Posted: November 8th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: cloud, CRM, Dreamforce, fulfillment, order management, Salesforce.com, Service order management, Service Order Validation | No Comments »
Comptel will be attending the Dreamforce 2013 event in San Francisco November 18 to 21. Dreamforce, the biggest cloud computing event of the year, will take place at the Moscone Center and multiple other venues across San Francisco. In 2012 this annual event brought together over 90,000 Salesforce.com users, developers and partners. For this year organisers are expecting to have over 100,000 registered Salesforce.com stakeholders to connect, collaborate, and inspire.
The 11th Dreamforce event is hosted by salesforce.com, the company behind the successful cloud-based CRM system and application platform. The Dreamforce event has over 1,250 breakout sessions. Each industry theme features breakout sessions in a variety of formats and levels, giving attendees a chance to meet with Salesforce.com product teams, learn from expert users and partners at leading companies, and pick up new ideas and ways of working.
There will be a Communications Industry Partner Pavilion next to the Communications Track Session Room with a number of salesforce.com software and consulting partners that focus on Communications. Comptel will be exhibiting at the Communications and Media Industries Day Pavilion at The Westin San Francisco Market Street on Tuesday 19th November, where we will be showcasing the cloud-hosted Comptel Service Order Validator application, available shortly. The application will leverage the cloud’s low TCO advantages to enrich the traditionally linear lead-to-activation process with sales process interaction, service validation and real-time awareness, provided by pre-integration with the Comptel Fulfillment platform.
If you are interested in scheduling a meeting with Comptel at Dreamforce, please contact us.
Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: analytics, APAC, big data, conference, CSPs, survey, Thailand | No Comments »
Comptel recently hosted a focus group in Bangkok, Thailand, with attendees from fourteen communications service providers (CSPs) across ten different APAC countries. A multitude of topics were covered during the sessions, but the main thing on everyone’s mind seemed to be Big Data and analytics.
We surveyed attendees in the weeks leading up to our event—and the results seemed to reflect the same trends. With twenty-five respondents, 79 percent of which came from the Southeast Asia region, we got a sense of the issues facing CSPs today. We asked what IT, marketing and R&D leaders were currently focusing on, and one way or the other, it always seemed to come back to Big Data and analytics.
Here’s what our survey revealed:
1. Nearly three-quarters of CSPs say Big Data and analytics will have a big impact on their organizations
Whether CSPs are trying to better target customers or increase operational efficiency, it’s understood that they could benefit from Big Data. Although 71 percent agreed that Big Data and analytics will have a significant effect on their businesses going forward, only 58 percent said that Big Data was being used effectively.
Many CSPs could be in the same place as other businesses – data is being collected, but not being properly leveraged. New systems, processes and strategies need to be considered to truly turn all of that information into intelligence and the right actions. Only 16 percent of CSPs said that they had begun a Big Data initiative.
2. Almost nine out of ten CSPs believe integrating IT with marketing results in richer customer engagement
As we’ve said before, the future of marketing is networks, and the future of networks is marketing. Marketing campaigns at CSPs are becoming increasingly dependent on analytics and the technology that IT controls. At the same time, there’s more pressure on IT to become aligned with the broader goals of the business.
By breaking through the silos between those teams, CSPs can radically improve customer service, increase efficiency, ensure smart operations and realise many other business benefits.
3. 54 percent of CSPs say that their organization is undergoing changes
The landscape for CSPs is shifting, so it’s no surprise that more than half of survey respondents said that their businesses were undergoing some kind of change. A third said that their organizations had launched LTE services, many within the past six months, while 46 percent said that they were in the process of consolidating their OSS/BSS systems.
The ongoing changes may signal a search for more efficiency. Just 58 percent of respondents said that their networks and operations were efficient. A third said that the processes were “somewhat” efficient, and 8 percent said they were “inefficient.”
The Promise of Big Data and Analytics
One way or another, these three trends showcase the need for CSPs to find the right platforms to streamline their operations and bring marketing and IT together to reach the next level. Big Data and analytics are the key to this kind of success, but only if all of the pieces are in place and effectively working together.
Download the Full Survey
Posted: September 12th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: fulfillment, fulfillment platform, telco, utilities | No Comments »
The array of complex services delivered by utilities is far-reaching and continues to grow thanks to increasing demand, uncertain commodity prices and fluctuating regulations. One new report speculates that new technology is a must for the industry, especially given the transformation of utilities from solely energy providers to energy service providers (i.e. efficiency, home services, etc.).
