How AI Can Revolutionise Customer Engagement for Digital Telcos

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on How AI Can Revolutionise Customer Engagement for Digital Telcos

Artificial intelligence has become a hot topic in tech for many reasons, but one of the most important is its ability to improve customer engagement. At Comptel, we’ve seen first-hand just how significantly this technology can boost the effectiveness of customer campaigns.

Last month, I visited Singapore for CommunicAsia2017, an international conference for the ICT community. There, I shared some of the initial findings from campaigns using our FASTERMIND technology, which brings the power of AI to digital telcos in the form of customer engagement automation.

The example I shared compared the impact of using FASTERMIND for automatically triggering contextual marketing offers to customers in real time against traditional batch marketing methods. The comparison included three mobile data packages: one weekly pack for 1.5 gigabytes, a 50MB daily pack, and a 10MB daily pack.

In all cases, contextual marketing offers that were sent in real-time enjoyed significantly higher response rates compared to offers sent by the batch. The numbers speak for themselves:

FASTERMIND campaign response rate

Why were the real-time results drastically better? FASTERMIND analyses in-the-moment contextual data about each customer to predict and recommend the best next action for the operator. In the case of mobile data plans, FASTERMIND could be tuned to automatically send specific packages offers only to those customers whose recent or current behaviours, activities, and historical personal preferences seem to indicate a preference for that package. Importantly, the offer is sent in real-time, at the precise moment when that customer’s buying interest is at its peak.

As a result, this AI-driven form of real-time marketing is not only more efficient but also more effective than even the most specific segmentation-based batch offer. The two core tenets of AI – its ability to modify behaviour through learning, and then automatically act based on analysis – allows marketers to create campaigns that more closely match what customers want.

Our recent research report, The Power of Personal, showed that 55 percent of today’s consumers want to receive personalised service, while 73 percent say the most important quality to good customer service is the feeling that a company values their time. FASTERMIND’s AI-driven engagement satisfies these demands by enabling personal offers only when customers are likely to care about them, limiting disruptive and irrelevant offers.

Of course, omnichannel factors into this as well. AI will allow operators to create personal, real-time customer journeys across devices and a retail shop, which matches the omnichannel experiences most consumers already create for themselves. If your customers are already browsing on PCs, buying on tablets, and sharing on mobile, then your interactions with these customers must match their expectations across devices.

AI empowers that, letting you orchestrate ideal experiences across multiple touchpoints. Imagine a buyer shopping for a new phone on your website is interrupted and neglects to complete the purchase. Rather than letting that smartphone remain unpurchased in their digital shopping cart, you could send them a push notification the next time they walk by your physical retail location, reminding them to complete the purchase. To stimulate action, you could sweeten the deal with a promotional discount offered with a limited validation time.

Ultimately, real-time decisions, based on a bevy of data from different sources, create better experiences from customer acquisition, purchase, upsell, ongoing nurturing and retention. The result? Higher Net Promoter Scores, shorter time-to-market for new services, higher engagement, and much lower total cost of ownership.

That’s the crux of the message I shared at CommunicAsia 2017, where I also participated in a panel discussion on the future of IoT in business. Both technologies – AI and IoT – offer tantalizing opportunities to reimagine how telco serves and engages with customers. Comptel is excited to lend our voice to those conversations at this and other important industry events.

Learn more about FASTERMIND, AI for digital telcos, on the Comptel website.


Comptel and Salesforce Empower Digital Omnichannel Experience with Next Best Engagement Solution

Posted: May 10th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel and Salesforce Empower Digital Omnichannel Experience with Next Best Engagement Solution

In today’s omnichannel world, the digital customer journey often begins online or on a mobile device, but is later completed in person, over the phone, or through a different digital channel. In fact, even though most customers start their journey online, 69 percent of customers turn to retail stores to complete their purchase.happy customer

Telcos have a vast amount of customer data at their fingertips, and yet most digital communication service providers still lack the ability to connect the dots throughout the digital customer journey. To solve this issue, Comptel introduced the Next Best Engagement solution with Salesforce, which will empower the omnichannel customer journey for digital telcos, during this year’s Mobile World Congress.

