Reimagine: Dispatches from Dreamforce 2014

Posted: October 20th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Beach party or customer conference? That’s what many were wondering on Tuesday here at Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco, after Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff kicked off with a “Good Vibrations” performance from the Beach Boys, followed by a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony. The rumour-mill was turning for the industries’ worst kept secret and we felt that there was a reveal on its way…

But everyone soon got down to business, with more than 1,400 expert-led sessions across every industry imaginable. From a philanthropic-geared keynote given by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the launch of a new wearable smart watch, Puls, from musical performer Will.i.am, the spirit of innovation was high, and the conversations were exciting.

The common thread throughout it all was to reimagine – whether it is reimagining our approach to climate change with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, reimagining music for the masses with musician Neil Young or reimagining new business models with Kris Davies of AT&T.

Here are some of our highlights from the sessions:

Reimagine: Customer Engagement

One thing is being made clear at Dreamforce this week: more than ever, the customer is king. Salesforce and attendees hammered home the importance of businesses truly evolving to become customer-centric companies.

According to executives from Telefonica and Fastweb, telcos, in particular, have some work to do in the customer experience and satisfaction department. But challenges from over-the-top (OTT) disruption, industry consolidations and new emerging communications service providers (CSPs) are setting a high bar for managing the customer journey.

What’s needed most are simple, relevant and proactive systems that can better steer and enhance the modern-day customer buying experience. Our own announcement at Dreamforce this week reflected this. Through a collaboration with CloudSense, we’re providing an intelligent platform that improves the B2B customer experience, through automated, multichannel sales, customer order management and service delivery.

Reimagine: Analytics

With the influx of web services and devices, it’s no surprise that more than 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years. What’s more, with an estimated 50 billion connected “things” expected by 2020, that volume of data is expected to grow exponentially.

The REVEAL: Salesforce responded this week, announcing a new cloud-based analytics platform, Wave, to provide customers with predictive analytics features, integrated with its own SaaS-based customer relationship management (CRM) offering. The platform is designed to make it easier for everyone to explore data, uncover new insights and take action instantly from any device.

Reimagine: Collaboration

As technology continues to evolve, collaboration is becoming even more integral to success. We’ve seen this first-hand in our successful Communications Industry Showcase alongside other industry leaders at Dreamforce this week. The ability to collaborate around sales, customer engagement and projects forms a live feedback loop that nurchers continuous process and product improvement and can help to align better with customers.

Musician Neil Young demonstrated the importance of this in a very different way with the introduction of the PonoPlayer, an audio device designed to change the way we listen to music. The history of recorded sounds is in jeopardy if we continue to listen to “Xeroxes of Picassos,” said Young. His new device allows for the digital remastering of vinyl masterpieces to properly capture the full experience intended by the recording artist.

PonoPlayer is the first music company to use the Salesforce Community Cloud, a collaborative environment that leverages communities of fans to discuss the merits of music tracks and beyond. It’s a great example of how new technology can improve the buyer’s journey and positively impact commercial success.

Reimagine: The Future

As we wrap up an exciting week at Dreamforce, we’re reinvigorated by the ideas and innovation that are shaping the future of telco and all industries. We’re already looking forward to seeing what Dreamforce 2015 will bring!

For more information on our latest collaboration with CloudSense, please click here. To learn how CSPs can benefit from the cloud and deliver an improved customer experience, click here.


What Comptel, Hillary Clinton and Bruno Mars All Have in Common

Posted: September 29th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It’s not every day that Comptel can say we have something in common with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or pop singer Bruno Mars. But, this October, all three of us will be in attendance at the Salesforce.com annual conference, Dreamforce. Comptel was personally invited to be a part of the Communications Industry Showcase, so with the host of amazing keynote speakers, more than 350 exhibitors and an expected 130,000 event-goers, we couldn’t be more excited to be part of the action.

This year, we’ll be showing off a number of different ways that Salesforce and cloud technology can operate in a telecommunications environment. New cloud-based, front-office solutions are appealing to businesses across many industry verticals, but none more so than in communications. Comptel Fulfillment will be part of an industry-wide showcase that offers the blueprint for integrating a cloud-based enterprise platform like salesforce.com into a telecommunications operating environment.

In addition, we’ll be showing off Comptel Service Order Validator, an app on the Salesforce AppExchange that enriches the traditional lead-to-activate process with better order accuracy and reduced service delivery time by validating B2B customer requirements in the cloud. This app bridges the gap between enterprise sales and operations, and makes customer and service order orchestration much more efficient.