More services mean more complex, internal infrastructure. To stay running, utilities depend on everything from virtual private networks (VPNs) and inter-site VoIP to external connectivity and detailed inventory navigation. The huge capital investments in new networks also need to be justified piece by piece. If these operations aren’t managed properly, there can be bandwidth and connectivity issues.
The average utility has a lot of moving parts, just like communications service providers (CSPs). As with utilities, the pace of change in the telco space can leave businesses scrambling for new solutions. Declining revenues from traditional services like SMS and profit margin threats presented by Over-the-Top (OTT) providers has made adaptation a necessity. Service packages have also become more complex; subscribers want to pick and choose between an array of different services, and customers often want to update packages at a moment’s notice.
CSPs have had to start making some significant changes. A flexible and adaptable approach to product and service management is fundamental in the telco industry today, because creating a new order process for every type of product or bundle offers little-to-no options for scalability.
Utilities, too, have sprawling infrastructures, diverse and enormous user bases and business models that have remained static for decades. Now, some are implementing new solutions first pioneered by CSPs that can help make operations more efficient than ever before.
Keeping Things Aligned with Service Fulfillment
CSPs have increasingly turned to integrated service fulfillment platforms that help bridge customer orders and service deployments. This centralised platform approach offers automated delivery and granular visibility across the order process, empowering CSPs to reduce time-to-market and experiment with new services and bundles.
In much the same way, utilities can benefit from turning to integrated service fulfillment platforms. This technology allows communications within utilities to become streamlined. Comptel Service and Resource Inventory can provide highly flexible, context-sensitive inventory management that is adaptable to changing and converging network technologies, for example. Commissioned services and equipment can be tracked and distributed from start to finish, and network assets can be accurately deployed to maximise utilities’ revenues and reduce their operational costs.
At the end of the day, centralising operations through a fulfillment platform can make utilities leaner and more nimble at a time when adaptability is key to profitability.
Learning from Telco
Right now, the majority of utility companies are growing without a scalable solution in-hand. This can lead to breakdowns in connectivity that result in costly network errors. By moving operations to one central, integrated platform, it’s possible to keep track of everything that goes into the delivery of resources to different sites.
The streamlining of operations through integrated service fulfillment platforms can reduce the total-cost-of-ownership for the utilities industry. CSPs have been managing the massive influx of data through these solutions and other enterprise businesses with complex services and vast infrastructures can do the same.
Posted: September 11th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: analytics, big data, big data analytics | 2 Comments »
The world likes infographics. In fact, one study (in infographic form!) even states that people are 40 percent more likely to read a high-quality infographic than a text article. What’s the appeal? Well, these data visualisations make it easier to communicate complex ideas more effectively. They’re also mobile-friendly and ripe for consumption for the pinch-and-swipe generation.
Yet most readers don’t stop to consider what’s really being visualised. Infographics are fueled by Big Data. In particular, a specific vision for Big Data that’s been laid out carefully, with a strategic goal behind it.
The Difference Between Eyes and Vision
This infographic about customer retention is a brilliant model for what Big Data can accomplish when a visual element is added to bring actionable insights to life. With images, charts and graphs to help the reader along, a portrait of loyalty evolves in a way that makes the viewer appreciate the findings even more.
More importantly, this infographic shows what Big Data can accomplish when there’s a vision behind it. In this case, a vision of customer loyalty was supplemented and constructed with concrete data points.
At a glance, we can see the main reasons customers leave businesses and what a company can do to remedy the situation. These findings are compiled from over 15 different sources, but since the infographic consolidates the data, there’s a cohesive narrative.
Many communications service providers (CSPs) today have the capacity to collect a lot of information from customers, too, but that data is hardly ever leveraged contextually or holistically. The eyes are there, but the vision is not.
“When Customers Stick: Customer Retention by the Numbers” shows us that trends can emerge quickly when data is applied with a purpose.
Another great example is a map of countries with paid maternal leave, courtesy of The New York Times. Again, labor practices, regulations and beliefs are all rolled up into one image here, showing that data, when applied to a vision, can be very powerful.
Creating a Vision for Telco Data
CSPs can greatly benefit from data visualisation techniques, because they can help form a concrete objective behind the information. Consider how important a map or infographic of customer data usage (like this visualisation of daily global Internet usage) can be to a future marketing campaign.
