The analyst firm Analysys Mason has released a new Comptel Company Profile, recognising Comptel as one of world’s leading data processing vendors. The report also lists our DATA REFINERY software suite as a top-six mediation solution when ranked by worldwide marketshare.
The report, titled “Comptel: digital transformation,” analyses Comptel’s overall product portfolio, 2015 financials and strategic direction. DATA REFINERY is based on Comptel’s award-winning EventLink technology, providing a software suite for convergent mediation, roaming management and enterprise data processing software products. It provides a comprehensive and productised data integration solution with over 1,000 off-the-shelf online, real-time and offline interfaces.
Across the world, 150 operators trust Comptel’s data processing to turn massive amounts of raw data into valuable, purpose-driven, real-time actions. Operators of all sizes and volumes rely on DATA REFINERY, including India’s Bharti Airtel, Indonesia’s Indosat, Argentina’s Telefonica, Saudi Arabia’s Mobily, Denmark’s TDC and The Netherlands’ Ziggo. In all, Comptel processes more than 20 percent of the world’s mobile usage data through our software solutions.
DATA REFINERY plays an important role in supporting the Digital Customer Journey, which is all about applying better technologies and data-driven business strategies and models to improve the way telcos engage and serve their customers in a personalised and contextual way.
Within that journey, DATA REFINERY provides a layer of intelligent fast data to enable real-time decisions and actions. The software has the capacity to capture and process vast amounts of raw data in-stream. As a totally vendor, technology, and service agnostic solution, DATA REFINERY captures data of any type and from any source, including social media, apps, connected devices, networks, locational data and services. It then refines that data with important contextual information and sends it on to the next stage of its journey – all in real time.
As a result, DATA REFINERY allows telcos to build a 360° profile of their customers based on diverse data sources. That profile is then available for other business systems, allowing telcos to craft intelligent, individualised service offerings, customer programs and more. Additionally, DATA REFINERY hides all technical complexity between the network and OSS/BSS layers through a unifying processing layer.
To provide a perfect, personalised Digital Customer Journey, DATA REFINERY’s intelligent data fabric works seamlessly with two other pillars of that journey: FASTERMIND™ for customer engagement automation and MONETIZER™ for agile service monetisation. All three software suites rely on the same EventLink technology platform, benefiting from common capabilities such as a broad online and offline interface library, programmed and automated fast data processing, operational intelligence, business and operations reporting and a Software Development Kit (SDK).
Together, the solutions within the Digital Customer Journey help telcos take advantage of a rapidly changing landscape, one in which the customer is in control. Our solutions allow telcos to compete and win on the basis of customer engagement, with personalised and contextually relevant content, offers and services.
We’re proud to be recognised by Analysys Mason alongside other top players in the mediation market. To learn more, download “Comptel: digital transformation,” a company profile from Analysys Mason.
We’re winding down after an incredibly exciting and energetic few days in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017. The team here at Comptel has set a goal to out-do itself at every annual MWC by making an even bigger impact than the year before. We definitely feel we accomplished that this year, with so much going on:
Check out how our booth, which doubled as a video game screen, came together:
Thanks to all those who paid a visit to our booth – it was well-visited, meeting rooms were fully-booked and we had a busy few days showcasing our solutions to customers, partners, analysts and media.
As for the full show, #MWC17 also had plenty to offer in terms of insights, announcements and industry excitement. Here are a few takeaways from several top keynotes last week:
John Stankey: Customers are The Ultimate Barometer of Success
In his keynote, AT&T CEO John Stankey said that the voice of today’s telco customer carries more weight than it has in the history of the telco industry. Customers want appreciation, personalisation and simplicity. They want to live their life on their terms and to get more for less. CSPs need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable to live up to the expectations of today’s customers, said Stankey.
To succeed, telcos must build engaging digital platforms. What matters the most is how many hours your customers spend on your platform and how much of your full range of personalised services and content they enjoy, he added.
Stankey listed what he believes are the main engagement principles for future telco platforms:
Video will be the dominant playing field
Multi-sided business models will remain important
Content that is compelling matters
Integration matters for value and convenience
The product is software
Most importantly, the product is software that captures the customer’s imagination. Vertically integrated products do not have a future any more, said Stankey. Instead, it’s all about software that goes beyond ubiquitous connectivity, contributing to greater customer experience and a stronger emotional bond to content. Software is the product wrapper that reengineers entertainment and glues everything together.
Vivendi on the Future of Mobile Content
With strong positions in music, entertainment and gaming, Vivendi has a unique perspective on the various types of digital content today’s mobile consumer craves. In his keynote, CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine explained that telcos will be able to offer mobile content through partnerships with companies like Vivendi.