The Next Best Engagement solution is powered by Comptel’s Fastermind, which recommends, predicts and automates real-time decisions for the most suitable actions in a customer’s journey. By combining Fastermind’s applications for digital telcos and the Salesforce Marketing, Sales, Service and Community clouds’ capabilities, the Next Best Engagement solution allows operators to recommend and trigger actions that enable more personalised marketing and sales opportunities and more responsive customer care.

Filling the Gaps in the Digital Customer Journey

There are many major chasms in the digital customer experience that Next Best Engagement can help address. For example, mobile providers struggle to identify customers who are both an individual retail customer, as well as a customer on a business plan through their employer. Similarly, they are also unable to recognise when a customer begins the customer journey online and later calls or enters a brick-and-mortar store to continue that same process.

These are major shortcomings for telco service providers, as Generation Cloud customers – whether B2B or B2C – expect personalised, contextual, and seamless experiences across all touchpoints. For example, if a customer walks into a retail store, it’s important for the service provider to know where that individual left off in the journey so that they can offer them a personalised experience and entice them to complete their path to purchase.

Next Best Engagement helps improve interactions at each stage in the customer journey, as operators reach customers through multiple sales transactions, product interactions and service engagements. Utilising data from each of these interactions, the solution can provide the real-time intelligence operators need to maximise each touchpoint, fostering long-term loyalty through personalised service.

Proactive, Personalised, Contextual Recommendations

As Comptel’s Power of Personal research found, 55 percent of mobile customers are interested in receiving personalised, proactive service offerings from their mobile provider. However, operators are missing a huge opportunity here, as only 13 percent of customers are actually receiving these offers.  Next Best Engagement with Comptel’s Fastermind and Salesforce’s leading customer engagement platforms is able to predict, recommend and automatically trigger full-blown personalised journeys in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Not only does this enable operators to offer proactive and personalised experiences consistently, but based on the analysis, it helps target the right customers with the right services, at the right time. Even though customers are open to receiving new offers from mobile providers, if it is not provided in the right time or place, then it will likely be ignored.

By combining proactive service offerings with the appropriate context, telcos can acquire new customers and reduce churn with current customers who engage with service providers across multiple channels throughout the digital customer journey. With Next Best Engagement, telcos will ultimately be able to anticipate the fastest and most personal way to offer customers what they need, when they need it, through the most convenient channel for them.

Comptel will showcase the Next Best Engagement solution as a part of the “Maximising Engagement with Predictive Customer Journeys Catalyst with Salesforce at TMForum Live! in Nice on May 15-18, 2017. Book a meeting with Comptel at TMForum Live! by emailing comptel.marketing@comptel.com


The Digital Insurer Offers Customers Instant Gratification

Posted: April 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on The Digital Insurer Offers Customers Instant Gratification

Unfortunately, unlucky incidents happen. To limit the consequences, we can insure ourselves against those incidents. But, once we file a claim, it can take time for an insurance company to process it and determine compensation. Imagine if, instead, you’d submit your claim – about a broken windscreen or stolen camera or water damage caused by your dishwasher – and receive an instant claim decision.digital insurance

Of course, that’s generally not how it works now. Many consumers have had to deal with insurance companies after a sudden and unfortunate incident, and most probably would not describe their experience as smooth, fulfilling or gratifying.

In reality, the quality of service offered by most insurance companies does not match the expectations of today’s cloud generation customers. Consumers want everything they do – from shopping online, to upgrading a phone plan, to mobile banking – to be an easy, fast and frictionless process. That also applies to insurance claims.

The existing insurance claim handling process is out-dated: half-digital, half-automated, labour-intensive and bureaucratic. A halfway approach serves neither the policyholder nor the insurer, and the result is slow and expensive claims processing with delayed compensation decisions.

An ideal process delivers instant gratification. When a policyholder submits an insurance claim, that action should trigger a real-time and automated claims decision, with the outcome immediately communicated back to the policyholder. As a result, today’s digitally savvy and mobile-first policyholders benefit from swift claims handling, communication and compensation, leading to instant gratification.

So, how can insurance companies offer that type of experience?

