It’s no secret that customer experience is a crucial element to communications service providers’ (CSPs) business growth strategies. Last year, I talked about the necessity to anticipate customer needs to help accomplish this, as highlighted by a survey conducted with research firm Vanson Bourne. This year, we worked with the company again to gain a global understanding of subscribers’ feelings toward their CSPs and found that they indeed welcome, and in fact desire, this personalised communication at every touch point. This includes from the first interaction when joining the service (35%), to when they are experiencing issues with the service (61%), to when their needs are changing (40%).
When would you like to have more personalised help/contact from your operator?
The good news for CSPs is that these interactions can help recoup the 20% of revenue that is currently being spent on churn compensation and retention, according to telecommunications industry consultant tefficient. While this number is staggering, it also means there is a huge cost-savings opportunity – if CSPs can earn customer loyalty. For one, churn prevention can be significantly reduced as, currently, more than one-third of consumers indicated that they might consider changing their mobile operators now if they could.
Would you like to change your operator now if you could?
Adding to this, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be had if CSPs personally interacted more often with customers. For instance, almost two-thirds of consumers said that they would like to download large files to their devices more often if they had a better rate plan for their mobile data, better bandwidth or a better device, and nearly half (49%) would pay for a temporary upgrade to download those files more quickly and improve their viewing experience, if offered. On average, consumers are willing to spend $3.80 for a temporary service upgrade—accounting for an increase in ARPU of 12 percent.
If your mobile operator offered you a temporary bandwidth boost / data consumption upgrade for a small charge, how much would you pay?
As I mentioned in today’s press release, the key to making this a reality and, ultimately, to earn customer loyalty, is through contextual intelligence at every touch point. As the survey results show, consistent, personalised interaction puts CSPs one step closer to winning consumers’ hearts, more efficiently utilising assets and profitably monetising their offerings.
Data for this survey was gathered from consumers in Brasil, Chile, France, Germany, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. A full copy of the research report will be available at Mobile World Congress (25-28 February 2013 in Barcelona) in Hall 6 at Stand 6C30, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit our show microsite as well, for further examples of intelligence at every touch point.
I’m here at Management World Americas 2012 in Orlando, Florida, where the air is filled with excitement. This year, the theme is “everything that can be digital, will be” – which is reinforced by the rapid growth of our digital economy, expected to reach $20.4 trillion by 2013. Kicking things off this morning was TM Forum’s President and CEO, Martin Creaner, who addressed how to manage complex services as this growth continues, and discussed the industry’s transformation.
To illustrate his point, Martin drew a parallel to frogs – if you put a frog in cool water and then slowly increase the heat, the frog will boil alive before he realises that his life is in danger, even though he’s aware of the gradual temperature change. This is an analogy to the problems our industry faces. We realise change is happening all around us, in the types of phones we use, with increases in data usage, how we use that data, and beyond. But understanding these changes and actually doing something about them are two entirely different things.
That’s where the challenge of innovation comes into play. When it comes to innovation, there are two categories – the first is sustaining innovation, which is about making things better and improving on products and services that already exist in the market. The second, and more difficult type of innovation, is disruptive. This is focused on creating a new market, with new technologies and services.
Currently, market leaders tend to be strong with sustaining innovation and poor at disruptive innovation. Martin noted that, while always important to cater to customers, the downside of sustaining innovation is that it can hold you captive by them. To avoid being the boiling frog, organizations really need to both sustain and disrupt with their innovations. Martin explained that breaking the cycle comes down to putting space between your innovative efforts and the demand of existing customers. In doing so, you can not only innovate for the here and now, but also take steps to change for the future.
This is something we pride ourselves on at Comptel, especially with our Contextual Intelligence for Telecommunications (CIQ4T) concept – a way we’re innovating for service providers. It allows them to understand their customers with predictive analytics, and interact with them intelligently for relevant offers and, ultimately, for a better customer experience.
We’re excited to see what the rest of the show offers, and if you’re at Management World, stop by our booth (#7) in the expo hall!
It’s that time of year again – Management World Americas is about to kick off, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be presenting on day one of the conference in the Cable Summit with Rodrigo Duclos, CIO of NET. Part of a track on “The Road to Applied Success”, our session will cover the Brasilian cable multiple system operator’s (MSO) OSS/BSS transformation project and evolution to provide a richer customer experience.