The company’s mobile short studio, called Studio+, produces 10 episodes of a series, with each episode at 10-minutes in length, a model that de Puyfontaine said is perfect for bite-size mobile content experiences. His company is now developing telco partnerships to roll out the content, which in turns helps CSPs dip their toes into an innovative digital service channel.
Vivendi tried to purchase its own telco subsidiaries in the early 2000s, he explained, but that failed strategy pointed the company toward a more flexible horizontal convergence model. Strategically, telco partnerships will provide Vivendi and its partners scale and agility, said de Puyfontaine.
Disruption at the Network Edge
Executives from three mobile leaders – Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia – discussed the importance of edge computing to serving the new mobile economy. The panel included Günther Ottendorfer, COO, Technology at Sprint, Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO at Deutsche Telekom and Michael Clever, SVP Mobile Broadband at Nokia.
Edge computing brings network functions physically closer to the consumer to, among other things, dramatically reduce network latency. A number of factors drive this trend, including the growing number of connected devices (from VR/AR to connected cars) that require continuous broadband connectivity, and the emergence of 5G. For example, Sprint is diversifying its core network by deploying thousands of small cells instead of microcell towers, according to Ottendorfer.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom has joined the Telecom Infra Project, a community initiative to re-imagine how telco networks support data-intensive services like video and virtual reality. According to Jacobfeuerborn, video will account for 80 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2021, which means telcos need to work now to bring better connectivity closer to the consumer.
Nokia’s Clever spoke to the benefits of new network technologies – including a shared data layer and a stateless machine architecture – to introduce endless capacity, scale and robustness to the network. Real-time analytics of network data could radically reduce the complexity and costs of the network and help telcos generate new revenue streams by better leveraging network assets and customer data, Clever said.
Operators are on a journey to become true digital telcos. Rich Karpinski, a US-based analyst for 451 Research, recently explored how Comptel’s FASTERMIND™helps put CSPs on the fast track to becoming offer-driven, digitally-savvy operators.
“Few vendors have as a pure a vision of how mobile operators must evolve to become digital service providers as Comptel. It speaks the language, understands the requirements, absorbs and applies the use cases.”
Transforming operators into Digital Service Providers is at the heart of Comptel’s Nexterday vision. To execute on that vision, Comptel recently launched the FASTERMIND™ suite at Nexterday North 2016, to provide artificial intelligence applications for digital telcos. FASTERMIND™ recommends, predicts and automates real-time decisions, particularly supporting customer engagement automation.
“Rather than rely on a small handful of customer segment buckets and static, non-real-time campaigns to drive out offers, FASTERMIND’s monitoring and analytics tools work with other Comptel platforms – Monetizer for policy control and charging and Data Refinery for mediation and data processing – to allow operators to deliver more real-time, personalized and contextually relevant offers.”
Comptel’s Nexterday vision and strategy has garnered a great deal of attention in the market, and we are pleased to secure external analyst recognition for this new FASTERMIND™ suite, and also for our work in helping CSPs to evolve into DSPs by rethinking and redesigning customer engagement with real-time and contextual best-next-action offers.
“It’s not about bundling a digital ‘service’ like Dropbox or Netflix or simply offering a few new mobile data plan options. Rather, it’s a rethinking of how mobile operators interact with their customers, understanding their real-time needs and wants and having the analytics, decision-making and network execution capabilities to hit them with the right offer at the right time.”
Comptel’s Nexterday vision focuses on providing customers with an outstanding and memorable digital experience. By coupling FASTERMIND’s time-sensitive, contextual and personalised recommendations, with MONETIZER™, an easy-to-use tool for the rapid design of policy and pricing offers, and DATA REFINERY™, which captures a real-time 360° view of the customer, CSPs are fully equipped for future business growth.
“More aggressively than almost any competitor, Comptel has swallowed the ‘red pill’ and sent itself fully down the digital telco path.”
Rich Karpinski’s full report, Comptel speeds operator offer decision-making with FASTERMIND can be downloaded here.
Comptel will be exhibiting at MWC17 in Barcelona February 27 – March 2, 2017. Meet with us at stand #5G40, Hall 5 to learn more about our Nexterday vision and FASTERMIND™ for customer engagement automation.
Customer experience is the new battleground for telcos. Forrester Research found that 72 percent of companies say that improving customer experience is their top priority. As a provider, if you can engage your customer at the right time with the right personalised service, you have an opportunity to deliver value, establish loyalty and grow your business.
So, what do customers want? To start, they expect full control of their digital life, and the freedom to build their own personal ecosystem of apps and services.
