Rethinking Convergent Charging at a Time of BSS Transformation

Posted: July 8th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Rethinking Convergent Charging at a Time of BSS Transformation

By Simo Isomäki and Malla Poikela

The story on convergent charging has been a simple one: operators are adding more subscribers and a wider range of dynamic digital services, and thus need to transform their networks to support that. Billing and charging are important components to the infrastructure, and convergent charging is a way to achieve simplicity and flexibility through consolidated payment. smartphone mobile pay

When you can create a single bill or account for all your disparate services, including fixed telephony, prepaid and postpaid mobile, SMS, data services and more, you create a better, more efficient experience for you and your customer.

Again, it’s a simple story, which is a big reason why the most recent numbers from Infonetics Research reported that convergent charging is a $3.1 billion global market. However, given how quickly the telco market changes, it’s worth stepping back to evaluate how the evolution of consumer demand has impacted the supposed emergence of convergent charging.

One important factor is the increasing business irrelevance of the traditional communication services, voice and SMS. Voice, we know, is a rapidly declining business, experiencing reduced customer usage and reduced revenue as a result. SMS, similarly, is being offered as part of unlimited bundles with voice.

And we all know what’s happening with data – it’s exploding. All the innovation around revenue generation and service creation is happening in the world of data. We’re observing entirely new data-driven service models that put access to digital content, like over-the-top (OTT) services, at the centre of customer packages. Voice is even being gobbled up by data – just look at the emergence of VoLTE, which has been launched in 55 live deployments in 34 countries, according to the latest figures from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

At the same time, we often hear all about the disruptive BSS transformation needed to provide a more flexible and convenient customer service experience. So, with data the clear-cut leading horse for revenue generation and service innovation, and radical BSS transformation changing customer service expectations, what does that mean for convergent charging? In fact, is there even any point in trying to converge these services into one system, when two of the three won’t provide much in the way of revenue at all in the near future?

Convergent charging was all about merging payment methods and services to benefit the end user. A user could choose to pre-pay, post-pay or mix payment methods, and a single system would be able to manage it all, instead of the two or more systems operators previously relied on. The question is, have consumers adopted hybrid payments – the key reason for payment convergence at-large – or are we naturally using the payment method of choice irrespective of the services we consume?

Has convergent charging, as we know it today, become an obsolete concept? Are current convergent charging platforms built to serve a stale and irrelevant market view?

The telco industry is experiencing a massive BSS transformation, and convergent charging is an important part of it. Modern convergent charging platforms will need to enable innovation in multitudes of services, but in three or four critical domains: shared/single quota management, sponsorships/third-party pays, data consumption and the transition of voice to data (VoLTE).

Shared/Single Quota Management

The average digital consumer owns 3.64 connected devices, according to GlobalWebIndex. That number should only continue to grow, as consumers want to stay plugged in to their favourite apps and digital services around the clock. Operators, then, should want to converge payments for all the services on these devices into one central bill or account.

A single multi-service account, in which a customer has one common account for multiple services, is a clear use case for billing convergence. In this scenario, an operator would offer master account handling with convergent quotas and quality of service management (QoS) across multiple channels, including mobile, Wi-Fi internet, cable TV and across a growing number of devices.

The problem is that initially planned convergent charging platforms require an expensive architecture that is not designed for the dynamic and agile associations of devices to accounts over complex fixed and mobile networks. As a result, these systems cannot find a simple way to enable concepts like family payment plans or the single management of streaming content, like Netflix, on a tablet device that can dynamically switch between cable-provided Wi-Fi and cellular-provided internet access.

Third-Party Pays

Another clear opportunity for next-generation convergent charging is in solving some of the asymmetry around third-party pay concepts, and offering two-sided B2B2C business models.

At TM Forum Live! 2016, Comptel was part of an award-winning Catalyst presentation sponsored by Orange. The Catalyst offered a view of sponsored data payment models, in which a corporate sponsor of some kind could build sponsored data packages for an operator. The result would be that customers receive free data access, the sponsor receives an opportunity to market to the customer, and the operator receives a fresh new wholesale revenue opportunity, increased data consumption and improved customer loyalty.