Just like we’ve seen with operators in the telecommunications industry, insurers are on a journey to become digital service providers. They’re looking for new strategies and technologies that can help them better serve demanding digital customers. According to McKinsey & Company, one U.S. insurer expects 40 percent of its new business in the next 3-5 years to come through online and mobile channels – an indicator that insurance companies at large need to be more in tune with digital experiences.

By fast-tracking and automating claim decision-making, communication and compensation, insurance companies can take a major step toward digital transformation – and toward becoming true digital insurers.

Comptel can help.

With a long history of turning data into instant, impactful actions, Comptel is an ideal partner for the insurance industry in this journey. For decades, we’ve integrated, processed, analysed data and turned it into business value, and we are very familiar with operating in a complex and highly demanding information and communications technology environment.

Now, we’re doing for insurance companies what we’ve done for telcos: taking all the benefits of intelligent fast data and turning insight into immediate gratification. The result is our advanced automatic claims decision solution for insurers.

Backed by the advanced analytics of our FASTERMINDTM and artificial intelligence applications, as well as DATA REFINERY’s enterprise data processing, the Comptel solution turn claims and compensation into an agile, automated, real-time workflow.

The solution uniquely integrates automated decisions with business rules, anomaly detection and fraud prediction, to help insurance companies identify which claims can be automatically processed and which should be handled manually.

Speed, accuracy and efficiency in claims processing offers several benefits, including:

  • Improved customer experience through automated decision
  • Lower fraud risk through accurate machine-driven fraud detection
  • Improved cost efficiency and staff productivity through automation
  • Uniform quality through minimal human intervention

Comptel’s automatic claim decision solution is the first step toward a Nexterday vision for insurance, one in which insurers are fully digital, able to offer individualised customer example and able to run a smarter, more optimised business.

Book a demo with our team today to learn how Comptel’s insurance solutions enhance the claims process through artificial intelligence and instant decision-making. 


Analysys Mason Recognises Comptel Among World’s Top Mediation Players

Posted: March 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Analysys Mason Recognises Comptel Among World’s Top Mediation Players

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.

analysys mason comptel digital transformation 2017The 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.


Nexterday: Volume III: What’s your Digital Journey?

Posted: February 22nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Nexterday: Volume III: What’s your Digital Journey?

If you’re in telco, you’ve heard a lot about transformation, enough that you’re probably even sick of the word. We feel the same way, so we want to help move our industry move past the point where we talk about change and toward the point of actually creating change. Our message is simple: stop overthinking and start doing.

Our latest book, Nexterday: Volume III¸ brings this message to life. Building off our first two books – Operation Nexterday and Nexterday: Volume II – this edition introduces new thoughts, ideas, and success stories from contributors both within and outside the world of telco. The objective is to give you practical next steps to evolve and grow your business in this rapidly changing digital landscape.Nexterday Volume III book

We’ll be publishing all of the articles from Nexterday: Volume III on an ongoing basis at Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community. Visitors to our booth (Hall 5 at Stand 5G40) at Mobile World Congress 2017 can receive a hard copy – but these are limited, so make sure to stop by early to get your copy!

Here’s what you can expect from Nexterday: Volume III.

What’s your journey?

When you step back and consider digital transformation from a 30,000-foot view, you can see that operators really have two potential paths to take: the customer journey and the service journey.

The Digital Customer Journey
Telcos want to deliver a better customer experience (on average, operators have a net promoter score of 6, compared to 70 for over-the-top (OTT) service providers), and an omnichannel customer experience. So, the digital customer journey is all about the strategies, technologies and business models they take to improve the customer experience, favouring individualised engagement, marketing and sales approaches for B2B and B2C customers. This journey is all about saying “No” to bad customer engagement.

The Digital Service Lifecycle Journey
Operators today need to create, deliver and support complex “living” digital services, but existing networks are too over-built, locked-in and inflexible to support modern service creation. This journey is about the steps operators can take to change their network reality, and it involves concepts and models like virtualisation and end-to-end hybrid service delivery to achieve network flexibility and agility. This journey is all about saying “No” to the monolithic franken-systems of the past.

Most frequently, we have seen the most forward-thinking service providers embark on one of these journeys, or both at the same time.