That’s why Comptel launched “My Digital Moments,” a new solution that enables perfect digital customer journeys. With My Digital Moments, customers will benefit from a self-service app on their phone that, in real-time, analyses how they consume digital services. From there, the app can recommend relevant and personalised digital services that would improve their experience.
My Digital Moments opens the door to several value-driving possibilities:
Service offerings that are proactive, personalised, relevant and contextual
Increased customer engagement and communication through a direct line to the operator
Improved engagement by giving customers direct visibility into their plan status and special packages
From the main screen, customers are able to view real-time service usage information, including the percentage of the data they’ve used in this cycle and their data usage trend across specific apps. On top of that, the app can display the operator’s full service portfolio, including new service plans or promotional packages from the portfolio.
My Digital Moments relies on real-time usage monitoring and intelligence from FASTERMIND™ to recommend, predict and automate customer offers based on the most relevant and contextual data. For example, a customer who consumes a lot of mobile data watching Netflix but does not currently have sufficient mobile data could receive an offer for a data plan with unlimited Netflix streaming.
My Digital Moments is also supported by MONETIZER™, which offers the easy and agile configuration of data plans, plus a common platform for charging and policy design. The result puts full control in the hands of your customers, meaning they can self-select relevant, contextual plans or instantly upgrade their data speeds and allocation in the moment.
Of course, new service opportunities can crop up at any time – not just according to your campaign schedule. That’s why My Digital Moments is supported by closed-loop analysis and service recommendations, which means service usage is monitored on an ongoing and real-time basis to ensure your customers are constantly engaged and presented with easy opportunities to get the services they need.
The solution puts the power in the hands of consumers, giving them the opportunity to build their personal digital ecosystems while empowering operators to increase service consumption, reveal new revenue opportunities and nurture loyal, long-term customers.
Heading to Mobile World Congress 2017? Meet with Comptel in Barcelona to learn more about My Digital Moments and our full portfolio of customer engagement solutions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting.
“Welcome to the Cognitive Era,” IBM proclaimed recently at Messukeskus Expo and Convention Centre in Helsinki, hailing an opportunity to outthink challenges, competitors and the limits of what is possible.
IBM says the cognitive era is one in which companies compete with each other by using algorithms, which are to a great deal responsible for how those companies develop, advance and succeed. Cognitive computing capabilities are emerging that resemble human learning and thinking processes: Discovery, Decision and Engagement. It’s taking data analysis as we know it to an entirely new level.
As we heard in many of the presentations at IBM BusinessConnect Helsinki 2016, digitalisation is a data-driven enabler for re-inventing and re-imagining the customer experience. That new experience can then be implemented through fresh business models and ecosystem-based collaboration. Partnerships are everything, because partners make innovation easier to achieve.
IBM BusinessConnect 2016 brought together a big crowd of about 1,500 enthusiastic professionals looking to get inspired and excited about the partnership opportunities offered by digitalisation and the Internet of Things (IoT). The program was fully packed with interesting presentations from IBM, KONE, Finnair, cyborg Neil Harbisson, and Comptel’s hybrid cloud, just to mention few. Here’s a summary.
The IBM/Comptel Telco Story
IBM and Comptel have a long-standing partnership that stretches over 10 years. Comptel is both a partner and a customer of IBM software and services. Together, we are actively helping telco operators around the world transform their OSS/BSS environments. Our strategic partnership is in the area of Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) with the IBM Architecture for Cloud-Based Networking, devising a new model for service orchestration and delivery of SDN/NFV.
Internally, Comptel deploys IBM cloud software assets in a hybrid environment for R&D, testing, training and more, both on-premises in Comptel’s own data centre and off-premises in the cloud. This hybrid workstyle offers us flexibility and agility, creating a better customer experience, whether we are using services on- or off-premises in single or multi-tenant mode.
IBM, like Comptel, believes in this hybrid cloud model. A presentation from IBM explained the global movement toward cloud, but stressed that cloud should not be viewed simply as a blanket destination: “Not every service needs to move to the cloud,” said the presenters. The key consideration for telcos is to figure out which services are better to run in a cloud environment, and then achieve seamless end-to-end orchestration across the hybrid network environment. Ultimately what matters most is being able to deliver a compelling customer and user experience irrespective of where the service resides.
Cognitive Computing in Healthcare
IBM and Tekes discussed their partnership, which resulted in the creation of the Watson Health Center of Excellence in Finland. Their aim is to improve the health of citizens, further local innovation and strengthen the Finnish healthcare business ecosystem. The partnership invites health companies to build an ecosystem on top of IBM’s Watson platform to create “the world’s most advanced data-led IoT hospitals.” Healthcare touches us all, and there’s a big need and sense of urgency around creating new innovative and disruptive health services. The ultimate vision is to establish a hospital-free model where the hospital is a base for service and care at home.