This model could introduce a complex payment structure – rather than being paid directly by the customer, an operator could technically be paid by multiple parties. Traditional convergent charging platforms don’t have the flexibility to support this modern payment approach, and cannot offer the valuable personalised customer engagement and marketing capabilities needed to make this model successful. The sponsor would expect lead generation capabilities, and the operator would need to create a real-time, zero-touch, closed-loop consumption model that includes marketing, sales and service delivery.

That’s what you get from new BSS, convergent charging platforms and innovative solution – the ability for the sponsor to define the sponsorship packages and the system providing them, the ability to find and qualify the ideal customer for a sponsored data package, and then deliver that package to the customer automatically, without operator-induced friction.

Data Consumption

All signs point to user data consumption shifting. The 2016 Internet Trends report from KPCB underscores the acceleration of streaming video. While just three years ago, semi-live content, such as Snapchat stories, were the new frontier in mobile content, today’s big platform is real-live content. Consumers love mass audience experiences like Facebook Live or Periscope video, which allows any consumer to stream live-video to the network and for audiences to watch real-time video in the moment.

This is only the start. At Mobile World Congress 2016, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said the future belongs to video, in particularly to users the streaming 360° video that underpins virtual reality experiences to the network. This behaviour is a major shift – users have gone from downloading video to uploading real-live video.

Transition of Voice to Data (VoLTE)

Although VoLTE will not be a silver bullet solution to voice revenue, it can be a step toward real-time communication on the Web (WebRTC). The upshot is, operators are moving toward a future where all of their services are delivered over data. After a period of time in which consumer devices migrate to VoLTE, this will enable operators to minimise the circuit-switched infrastructure and potentially even shut it down someday.

Convergent charging, then, will really be all about converging payments from different sources – not just the actual mobile customer. Instead, operators will need to converge payments from the different data-driven services and systems that underpin consumer services of the future. This requires fresh thinking to transform BSS to correspond these new requirements.

Converging Toward Living Data-Driven Services

Transitioning to convergent charging, to date, has meant expensive and complicated BSS and architecture transformations. However, market forces are making the traditional motivating factors behind that kind of convergent charging obsolete. Instead of thinking of ways to combine voice, SMS and data and to enable hybrid payments, operators must move past traditional communications services. They should embrace a future built on data and BSS transformation, along with the flexibility to create dynamic business models and living services that are offered to customers at the perfect time.


Weighing the Pros & Cons of VoLTE

Posted: September 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Weighing the Pros & Cons of VoLTE

There has been a lot of interest around Voice over LTE (VoLTE) lately, not to mention thorough analyses on the benefits of the technology and recorded rollout activities across the globe.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), there are as many as 16 VoLTE launches in seven countries, as operators look to embrace HD voice. In a press release and as noted in FierceWirelessEurope, Alan Hadden, VP of research at the GSA, said: “Interest in VoLTE has surged, and [more than] twice as many operators are investing in VoLTE compared to a year ago. Many more launches will happen in 2015.”

Despite VoLTE’s success thus far and its growing number of deployments, uncertainties around the technology remain.

First, there is the required handset support for VoLTE. Based on studies done by tefficient, surprisingly few of the 4G handsets on the market are equipped for the technology since early implementations of VoLTE were based on partial standards or proprietary solutions. VoLTE works best for operators like those in Korea, Japan and the United States that have full control over handset distribution.

Second, VoLTE support in networks is still implementation-specific, meaning that calling from one network to another using VoLTE might not be possible—even in the same country. As an indication of the complexity, VoLTE roaming is only just starting to happen. KPN claimed the world’s first case as late as in October 2014.

For operators who haven’t had full control over handset distribution, the solution might currently have to be as harsh as making sure that customers joining them replace their handset—even if it’s 4G—with one that the operator knows has the right combination of hardware, firmware and software to function in their VoLTE network.