By compiling specific segments of data, CSPs can create a clear depiction of the different needs of their customers, and leverage that to create contextual offers and tactics that better meet individual preferences and behaviours.
When a business combines a vision with data, the rest falls into place. Whether CSPs are wondering whether an LTE deployment would be profitable in a certain city or a specific region would be likely to purchase a new service bundle, Big Data can help shed light on trends and bring underlying behaviours to the forefront.
Tools like predictive and automated analytics help CSPs take both structured and unstructured data at the company’s disposal and create actionable insights from it. The maps and infographics are visualisations generated by historical data.
Imagine if a business had the tools to compile that information and apply predictive analytics to it, forecasting and envisioning potential outcomes and trends. This is all proof that a lot of complex information can be leveraged to make data beautiful. And, by making data beautiful – and meaningful – CSPs can fully realise their business vision.
Want to learn more?
Read Northstream’s new white paper, “Analytics Beyond the Hype.” Some of the analytics strategies covered include:
- Reducing churn via predictive analytics
- Making customer acquisition more cost-effective with targeted marketing
- Operating networks more efficiently by automatically monitoring asset and capacity management
- Tailoring offers to customers to increase ARPU
Download the White Paper!
Posted: July 23rd, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: catalog, catalog-driven fulfillment, Comptel, Comptel Catalog, Comptel Fulfillment, concept-to-cash, fulfillment, product lifecyc, provisioning and activation, Service order management | No Comments »
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.
Connect with me on Google+
Posted: July 18th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: News | Tags: analytics, Asia-Pacific, awards, BSS, Comptel Social Links, Frost & Sullivan, fulfillment, mediation, OSS, Robi Axiata | No Comments »
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!
Posted: July 4th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: CSPs, OTT, revenue, telco | 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.
Posted: May 28th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Industry Insights | Tags: Network Equipment Manufacturer, OSS, OSS Interoperability, OSS ISV, OSS/BSS, SDN, Service Defined Network, TM Forum | No Comments »
At Comptel, we’ve prided ourselves on being an Operations Support System Independent Software Vendor (OSS ISV) that can span across different standards and interfaces. For us, that flexibility is crucial to building and providing a dynamic system that we know will fit all of our customers’ needs. That said, I won’t hide the fact that to make sure our software runs just as well on one telecom network equipment manufacturers (NEM) technology than another’s requires significant effort from our team.
That’s why we were interested to see that Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), three of the world’s largest telecom NEMs, have decided to launch an OSS interoperability initiative (OSSii). In short, the businesses agreed to sign bilateral, cross-licensing agreements that will ostensibly help foster the development of a standardised interface from their equipment.
We’re curious about where this initiative will lead. TM Forum has been working on standardised interfaces for fifteen years, and we can’t help but wonder if this could be the start of a rival organisation. Huawei’s OSS & wireless networks president Jiang Wangcheng said that the OSSii will “provide operators in all markets the ability to fully capitalise on the best OSS solutions available”, reducing operating costs and time-to-market, but most of the top ISV OSS solutions already have very sophisticated interface development kits that allow for support, time-to-market flexibility and interoperability.
Could this OSSii instead be meant to help these big NEMs capture a larger slice of the OSS pie for their own services and SI organisations? Nevertheless by simplifying interface challenges, the market could take on a new dynamic.
Innovating on Top of an Interface
Most OSS ISVs like Comptel have already accomplished what Ericsson, Huawei and NSN are trying to do. We’ve had to develop solutions that communicate across different platforms and systems out of sheer necessity. Comptel has solved the interoperability issues of telecoms vendors with products that work across the board. The real challenge now is integrating existing and new networks to deliver convergent services in a way that maximises reusability and capacity.
The OSSii is a move in the right direction for these three NEMs, who have been guarding their licenses and interfaces very closely up until now. We hope that, once they have developed a standardised interface, they will join OSS ISVs to help revolutionise the space of concept-to-cash, Service Defined Network (SDN) and other upcoming changes in the telecom industry. This is where we think the future is—beyond operability and resource management, into the realm of profitable service growth.
Posted: May 23rd, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: analytics, Comptel, Comptel Catalog, Comptel Fulfillment, Comptel Social Links, CSP, customer experience, Customer Experience Management, LTE, mobile, Mobile World Congress | 1 Comment »
Mobile World Congress 2013 (MWC) in Barcelona had the highest attendance ever with 72,000 visitors. Every year, many of our customers do not have the opportunity to attend or meet us there, and to that end we created a customer workshop concept ‘Barcelona-in-a-Box’. The idea is simple – if you couldn’t attend MWC, we bring it to you.