What’s in Nexterday: Volume III

Nexterday: Volume III tells you everything you need to know to get started, or to take the next step if you’re already following either path. We brought in some of the brightest minds from within and outside telco to share their expertise and insights, including:

  • Mike Walsh – a business expert who shares the simplest, most practical path to business transformation
  • Jon Wolske – the customer service expert from Zappos Insights who explains how you can be, first and foremost, a customer service company (that just happens to sell digital services)
  • David Meerman Scott – the sales and marketing guru who describes how real-time marketing powers a more efficient, results-driving marketing engine
  • Stefan Moritz – an expert on the customer experience, who explains how the most successful customer-focused companies did it by backing up their brand story with actual action
  • Stewart Rogers – the VentureBeat Insights researcher provides new data showing the biggest marketing opportunity companies are missing out on today
  • Dean Ramsay – the Analysys Mason analyst writes about the important role of inventory management in network transformation
  • Rich Karpinski – the 451 Research analyst breaks down the top US telcos and describes how each one is attempting to disrupt this mature market
  • Fredrik Jungermann – the tefficient analyst profiles the big return of unlimited data to operator service plans, and explains how top operators around the world incorporate this benefit
  • Stan Hubbard – The MEF Group director describes the two network qualities needed to offer better customer engagement and service delivery
  • Mustafa Oyumi – The Salesforce exec talks about the customer engagement model operators need in a modern service environment
  • Luca Decarli – the customer engagement expert describes how Saudi Telecom Company reorganized its business to deliver a higher quality of service
  • Antonio Elizondo – the Telefónica exec profiles OpenSource MANO and its key role in the development of an NFV ecosystem
  • Bengt Nordström – the Northstream charts the growth and future prospects of 5G connectivity
  • David Ho – From Kiina Investment, David provides a fascinating look at the digital technologies that are taking shape in China
  • Markku Hollström – Elisa’s IoT expert describes the ambitious IoT project that won international praise and provides an example for other telcos to follow
  • Velipekka Kuoppala – the Soracom VP writes about the model telcos and businesses need to secure the IoT

We also have insights from many Comptel contributors discussing everything from IoT, rating and mediation, NFV innovation, customer engagement, plus new research into consumer desires for personalised services.

Nexterday: Volume III is a comprehensive look at the state of our industry today, but, most importantly, it provides a practical guide for you to take the next step in your digital journey. Remember, it’s time to stop overthinking and start doing. Get our book to find out how.

Meet with Comptel at Mobile World Congress to get a copy of Nexterday: Volume III. Visit our booth in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40 or email comptelmarketing@comptel.com.


New Comptel Research: Customers Want Personalisation, but Telcos Don’t Deliver

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on New Comptel Research: Customers Want Personalisation, but Telcos Don’t Deliver

By Niilo Fredriksen, Executive Vice President, Intelligent Data

A word of caution for all mobile operators: there’s a 50/50 chance your customers feel like you don’t actually care about them.

That’s what Comptel found when we commissioned a survey of 2,000 mobile data users in the US and the UK. Our new research report, The Power of Personal, reports that 52 percent of mobile customers feel like they are treated as just another nameless subscriber by their providers.

Obviously, that’s a problem that could lead to churn. Customers that feel valued are three times more likely to stay loyal to their provider, according to our research. Those that don’t feel valued leave, and 59 percent of respondents said they were not fully satisfied with their providers.

So how do you make sure your customers are happy, loyal advocates for your business? Personalisation offers a solution, and the survey found that it’s what mobile customers want from their providers.

In total, 55 percent of respondents said they would be open to receiving more proactive, personalised messages and services from their providers. But, only 13 percent has ever received this type of message.

Respondents said they were favourable to receiving all sorts of different messages, including:

  • An alert when they’ve reached their data cap
  • A notification when they’re about to trigger data roaming charges
  • A message when they’re using more data than usual

But it’s not just about warnings and alerts. According to our research, customers are also open to personalised messages about service offers, whether it’s a discounted data plan, sponsored data plan or a completely tailored plan that fits their exact needs based on service consumption. The key word, though, is personal. If you send customers an offer that doesn’t seem relevant to them, you’re not going to achieve anything but annoying them.