So while VoLTE is a relatively new, emerging technology—a richer multimedia voice and video call service based on IMS—the question is: is it a MUST for digital and communications service providers? They must thoughtfully consider this question because, if they are not going to take it onboard, they are about to lose their lucrative and long-lasting, but currently declining traditional voice revenue.

This was recently confirmed in The Guardian. As written in the article, Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, said that VoLTE—phone conversations carried over the data connection of a 4G network, which are of higher quality and can be switched from an audio call to a video call—are likely to supplant traditional phone calls over the next decade.

Another common concern and question is Voice over IP (VoIP) as VoLTE or VoIP in another means. Take VoIP services like Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. VoLTE goes beyond these in aspects like being able to handle radio networks’ handover and support emergency calls. The technology also promises superior voice quality. But are Generation Cloud customers willing to pay extra for this? It’s highly unlikely.

So, if VoLTE supplants traditional phone calls, will it significantly improve operators’ business by presenting a revenue boost for voice? Again, this is highly unlikely. Based on the VoLTE services on the market thus far, it seems that these voice calls are charged similarly to ordinary ones, where video comes on top in form of data charging.

Source: Cisco Blog

Here comes the interesting expansion of the voice business, which VoLTE indirectly enables: native Wi-Fi calling (or Voice over Wi-Fi or VoWiFi). Every cellular network—no matter how good it is—will have coverage issues indoors. In most cases, there’s Wi-Fi coverage to act as support.

With native Wi-Fi calling, mobile customers will seamlessly carry calls over existing Wi-Fi when there is no cellular coverage. Similarly to VoLTE, these calls are charged as any regular voice call, but here we are talking about a call that could not have happened without Wi-Fi. Consequently, it means additional voice revenue for the operator (or it could mean unlimited voice plans become more frequent). The same IMS handles both VoWiFi and VoLTE—with the latter technology being a pre-requisite for handover to happen between VoWiFi and cellular. (If you don’t have cellular indoor coverage, you obviously need to be able to move in and out of your house without dropping calls.)

With this in mind, we should stop looking at VoLTE in isolation and instead consider VoLTE in tandem with VoWiFi.

VoLTE also offers huge potential for cost-savings. When voice and other services are converged on LTE, and when customers have fully bought into them, digital and communications service providers are able to shut down their circuit-switched 2G and 3G networks. This will have a huge impact on operators’ profitability.

So do digital and communications service providers possess the knowledge and assets for what it takes to launch VoLTE successfully? We’ll discuss this in a coming blog post—please stay tuned.

Malla Poikela of Comptel co-wrote this blog post entry.


To Win Over Generation Cloud Customers, Become a Part of Their Social Circle

Posted: February 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Today’s digital natives are setting a new standard for digital and communications service delivery. They make up “Generation Cloud,” characterised as independent, preferring to shop on their own terms, among a variety of options, and to make purchasing decisions in real time. They value personalisation and tailored recommendations over traditional marketing and sales tactics. And they’re primarily mobile, on-demand buyers, with 65 percent increasingly shopping on mobile devices versus at brick-and-mortar stores.

Naturally, the majority of users in today’s post-digital era will gravitate toward operators that recognize these values. The question, then, is how can operators create a digital buying experience rooted in those values? In January 2015, Comptel conducted a global consumer survey to shed some light on this.

Based on our findings, to win over Generation Cloud, operators need to act like less of a service provider, and more like a social companion. Sixty-five percent of consumers said they look to social circles to influence their buying decisions, and when youthink about the way we interact with our social circles, a very telling theme emerges. Our social interactions are incredibly personal and unique from person to person. Operators, take note.

Among social circles, we’re most strongly influenced by recommendations from others that truly know us, and our personalwants and needs. The way operators interact with their customers should be no different, and the numbers support that. Sixty percent reported that their buying decisions are directly influenced by tailored recommendations from their operators, and 62 percent are more likely to prefer an operator that makes personalised and relevant product recommendations as opposed to those that target them through mass promotions.