Moving People at an Urban Scale
KONE, a Finland based company serving more than 400,000 customers worldwide, moves more than 1 billion people every day with more than 1 million elevators and escalators. They anticipate the urbanisation trend to accelerate business, as more than 200,000 people are moving into cities every day, driving the need for sustainability and smart urban living. By embracing open innovation, KONE benefits from fresh ideas from outside their own company. Through IBM Watson, KONE has made a massive volume of escalator and elevator data available to third-party startup companies to innovate. This ecosystem and collaborative approach to innovation will be essential for KONE to take its business to the next level.
San Fran to Finland, Nonstop
The airline industry is also undergoing a digital transformation. Digitalisation is changing how airline employees work, how operations are run and how customers are served. Finnair is at the leading edge. Through an innovative strategic collaboration with Slush, Finnair has arranged exclusive direct flights to Europe’s leading startup event for attendees traveling from San Francisco. The San Francisco-to-Helsinki flight path will part of Finnair’s ongoing flight options starting in June 2017. It’s one example of how Finnair is working with leading startups to create better customer experiences and possibilities.
A Union Between Biology and Technology
Could you imagine hearing colours?
The most exciting and memorable speech at IBM BusinessConnect was given by cyborg Neil Harbisson. He was born with an extreme form of colour-blindness that meant he could only see grayscale. But, with the help of an internet-connected head implant that converts light into sound, Harbisson is now able to “hear” colours. Harbisson had his head antenna permanently installed in his skull in 2004, and his merging of biology and technology represents the ultimate in collaboration.
“Not many people go for a walk in the supermarket for fun, but I do,” he said. “I have an electronic eye that converts light into sound to enable me to ‘hear’ colour. So, the cleaning product aisle is very exciting. The rows of rainbow-coloured bottles sound like a symphony to me.”
He views the internet as an extension of his body and says he is able sense the inaudible reality around us, even hearing a sunset. Harbisson takes his role as a cyborg seriously, founding the Cyborg Project in 2010 to protect his rights under government classification. This is truly uncharted terrain, and we’ve only seen a glimpse of the possibilities of digital and connected technologies.
Comptel’s Nexterday North 2016 will feature many more inspiring stories of unique partnerships and collaboration. Register for Nexterday North to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers in innovation, academics, technology and business, including Mike Walsh, Dietmar Dahmen, Chris Messina, David Meerman Scott and more.
Greetings from SDN OpenFlow World Congress 2016, after a busy week when the entire industry came together to discuss, present and exchange views on SDN and NFV. Our industry is confronting perhaps its biggest-ever evolution – the transition to software-defined networks – and this event was a great place to discuss the implications. At the show, we got further insights into NFV/SDN proof of concepts and field trial experiences, but we also learned about several existing commercial launches in the areas of vCPE, vEPC, vIMS and vCDN. Without a doubt, many operators are moving past the trial stage and are deploying SDN and NFV in the real world.
Running from 10-14 October in the World Forum in The Hague, Netherlands, Layer 123’s SDN World Congress brought together more than 1,600 industry experts. The event’s main message was simple: more industry players than ever are looking into NFV and SDN, and they are part of a tremendous journey that will change the industry fundamentally and forever.
It Always Comes Back to The Customer
Customer needs are changing rapidly, with a strong preference toward digital-first experiences. You can thank the influence of over-the-top (OTT) cloud service providers for that. Unsurprisingly, a lot of talk at the event was about delivering a superior customer experience through a more agile and elastic network environment. SDN and NFV are not goals to be achieved, but rather the means to service transformation to better the personal customer experience.
But, SDN and NFV are about more than technology evolution; they represent a paradigm shift that will change how future operators and businesses will work. Technology is a big part but people, processes and organisation are even bigger. The business case-led way of thinking and working is growing stale, as it’s unrealistic to build a “business case per network function” as we’ve learned in dusty old presentations about network management.
The Multivendor-Proof Network Eliminates Vendor Lock-In
We heard a lot about the idea of vendor interoperability, or what is described as building a multivendor-proof network. This characteristic is a must-have, since avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the biggest benefits of NFV and SDN technologies. These benefits exceed the traditional single-vendor network approach in every sense.
Of course, it won’t be easy to create a multivendor-proof network. It will require technology standardisation, cooperation, open source principles and set of defined interfaces: APIs. But it’s clearly the way the industry is headed, and the only way we will achieve the full benefits of virtualisation technology.
