Zain Technology Conference Focuses on Customer Experience and the Future of Telco

Posted: December 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Zain Technology Conference Focuses on Customer Experience and the Future of Telco

Times are changing for the telecommunications industry. Different consumer habits, new mobile devices and increased competition from OTT players have all made companies rethink their revenue models. Services that used to play a big role in operators’ bottom line, like voice and SMS, have fallen to the wayside. Now, there’s a definite need to make up for those losses and more telcos are investing in technologies like predictive analytics.

At the recent Zain Technology Conference in Dubai, more than 600 participants gathered to discuss these trends and more. Hosted by Zain Group, which offers telco services in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, the event was a massive success.

Panelists, thought leaders and executives got together to share insights and tips. More than anything, though, they discussed topics that were close to the theme of the event: “Innovating Zain’s customer experience.”

Comptel has always believed that telco needs to improve the customer experience to move forward, and this conference showed that we are far from alone with this line of thinking.

The Events List

Keynote presentations were delivered by Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer and CTO Hisham Allam. Other presentations featured senior leaders from companies like Ericsson and Huawei. There were also more than 80 interactive sessions that discussed the future of the telco sector.

The theme of customer experience resonated throughout the sessions, speeches and impromptu meetings. Comptel’s session, “Engaging with Customers Through Data and Technology,” touched on these points as well. Vice President of Comptel’s Analytics Business Program, Jimmy Ruokolainen, explained how data and analytics can help create contextual, automated customer experiences that predict value segments, improve customer satisfaction and remove silos by unifying business and technology. Zain Kuwait has covered this topic before, as the company has been leveraging some of Comptel’s Social Links to improve customer experience through analytics.

The levels of competition today in the telco sector have made it imperative for every business to think about different ways that services can be distributed, marketed and, ultimately, delivered. This event, the third Zain Technology Conference, was bigger than either of the two before it. That shows promise for the future. It’s easy to tell that most communications service providers (CSPs) today are willing to broaden their horizons and experiment with new things to offer a better customer experience.

CEO Scott Gegenheimer summed it up well, saying:

“This has been our largest conference to date, and we are thrilled to see how much it has grown and how beneficial it is to our colleagues in the technology sector as well as to ourselves. With 63 technology providers taking the opportunity to present their latest technologies and solutions, I am confident that many valuable conversations were held over the three days, and that Zain Group’s view of its future is better understood by our suppliers and partners.”

Comptel’s Take


Comptel couldn’t agree more about emphasizing the intersection of technology and customer experience. Happy, loyal customers are going to be the most important business advantage for CSPs in the coming years, which is why Comptel invests so much into contextual intelligence for communications. Through innovative new ways in fulfillment, marketing and analytics, businesses will be able to meet customer needs in a way that personalises each interaction. In turn, customers will have positive impressions of the brand and will be far less likely to churn.

Going into 2014, it’s clear that customer experience is only going to increase in importance. But, judging from the attendance at Zain Technology Conference, CSPs will be more than prepared.


5 Mobile Trends for Telcos to Watch in 2014

Posted: November 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on 5 Mobile Trends for Telcos to Watch in 2014

The changes for the telco industry will continue into 2014.

It’s the time of year when businesses in every industry are starting to think about what lies ahead. For the telecommunications industry, the past few years have been rocked by change in both consumer habits and technology… and 2014 looks like it won’t be any different.

From debates about national regulations to the increasing influence of OTT providers on the mobile landscape, next year is sure to be a decisive one for many communications service providers. That’s why Comptel decided to take a look at some of the most important developments for telcos and put them together on one page.

Here are five mobile trends for telcos to watch in 2014:

Want to learn more about what’s on the minds of telecommunications providers? Download our full Comptel User Group APAC Survey findings about Big Data, fulfillment and more.
Download the Full Survey


Around the World: Connectivity in Africa, Big Data Analytics and Adaptation

Posted: November 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World: Connectivity in Africa, Big Data Analytics and Adaptation

This week, there were a number of new insights across the telco industry. At Comptel, we’ve been keeping track of the ones that have really caught our eye. Here are three interesting articles that have come out recently:

Developing Telecoms

LTE Investment Key to African Connectivity

A panel of experts was asked by West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) how they would invest $100 million to improve Internet access in Africa, where connectivity is currently at the lowest rate in the world. Developing Telecoms’ editor James Barton believes that installing new 4G/LTE networks would create the best return on investment. He added that once people in Africa start accessing next-generation mobile networks, new competitive markets can open and, in turn, make Internet access more affordable.

Earlier this year, we wrote about the upcoming boom in mobile devices in Africa. By 2016, it is forecast that there will be more than one billion phones across the continent. The $100 million investment proposed by WIOCC may be hypothetical right now, but the need for 4G/LTE in the continent is a reality.