One example of how operators can offer this level of personalisation is the way they charge for data usage. We found that customers were fairly split on their pricing preferences across data plans, with about a third wanting to be billed by the amount of data used, while nearly the same number prefer pricing plans that are based on the amount of time spent using data. About a quarter would like to be billed on specific apps they use, and 10 percent think a combination of all three would be best.

Operators should be offering these options – recommending them, in fact – before customers even have a chance to ask for them, which means transforming business models to operate in Nexterday – the day after tomorrow.

Customers are independent – they don’t need an operator to tell them what to do. They do need an operator to give options. Not just any options, and especially not generalised or impersonal options, but ones that are the right fit for them as individuals. Consumers crave personalisation to guide their decision-making, and if operators are to get ahead (and stay ahead), they must put the power of dictating the buying experience in the hands of the consumer.

Download the complete findings of our 2015 global consumer research here:

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Why Telcos Need to Make Mediation More Intelligent than Ever

Posted: August 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

When communications service providers (CSPs) think of mediation systems, it’s natural for them to consider billing and assurance processes. Most mediation platforms have traditionally been focused on the processing of transaction data records (xDRs). However, having too narrow of a focus on transactional data misses the big opportunities that can be made possible with analytics-enhanced data orchestration.

Data orchestration is all about making sense of the new sources of structured and unstructured data flooding networks. From social media networks to app usage, location points to alarms and probes, CSPs enthusiastically need a way to make all of this information more accessible, intelligent and actionable. Thanks to the dawn of the Internet of Things, we’re standing at the brink of a touchpoint explosion. Data is playing a fundamental role in every customer’s life. Yet while Big Data provides a significant opportunity for CSPs to make more intelligent decisions, the “data wrangling” – hand-sorting through mounds of data to collect what’s most relevant – is still consuming precious time and resources. In fact, according to recent research from The New York Times, data scientists spend 50 to 80 percent of their time just “wrangling” the data, to ready it for action.

While the xDR has usually been the only link between the network and customer data, now, the key to alleviating time-consuming data wrangling will be found in data orchestration – empowered by analytics and contextual intelligence. This will revolutionise how CSPs use data for operations, customer relationships and business planning.

A new, intelligent approach to event processing can help to make sense of this information tsunami, and fully leverage that data to make operations and businesses more intelligent, and enable real-time decision making. By combining more intelligent analysis and predictive analytics with complex event processing (CEP), it’s possible to bridge informational silos between back-office systems and glean actionable foresights that go far beyond simply processing transactions.

Imagine, for example, if your analytics-enriched mediation system could foretell when there’s going to be a service peak or potential revenue loss before it happens. Or what if OSS/BSS could communicate and correlate network and customer data, then send automated messages to customers based on current network events? Maybe it’s to notify customers of potential bandwidth issues in the next hour or to tell them about a new product.

Through data integration and orchestration enhanced with embedded analysis, that’s finally possible.

Measuring the Customer Experience

OSS/BSS systems are highly effective at processing the data related to billing and assurance, with the analysis based on xDRs. Full-blown data integration, ingestion and orchestration brings all the information from other sources into the mix, so CSPs have a full view of network and customer activity across an array of sources.

With that data collected and aggregated, machine learning-enabled mediation can have a big impact. Intelligent mediation can explore data and forecast service usage, which better informs service forecasting, operational efficiency and impact on revenue. Through a streamlined and intuitive presentation layer that allows for data visualisation through dashboards, CSPs can detect signs of service anomalies and patterns in customer behaviours that allow for proactive decision-making. By consolidating the data and learning from it through sophisticated artificial intelligence, this new kind of mediation can create displays and dashboards that help operators view opportunities and risks that were previously invisible.

Protecting Revenue with Operational Intelligence

Customer experience isn’t the only thing that can be vastly improved through intelligent mediation. Revenue loss often occurs when xDRs are lost, corrupted or otherwise arrive incomplete or malfunction in network becomes evident as a sudden drop of usage events is reported for a service. These errors can get lost in the processing shuffle, and by the time they’re detected, revenue has already suffered. Intelligent mediation can help prevent these issues.

