By Mika Korpinen, Senior Vice President, MEA, Comptel Corporation
Saudi Arabia is becoming one of the world’s biggest technology markets, partly on the strength of a tech-savvy population of young professionals. To help sustain this growth, Comptel works alongside the largest digital and communications service provider in the Middle East and North Africa, STC, to educate and empower the next generation of IT talent in Saudi Arabia.
Our long-time customer reached out to Comptel for support launching its brand-new employee training initiative. The four-month “Young IT Talent” programme educates recent Saudi university graduates on telecommunications networks and Comptel technologies, while also providing the skills they need to succeed in future leadership positions within STC.
The development of young Saudis countrywide is an important national issue, and Saudi society greatly values any investments made in the education and betterment of youth. Our joint programme is particularly relevant given the kingdom’s emergence as an IT powerhouse.
The Comptel-STC partnership offers young Saudis the chance to develop business acumen, communication, presentation and writing skills, programming language aptitude, as well as an understanding of key technologies and software best practices. STC turned to Comptel because of our broad IT experience, comprehensive solution portfolio and innovative industry vision.
“Comptel was a natural partner to help us roll out the programme given our long-standing relationship and the important role Comptel technology plays within our business,” said Younes Al Suhaibani, director of IT integration applications at STC.
The program includes four modules over fourth months. Trainees receive on-the-job training in STC’s Riyadh offices, and then travel to Helsinki and Kuala Lumpur to spend a month in each city working within Comptel’s key research and development centres.
From these locales, the graduates are educated on the principles of Operation Nexterday, covering the new digital buying experience, the demands of Generation Cloud, the power of intelligent fast data and the possibilities of new digital service monetisation strategies and ground to cloud service orchestration. They also enjoyed international business mentoring and first-hand exposure to different cultural perspectives.
Ultimately, the program benefitted not only the young trainees, but also STC and Comptel. STC has gained access to new staff that possess an accelerated understanding of technology and communications. And by operating a first-class training program, STC is able to attract the best and brightest young talent from the community. All this helps STC meet present and future business goals to ensure long-term success.
For Comptel, the program supports long-term business goals in the emerging Saudi Arabian market. It also ensures that the next generation of Saudi IT talent is well-educated on the principles of Operation Nexterday and Comptel technologies.
“Our joint programme sets up both new employees and STC for success – this competency development initiative will help ensure software delivery and development best practices, reduce time-to-market, optimise costs and resource utilisation, as well as empower future leadership,” explained Teo-Tuomas Hirvonen, vice president of strategic accounts at Comptel.
Most importantly, the young professionals who passed through the program will understand the way globally leading software development works and gain a new global perspective on business, technology and culture. In an increasingly globalised world where innovation proceeds at a rapid pace, this experience will be invaluable to the future development of Saudi Arabia’s IT market.
In November, Comptel will launch the antiseminar that telcos have been waiting for. Nexterday North will bring together the brightest minds in telco to spur innovation and explore creative ways to reach Generation Cloud and transform their businesses for the better. Register for Nexterday North to reserve your exclusive spot.
To reach their customers, digital and communications services providers need to be able to speak the language of today’s digitally savvy consumers, or “Generation Cloud.” Our new study, released earlier this week, suggests that communications between both parties – mobile operators and their customers – could stand to further improve to the benefit of an enhanced digital buying experience.
Comptel commissioned independent research house Vanson Bourne to survey marketing and technology executives at 50 communications and mobile operators across APAC, EMEA and Latin America. Respondents were asked for their perspectives on sales, marketing and technology investment strategies in the era of Generation Cloud.
According to the results, 70 percent of CMOs and CTO/CIOs are investing in improved customer service capabilities, while 68 percent are focusing on expanding digital service offerings this year. By pointing to these two areas of investment, mobile operators are recognising the rapid change in the way end users – both individuals and businesses – buy, the type of digital services these buyers want, and how they prefer to be served.
Generation Cloud, after all, knows it has all the power in the buyer/seller relationship. These digital natives are eager to research, compare and shop around for highly personalised services that meet their terms.
However, mobile operators also recognise that their current ways of working limit how effectively they can reach and intrigue increasingly demanding consumers. As the survey revealed, some operators (22 percent) feel they lack an adequate understanding of their potential customers, and the wide majority (84 percent) feels current sales models have become irrelevant in a time when customers want personalised, instantaneous offers.
In short, mobile operators aren’t necessarily confident that the way they communicate and serve their customers actually addresses buyers’ most pressing needs. The solution is to shift toward the type of sales, marketing and service playbook we advocate in our book, Operation Nexterday – one that puts the customer at the centre of a new, flexible and intelligent service experience.