Information Management …

Big Data and Analytics Help Business Transform and Gain Competitive Advantage

Communications service providers (CSPs) are turning to Big Data analytics tools to cope with the constant changes in technology and consumer behavior. Through the use of these solutions, they can better adapt to new customer trends and prevent churn. CSPs, in particular, deal with a heavy amount of data, because of the high volume of calls, texts and data usage traveling across their networks each day. All of that information can be harnessed to create more targeted marketing offers, support better business planning and drive innovative infrastructure deployments.

Ulla Koivukoski argues that Big Data could potentially bridge silos across an organisation, too. By working with CTOs and CIOs, CMOs can create personalised campaigns by drawing contextual intelligence out of the network, customer and other data available to them. Consequently, silos can be overcome, and CSP executives can work toward the common goal of enhancing the customer experience.

Billing & OSS World

CSPs, Other Businesses Aren’t Adapting to Customers

A recent study by Ovum found that 90 percent of CSPs and other businesses are at risk of being irrelevant to their customers in the near future. Because of organisational silos and slow decision cycles, dynamic customer responsiveness is lacking. The findings show the need to create a fluid customer process that ensures each individual receives personalised attention in a timely manner. Building relationships with customers and earning their trust can help organisations remain relevant, and increase overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Big Data and Analytics are on APAC Telcos’ Minds

Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World, Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CSPs in the APAC region are thinking hard about Big Data and analytics. 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


Analytics Everywhere: A Recap of IBM’s Smarter Business 2013

Posted: October 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

This post was written by Malla Poikela, senior product marketing manager and Leila Heijola, channel marketing manager


We recently went to IBM’s Smarter Business event, which took place on 10 October at Finlandia Hall. We learned more about the increasingly important role Big Data and analytics will play in the coming years for businesses. That’s a topic dear to our own hearts, too, as Comptel works hard to help communications service providers (CSPs) leverage all of the information at their fingertips, turn it into contextual intelligence, and improve their business decision-making and performance.

What did we learn at the IBM event? The highlights of the key notes included:

  • 90% of data was created in the last two years
  • 86% of leading organisations say customer experience is the top priority
  • 81% of customers depend on social sites in their purchasing decisions
  • 72% of business leaders say that cloud is important

In particular, Big Data driven by smartphones, devices/sensors and social media, and insights, predictive analytics, mobility, cloud and the customer experience played a central role in the event. We would like to share the key takeaways from the variety of customer, partner and IBM presentations and live product demos.

Analytics for All

The central theme of IBM’s Smarter Business 2013 was how Big Data offers a totally new spectrum of innovative ideas and opportunities. Analytics is at the core of every data effort, a pervasive answer for almost “all” business problems. The three major trends we identified at the event were:

1. Big Data will make a “segment of one” a reality. Part of optimising Big Data analytics is about achieving a new level of personalised marketing. Let’s call it “segment of one.” As the number of customer touch points continues to increase, the intelligence from each touch point can help master customer interactions across different channels.

In turn, this will allow marketers an extremely granular view of customer needs, allowing for true individualisation and customisation of solutions and interactions/engagement.

2. Visualisation. Advanced visualisation tools and dashboards for business intelligence and predictive analytics, also known as the “face” of analysis and insights, will help democratise data across an organisation. Where reams of numbers and solid data only legible to IT were once the norm, newer tools offer easy and intuitive interfaces that make data accessible to more stakeholders than before.

This will usher in new perspectives on how to leverage data accordingly, because everyone from the CMO and CIO/CTO to the sales team will be able to get involved.

3. Process Optimisation. With powerful analytics tools that can span different departments, businesses will be able to better gauge efficiencies and effectiveness. That will allow for a deeper understanding of essential business parameters, challenges and anomalies. By providing a comprehensive and holistic view of customers, business and technologies, an analytics dashboard will allow companies to create a clearer picture of what should be done in development, marketing, system optimisation and more.

The Needs of the Future

Maybe the best way to demystify predictive analytics is by presenting the business results that have been achieved with it. At IBM’s Smarter Business 2013, those results were described as “astronomical,” as the proper application of predictive analytics can significantly reduce churn and improve campaign success rates by exponential degrees. As the democratisation of data and devices continues, we can only expect to hear more of the same.

This was a very insightful and well organized event. We gained plenty of valuable information and are looking forward to visit IBM Smarter Business again next year.


Comptel’s Q3 Results and Review

Posted: October 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Comptel’s Q3 Results and Review

Comptel announced Q3 Interim Report on October 16th. We continued the successful execution of our main target for the year – the improvement of profitability. Our cost base is now notably below last year´s level which has significantly improved our ability to generate profit. We have also maintained significant investment level in our two main areas for the future which are the Comptel Fulfillment and Comptel Analytics.

We have received significant new orders from the fulfillment area during this year and the first next generation Comptel Fulfillment solutions have been taken into production use by our customers. Overall our fulfillment business has grown much faster than the market during this year. In terms of the Comptel Analytics solutions we continued the development activities as per our plans. The first Comptel Analytics solutions delivered have generated significant enhancements to the operator´s performance. We expect to secure new customers during the remaining months of the year and we anticipate business to grow next year.