By observing the deviations between the forecast and observed values of transaction records, the mediation system, leveraging predictive analytics, can notify operators that there’s an anomaly. Machine learning ensures that this process continually grows more intelligent and capable of more rigorous analysis in the future.

Analytics-enriched mediation empowers CSPs like never before by allowing businesses to make the most of the data that’s already being transmitted across networks and allows for real-time decision capabilities thanks to analytics and automation. With an embedded analytics-engine in place that can contextually read data and automatically send notifications to both customers and the operations team, CSPs can sidestep the data wrangling and make mediation systems – and business processes – more intelligent than ever before.


Want to learn more about intelligent mediation? Download “What You don’t Know Will Cost You: Using Contextual Intelligence in OSS / BSS Operations to Protect & Increase Revenue,” a whitepaper sponsored by Comptel and authored by ICTIntuition.
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Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Posted: April 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , | Comments Off on Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Steve Jobs was famous for his obsession with design. He believed that to make a brilliant product, one needs to control the design of all aspects of the product and not rely on third parties if that means losing control over design.

This obsession led to many Apple products that stand out as being superior in terms of the full customer experience, which in turn helped the company grow and build a loyal customer base.

Most operators’ strategy includes the term Customer Experience in one way or another. Even so, are operators really focused on this throughout all steps of their product development process? Are they thinking strategically about Experience Design?

Comptel recently introduced the term Strategic Experience Design, explaining how this focuses on mapping journeys that customers will take with a product or service.

For example, let’s look at a mature market operator serving customers on tariff plans with data volume caps. Our operator offers a streaming music service accessed through operator-specific apps. The music service is very popular among customers and the operator has put a lot of effort into the app design to provide a good customer experience, aligning layout and functionality with other apps and websites from a set of Experience Design guidelines.

As data traffic increases in the mobile network, more and more customers reach their monthly data volume cap and need to decide whether to top-up or upgrade to a bigger plan.

What the operator might not realise though is that 90 percent of customers who reach their monthly volume cap do so while listening to music on the operator’s music streaming service. And reaching the cap results in a negative customer experience because the music pauses without any message explaining why.

To get this insight, the operator would have to combine data from several systems that are usually not combined – or get feedback from a large number of customers.

Using this insight, the operator could improve the music streaming app to be aware of the data capping and include options for customers to decide how the app should behave when they reach their data cap during music streaming. The additions to the app design could be a real-time data volume counter in the app and settings to allow automatic top-up if the customer’s cap is reached during streaming. In addition, the network could allow music streaming beyond a customer’s cap until the end of the next track or playlist.

Incorporating these levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network is an example of Strategic Experience Design. The operator leverages all data sources to gain insights and allow apps to interact with them in real time to offer the best possible customer experience. Our operator’s current approach has resulted in a very good app, but the customer experience is hampered by the fact that not every journey has been mapped out.

By thinking about Strategic Experience Design, the operator gains a competitive advantage over third-party music streaming apps, which can’t offer the levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network. This would act as a retention driver leading to improved loyalty and also as an acquisition driver leading to customer base growth (once the competitive advantage is understood outside the operator’s current customer base).

This is very much like what Steve Jobs did at Apple.

He applied an almost obsessive hands-on approach throughout all steps of a product design to ensure brilliant products – often rejecting ideas of development engineers on subjective design grounds. And although Steve Jobs didn’t have a term for his obsession and occasionally had an unstructured approach, he successfully used Strategic Experience Design as a true differentiator.

This is a guest post from Allan Greve, a co-owner of tefficient.

Tefficient is an international efficiency specialist providing telecom operators and -suppliers withanalysis, benchmarks, consulting and coaching.


How Telcos Can Benefit From Big Data Analytics

Posted: January 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on How Telcos Can Benefit From Big Data Analytics

Big Data has been, and continues to be, one of the buzziest terms in the tech world. Big Data analytics are essential for separating important customer and business information from the rest of the data. The contextual intelligence gleaned from Big Data analytics can, and should be, an important consideration for any business decision CSPs may make.