Standardisation Enables Multi-Party Cooperation
There was plenty of talk about the key role standardisation will play. Organisations like MEF Forum, Open Source MANO (OSM), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), OPEN-Orchestrator (OPEN-O) and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) are leading the way. Comptel is involved in several of these groups, each of which focuses on its individual areas of expertise while encouraging collaboration, information sharing, discussion and debate. Ultimately, standardisation is advancing the multi-vendor and open-for-all approach to network design in acknowledgement of the desire for interoperability.
The nature of cooperative work within our industry is changing given this emphasis on multivendor networks. NFV and SDN are bringing companies together, leading to the creation of industry blueprints, proof of concept trials, and field experiments. Comptel is already involved in several, in fact.
The Network Automation Cycle
Many industry players at the event underlined the importance of automation and orchestration, driven by real-time analytics that rely on data and closed-loop processes to improve customer experience. They also advocated end-to-end seamless orchestration across new virtual and established services.
“Operations are the elephant in the room,” as one analyst aptly described significant operational concerns. Centralised and coordinated control and orchestration are the key assets that allow digital service lifecycle management in a hybrid network environment. The “orchestrator of the orchestrators” will be the enabler by providing a holistic, end-to-end view the dynamic digital services in multidomain networks.
There’s No Doubt: NFV/SDN Will Happen
NFV is going to happen; there’s no lack of confidence in the actual value of the technology. Of course it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s still early days for NFV, which remains an immature technology before standards become clear and stabilised.
The switch to virtualisation is both a technology and business challenge but even more it’s about culture, people, processes and trust. The true value of virtualisation comes back to the customer: you and me. At the end of the day, successful transformation will be about education, experimentation and strong relationships.
There’s an entire world of fresh ideas and exciting opportunities for telcos to indulge, many of which are discussed in various industry conferences around the world. That’s why Comptel is happy to bring and present these ideas directly to you if you were not able to hop on a plane and visit each event.
The Nexterday Tour 2016 is our global effort to share the latest, most dominant and most appealing market trends directly with our customers and partners. At the same time, we discuss key thought leadership themes, including how Comptel’s software addresses market requirements in Nexterday.
We want to tap into the latest industry trends and insights from major global industry events, including our own Nexterday North event, which asks telcos to stop thinking about digital transformation and start executing. We package everything together with content and videos from operators, industry speakers and thought leaders, and go on tour to deliver them to telcos around the world.
What is the Nexterday Tour?
The program includes trends and insights gathered from a number of big events, stretching from the Comptel anti-seminar Nexterday North in Helsinki last November, and extending through Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, TM Forum Live! in Nice, the Big Communications Event in Austin, and a scattering of NFV/SDN events throughout Europe and the U.S. Our next stop will be in October for Dreamforce in San Francisco and the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress in The Hague.
It’s the third consecutive year we’ve run a global program. You might have known our previous tours by other names – “Barcelona in a Box” in 2014 and “Beyond the Event Horizon” last year. We visited more than 15 cities last year, meeting with 400 individual customers from 45 global operators.
So far, this year’s tour has taken us to South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region, adding up to over 10 countries, over 15 cities, dozens of operator brands and hundreds of individual customers. And the tour finishes with our second annual Nexterday North from 28-29 November, 2016 in Helsinki.
Top Themes for 2016
Our focus in 2016 is on digital transformation and disruption within the telco industry.
We wanted to cover how new players in telco – including startups, but also non-telco players like Airbnb, Uber and Spotify – are shaking up the industry with innovative digital offerings that require operators to change their approach.
We’re also covering broader global trends. In his keynote speech at Nexterday North 2015, Kjell Nordstrom talked about urbanisation, describing how within the next 20 to 30 years, 80 percent of the world’s population and 90 percent of its economic value will be centralised in 600 megacities. On the tour, we’ve discussed what that means for telcos in the years ahead.
We’ve discussed new telco business models, new network technologies and new service opportunities. We know that networks are embracing software in the era of NFV, data centres and cloud. We know that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major opportunity, but that 99 percent of devices aren’t connected to the internet yet. At the same time, we know that up to four billion people on Earth also lack internet access. So what are operators and the whole industry doing to solve that challenge, alongside the others?
We’re also covering a number of challenges and opportunities in our industry, such as the need to find fresh new data monetisation strategies to take advantage of customers’ hunger for digital services. We also discuss the increased need for hyper personalisation in marketing, sales and service, and the need for telcos to re-engineer their service orchestration models to suit a more self-serve, conversational and automated service delivery lifecycle.
It’s been exciting to get out of the office, speak directly with customers and hear their ideas and thoughts on all of these concepts. Generally speaking, we’re seeing operators starting to broaden their mode of thinking. Ideas that would have once been considered too radical for telco are now being carefully considered, whether it’s ways to change how we work, new service opportunities to tap into, or new global trends that affect our business.