Due to skyrocketing demand for broadband services, NET wanted to develop a more sophisticated quota management system, using the Comptel Mediation system, to enhance its communications offerings and personalise service and price plans for subscribers. Rodrigo will explain how the cable MSO was able to automate the mediation process and more intelligently analyse customers’ broadband consumption, and discuss the benefits this can bring to NET’s business. For instance, it allows for more advanced charging models based on service use and gives subscribers the power to control and monitor their usage and bills in real time—resulting in more streamlined operations, a flexible and creative business model and an enhanced customer experience.
Again, I’m very excited to share this great case study with Management World Americas attendees. I hope you will come see the presentation on Monday, 3 December at 10:30 a.m. EST in the Cable Summit or visit the Comptel booth (#7) in the expo hall.
Let me briefly introduce myself. I am Mauro Carobene. I have been appointed CMO in Comptel a few days ago. I have been in the BSS/OSS business since 1996, when I started my career in Italtel. Since then, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to leave the OSS/BSS arena. I have been in R&D, technical support, consultancy, sales and sales management roles.
I was asked me why I am still in this niche of the telecom market and not looking to do something else. I have asked myself the same question many times. If I look back to 1996 and consider what was understood as OSS back then, we have taken huge steps forward. Back in the day, most of the actions were completed manually on a type of VT100 terminal using MML commands. Today the situation has improved a lot on the one hand, but on the other the system complexity is growing exponentially. It is true that we have pretty user interfaces and nice tools to control the network, but it is equally true that the complexity of services and the time to launch and activate these services are growing exponentially.
To launch a new tariff plan five years ago required at least six months of planning. While still working in a different company, I remember working – already in March – in preparation for the Christmas campaign for one of our big customers… and I also remember how we failed the delivery already in November and how that customer was not able to run the campaign as planned. Nowadays, the marketing department of each operator (or Communication Service Provider since the difference between the two is getting bigger and bigger) can execute plans within a few hours. “Operators XYZ launched a flat fee campaign yesterday, we need to do it immediately as well!” and the CIO/CTO needs to execute immediately.
If someone asked me if operators have reached the right level of automation in running their operations, my answer is no. If we consider all the progress made in all the other fields of technology, I think that OSS/BSS is lagging behind.
What is missing?
1: “Plug and play” integration capabilities. When I buy an USB, I can plug it in to my computer and it works. I don’t need to care about the brand or the technology. I simply buy it, plug it in and I’m ready to watch movies, get auxiliary light or use a cup that keeps my coffee hot while I’m writing an email. This is USB. Does the USB “Plug and play” concept exist in today ‘s OSS/BSS? The answer is a definite no. Operators are still spending a fortune to integrate different components and applications. There are naturally good reasons for the current state of business, but the fact remains that we are still behind.
2: Time to market for new services. Ideally, every service should be 100% modular and completely separate from technology. The capability to build customised services should be available for everybody directly from a Web UI. If I buy a car, I don’t have to waste time thinking about the asphalt or the type of road in general when I drive. The level of expectation should be the same for telecommunications. We shouldn’t need to care about 3G, LTE or whatever technology. OSS/BSS should enable operators to completely separate the service layer from network layer, enabling them to build an overall service where each single service component can be hand-picked from a catalogue.
3: “Real decision automation”. Every CSP collects a huge amount of data and is capable of using different tools to correlate and post-process this data. The real issue is this: “Can these tools make decisions and make these decisions happen – and not just analyse?” If I drive a car and I have an ABS system, when I hit the brakes and the wheels start to swerve, the ABS takes immediate action. It doesn’t generate a report that says “you hit your brakes too hard and now you have crashed the car!” Just image what the driver of the said car would do with such report…Transforming analysis into action will be the key success factor in enabling automatic decisions.
This is why I am still in this business. I dream of the day when the operator CEOs will able to decide which component to choose without thinking about the possible hidden costs of the integration, will be able to launch a new tariff plan or a new service simply by asking for the PowerPoint presentation from their marketing department and last but not least, will be able to automate all the phases of the process without ‘having to hit a wall’ and then simply receive a report that states the obvious. This is what we want to achieve in Comptel and this is the mandate that will keep me in the OSS/BSS business for a time to come.