By examining customers’ social behaviours, such as call detail records (CDRs), how frequently they place calls outside of their networks, etc. CSPs can develop targeted, relevant marketing campaigns that simultaneously reduce the likelihood of churn and create new business opportunities. Of course, this is only one example of how Big Data is reshaping the way CSPs, and other companies for that matter, do business. Just take a look at what people in the Twittersphere are saying about Big Data’s future.

Comptel has pulled together some recent developments for Big Data analytics below. Enjoy!


A Telco Opportunity: In Taiwan, Mobile has Replaced TV as the Media of Choice

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on A Telco Opportunity: In Taiwan, Mobile has Replaced TV as the Media of Choice

Most analysts agree that widespread 4G deployment is right around the corner in Taiwan. The nation has always been a prominent mobile player in the telecommunications market, especially with initiatives like the Mobile Taiwan program, which have emphasized wireless access for all Taiwanese citizens, whether they’re in New Taipei City or a village in the mountains.

According to 4G360, the region’s communications service providers (CSPs) are looking to enter the 4G market early next year. With the infrastructure in place, this could  open a world of new opportunities, especially considering the sheer amount of data being exchanged across networks in Taiwan already.

One new study from InMobi highlights this phenomenon in detail. The research shows that, on average, mobile users in Taiwan spend six hours consuming media each day. More than a quarter (27 percent) of that time is spent on a mobile device, making it the number two channel for media consumption after desktops and laptops and actually placing it ahead of television. And even when they are watching TV, 20 percent of Taiwanese users surveyed said they look at their mobile phones at the same time.

So what does this all mean for CSPs in Taiwan? Mostly, it shows that it’s time to look at their customer relationships in a whole new way.

An Exponential Experience

Recently, Digitimes asked the three largest CSPs in Taiwan, Chunghwa Telecom (CHT), Taiwan Mobile (TWM) and Far EasTone (FET), about their thoughts on the future – especially when it comes to 4G. The consensus was that competition would be stiff. When it comes to 4G, CSPs won’t just be battling for market share with traditional operators, there will be an intensifying contest between CSPs and OTT providers like Google, Facebook and the services available from the iTunes App Store.

“Unlike 3G, which is positioned mainly as an access [point] to the Internet, telecom operators have to think of 4G as a platform to provide various application services,” said FET President Yvonne Li. “In this respect, FET stresses establishment of close cooperation [and] relation[ships] with subscribers.”

She added that, in the competition against OTT providers, CSPs won’t win in the race to build the best product or technology. Instead, they should strive for superior subscriber relationships and retail channels.

Improving subscriber relationships means paying closer attention to what customers want and need from CSPs. As VP of Research Monica Zlotogorski recently wrote on Telesperience, that hasn’t historically been the strongest point for telecom operators.

FET has taken strides to improve the customer experience already, investing in technology that allows for more intelligent mediation, charging and fulfillment.

More Media, More Problems

The revelations about Taiwanese mobile media usage should strike a chord among CSPs. Usually, telcos are seen as obstacles to getting the media the user wants – whether the connection is slow, there’s a limit on a data plan, or Wi-Fi is hard to find.

A lot of this has started to change within the past few years because of Big Data analytics tools, which can segment customers by mobile usage and allow CSPs to customise different marketing offers and networks accordingly. As 4G becomes widespread and media becomes even more accessible than before, optimising the customer experience will be a crucial strategy for telcos that are looking to stay ahead of OTT providers. By becoming a strategic and intelligent service enabler, CSPs can become an active and integral proponent of a customers’ needs, making sure the journey is as smooth as possible, from start to finish.


How Big Data Blurs the Borders of Business and Technology in the Telco Industry

Posted: September 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

This post was written by Ulla Koivukoski, SVP of Comptel’s Analytics Business Unit, and Malla Poikela, senior product marketing manager.

The new normal today is that we live in an ocean of data. Now, it’s up to companies to transform that data into actionable insights that can have a real impact on business.

In the telco industry, creating a vision for data hinges on creating insights based on customer behaviours and around the networks that provide the data in the first place.