Comptel will also be introducing an exciting new partnership and integration with a leading order management and CPQ cloud alliance partner, showcasing network-aware sales process automation, and intelligent telco lead-to-activation.

We’re eager to show how communications service providers can improve and succeed by automating the interactions between IT, services and the network in the cloud. If you’d like to meet us at Dreamforce, send an email to comptel.marketing@comptel.com to arrange a meeting or visit us in the Industry Showcase, Moscone South as part of the Cloud Expo Campground 13-16 October, 2014.

Hope to see you there!


Want to learn more about how CSPs can benefit from the cloud?

Download the Stratecast whitepaper, “Operations & Monetization Platforms in the Cloud: Why the Time May Be Right for Back Office as a Service (BaaS).”

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When Refrigerators Talk: The Role of Telcos in the Internet of Things

Posted: July 30th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Telecommunications is at a crossroad. The demand for data is reaching unprecedented levels and there’s no sign that it’s going to be slowing down. In fact, in the very near future, our refrigerators may be using just as much data as our phones.

Olaf Swantee, the CEO at EE, recently wrote that this era of connected living will soon usher in smart homes, wearable tech and a multitude of other connected gadgets, leading to an explosion in connected touch points that need to be managed by communications service providers (CSPs). At Comptel, we couldn’t agree more. The question, then, is: how will telcos adapt to this new reality?

What will the world look like when our cars are talking to our coffee machines and synchronizing with our cloud-stored media or our refrigerators are updating our shopping list apps in real-time? What will the world look like when, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicts, the entire world is online?

The rapid proliferation of touch points and the amount of new and varied applications they bring will drive the need for increased agility and cost-effective growth in infrastructure, operations and management processes. The true era of connected living is dovetailing with another technological revolution: software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).

The Adaptability Game

The introduction of SDN technology will offer CSPs ways to operate an expanse of digital services at break-neck speed. The flexibility to build and host applications in the cloud will add to the ability to react quickly and roll out supporting features for new services.

This kind of adaptability will be crucial in a connected economy. With so many more touch points in the mix, operating across a wide spectrum of use cases, CSPs will need to be able to smoothly manage policies and bandwidth alike. A single user’s data plan could soon encompass not one or two devices, but twenty, thirty or fifty. How would a data plan for a refrigerator look? And what if one refrigerator has a video display to show users when they need certain groceries? Or, in terms of wearable technology, how can CSPs work with healthcare providers when it comes to medical devices that are connected to the cloud?

With the legacy and multiple OSS/BSS systems that many CSPs still have in place, it may seem like an overwhelming problem to manage. But with SDN and NFV, operators can more easily and economically manage the end-to-end deployment and orchestration of these complex services across all these devices, deployed across virtual networks.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will necessitate – and possibly expedite – the virtualisation revolution that’s already underway in telecommunications. The control plane is evolving, and at the tail-end of this transformation, we’ll see an artificially intelligent, agile orchestration layer that can understand the role of each and every device in the broader context of user behaviour and network patterns.

The excitement around SDN and NFV that we’ve already seen at TM Forum Live! is only going to grow as more connected devices come online. In this case, at least, we may actually see two trends where the hype is matched by the reality.


SDN and NFV aren’t the only things that help businesses become more agile. Learn how to use predictive analytics to predict network stressors before they result in a site failure by downloading our whitepaper, “How Predictions of Critical Alarms Helps CSPs Reduce OPEX, Prevent Revenue Loss and Improve Customer Experience.”

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The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Posted: July 16th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights, News | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Football is inarguably the most popular sport in the world. That’s why the viewership numbers for the recent games in Brazil kept breaking records. The Brazil vs. Chile match, for example, drew 11.5 million viewers just in the UK. According to The Mirror, that’s more than half of the total share of people watching TV at that time. The Germany v. Brazil match attracted 10.77 million viewers. The final match between Germany and Argentina drew well over 26 million viewers in the US.

Given those extremes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that social media channels become frenzied with activity, either. Individual football matches are attracting millions of tweets – the US-Portugal match saw 10 million people engaging in 20 million interactions on Facebook. On Twitter, fans tweeted about eight million times. The opening match, between Brazil and Croatia, garnered 12 million tweets.