It’s important for telcos to continue the conversation and step away from the industry’s collective blindspot. With the Nexterday Tour 2016, Comptel is proud to play a part in helping operators have these important discussions.
Join us on the Nexterday Tour 2016 by registering for Nexterday North 2016, 28-29 November, in Helsinki. You can check out our fantastic speaker lineup here, which to date includes digital transformation visionary Mike Walsh, marketing guru David Meerman Scott, futurologist Dietmar Dahmen, operator speakers and many more.
Last month, a sold-out crowd of 500 IoT enthusiasts packed into Helsinki’s Kattilahalli conference hall for the Internet of Things 2016 Conference, also known as #IoTNordic. With a DJ playing live music throughout the two-day show, a saxophonist entertaining the crowd in the late afternoon happy hour and outdoor food vans offering tasty meals, the event offered a hip, modern and invigorating atmosphere for lively discussions on the potential and partnerships that define the IoT.
Veli-Pekka Luoma, Comptel
Although environmentalism was a major theme (event organisers used recycled wooden pallets as booth tables, for example), the event and the attendees were focused on different kind of environment: the holistic IoT ecosystem. There was one common denominator: Nearly everyone in attendance, across industries, was looking for technology partners to help them build or expand their own ecosystem of connected device solutions.
Comptel sponsored #IoTNordic and presented a speaking session with our Director of Advanced Analytics for IoT, Veli-Pekka Luoma, about the vital role data plays in the Smart Living movement. Comptel’s Intelligent Fast Data solutions offer businesses the power to sense, understand and act instantly on data “across the board.” Connected devices are another data source that produces aggregated information, alongside customer interactions, the network, social media, location and more. Businesses stand to benefit tremendously by pulling insights from all those different sources and applying insights to real-time actions. Those actions lead to better IoT-enabled experiences.
Industry can remotely monitor heavy machinery to run a “smart factory.” Health care providers can track personal data to offer intelligent preventative care, fleet managers can optimise routes for cargo vehicles, utility providers can provide efficient energy solutions with smart meters, and much more.
It all starts with smarter data. Through experimentation, partnership and solution co-creation, businesses – including operators – can apply data analytics to elevate the IoT beyond simple machine-to-machine communications toward humanistic benefits. #IoTNordic offered several compelling examples of businesses that are already succeeding in the IoT.
Elisa’s IoT Innovation Challenge
Elisa VP Markku Hollström
The Finnish operator Elisa has enjoyed many successes along its digital transformation. Its IoT service offering is one example. The company offers IoT connectivity, monitoring and analytics to a range of verticals, including a 3D real-time “Smart Factory” dashboard for industry, augmented reality solutions, and analytics-enriched monitoring and email notifications for the marine manufacturer Wärtsilä.
Elisa VP Markku Hollström explained that to succeed in the IoT, you need to experiment and develop a broad network of partners. That enables speed – the company profiled IoT projects that went from ideation to product in just six weeks. It’s also why the company is inviting businesses to participate in the Elisa Innovation Challenge, which will reward up to €85,000 in prizes to entrants who create innovative corporate and Smart Home IoT solutions.
Technology, Customer Experience the Focus for Tesla
Tesla presentation at IoT Nordic
The electric car manufacturer Tesla says it is not in the business of selling luxury vehicles. At the show, the company’s speaker said the company’s focus is actually in transitioning the world toward safer, sustainable transportation. The IoT plays a big role in that: Tesla says its vehicles are the most connected cars on Earth, and their mission is to incorporate technology to create a software-based, analytics-informed driving experience. Even their car buying experience is innovative; it’s entirely online, making it a modern, customer-focused approach to purchasing.
Are Device Implants the Future of Health?
Hannes Sjöblad, BioNyfiken
Hannes Sjöblad of BioNyfiken presented a fascinating look at the role of NFC implants in human health, which his company says is humanity’s “personal key to the IoT”. This technology already exists – in fact, we saw a live demo at the end of his presentation of a human implant placed into a person’s hand. While also a bit scary, the demo did show the amazing potential of implanted devices to enable everyday individuals to “speak” to connected devices.
There are simple but very relevant use cases, like replacing keys, ID cards, tickets and boarding passes with implanted chips, and use cases that are more humanistic. Personalised chips could ensure a gun can’t be operated by an unauthorised user, for example, or even play a role in curing blindness, deafness and paralysis.