Service providers know a lot about their customers. It’s high time they started to use that data more intelligently to provide better more individualised services and to use that information to save customers money and build much longer lasting loyalty than is the current model. Our report gives you the guidance you need to do that.

You can learn more about our research by visiting comptelcorporation.com/power-of-personal. From there, you can:

  • Download the full research report
  • Watch video interviews to hear what consumers on the street think about their current service providers and what should be done differently
  • View an infographic that summarises the top findings
  • Read our new eBook, which has tips on how to put those findings into action
  • Explore three use cases of how service providers could better cater to customers through a more personalised approach

Power of Personal research


Comptel Recognized by 451 Research for ‘Transforming CSPs into ‘Offer-Driven Operators’

Posted: February 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Recognized by 451 Research for ‘Transforming CSPs into ‘Offer-Driven Operators’

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. Fastermind Report 451 Research

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.


The Most Compelling Conversations on the Comptel Blog in 2016

Posted: December 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Most Compelling Conversations on the Comptel Blog in 2016

In 2016, Comptel focused on extending our Nexterday message and encouraging operators to stop over-thinking and start doing what they need to do to transform their businesses. The energy and excitement we felt at Nexterday North 2016, our second annual anti-seminar, told us that many operators are doing just that, turning the big ideas they hear around the industry into game-changing results. nexterday selfie

Here on the Comptel blog, we always want to give room for those big ideas to take shape. Let’s take a look back on some of the top pieces – and ideas – we wrote in the past year.

Enabling the Personalised Customer Journey

All operators are on a journey to better serve their customers. The activities they take in this area can be put into two categories – customer transformation and network transformation. In this piece, we explained exactly what the personalised customer journey is all about, and offered a model for how operators can win the hearts and minds of their customers.

Forget the iPhone. The Next Great UI Design Change is in OSS

The new iPhone UI looks a lot like the old iPhone UI, which tells you how iterative many of Apple’s latest updates have become. In this blog, we proposed that it’s time the OSS embraced a design overhaul, and explained exactly how the OSS of the future should look to offer the same ease of use you might expect from an iOS product.

Comptel Partnerships to Introduce Fresh Digital Service Approaches

2016 was also a busy year for Comptel and our partners. At TM Forum Live! in Nice, we were involved in three separate industry catalysts, each led by a Comptel partner. There was Telefonica’s Open Source MANO project, Orange’s sponsored data initiative, and IBM’s cloud-based networking architecture. These cross-industry initiatives are so important to Comptel because they keep us on the forefront of innovation. We want to lend our expertise in a way that benefits the entire industry, and we’re proud to stand alongside these partners in that effort.

Reimagining OSS to Enable Dynamic Digital Service Delivery

Our digital service lifecycle management (DSLM) model was a major theme for us in 2016, and in the Spring we put it to the test as part of the IBM Cloud Based Initiative. In this post, we explain exactly why and how digital service delivery needs to change to serve a new breed of digital customer.

Spectrum is the First Step. How Will Operators Next Invest in 5G?

Innovation abounds in connectivity, and 5G represents one of many emerging frontiers for investment and development. In the U.S., regulators opened up spectrum for telco experimentation, and in this post we covered the challenges that lay ahead for telcos who dipped their toes in this industry.

Sponsored Data is a Path to Revenue for Savvy Mobile Operators

Pokémon GO was a huge mobile gaming craze in the summer of 2016, and T-Mobile jumped on the buzzworthy topic by offering players one year’s worth of free mobile data exclusively to play the game. It was another example of a savvy sponsored data play that shows other operators how they creatively leverage data access to win over digital customers.

In 2016 we also launched Nexterday.org, our online magazine and reader community. You can read much more of our writing on digital transformation, customer experience and network innovation there.


Putting TOSCA to Work in Real-Case NFV

Posted: December 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Putting TOSCA to Work in Real-Case NFV

Comptel Offer Example Templates to the Open Marketplace

State-of-Play

There remains no doubt that virtualization is shaking the foundations of the telecommunications industry and is here to stay. As the technology continues to mature and evolve, use cases become more realistic and so do the requirements to represent the service specifications that allow their programmatic utilization and consumption.