But that’s not only what communications service providers (CSPs) are feeling. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 3.5 million viewers tuned into the Germany – US and Portugal – Ghana matches … by using the Internet. A third of those users were in North America, and a quarter watched from mobile devices.

In a way, football games are becoming a great stress test for operators. The matches in Brazil are an interesting case study in how multichannel video streaming and constant social media activity can quickly create a capacity crunch, and might help show CSPs exactly how much their networks can handle and offer insight as to how they can optimise quality of service (QoS) and the quality of experience for end users.

The Football Stress Test

The past six weeks have shown us a glimpse of the future. CSPs know that the data needs of users are increasing dramatically, but not everyone is necessarily watching the same thing from the same device. Research from video advertising company Yume shows that many viewers are planning to watch matches from computers (33 percent), tablets (22 percent) and smartphones (11 percent).

We’ve discussed the growing need to cater to end users’ unique demands, as well as creatively monetise mobile data plans in new and more flexible ways—and the matches in Brazil are one of the strongest cases yet.

What if CSPs had policy and charging tools that allowed them to create and deploy a service plan that allows for unlimited streaming of a football match, based on a user’s country or team of choice and the time of the game? That might be better than letting users reach their data cap or just force them to watch on their TV. Many may be willing to pay a bit more to view the game on a mobile device – they just don’t want to purchase a whole month’s worth of data for it.

The more insight CSPs have into mobile device usage, the more personalised mobile data plans can become. The right solutions allow operators to monitor usage in real time, and when too much traffic is straining the network, they can adjust the access and QoS for specific services and specific users to balance capacity (according to one survey, 67 percent of IT admins are experiencing IT problems and network management issues that can be directly related to employees streaming the matches from their computers).

While it may be too late to deploy these kinds of strategies for the football matches this year, perhaps, during the next big football event, CSPs will be able to offer both consumers and enterprise customers alike a real-time, dynamic plan that meets their needs.


Want to learn how to proactively predict network stressors before they result in a site failure? Download our recent whitepaper, “How Predictions of Critical Alarms Helps CSPs Reduce OPEX, Prevent Revenue Loss and Improve Customer Experience.”

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How Chorus New Zealand Cut Fibre Provisioning Time by 40% with Comptel

Posted: May 16th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

If the telco industry will remember anything from 2014, it will be the decisive move toward disruptive technologies. With Over-the-Top (OTT) services and IPTV eating away at traditional sources of revenue, communications service providers (CSPs) are working hard to differentiate in an increasingly competitive and commoditised landscape.

A growing number of fixed broadband providers are turning to automated fibre fulfillment systems to stay ahead. Fibre deployments have been largely impractical for many CSPs, because of cost considerations and logistical reasons, but the need for disruptive tactics may change that trend. After all, ultra-fast broadband connections will be a unique offering in many countries. Pyramid Research estimates that only 35 percent of households worldwide will have a broadband connection this year.

Fibre fulfillment systems will be key differentiators for CSPs, as they will enable more efficient, seamless service delivery to see through customer demand. Comptel customer Chorus New Zealand was one such company that saw the benefits that could be realised – and this week, we were recognised with a Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award for our work together!

The Fibre Future

Chorus is New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure company. In late 2012, the business was looking for a modern fibre service fulfillment system that offered order management, large-scale logical inventory and activation capabilities that would help establish the company as a standalone entity from Telecom New Zealand. Chorus had recently been awarded a number of ultra-fast broadband contracts and set the goal of delivering a “best-in-class” fibre broadband experience to more than 830,000 New Zealand homes. That’s where we came in.

“Instead of undertaking a major OSS transformation that promised to be cumbersome and costly, Chorus New Zealand elected to pursue an ‘intelligent evolution’ project,” stated Dr. Mark H. Mortensen, author of the Analysys Mason case study. “The major benefit to doing so was it allowed them to provide a fully automated stack based on Comptel’s industry standards-based framework. As a result, Chorus experienced a 40 percent reduction in the time required to electronically provision a fibre connection to a customer’s premises.”

Through such an intelligent OSS evolution, the traditional barriers to fibre deployment fall away. By almost reducing the time of fibre provisioning by half, Chorus guaranteed that the ROI from fibre would be apparent much earlier in the deployment lifecycle. In turn, both the business and customers started to see the benefits of ultra-fast broadband sooner.