For that reason, communications service providers (CSPs) face a unique opportunity when leveraging the power of Big Data. Applying realtime analytics can deliver a holistic and contextual view of customer habits and preferences, and show exactly how CSPs’ underlying infrastructures may be affected by them.

Finding the Platform for the Vision

Any CSP that has delved into the depths of Big Data knows that the sheer amount of information at their fingertips can be staggering. That’s why an intelligent mediation environment is crucial for processing the customer and network information and helping to transform that knowledge into concrete insights. With a mediation platform, in-built predictive analytics can be used in tandem with insights visualisation tools to enable operators to make real-time, automated decisions and actions based on the experience of an individual customer in his/her activity on the network.

These insights aren’t stale numbers; they’re dynamic and are contextually relevant for each individual customer. Analytics-enriched intelligent mediation can lead to unprecedented personalisation when it comes to marketing offers and business development opportunities. Today, those focused campaigns are a must – one survey from Vanson Bourne, in fact, confirmed that nine out of ten consumers wanted more personal interactions with their mobile operator.

Unifying Business and Technology

Previously, data was the domain of business intelligence (BI) teams that would collect, analyse and then disseminate information throughout different departments. But that’s all changing. New insights and analytics tools have made analysis easier and more accessible than ever before, so data is becoming democratised.

This means that the same dataset with insights and predictions can be made available for all decision-makers across an organisation instantly, regardless of department (as Ulla has written before). If all of the relevant silos have access to that information, marketing, technology, IT and business development can be streamlined, and silos are removed from the equation.

In short, accessible data blurs the borders between different company departments. The CIO, CTO and CMO can easily work from the same set of information to get insights about customer behaviour, prevent QoS driven churn, improve network and service quality, and create more sophisticated and targeted campaigns.

The Future of Marketing is Networks, and the Future of Networks is Marketing

At Comptel, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the future of marketing is networks, and the future of networks is marketing.

Given the massive amount of customer data available, CSPs already have the power at their fingertips. They just need to get the right tools for the job, so it’s possible to reach out and grab it.


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!


To Reverse Declining Revenues, the Telco Industry Has to Think Outside the Box

Posted: August 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A new report from independent global analyst firm Ovum showed that the telco industry may be experiencing declining revenues for the near future. Most of the decline will occur among telcos with significant exposure to Europe and other mature economies. The only significant growth is taking place within emerging markets, particularly China.

The findings come from a review of full-year KPIs of 23 of the world’s largest telcos, and the analyst firm expects revenues to slow down until at least 2018.

Ovum’s review may or may not come as a surprise to communications service providers (CSPs), which have already been in a constant dance to adapt to the latest technology and the latest competition. While Ovum’s findings seem grim, they should be embraced as an incentive to modernise and innovate their service offerings and customer focus.

The telco industry can look at two things in particular: finding the equilibrium that balances OTT contribution with their business models, and leveraging core competencies and rich data to operationally transform into a “customer company.”

1. Treat OTT players like inspiration, not competition.

The loss of revenues telcos are experiencing is, more often than not, blamed on OTT players. There’s no doubt that services like Apple, Google, Skype and WhatsApp are draining business from the industry, but that doesn’t mean that the answer is to aggressively defend market positions, or turn the other way and pretend they don’t exist.

Ovum’s telco operations analyst and report author Adaora Okeleke suggests using them as inspiration. “Telcos could feasibly play a role as service enablers, but they first need to adopt the leaner structures of OTT players such as Google,” she said in a statement. “By partnering with application developers and allowing them to use their secure platforms for service delivery, telcos will be able to drive innovation and reduce time-to-market.”

As my colleague, Steve Hateley, recently wrote, another option is to try new pricing structures that OTT players can’t give to customers. Some CSPs are experimenting with unlimited bundles, as opposed to reversed, limited bundles. There are also potential strategic alliances that could be built between CSPs and OTT providers that benefit everybody. After all, OTT players still depend on the network infrastructure that CSPs provide.

2. Create more efficient operations.

By invoking the “leaner structures” of Google, Okeleke acknowledges that there are inefficiencies in the current telco business model. But it doesn’t take too much digging to discover that this is a common sentiment.