Last week, we announced Comptel’s financials for the third quarter of 2012, which proved that our earlier focus on cost containment is quickly showing results. This quarter was ripe with strong sales, bringing the company back to profitability, and I am very pleased to show revenue growth in all of Comptel’s areas of business.
We won two significant projects from South America – one is outside of our traditional domain, from a Brasilian utility company that purchased Comptel Fulfillment, and the other is with Telefonica Argentina that continued to consolidate its mediation systems with Comptel. Reinforcing our position as a powerful analytics vendor, we also closed a Comptel Social Links deal with a prominent operator group in the Middle East. In addition, there was a considerably large sized managed service deal, and a few larger upgrades of Comptel Mediation and Comptel Fulfillment contracts from existing customers.
As anticipated, the operating result for the third quarter was positive. We met the cost-savings targets set in June, and the cost level for this quarter was significantly lower compared to the first half of the year. Now, it is time to move forward following the regrettable personnel-related efficiency measure we completed during the quarter and continue the execution of our strategy. We’re confident that we’re moving in the right direction and are further improving the integration of our analytics capabilities and striving to deliver on our corporate values.
One of our goals is to become the leader in customer interaction automation for telecommunications, and we’re also looking to expand this outside of our traditional domain. This will ultimately have an impact on our sales and marketing strategy, which will both be aligned with the approach, as the role of our partners will become even more important. In order to implement the new sales and marketing approach, we decided to build a strong team of sales executives, headed by the newly established role of Chief Market Operations Officer (CMO), who will take the lead in this transformation. At the same time, we also simplified our Executive Board to ensure the organisation is as efficient as possible and can successfully execute the strategy.
Overall, the third quarter of 2012 has been quite busy. Maybe the best way to sum up this quarter is to simply reiterate how I concluded the last quarter: I’m honoured to convey, on behalf of Comptel, that we are looking forward to continuing to deliver on our promises to the market in the fourth quarter of 2012.
I recently had the honour of travelling to Almaty to lead the largest ever Finnish-Kazakhstani business delegation regarding trade and economic cooperation. Ninety representatives from 55 companies were involved in addition to Finland’s minister for European affairs and foreign trade, Alexander Stubb, and other high-ranking officials. Altogether, 13 business sectors were represented; the information and communications technology (ICT) team consisted of TeliaSonera, Nokia Siemens Networks and Comptel.
At the delegation, the key priorities outlined were attracting Finnish investments into the Kazakhstan economy and furthering innovation and new technologies between the two regions. What’s interesting is that, for the past ten years, Kazakhstan has been the third, fastest growing economy in the world after China and Qatar.
We also had the opportunity to meet with both communications service provider (CSP) KCell (a customer of Comptel’s) and Minister Stubb, which certainly proved to be a highlight of the trip. Our head of Europe East, Timo Koistinen, with regional sales director, Sergey Biryukov, accompanied me in a tournament, trying to meet all of the local service providers and naturally network with the other delegation attendees. Timo and Sergey succeeded in speaking to the other three CSPs in the region, KazakhTelecom, Tele2 and Beeline, first, and since they moved so fast, they also experienced the “magic touch”—the hand of the president of Kazakhstan on the top of the Bayterek Monument in Astana. My schedule was very tight with several meetings to ensure the whole trip went smoothly for the whole Business Team Finland.
In all, this type of event is an excellent way of promoting Finland abroad. I’m confident that many of us succeeded in building new relationships with the companies in the region while networking with our Finnish business colleagues.
Last week, we introduced our new blog post series, Compelling Cases, where we showcased a Southern European operator looking to stimulate growth and accelerate revenue generation. With the help of Comptel Fulfillment, the operator was able to implement a more productive service delivery process. Continuing on with our series showcasing Comptel in action, today we look at another major European operator that drastically simplified its network complexity and gained significant cost savings with Comptel Convergent Mediation
As is the case with many communications service providers (CSPs), while experiencing mobile subscriber growth this leading European CSP was also faced with more network transactions that needed to be gathered and converted into billable records. In particular, the CSP was seeking a solution that would allow it to more easily manage the collection and transformation of network billing transactions from its five operating companies with various network types. To accomplish this, the CSP turned to Comptel Convergent Mediation.