The service agility, operational flexibility and rapid time-to-market made possible can become serious differentiators for CSPs in the coming years. The companies that successfully deploy and deliver fibre, supported by automated, catalog-driven fulfillment and by undertaking an end-to-end approach, will pull out ahead of the competition. It also opens up the opportunity for more innovation and better customer service that will generate new streams of revenue to counter the risks of commoditisation.


Want to learn more about the award-winning Chorus & Comptel fibre fulfillment project? Download the full case study!

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Comptel Service Order Validator Publicly Available on Salesforce1 AppExchange

Posted: May 12th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Comptel is proud to share that the Comptel Service Order Validator is now publicly listed on the Salesforce1 AppExchange, salesforce.com’s hosted cloud platform. Last year, we announced our partnership with salesforce.com, so it’s been exciting to show how our technologies have come together, to deliver intelligent fulfillment to communications service providers (CSPs). Talking to our customers we’ve begun to realise how effective it is in providing an open doorway for telco CRM to reach through and properly touch customer-facing services on the network.

Comptel Service Order Validator can simplify the end-to-end, lead-to-order activation process, enabling CSPs to realise the following benefits:

  • Improve the enterprise customer experience – avoiding over-promising and under-delivering services
  • Reduce costs by ensuring configuration accuracy – preventing implications of work order fallout
  • Increase B2B revenue opportunities with customised offerings aligned to real-time availability

By integrating Comptel Fulfillment with salesforce.com’s platform, we’re hoping to help operators automate and modernise their approach to CRM and improve their operational intelligence.


European Telco Group Honours Comptel for Strategic, Collaborative OSS/BSS Support

Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: News | Tags: , | No Comments »

Comptel is excited to announce that customer TDC Group has recognised us as its Best Performing IT vendor. The Danish communications service provider (CSP) specifically cited our contribution to progressing its strategic focus on “taking responsibility for the customer experience,” and our deep understanding of key OSS/BSS areas including inventory, rating and mediation.

“Comptel has proven to be a very capable, proactive and innovative OSS/BSS solution provider to TDC,” said Peter Trier Schleidt, senior vice president and COO, TDC. “Our team has especially valued Comptel’s dedication, sense of urgency and no-nonsense attitude. Its open and constructive collaboration with our other IT vendors also sets Comptel apart from the pack – we consider the company to be a role model for others across the telecommunications sector.”

We couldn’t be happier about this feedback and distinction, as it reinforces the effort we’ve put into building close, fruitful long-term relationships with our CSP customers. Comptel first started working with TDC in 2007. And since then, particularly with the launch of its customer experience programme—TAK (“Tag ansvar for Kunden”)—in 2009, we’ve been committed to adapting the CSP’s IT requirements to achieve its goals.

Comptel looks forward to growing our partnership with this significant European operator group in the future.


Bandwidth Caps & 4K TV: A Glimpse into Telco’s Future

Posted: April 28th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Last month, Sky and TalkTalk announced that they would be teaming up to build fibre-optic infrastructure across a number of cities in the UK.  This is an important landmark, as more operators look ahead into architectures based entirely on IP.

As Sky and TalkTalk experiment with an architecture that can pipe broadband direct into homes and businesses, this new infrastructure will provide customers with one of the most exciting things on the horizon: 4K TV.

4K TV is about four times as high-definition as regular HD TV, but the crystal-clear picture comes with a diamond-like price. Most consumers aren’t going to adopt 4K TV until that price drops and, until then, there’s another problem – 4K movies consume anywhere from 45 to 60 gigs of bandwidth when downloaded. Still, that hasn’t stifled the enthusiasm for this kind of media. When Comptel was at Mobile World Congress, 4KTV technology figured centrally into a lot of devices on display at the show, as you can see to the left.

This data demand will have big implications for communications service providers (CSPs). Deutsche Telekom said that customers today use about 15GB to 20GB each month. The operator, among many others, is looking at capping bandwidth usage. In this case, a lower-end plan would be capped at 75 GB.

So if 4K media becomes widely used, CSPs may have to radically change bandwidth models to accommodate the sheer diversity of Internet use – some people will be using astronomically more data than others. And by taking a closer look at the situation with 4K TV, we can get a glimpse of this future.

DSL, Cable and Consumers

The current battle in the European Union is between cable and DSL connections. DSL currently makes up 74 percent of broadband connections. While 93 percent of households in the U.S. can choose between cable or DSL, only 42 percent of households in Europe can choose a cable connection.