As an example, many CSPs have more than one mediation and / or provisioning platform, which can end up producing redundancies and slow, error-filled service roll-outs. OSS consolidation may seem intimidating, but the rewards are worth it – by consolidating five systems into a single Comptel Convergent Mediation platform, for example, one CSP recently reduced operational costs by up to 30 percent.

Additionally, having a central solution for their increasing amount of network, service and other data allows CSPs to more effectively apply contextual intelligence to overcome their business challenges associated with better customer understanding.

The Future of Telco

There’s no doubt that things in the telecommunications industry are getting shaken up, but new technologies can offer a host of opportunities for CSPs just as old revenue and business models continue to decline. Comptel is working hard to provide those solutions to the telco industry, and we’re excited for the future, because those solutions mean a better experience for customers and better operations for CSPs.


Using Predictive Analytics to Put a Spin on Old Marketing Campaigns

Posted: June 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Using Predictive Analytics to Put a Spin on Old Marketing Campaigns

Three years ago, I was writing my first blog post about how I had received a package from Formula One racer Kimi Räikkönen, the coolest guy in the universe. In Finland, as part of our school traditions, every first grader gets his or her first mobile phone at the age of seven. That is when our award-winning school system begins to educate our offspring in order to meet OECD and Pisa test requirements. The battle for these new mobile subscriptions is fierce, with communications service providers (CSPs) offering a wide range of options to parents and their kids.

This week, the same package arrived for the next class of first-graders – only this time, Angry Birds had replaced Mr. Räikkönen as the mascot. Finnish mobile operator DNA Finland sent a prepaid SIM card to every Finnish mom (including me) who had a child that was born in 2006 and entering the first grade. Three years ago, I thought that this campaign was extremely clever. Now, though, I’m wondering if DNA Finland could have learned something during the past three years. Sure, the mascot may have changed, but the campaign is largely the same. With new tools like predictive analytics available to CSPs, it seems like the marketing could become much more sophisticated.

DNA Finland knows that I am not their customer and the same applies to other household members. As Comptel’s recent global consumer study showed, having friends and family members who were using the same operator was the third most important factor (41%) for consumers when choosing a CSP. Does DNA Finland know that I didn’t choose them three years ago? Could this campaign have been better customised for mothers who aren’t already DNA Finland’s customers?

I have been waiting for Elisa’s counter offer and I’m wondering if they are using analytics to discover that I am extremely likely to bring them new business by August. After all,  our family already has a wide selection of Elisa’s offerings – four mobile subscriptions and one broadband (ADSL) connection. One mobile subscription is for the enterprise customer segment, our broadband connection is in the corporate segment and the rest of our SIM cards are under the consumer customer brand Saunalahti.

I can’t help but wonder if all that information is scattered across various silos and systems. That could make it difficult to apply analytics to all that data and leverage it for new marketing campaigns. Ulla Koivukoski, Comptel’s senior vice president of the analytics business unit, recently wrote  about the distinct silos in CSPs and how business units aren’t always looking to solve the same problems. Customer Experience is the issue that bridges the divide between all the competing business interests. And, while receiving an Angry Birds-themed package is nice, I would have remembered something that was personalised a lot more.

With current targeting methods marketers typically end up either with target groups that are too defined and small – it does not make sense to campaign or the campaign scope is too generic and therefore likelihood of inaccuracy increases, as the case in the angry birds campaign. Comptel Social Links can change the mind-set in marketing by combining the marketers’ expertise of selected target group with machine learning letting the algorithms find the customers most similar to the obvious customers. Predictive modelling results will be available for the marketing team instantly, resulting in more accurate hit rates for campaigns, higher customer satisfaction and finding optimal users for the product or service marketed.

CSPs want to make sure that customer service is as good as possible. If you’ve delivered a great customer experience, your efforts are turned into new business opportunities. The first step, though, is to find out just how to use the data you already have to deliver that customer experience. Maybe the next group of first graders will get packages that are a little more customised.