Several standards organizations have laid proposals to this purpose and there appears to be consensus that, in the Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) case at least, TOSCA NFV appears to be positioning itself as the preferred option for operators and vendors alike.

The Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) is a data model standard managed by industry group OASIS that can be used to orchestrate Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) services and applications. TOSCA does this through a collection of information models and templates to orchestrate applications seamlessly across multiple cloud domains which is ideal for network functions that are virtualized and deployed in datacentres.

At the time of this writing, the latest release of the TOSCA NFV Simple Profile dates from mid-March 2016. The document provides a good insight but it lacks practical, consistent examples (e.g. there are a few errors) and examples from additional sources are hard to come by. This applies to the Cloud Service Archive or CSAR (pronounced Cesar) packaging mechanism, in which the specification is conveniently wrapped with all the necessary components.

[Comptel] has taken the information that’s publicly available and created some examples that we would like to share with the broader community.

Use Case: vEPC Core Network CSAR

A basic representation of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) Network Service Descriptor (NSD) composed of four Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) as shown in Figure 1 below. In addition, every node has a connection to a common management network.

Figure 1: vEPC Architecture & Interfaces

Figure 1: vEPC Architecture & Interfaces

The CSAR file contains metadata, the service templates or specifications, images and the corresponding scripts for the VNFs themselves. Figure 2 shows the structure of the file.

Figure 2: CSAR file structure

Figure 2: CSAR file structure

As displayed in Figure 3, the metadata file contains in line 4, a pointer to the main driving template, in this case the overall vEPC NSD which will link to the individual nodes (e.g. VNFs) and their relationship and corresponding connectivity.

Figure 3: Contents of metadata file (TOSCA.meta)

Figure 3: Contents of metadata file (TOSCA.meta)

The Network Service Design

The NSD provides the global overview (refer to snapshot below) on how the different components (e.g. VNFs, VLs, FGs, etc.) come together. Lines 9 thru 13 point to the VNF templates, in this case for every VNF.

The individual VNFs are described in lines 26, 37, 49 and 58 respectively. They contain a reference to the type, the list of (virtual) networks they are connected to and in those cases where applicable, a declaration of the forwarding graph capabilities (e.g. lines 45, 46 and 47). Additional details on the VNF themselves are contained on their own descriptors (VNFDs) which are shown later.

Next are the details of the external connection points (CPs). These are demarcation points for the NSD as depicted in Figure 4 and they are described in lines 65, 73, 81 and 89.

Figure 4: External Connection Points

Figure 4: External Connection Points

Finally, the networks interconnecting the VNFs themselves. In this case, all networks are point-to-point connections (e.g. ELINE) except for the management one, which is shared across all VNFs (ELAN). Every declaration, as seen in lines 97, 108, 113, 119, 125, 131 and 137 indicates the number of network entities attached to them.

The Virtualised Network Function Descriptor

The VNFDs provide details on the specifications of the individual nodes. The vPDN GW descriptor is shown below as a reference. Starting on line 42 the connectivity is described. This VNF requires two computational resources as expressed on line 48 (VDU1 & VDU2). Two of its interfaces (CP21 & CP22) are enabled to support Forwarding Graphs (line 51). In this specific case, four standard transactions types are supported through self-contained scripts: create, configure, stop and delete (line 54). The interfaces and their respective networks can be appreciated in general the topology depicted in Figure 5.

Figure 5: PDNGW_VNF Topology

Figure 5: PDNGW_VNF Topology

At the end of the VNFD template are two Forwarding Paths (Line 144 and 151). They represent the incoming and outgoing traffic for the PDN gateway. Figure 6 and Figure 7 provide a visual perspective of the traffic flows they control.

Figure 6: Forwarding Path1 on VNFD

Figure 6: Forwarding Path1 on VNFD

Figure 7: Forwarding Path2 on VNFD

Figure 7: Forwarding Path2 on VNFD

NSD_vEPC.yaml – File contents:

vPDNGW_VNF.yaml – File contents:

Comments

The standards provide enough tools to cover the most general of use cases, but we expect to see future updates that can target elements of the service description that represent more complex and realistic scenarios, for instance:

  1. Quality of Experience (QoE) or in general Quality of Service (QoS) features. There are some brief references in the existing standards but this area requires further development.
  2. The transactions/interfaces need to support more complex features that can allow them to be referenced and consumed more easily by higher order service orchestration processes.
  3. Forwarding Graphs should include indications of the traffic types.