We built the workshop concept on three key industry topics which were discussed during MWC and continue to be on the agenda of almost every CSP.
To set the scene for the Barcelona-in-a-Box sessions, we shared our observations on the industry, based on extensive and in-depth discussions with major operators across the globe, insight we have gained from industry analysts and an independently commissioned report.
These observations addressed increasing smartphone penetration and how it’s driving up data usage, but not necessarily increasing revenues – largely due to pressure by OTT services such as WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube and Facebook (to name a few). Secondly, we discussed how bundled tariffs and packages are increasingly attractive to mobile subscribers, assisting CSPs with customer “lock-in” and positively driving up revenues. We highlighted the next evolution of the bundled approach through creation of fully shared data plans, as seen in the US market for example. Finally, as an observation we deliberated that while LTE rollouts are still in their early stages, the importance of attracting the right high-use customers to adopt the highly valued (and highly subsidised) handsets is key for accelerating ROI on those infrastructures.
To ensure that we have the correct data on consumer needs in place, we at each session discussed the locally relevant results of the consumer survey, Customers Yearn for the Personal Touch from Their Mobile Operators, we made at the end of 2012 with Vanson Bourne, an independent research firm. We polled 6,000 consumers from 12 countries across EMEA, Latin America and Asia Pacific on their service usage and spending habits, as well as their relationships and satisfaction with their mobile operators.
In addition to vivid discussion on the common challenges and local consumer needs, some of the sessions included live demonstrations that showcased the solutions that Comptel has developed to address the needs of its customer. We showed the benefits of the Comptel Event-Analysis-Action strategic framework with:
- Robust and highly automated Comptel Fulfillment that supports service innovation and better customer interaction while reducing costs
- ‘Plug ‘n’ Play’ Catalog-Driven product creation that allows building and adapting marketable products quickly from established service components, accelerating new revenues and allowing agile responses to market changes
- Comptel Social Links, predictive analytics to improve and automate every-day decision-making at each customer touch point and serve customers based on their individual needs and techniques of finding the right customers for new products.
We have already taken Barcelona-in-a-Box across the Middle East, Europe and Asia receiving great acclaim for our initiative and its content, being quoted as having “a fresh approach” to actively engaging with our customers. The Comptel team has enjoyed the lively debates and sense of shared understanding of the industry state and prospects for the future. Based on the feedback, we have validated that Comptel is in-sync with CSPs and our solutions suitably address their needs. We are excited to see which topics are on top of the agenda for Barcelona in 2014!
Posted: May 15th, 2013 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: customer experience, Management World 2013, mobile, revenue, telco | No Comments »
At Management World 2013 in Nice, France, Keith Willets, the chairman of TM Forum, highlighted something that’s on the mind of every communications service provider (CSP): declining revenues. A lot of this decline isn’t from competition and certainly isn’t from a lack of demand, either. It’s from the radical changes in mobile usage habits around the world.
The drastic decline in SMS, amounting to about $30 billion in lost revenue last year, is one example that Willets mentioned. The text message is swiftly being replaced by IP-driven services like iMessage, leaving no room for CSPs to build new opportunities in the same space. Instead, as Willets explained, they need to look elsewhere.
The Customer Conundrum
Amid the panicking about changing consumer habits, there’s something even more important that’s fallen to the wayside: the consumers themselves. The telecommunications industry has six billion customers around the world, and Willets reminded everyone at Management World 2013 that telco is ranked in the lowest quartile for customer experience.
Changing the way CSPs interact with customers was part of Willets’s survival kit for this “digital storm.” He listed data analytics, real-time offers and bundles as being critical for operators to build a sustainable business and better relationships with customers.
Willets’ point was simple: if CSPs treat their customers well, they’ll be more tolerant and forgiving. In a world where CSPs are scrambling to create new revenue streams, the customer has to stay top-of-mind.
Overcoming the Paradox with Personalisation
What I heard from Willets’s speech was everything that Comptel has been working on. With traditional sources of revenue declining steeply, CSPs have to recalibrate by focusing on personal, customised offers that serve to engage, delight and sell to customers at the same time.
Predictive analytics should be at the core of this approach. If CSPs can use big data to hone in on customers’ behaviours and needs—and automatically and proactively leverage that knowledge for new business opportunities—then this era of sweeping change across the telco industry will clearly be change for the better.