With Comptel’s Convergent Mediation, the CSP was able to harness its multiple networks into one unified platform where billing records from more than 40 million subscribers is now being efficiently processed – making for the largest single subscribers’ billing records processing system in Europe. Running on Linux-based hardware, Comptel’s solution is highly scalable so that the CSP can manage billions of events per day. And, the CSP now has the processing power to enable future growth with LTE transactions.
This complex mediation consolidation project was delivered in phases: The first phase was finalised in Q4 2011, within the same year that the contract was closed (Q1 2011). The completion of the second phase of the delivery project occurred in Q1 2012 and set the precedent for handling several billions of billing records generated by millions of subscribers in a single mediation system on daily basis.
Increasingly, there’s discussion within the telecom sector whether unlimited data is making a comeback. In fact, in Wednesday’s blog post we highlight a story asking this very question. This made us wonder how our readers are striking the balance between happy customers and manageable networks. We invite you to share your thoughts on this by voting in today’s poll — and, as always, we welcome you to post in the “Comments” section below.
As part of our “making data beautiful” initiative here at Comptel, we’d like to share real-life examples of how we’ve helped communications service providers (CSPs) put this idea into action. Today, we’re launching an ongoing series, “Compelling Cases: Comptel in Action,” that showcases the various successes of our work with CSPs through mini-case studies. These stories will illustrate real-life examples of Comptel’s solutions in action, starting off with today’s inaugural post on increasing productivity through streamlined service delivery.
Realising the need to stimulate growth and accelerate revenue generation, a mobile service provider based in Southern Europe embarked on a task to achieve these goals. To do this, the service provider sought to more efficiently introduce new products and services to its customers and to better manage its assets. After considering several competing vendors, the CSP opted to deploy Comptel Fulfillment, which would enable it to achieve its goals of offering a broader portfolio of products and services and simplify its service creation process.
With Comptel Fulfillment, the CSP would be able to take a multi-dimensional approach to solving its challenge. Specifically, Comptel Provisioning and Activation fully automates the process of activating subscriber orders, Order Management for end-to-end control of customer purchases, and Comptel Catalog for breaking down a sellable product bundle into technical network capabilities.
After beginning work with Comptel, the CSP was able to increase its process and IT efficiency, plus increase operational staff productivity by up to 10%. On top of this, a return on investment (ROI) is anticipated in just 18 months from the time of deployment. Ultimately, the CSP’s fully integrated approach to service order orchestration means they now have streamlined service delivery, improved asset management and a lower total-cost-of-ownership.
A few months ago, a friend made me aware of the Afrinnovator website displaying the tagline: “Putting Africa on the map,” with the goal of “telling the stories of African startups, African innovation, African-made technology, African tech entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs.”
First, this publication is focused on technology really changing lives. We’re living in a world where seemingly everything is mobile, where there’s an “M-something” for everything. For instance, there is mobile banking, education, agriculture, trading, health, security and government. Additionally, it’s about mobile meeting the daily needs of the consumer — not just a mobile “entertain -and -share-everything” mentality as I am more accustomed to reading about.
Second, these services are not only being delivered by “sexy” data bandwidth hungry smartphone apps, but are also using low-tech solutions that will work with even the least technical phone. For example, there is mobile banking using USSD, mobile medical diagnosis using MMS to send pictures, and even mobile vehicle licensing and resume submissions for jobs using SMS.
So, you may now be asking what the OSS angle is for an OSS blog.
Well, the point is the differences I noted between the mobile service innovation in developed vs. developing countries is an example of how markets naturally work to allocate resources at an aggregate level to meet their needs. However, while most people will tolerate my generalisations of developed vs. developing markets, it is fair to say that generalised services are no longer good enough for individual subscribers within markets.
Essentially, what is needed at an aggregate level is not necessarily what is needed at an individual level within those markets. This is what Comptel’s Customer Engagement Solutions can do to ensure an operator that the appropriate services and customer experience is delivered for individual subscribers, given their personal context.
Now, as a consumer of services I am the first to admit that I don’t always know what I want until after I have experienced it – or it is taken away. So, am I suggesting empowering operators with mind-reading abilities? You bet I am…