It was encouraging, then, to see the majority of respondents agree that investing in next-generation technology is a top priority. One such technology is virtualised and cloud-based infrastructure (cited by 88 percent of respondents), which empower digital and communications service providers with the optimised network architecture they need to bring new and creative services to market faster.
Machine learning and process automation was another technology priority for 84 percent of survey respondents, which is a positive sign that telco CXOs see the analytical value these capabilities provide. With intelligent fast data, operators will be able to draw instant insight from the mountains of data they collect from customers, and immediately refine, enhance and act on that information with in-the-moment personalised offers. Each digital moment is a monetisation opportunity, and operators merely need the technology to maximise each one.
Far from dwelling on telco shortcomings, the survey ultimately underscored that digital and communications services providers know what it will take to succeed in this new market. The question is, do operators have the tools, flexibility and creativity to make the right moves faster than their competitors?
We’re entering a new era in telecommunications – a “perfect storm” of technology capabilities that challenges digital and communications service providers to serve a more demanding type of customer, particularly those of “Generation Cloud.”
I recently discussed this with Kelsey Hubbard in an interview for the NASDAQ CEO Signature Series – you can watch our full conversation here. As I explained to Kelsey, consumers and businesses today are surrounded by a wide range of technological capabilities that never existed before – from hyper-connected smartphones, to smarter applications, to high-speed networks, to cloud computing, to Internet-enabled devices and much more.
With all of this technology at their fingertips, customers are becoming better connected and more demanding of the digital services they use. “Generation Cloud” expects to get the services they want right on time, love comparison tools that allow them to get the best price and value for these services, and discard any notions of mass segmentation in favour of highly personalised and targeted buying experiences.
Serving these customers effectively means overcoming a number of collective blind spots that persist within telecommunications. Operators must specifically answer a number of nagging questions: How do we win the hearts and minds of consumers in the digital era? How do we effectively monetise new digital service opportunities? With whom should we partner to reduce friction and enable faster speed-to-market and time-to-revenue?
Kelsey and I discussed how Comptel has repositioned itself over the past several years to better tackle these questions on behalf of our customers. We want to embrace the principles of Operation Nexterday, and our biggest strategic objective for the next few years is to better connect digital supply and demand, so our customers can turn emerging service opportunities into the “perfect digital moments” for their end users. Transforming these perfect moments into revenue-driving business moments will allow operators to develop stronger relationships with their own customers and reach greater heights.
How will we do it? As I explained, Comptel operates at the intersection of two major industry transformations:
The entire telecommunications market is steadily moving toward a type of network infrastructure that Comptel has long embraced: software-defined networks (SDN). We have traditionally provided software that allows operators to manage resources in the network and now in the cloud, and as a result, we believe Comptel is uniquely positioned to support the industry’s larger transformation now and in the future.
A big determinant of operator success in the coming years will be in their ability to turn intelligence into opportunities in real time. Having intelligent fast data will become critical. We’ve been a Big Data company for 27 years – Comptel currently collects 20 percent of all mobile data worldwide – which puts our company in a position to address that massive amount of data and provide analytics and other services on top of that.
Removing Complexity and Friction
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to chat with Kelsey about the unique challenges and opportunities that face not only Comptel, but telco as a whole. As Comptel sees it, every significant industry trend boils down to the need to eliminate inherent complexity.
We want to leverage our expertise to reduce friction points and make it easier for operators to give their customers exactly what they want at the right time on the right device, and earn revenue while doing it.
We think focusing on simplicity is the right course of action as telco steers its way through the perfect storm of consumer, technology and service trends.
Enterprise customers desire an easy way to purchase and even re-sell digital services, but operators are missing out on this opportunity because they don’t offer an intuitive and engaging digital buying experience, according to a recent report.
ICT Intuition and Coleman Parkes Research released the results of its “Enterprise Multi-Client Study,” which surveyed more than 1,000 global business leaders across a variety of industries to better understand what enterprises want from connected digital services offerings – as both users and potential resellers. These offerings include, among many others, security and IT infrastructure management applications, business insight or data analytics programs and sales management tools.
The survey – findings from which were also published in our book, Operation Nexterday– revealed several insights into the steps operators need to take to monetise the digital services opportunity. As ICT Intuition president and founder Nancee Ruzicka explained, “operators are not taking advantage of a potentially lucrative market in which businesses are eager for connected digital services.”