We secured two significant orders from our fulfillment product area during the third quarter of the year. Comptel closed a deal valued at EUR 2.8 million in South America in July and received an expansion order from a significant operator in the Middle East during September.


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!


You Don’t Need Eyes to See, You Need Vision: Why Big Data Requires More than Just Numbers

Posted: September 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , | 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!


New Northstream White Paper Explores How CSPs Can Leverage Analytics to Reap Business Benefits

Posted: September 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on New Northstream White Paper Explores How CSPs Can Leverage Analytics to Reap Business Benefits

This week, management consulting firm Northstream released a whitepaper showcasing how advanced analytics can help communications service providers (CSPs) improve all areas of their businesses. “Analytics Beyond the Hype” offers readers an overview of analytics in the telco space, demonstrates case studies from analytics vendors (including Comptel) and explores strategies that CSPs can apply to their business models today.

Specifically, the whitepaper charts the evolution of analytics from silo-specific, disorganized data to more consolidated efforts, as CSPs attempt to derive value from their Big Data and achieve their business goals. While analytics are not new, Northstream writes, the application of analytics to cross-departmental data is ground-breaking for many operators. In the past, traditional reporting has been limited to hard statistics like the state of the network, customer count and finances.

But that’s all changing.

New Analytics, New Opportunities

Northstream found that CSPs that are exploring the most advanced analytics tools are using data to build predictive models and real-time engines for offers that can immediately meet customer needs. Additionally, there’s a noticeable trend moving from mass marketing to personalised, individual marketing.

These developments in the world of Big Data analytics are imperative for CSPs looking to grow their businesses. Northstream states that, among European CSPs, ARPU has decreased by 6.6 percent year over year. Telco services are getting commoditised, and the market saturated, so the solution is for operators to differentiate by using their data.

Some suggested analytics strategies from Northstream 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

We were honoured to be included among the experienced CSP analytics vendors Northstream worked with on this study and encourage everyone to read it!

Download the White Paper!


Around the World

Posted: August 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

As usual, there’s been a lot going on in the telco industry these days. Comptel wants to bring you the best, most interesting stories and studies we’ve found, so communications service providers (CSPs) can stay on track.

Here are three in particular that caught our eye:

Billing & OSS World…

Big Opportunities From Big Data, But Barriers Remain

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed think that the main, long-term driver is generating new business models. Informa Telecoms & Media has released a new survey of telecom operators which shows that Big Data has the potential to create great opportunities for businesses in the future. The respondents also agreed that Big Data’s short-term driver is solving internal challenges.

Forty-eight percent of operators said that they have Big Data solutions implemented already. On average, they spend ten percent of their IT budgets on Big Data, and this is expected to increase to twenty-three percent within the next five years. However, a major barrier that continues to be an issue is that operators still lack a business proposition and a trained team to handle the implementation.

Comptel’s own Matti Aksela recently spoke to Telecom Asia on this latter issue: “Vendors operating in this space can have a very skilled team behind their analytics solutions, and knowledge on integration and decision-making based on the analytics, and can quickly achieve benefits for CSPs. It may be even easier to ‘tear down the silos’ coming from the outside than just working internally.” Read the full article on whether telecom operators should manage analytics in-house or outsource it here.

Analysys Mason…

Analytics Applications Provide Rich Functionality and Low-Risk Deployment to Help Drive New Use Cases

CSPs have been using traditional analytics tools to help review data, analyse it and report it. However, new analytics applications can be deployed and configured specifically for a CSP’s use case, automating the best practices learned throughout the industry while eliminating the need for scarce data scientists to help segment and manage the data.

The real challenge in deploying a new analytics solution is infrastructure. CSPs must be flexible about changes in operations, so the business can accommodate new tools into the workflow Infrastructures are usually created with a specific use case in mind, but when an application is on top of the old infrastructure, there’s always the risk of compatibility. Lastly, CSPs will have to depend on vendors for updates to the application. Analytics applications are beneficial for CSPs, but operators must have the means to implement a new system of data analytics for the analytics applications to be successful.

Matti Aksela spoke with Big Data Republic in June about Big Data’s ability to reduce churn through advanced, predictive analytics tools. Robi Axiata experienced the results first-hand – once the factors of churn were identified, strategies could be taken to predict and eliminate them in the future.

BillingViews…

Should experience come before the engagement?

With Big Data helping CSPs identify the granular aspects of the customer experience and customer engagement, it’s easier to see where in the organisation improvement is needed. While customer experience represents the sum of what a customer has experienced at a given time, engagement represents the sum of the customer’s experiences over time. For the customer experience to be improved, specific departments can be targeted and strategies can be recalibrated. Customer engagement, however, needs an enterprise-wise approach to be improved.

A customer’s lifetime value must be determined and closely nurtured by the entire organisation to ensure that engagement is positive and, as Ulla Koivukoski wrote, CSPs can uncover new revenue streams and grow businesses by focusing on engagement. Predictive analytics can play a major role in fostering departmental collaboration and, in turn, delivering high-quality customer experiences.