Securing the IoT
Of course, any conversation about the many uses cases for the IoT eventually falls back on security concerns. In his keynote speech, Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure explained that the IoT will only expand the number of threat vectors (how do you secure your Wi-Fi if it’s being shared by your refrigerator?), creating more opportunity for highly sophisticated cyber criminals and making it more difficult for consumers to maintain privacy.
The number and variety of IoT devices will make single-device protection impractical, said Hyppönen. F-Secure, for example, has no interest in developing anti-virus protection for your connected toaster. However, the company does develop full-home Wi-Fi security solutions to ensure every device on the network is secure. Furthermore, F-Secure compensates independent hackers who find holes in their security system, when many of those hackers may have otherwise sold that information to cyber criminals. It’s a good solution for F-Secure: Paying for hackers to find holes in your system is a clever and efficient way to find vulnerable spots in your environment.
As Hyppönen said, ”Web content is not free. It is paid for with your data. It’s paid for with your privacy. And it’s too late to change that. We have raised a whole new generation who are used to having content for ‘free’ on the web. And yet, we don’t understand what this means.”
That’s an important takeaway to keep in mind as businesses and operators tiptoe – or dive head-first – into the futuristic world of the IoT.
Policy control cannot be seen as a standalone function any longer. It needs to be combined with charging and predictive analytics to give customers the best, most contextual and personalised service experience. At the same time, effective policy and charging control also gives operators the flexible and agile tools they need to monetise data services. That was one big takeaway from the Policy Control Conference 2016, which bills itself as the world’s only event exclusively dedicated to the policy control market.
Nearly 200 policy control enthusiasts from 80 organisations gathered at Berlin’s Maritim proArte hotel from 5-6 April to learn about the latest and greatest developments in the field of policy control. The entire policy control ecosystem was represented, with scheduled presentations from solution vendors, operators and industry analysts. Executive speed networking, operator-hosted lunches, analyst breakfast roundtable briefings and operator and vendor dinner also offered plenty of opportunity for interaction.
Comptel was in attendance as a sponsor, and we also hosted “The Seven Deadly Sins of Policy Control,” a session with our VP MONETIZER Simo Isomäki and our VP Solution Architecture Martin Vieth. We highlighted the defective, broken aspects of policy control that needed to be corrected as operators evolve toward a modernised and future-proof policy environment. At the event, attendees heard how operators are addressing challenges like time to market, increasing customer experience demands and the introduction of virtualised functions into the network through innovation policy control management. Here are several big takeaways from the event.
Complexity Slows the Speed of Innovation
Network agility is crucial to delivering the flexibility operators need to achieve a higher speed of service creation, which is a valuable asset at a time when monetisation opportunities crop up at a moment’s notice. However, overly complex telco networks slow everything down, making it difficult or in some cases impossible for operators to configure and launch new services fast enough to attract customers at their peak moment of interest.
Simo and Martin explained that the blame lies with complex and scattered network architecture and management, which kills innovation. As a result, many operators are “dead slow” – 69 per cent of CSPs say launching a new product or changing a product takes too long, according to Heavy Reading. The right environment and toolset could speed things up by giving operators a single view to create and change products and allow for service creation experimentation. Operators should strive to innovate when it comes to service pricing, add-on apps, data bundle configuration, delivery speed and more to appeal to digitally savvy customers.
NFV and Policy Control
Network functions virtualisation (NFV) is, naturally, one key area of innovation affecting policy control. PCRF is often one of the first network functions to be virtualised as operators seek to respond quickly to changing market conditions.
Many telcos in attendance acknowledged the benefits of NFV, including its ability to drive a 95 per cent improvement in service cycles, outweighed the potential challenges of implementation. Presenters argued that policy control and analytics should be tightly integrated with network and service orchestration, delivering service and customer awareness to the NFV and SDN network.
At the same time, the Comptel presentation emphasised simplicity above all in NFV implementations. Operators are striving towards NFV – one said “If you don’t do NFV, you’ll be left behind”. In our session, Simo and Martin advised a hybrid approach in which brand-new NFV infrastructure and legacy environments work in cooperation to maintain simplicity.
Analytics Enables Better Service Experience
Another major theme at the show involved the central role customer experience should play in policy and charging control management decisions. For example, moving away from the idea of standalone policy control and toward a vision for natively combined policy control, charging, predictive analytics and real-time business reporting helps operators deliver a better and more targeted end-to-end service experience.
One operator described how they currently analyse customer usage behaviour and patterns with a Big Data cognitive learning analytics platform. Using that data, they can guide their policy engine for example to offer the best service with the most attractive apps to customers. Predictive analytics also informs service testing, so that operators can test and affirm a new services’ success before launching it publicly.