That leaves a long way to go when you consider the bandwidth requirements of something like 4K TV. Infrastructure will have to be upgraded significantly to allow for higher speeds, or Europe will have to pursue fibre-optic connections, which may or may not be economically viable. Especially in the current climate.

That may be why Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, is convinced that 4K TV will be “the first format that is Internet only.” He believes that broadcast, cable and satellite won’t be able to support the technology. Netflix has already stocked up on some ultra HD videos and even plans to shoot the second season of its self-produced, award-winning series, House of Cards, in 4K.

But which consumers will be able to afford the bandwidth these videos use, given the slow and steady implementation of new caps? Netflix is already planning ahead for this, offering most videos in four different formats and helping users skirt these data limits.

If 4K can’t be broadcast through the digital air without a specific platform on the CSP’s end, subscribers will have to instead find ultra-fast connections just to experience it. The odds are good, too, that they’ll be streaming video from different devices. And, in doing so, they’ll need more bandwidth than ever before.

More Control, More Options

As we’ve seen with the U.S.’s ruling on net neutrality, CSPs are trying to figure out the best way to price the fluctuating costs and rapidly growing requirements of bandwidth usage. With enormous and diverse audiences – and new, bandwidth-heavy innovations like 4K TV – it’s becoming apparent that CSPs need to find a different way to manage traffic. In many cases, this may be where software-defined networking (SDN) and network field virtualization (NFV) come into play, because these technologies will help create a more intelligent and seamless process when it comes to managing changing data needs.

A lot of these changes will also have to do with making the network and service fulfillment process able to deliver an excellent customer experience. It may require applying contextual intelligence to optimise connections for high-value customers. As CSPs create new plans to accommodate more people than ever before, finding a way to get the right service package to them – as fast and efficiently as possible – will become paramount.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


What’s new with SDN and the Cloud?

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As communications service providers (CSPs) compete with over-the-top providers (OTT) for revenue, there’s an increasing emphasis on them to beef up their responsiveness and agility. Many CSPs are evaluating software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV) and the cloud as ways to achieve this. But will SDN and NFV be a revolution or an evolution? And are CSPs going to turn to commercial networks or open source ones? We decided to comb the Twittersphere to see what kinds of developments were happening around these topics this week:

If you would like to learn more about Comptel’s thoughts on SDN, NFV and more, set up a meeting with us at TM Forum Live!


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


[NEW RESEARCH] What Telco CMOs and CIOs/CTOs Are Thinking About in 2014

Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

At Mobile World Congress 2014, one theme was prominent above all others: disruption. New kinds of mobile devices, social media, Big Data, virtualisation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Over-the-Top (OTT) providers were central to nearly every product, service or discussion.

By now, it’s obvious to telcos that business models need to change and new strategies have to be implemented, but it’s difficult to know where to begin. That’s why Comptel conducted research with Vanson Bourne: to identify the barriers, strategies and attitudes facing telco CMOs and CIOs/CTOs as they look into 2014 and beyond.

Customer Experience: The Top Priority

Our research found that telco executives almost unanimously (80 percent) agreed that customer experience should be a goal of every employee in the organisation. While that goal may be established, executives are planning a number of different ways to get there. When asked about strategic priorities for 2014:

  • 60 percent are hoping to understand gaps in the service delivery process
  • 56 percent want to improve network performance
  • 52 percent are focused on developing new products
  • 48 percent want to understand customer experience on a granular level

The Big Data Behind Big Decisions

The intelligent use of data seems to be integral to telcos’ strategies this year. Predictive analytics, OSS/BSS consolidation and other initiatives can help streamline processes and modernise infrastructure; our research showed that executives are working hard to see these through.

While we found that integration, coordination and analytics are on the horizon, there still needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that different departments communicate – while 72 percent of CMOs want to understand gaps in service delivery, 68 percent of CIOs/CTOs said that they want to improve their networks.

These are the focuses we would traditionally expect from these organisations. Until executives agree on the mutual importance of each other’s responsibility, customer-centric initiatives are likely to remain at a standstill.

So how are communications service providers planning to overcome those barriers? And what will be possible if customer-relevant insights are shared between two traditionally separate organisations?

Check out our infographic, and download our eBook below to find out more!

Click to zoom.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

- Executive strategies for 2014

- Barriers to integration

- Technology priorities

- Attitudes toward data & planning

Download