According to the survey, 81 percent of respondents are currently using connected digital services to improve productivity, generate revenue or reduce business costs. Of the 19 percent who are not, all said they are considering these services.
On top of that, 71 percent would even like to bundle such connectivity into the products they sell, and among that group, 95 percent said they would want to partner with a digital or communications service provider to achieve this.
The report also explored the types of digital services businesses would pursue and their buying criteria. Businesses today largely prefer to purchase cloud and managed services that require minimal upfront development and maintenance, said the report, because they themselves lack the technology expertise and resources to build up their internal IT capabilities.
Turnkey connected digital services are, therefore, the preferred choice among many business buyers, especially if operators are able to help with implementation and development. Additionally, enterprises don’t necessarily need digital services that integrate with legacy systems, as they are happy to replace existing IT applications with faster, better technology, according to the survey.
How Operators Can Improve
Ultimately, the chief revelation was that enterprises are much more comfortable with digital services than previously expected. In fact, as Ruzicka writes, businesses today desire the same advantages and experiences that digital services offer consumers – if only operators would make it easy for them to partake.
“Businesses don’t have the time or resources to build business functionality themselves, and even for unique, industry-specific applications, only 2 percent are not considering as a Service (XaaS) options,” Ruzicka wrote in the book. “This is a seller’s market, so why aren’t digital and communications service providers selling?”
One big difficulty is that many operators currently lack a simple digital platform through which business customers can quickly search for and purchase digital services – something similar to the mobile app store experience consumers already enjoy.
That’s an experience operators will need to develop, something that can be achieved through next-generation operations and business support system (OSS / BSS) solutions. The insights drawn from such a platform can also inform future value-add services and revenue opportunities, thus fuelling future growth.
Ultimately, enterprises are ready to start talking about digital services, if only their operators could get on board. Savvy digital and communications service providers that embrace forward-thinking technologies stand to benefit in a big way.
Life is full of digital moments. Comptel strongly believes that digital and communications service providers who perfect these moments have a unique opportunity to rise above the competition and thrive today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow – namely, Nexterday. In fact, we wrote a book on it.
In Operation Nexterday, we describe the perfect storm currently changing the way operators serve customers and drive revenue, securing their future in the digital and communications industry. It all starts with Generation Cloud, digitally savvy group of consumers and businesses who are setting a new standard for service in today’s highly connected digital world.
These buyers make real-time purchasing decisions and shop on their own terms. They don’t want to play by the old rules of engagement, and if your products and services are too restrictive or slow for their needs, they won’t hesitate to switch to one of your competitors.
The numbers back this up – a recent consumer survey we conducted in January 2015 revealed that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of consumers prefer to purchase digital content when and how it is convenient for them.
And these pressures aren’t restricted to B2C buyers. As our book explains, the trends of hyper-personalised marketing, multi-channel purchasing and instant gratification extend to B2B buyers as well. Instead of separating B2C and B2B channels, we need to start thinking of a unified business-to-human approach.
How do operators adapt to this new landscape?
By embracing Operation Nexterday to help rewrite your playbooks for approaching sales, marketing, technology and service in the age of Generation Cloud consumers and prosumers. Our book describes those who are pioneering the market, offers industry research and features third-party expert insight, offering the strategies you need to transform your business. More specifically, it includes:
Examples from operators like T-Mobile and Telefonica, who are successfully turning the industry on its head with new service, sales and marketing, and technology strategies
Research and insights from leading industry voices such as Fredrik Jungermann of tefficient, Dr. Mark Mortensen and Anil Rao of Analysys Mason, and Nancee Ruzicka of ICT Intuition
Thoughts on transformation through strategic innovation from Professor Neo Boon Siong, Chairman of the Nanyang Executive Education and former Dean of the Nanyang Business School at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University
Operation Nexterday, which will be available in hard and soft copies, will be officially released at a special launch party on Monday, 2 March at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The party will be held at 5 p.m. CET at our stand, #5G40. We invite you to join us to pick up a copy of the book and learn more about our suggested framework for guiding operators’ future in the digital and communications industry.
If you are not attending Mobile World Congress but would like a hard or digital copy of Operation Nexterday, please contact our team at email@example.com.
We urge all like-minded telco professionals and businesses to join the Operation Nexterday movement by getting the book and spreading the word, which you can do with the #operationnexterday Twitter hashtag.
Comptel’s growth accelerated towards the end of the year. Our sales in Q4 grew by approximately 21% compared to last year, and our order backlog grew significantly compared to the previous year.
