateley, Ovum suggests telcos use the notion of “net innovation benefit” – comprised of “net new revenues,” “net cost savings” and “net non-monetary benefits” – to measure the success of their innovation activities.

CommsMEA
Telcos Ignore Big Data at Their Peril

Big data should not be ignored, and telco operators that choose to give it the cold shoulder are doing so at their own risk, is additional advice Ovum is touting. The research firm asserts operators can benefit from big data analytics in numerous ways, including predicting and reducing churn, promoting loyalty, upselling and cross-selling offers, and personalising services.

However, telcos are running into some red tape due to a lack of necessary data management and analytical skills in-house. Ovum cites the high demand and low supply of data scientists as the main reason for the lingering big data inefficiencies, noting this makes the analytics area ripe for vendor support.

In fact, telcos are generally turning to one of four sources for their big data analytics needs:

  1. Their existing BSS/OSS providers
  2. Trusted IT vendors
  3. Telco analytics specialists
  4. Incumbent network equipment providers

Ovum suggests telcos take a page from the playbook of OTT providers, and become more data-centric, leaner and more agile. Once this issue has been resolved, the firm says, telcos will be able to effectively monetise the increased volume, variety, velocity and value of the network, subscriber and other data that they collect.

Comptel’s Matti Aksela recently asked if big data is actually relevant for telcos’ business strategies, and according to Ovum, the answer is yes.

Telecoms.com
LTE: Strong Starter

LTE is for everyone, or at least it will be eventually. According to third quarter 2013 data from Informa’s WCIS Plus, the global LTE subscriptions are at 88.48 million, comprising 1.35 percent of the overall cellular market. By year’s end, it is predicted to be the fifth largest network technology behind GSM, WCDMA, CDMA and TD-SCDMA.

Informa believes that the debates surrounding LTE are more about routes than destinations, however, and stress that operators’ choice of paths will go a long way to determining their success. This also holds true for how LTE is launched into the market in the first place, and the traditional mass marketing approach may not be the best option. Learn more about why not here.


Comptel’s Q2 and H1 2013 Business Activities and Results in Review

Posted: July 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights, News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Comptel’s Q2 and H1 2013 Business Activities and Results in Review

Yesterday, we announced Comptel’s financials for the second quarter and first half of 2013. To review the April – June period, our operating profit increased significantly compared to the previous year; we secured six significant orders (each valued over EUR 500,000) during this timeframe. We shared the news of communications service providers (CSPs), including Turkey’s Avea, Zain Kuwait and an African operator in conjunction with Tech Mahindra, leveraging our portfolio to get smarter about their operations, improve the customer experience and realise their business performance objectives.

Comptel also announced two new industry partnerships in the run up to our participation at TM Forum’s Management World conference in Nice in May. And as noted in our results announcement, our operating expenses decreased over the first half of the year, while we’ve realised efficiency improvements from the measures put in place in 2012.

Improving profitability continues to be our key goal throughout the rest of the year. We are further investing in our sales efforts in Latin America, the Middle East and new markets in Asia, and actively seek growth in these regions to compensate for the challenging market situation in Europe. We are also focusing on developing our fulfillment product line and our advanced analytics solutions over the coming months.

Comptel has especially received excellent feedback from the market about our strategic direction with regard to analytics – this was further reinforced with a Pipeline Innovation Awards win for Comptel Social Links. Earlier in the quarter, we re-organised this business unit to further open up opportunities in this area and further add value to our CSP customers, and now, we estimate that analytics deals will close in the second half of the year.

As I said last quarter, Comptel is on the right path, and is successfully executing its Event-Analysis-Action strategy and strengthening its position in the customer interaction automation domain.


Can Building Partnerships with OTT Players Actually Improve Telco Revenues?

Posted: July 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Voice and SMS revenues are declining dramatically for communications service providers (CSP). Telco 2.0 expects SMS revenues in Europe and the Middle East to drop 40 percent by 2015, while Strategy Analytics predicts that CSPs around the world will lose about $3 billion in revenue between 2012 and 2017.

And where’s all the money going? To over-the-top (OTT) providers that offer consumers third-party ways of messaging. Apple, Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp are just some of the players in the space. OTT messaging just keeps getting more popular, too. By the end of 2013, Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that OTT messages will be double the number of peer-to-peer SMS messages.

Neutralising the Threat

One trend that has seen some adoption has been the shift to reversed, limited to unlimited bundles. International telco efficiency specialist, tefficient recognized that between 2010 and 2012 as data demand showed significant growth, the OTT monetization opportunity had increased.

At the same time, operators started to reverse their mobile bundle offerings in terms of voice and data. The studyrevealed that instead of packaging limited voice minutes and SMS with unlimited data, operators increasingly limited the amount of inclusive data while making voice and SMS unlimited. Of course this has the effect to neutralise the OTT threat and supporting the opportunity for operators and OTT’s to partner.

CSPs remain understandably worried about this new competition, but most aren’t sure how they can solve the problem. Yet one Australian operator, Telstra Global, has a solution: improve the customer experience and bundle services.

Competing Directly with OTT Services

A good number of CSPs have been trying to quietly ignore OTT providers, because they’re not quite sure where to start when it comes to developing a competing solution. Telstra Global has discovered that it’s just a matter of building the right service packages and the right partnerships.

Martijn Blanken, managing director, told Total Telecom that there is “a way to beat” OTT services like WhatsApp, and it comes down to packaging things differently. That’s how Telstra Global has been able to protect SMS revenues as the technology evolves. Blanken noted, too, that OTT providers need the connectivity and network power that CSPs can offer, which can pave the way for strategic alliances that can benefit everyone.

More than anything, however, Blanken emphasised customer service. “The true differentiation will be the customer experience,” he told the news outlet, and everyone from every department will have to be involved.

Packaging Services in a Way that Works

We’ve long believed the same thing – these days, customers are looking for the best possible experience from their CSPs. Research from Vanson Bourne shows that nine out of ten consumers want more personalised interactions with their mobile operators. The advantage that traditional mobile operators have over OTT services is that they know their customers already. It’s just a matter of leveraging big data analytics to create an individual experience for each customer.

If CSPs could use technology like predictive analytics to anticipate mobile habits, then it would be possible to create unique service packages that are superior to OTT models. Automatically sending a customer a relevant solution delivers a great experience that he or she is very likely to remember. As personalisation becomes the norm for customer service, big data analytics will allow CSPs to create new revenue streams and, best of all, work with OTT services to deliver next-generation customer experiences.