The Customer is at the Centre of Service Experience
Forward-looking service creation puts the customer at the centre by selling services the way buyers want. As Fredrik Jungermann explained at Nexterday North 2015, customers buy data by the bundle today only because that’s the way operators choose to sell data, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the perfect way to sell data. Rather than simply selling data on a small, medium, large or extra-large model, Simo and Martin advocated a model where data is flexibly bundled with attractive over-the-top (OTT) content services to appeal to the customer’s preference.
Additionally, there were discussions around the importance of offering consistent mobile service experience no matter the customer’s location. Presenters argued that there is value in policies being access-neutral whether a customer is on fixed internet, mobile data or a Wi-Fi network.
Similarly, operators could change the way the allocate bandwidth per application to improve service experience. Twitter and Netflix, for example, don’t need the same bandwidth speeds to run successfully, but that is currently how those apps are supported by many internet service providers. Why not flexibly support apps with an appropriate level of bandwidth, reserving the best speeds for live streaming videos?
Ultimately, that’s how operators and the industry need to think about policy control moving forward. The customer should always be at the centre of any major innovation in the network or otherwise, so an evolution in policy and charging control should likewise focus on improving the customer experience. Since complexity is the enemy of innovation, operators will need to only consider transformation that can make things work more simply and quickly.
This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) was another exciting one for Comptel. We launched a new book, Nexterday: Volume II, and Nexterday.org, an online magazine and reader community, threw a party, and met with many operators who were interested in learning more about transforming their business to address the demands of digitalisation, as well as partners, analysts and media. When it comes to effectively transforming to a digital company, one of an operator’s biggest assets is customer data.
A consistent theme throughout MWC 2016 was the idea that operators are sitting on a store of customer data that, like an untapped oil reserve, could deliver rich insights that lead to significant revenue opportunities. Rising interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t making matters easier – we saw a flood of manufacturers demonstrating their latest connected devices, from cars to wearables, at MWC 2016, plus a fair share of big thinkers promoting their vision for larger-scale, IoT-enabled operations, like smart cities. Here are takeaways from the MWC panel “Operator Customer Analytics,” where those challenges and opportunities were discussed.
The Operator Perspective
Operators have always collected data, but the ways in which they pool, interpret and act on information has changed as technology and processes evolve.
Kuan Moon Yuen, CEO of the consumer group at Singapore-based operator Singtel, explained that his company has developed a more sophisticated analytics estate by pooling insights from multiple data sources. Customer data usage has always been important to telcos, but Singtel stressed that analysing other information – location, device and real-time contextual metrics – allows operators to deliver tailored network optimization, better customer support and predictive, real-time marketing.
Dr. Jiwon Ashley Joo of SK Telecom agreed that context changes the way operators can serve customers. Her company changed its analytics framework to gain a more holistic view of how its customers interact with various services. This type of observation led to service innovation, including a popular new connected wearable device for kids and pets. As these new services are used, the operator collects even more information about its users, which inform future initiatives.
The Standards Association Perspective
Of course, it’s easy enough to point out operators’ need to mine, interpret and act on their substantial data reserves. Rob Rich of TM Forum clarified the challenge by reminding MWC panel attendees of the significant skills gap that prevents many operators from actually putting these ideas into practice.
Of the substantial volume of data currently floating out there in operator environments, a small percentage – about 5 percent, said Rich – is actually actionable. To increase that percentage, operators need to develop an organizational culture for sharing data, and raise their level of sophistication when it comes to leveraging data.
That underscored what’s perhaps the biggest challenge operators face in maximizing customer data: they’re already a bit behind the eight-ball. For digital-born companies like Google and Facebook, a data-centric culture, mindset and competency is already built-in. Telcos need to change to acquire some of those qualities.
The Customer Engagement Automation Solution Perspective
So, if the objectives are to combine multiple insights from disparate data sources, get smarter about how your organisation manages and analyses data and change the culture of your organisation to be more data-centric, what’s your next step?
Third-party partnerships can help operators improve their level of sophistication around analytics initiatives, even democratising analytics insight, so anyone from IT to marketing to sales can make smarter decisions about customer information. Analytics platforms bring together raw data from multiple sources, enrich it to provide context and drive the right actions instantaneously. These solutions enable automated and real-time decisions and actions, helping businesses keep pace with fast-changing buyer needs and wants.
The biggest opportunity here is in real-time and contextual marketing: an operator who learns a customer is running low on mobile data while that individual is listening to a streaming music app has the chance to deliver a highly relevant and compelling top-up offer at the perfect time. It’s how marketing can and should work if you’re able to act in real-time with the right information about your customer.
Learn more about how successful operators leverage customer analytics data in our new book, Nexterday Volume II.