During the second half of 2014, we won several new customers as well as several multi-year deals with our existing customers. In Q4, we won two new customers, both in South America. Looking at the full year, we doubled our new customer wins: to eight in 2014 compared to four in 2013.
Our new solutions grew almost 26% in Q4, as well. However, our full-year expectations for new solutions did not materialise as we had expected. Our current business was strong and grew by 5% in 2014 as a whole and compared to the previous year.
Regionally, Asia-Pacific grew throughout the year, Europe had a very strong second half, and the Middle East performed as planned in 2014. As previously stated in 2014, our challenges were in the South America region.
Our net profit improved also significantly from previous years due to some previously made tax changes in Asia and also due to some new decisions by the tax authorities. Going forward, we expect this to reduce our effective corporate tax rate.
We ended the year with a solid balance sheet and continue to be net cash positive. During 2014, we secured 26 significant orders, valued over EUR 0.5 million. In 2013, the comparable number of orders was 17. The Group’s reported order backlog increased from the previous year, from EUR 40.8 in 2013 to EUR 55.2 million at the end of the 2014 financial year. The company’s total backlog including multi-year orders beyond 12 months is more than EUR 70 million.
Comptel renewed its organisation in the beginning of 2015. The new organisation reflects the company’s focus on the two core business areas. Going forward, the two business units are: “Comptel Intelligent Data” and “Comptel Service Orchestration.” The Comptel Intelligent Data business unit includes Comptel Convergent Mediation, Comptel Policy and Charging Control and Analytics. The Comptel Service Orchestration business unit includes Comptel Provisioning and Activation, Comptel Fulfillment and Comptel Inventory.
Moreover, the company continues to have common sales and services organisations and corporate functions. In addition, Comptel established a new business unit, which will concentrate on new ideas and products in the early stage to develop them further.
Business Outlook and Markets
The business environment and industry of telecommunications operators is at a clear turning point, since new technologies and business competitors are entering the traditional telecommunications market. We expect the trend to continue in 2015.
While fundamental investments are targeted to high bandwidth, 4G and fibre networks, operators have a strong need to develop and launch new services and improve the quality of the customer experience, to gain the full potential of their investments in a heavily competitive market. Fierce competition inside the telecommunications industry and against the newcomers in the same market requires that operators improve their business processes continuously and pay special attention to their cost structure.
The significance and role of software in managing the telecommunications networks and in enabling more business for operators will further increase. We expect that the implementation of new network technologies and services will slightly increase the value of the software market and will create demand for larger software delivery projects. The operators will require both services and new project deliveries that create a strong basis for business growth. Network technologies will also be moving to software-based cloud environments at an increasing pace, and will bring new and more extensive business opportunities for our service orchestration and intelligent data solutions.
We expect the 2015 net sales to grow compared to the previous year, and we expect operating profit to be in the range of 8-12%, excluding one-time charges. Characteristically, a significant part of Comptel’s operating profit and net sales is generated in the second half of the year.
By Stephen Lacey, Director of Business Architecture, Comptel
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has been overseeing standardisation in the telecommunications industry for more than two decades, and in our work, Comptel has been closely following ETSI’s principles for nearly that long.
Our involvement with the organisation first started from our roots in data processing and mediation; so you could say that we’ve adhered to ETSI standards since the beginning of GSM.
Over the years, part of our business has increasingly aligned itself to fulfilment and orchestration of complex enterprise, residential and subscriber services (rather than solely provisioning and activation), and as ETSI itself became more involved in orchestration, we began to consider whether it made sense to join ETSI fully. We are pleased to share that in the latter half of 2014, we officially became a formal member organisation.
The Influence of NFV
The tipping point was in 2012, when ETSI launched a workgroup for Network Function Virtualisation (NFV). This Industry Specification Group (ISG) was developed at the behest of seven communications service providers (CSPs), who desired standardisation around this nascent technology. Interest in NFV has since increased significantly especially in 2014 and will continue to grow this year, as more operators consider how it can help them move away from expensive, proprietary network hardware toward more flexible solutions.
Additionally, the other elements of our product portfolio, including mediation and policy control, are considered as network functions and will be deployed within the NFV environment in the future.
Ultimately, we feel that Comptel’s proposition—having a complete, automated software stack that requires very little intervention—was unique to ETSI’s workgroup, and that we could help provide a more complete picture into NFV deployment, scale and capacity management challenges, as well as offer effective insights to support standardisation in this emerging area.
Workgroups in Focus
Today, we are one of more than 200 CSPs, network equipment providers (NEPs) and technology companies within the NFV ISG, working to conceptualise and contribute to the standards that will guide this technology’s application in the years ahead. Formal meetings are held quarterly – the next one is scheduled for February in Prague. Individual work streams have monthly meetings to hammer out these standards – the next one for the interface and architecture workgroup is being held mid-January in Shanghai.