Although Comptel has worked out these areas for its own products and specifications, the real value materialises when these specifications become open and seamlessly interchangeable by the different components in the architecture.


Enabling the Personalized Customer Journey

Posted: September 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Enabling the Personalized Customer Journey

Have the rules changed for Communications Service Providers to engage with their customers?

Digitalization has created a generation of empowered, engaged and demanding “Generation Cloud” consumers. These people want to be treated as individuals through using a service that meets their expectations and aligns to the way they live their lives. They don’t want to follow service providers’ rules but instead, define the digital market as they want to see it. Service providers have to identify product opportunities, then design and commercially publish new service offerings faster than ever. Only then will they be able to seize the increasing new opportunities for data, content, applications and service monetization. Effectively they have to monetize more in less time, whilst leveraging partner offerings for service enrichment.

How do service providers win the hearts and minds of customers with almost impossible expectations?

To meet the expectations of generation cloud consumers it’s no longer sufficient to have a static portfolio of products that a customer selects and uses unchanged for the lifetime of a contract. Lifestyles, demands and expectations create a digital opportunity for providers to continually engage with their customers with contextually relevant enrichments to a base package contract.

These enrichments or upsell opportunities can take the form of traditional data or messaging bundles, however they can now also encompass personalized add-ons such as streaming subscriptions or cloud-storage with a data allowance; time-based video streaming bundles and sponsored enterprise data packages. These modern-day enrichments have to be more understandable by the consumer, as lifestyle enhancements aligned to them.

Service providers have an opportunity to not only create these offerings but intelligently identify when to make a recommendation and with which product. They also have to simplify the engagement and buying process as closed-loop automation, allowing for consistent improvement, alignment and customer retention.

What would the perfect solution look like for CSPs to enable the personalised customer journey?

A comprehensive turnkey solution for the personalized journey will incorporate a number of steps that the customer service lifecycle will take. These steps consist of product creation based on identified market needs, campaign management and commercialization of those products, an ordering process and of course the delivery of a product in the first instance.

Once delivered it’s necessary to collect data and valuable information on the consumed service, which when analyzed provides insights to drive the intelligent recommendations required for next customer contact via a simple interaction or detailed marketing campaign.

Realizing that the recommended add-on is a perfect fit, the consumer then needs a seamless buying and delivery experience – leading to the creation of a revised automation-loop for continuous future engagement.

A Modern Day Customer Engagement Architecture

Leveraging a communications industry data integration framework, Salesforce, Apttus and Comptel are perfecting the personalized customer journey through a number of identifiable steps.

  • Customer Engagement ArchitectureDesigning – B2C or B2B service design based on technical network and service capabilities, with input from market research created by product management.
  • Commercializing – Publishing of the product as a commercial offering, allowing a customer to discover, select and customize to their needs.
  • Ordering – Submission of the selected and customized product as an order into the buying process. Incorporating CPQ processes (Configuration, Pricing and Quotation).
  • Delivering – Order processing and service activation plus an all-important notification to the subscriber for full customer engagement into the process.
  • Tracking – Continuous charging, metering and full reporting of service consumption by the subscriber, giving a 3600 perspective on contextual usage.
  • Analyzing – Contextual analysis on service usage trends of the subscriber leading to intelligent recommendation for product upsell and tailoring – customer alignment and engagement.
  • Growing – Perpetual engagement, offering continual recommendations to an individual and the option to buy. Perfecting the customer engagement process.

The Solution

The result is an eco-system primed solution for customer engagement and contextually-intelligent product recommendations, leading to automated customer lifecycle management. The solution is enabled by the Salesforce Communications Framework & Data Exchange, Salesforce Customer Success Platform, Apttus Quote-to-Cash solution and Comptel Intelligent Data Monetization & Customer Engagement Automation.

Personalized Customer Journey