The NFV ISG has only just completed the first phase of standardisation, where the high-level architecture and design of this technology infrastructure is being developed. We are now entering the second phase of standardisation, where member organisations are divided into work groups to focus on specific items, such as examining the management and orchestration of an NFV system via an Operations Support System (OSS) interface.
How Operators Win
One major benefit of ETSI’s workgroups is that they bring together organisations from all sides of the industry to guide a collaborative and forward-looking conversation about an emerging area of telecommunications. Since Comptel will be intimately involved in those conversations now and in the future, we will be able to bring a higher level of expertise to conversations with our customers. We are excited about being directly involved in NFV’s development as a new foundational platform for network infrastructure.
NFV will define our future. More operators want the flexibility to run network operations software on commodity hardware, so that they can keep pace with the cloud-based competitors now edging their way into the market. To truly position yourself as a fully formed CSP, you need a partner who knows where this software-defined market is headed.
Visit our SDN/NFV Resource Library to learn more about how cloud and virtualisation technology helps operators unlock cost savings, enable flexible networks, and compete on a higher playing field.
It’s hard to believe that 2014 is just about to come to a close! Like we’ve discussed in Decembers past, Comptel sends season’s greetings cards electronically and donates the money saved from the traditional, printed cards to a charitable fund.
Last year, Comptel selected UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In 2012, we started a project with Kiva, an organisation focused on connecting people through financial lending to empower entrepreneurs. Our contribution to this non-profit has since generated 38 loans in 24 countries.
In 2011, we donated to Plan International, one of the oldest and largest children’s development organisations in the world, which works to promote child rights and bring millions out of poverty. And, our donation for 2010 went to the Kileva Foundation, which helped pay for the building of a Kileva Eastfield Primary School classroom.
Drum roll for this year’s chosen charity…which is Right to Play! While food, water and shelter are essential, so is a childhood, complete with education and opportunities to actively engage with other children. There are areas of the world today where children are not able to experience the benefits of play – and Right to Play aims to tackle this problem.
Right to Play uses the power of play to educate and empower children to be guardians of their own health and active participants in their communities. The organisation’s programs create positive experiences and teach important life skills that help children adopt and maintain lifelong healthy behaviours and attitudes.
There is more to come in our work with Right to Play – stay tuned! But, in the meantime, we wish you, all of our customers, partners, investors and friends, a peaceful and happy holiday season and look forward to another fruitful and cooperative year in 2015.
By Jussi Ware, Vice President, Australia and New Zealand, and Alliances APAC, Comptel
After 15 years of business in Australia and New Zealand, Comptel celebrated the opening of a new office in Sydney, Australia on 4th December.
Our business and customer base in Australia and New Zealand have grown steadily since we opened our original regional office in 1999. Today, eight of the leading telcos in the Australian and New Zealand market are Comptel customers. In recent years, Comptel has played an important role, in particular, in national broadband initiatives both in Australia, supporting NBN Co, and in New Zealand, supporting Chorus and Enable as part of that country’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme.
The new office celebrates our continued commitment to support communications service providers and other telco industry players in Australia and New Zealand.
It was a pleasure to host a party to reinforce this and Comptel’s success in this market. Guests included local customers and partners such as NBNCo, Tech Mahindra, Alcatel-Lucent and Pactera. Representatives from Finpro, Team Finland and the Finland-Australia Chamber of Commerce also brought some Finnish flavor to the party.
Mr. Pasi Patokallio, Ambassador of Finland for Australia and New Zealand, gave the welcome address followed by comments from Comptel CEO Juhani Hintikka.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to add value and provide local support and relevant solutions to our customers around the globe. The new Sydney office will allow Comptel to further grow within the Australian and New Zealand telco markets, while strengthening our ability to serve customers in this part of the world.
Comptel is pleased to announce that we had a strong third quarter in 2014 compared to last year, both in terms of quarterly growth in net sales as well as in terms of profitability
In the third quarter, our project and license revenue grew by 20 percent compared to the third quarter in 2013. Our growth came both through winning new customers as well as from new projects. Our new and current business areas grew in the third quarter compared to last year.
We also secured six significant orders, valued over EUR 500,000. Our existing customers in Saudi Arabia and India placed significant orders and we also won a new customer in Pakistan. Also our backlog strengthened significantly overall. In 2014, Comptel has won six customers compared to four last year.
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