Compelling Cases: Comptel Fulfillment in Action

Posted: August 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Context
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.

Conversion
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.

This and other third-party validated case studies are available at TechValidate-Comptel Solutions


The Benefits of Social Network Analytics for Marketing

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Benefits of Social Network Analytics for Marketing

Social network analytics (SNA) is becoming increasingly popular as communications service providers (CSPs) look to better understand their customers and secure a competitive edge in the market. As part of an advanced analytics approach, SNA enables CSPs to dive into the billions of daily transactions on their networks and utilise the calling patterns to identify influencers and better segment their subscribers – and ultimately realise more value.

For instance, call detail records provide CSPs with a unique insight into social interactions through the daily communication of their subscribers. This network may be even more important for CPSs than most online social networks, for example, which are just snapshots of a person’s interactions, many of which may not be very relevant, especially with regards to the activities of CSPs.

However, SNA alone is not the ultimate end-all solution and is, instead, one very valuable aspect of the larger scope of analytics. And when combined with predictive analytics, SNA truly offers a distinct advantage for CSPs. For instance, they can use SNA to power their predictive capabilities and generate insight regarding data that is otherwise unavailable on the single subscriber level. On top of this, SNA and predictive analytics can help CSPs benefit from the interactions between subscribers, help with overall customer experience management and automate operational actions to increase productivity. And let’s not forget, perhaps the best known application of SNA, viral marketing – an approach that remains one of the strongest, most effective marketing techniques. But again, it’s crucial to take into account that understanding the social network alone is not enough. Rather, when combined with the right product, predictive analytics powered by SNA can really make a difference.

Take, for instance, a teenager who texts frequently. If he or she receives an appealing SMS rate reduction that’s just right for them – perhaps one that predictive models have indicated would be suitable – this subscriber will be more likely to spread the word to those in his or her network, causing a positive ripple effect. As a result, many of these connections may pursue that same SMS rate, providing an increase in revenue for the CSP.

Ultimately, recommendations from family and friends can be far more effective than traditional advertising. In this way, combining predictive analytics and SNA can play a key role in any CSP’s arsenal. And of course, a well-executed SNA strategy balances providing personalised offers without infringing on subscriber privacy.

If you’d like to read more about combining predictive analytics and SNA— and taking this even one step further to understand and act upon the context of each interaction — download our recent whitepaper with Heavy Reading on Contextual Intelligence. What are your thoughts on SNA? Is it of value? Are there actual network influencers whose recommendation you follow regardless of the topic? Or would you say you’re more swayed by having CSPs make the right offer, and it holds more weight when the offer is recommended by those whose opinion you trust in the context of what is being offered?


Around The World

Posted: July 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

GigaOM…
Why Are MVNOs So Hot Right Now? Thank the Carriers

The number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) nearly died out in the past decade due to over-segmentation. Today, however, they are making an astounding recovery by reselling bundled voice and data services at affordable prices. According to GigaOM journalist Kevin Fitchard, “MVNOs are thriving because the big network operators are letting them.”

Historically, the larger operators made it difficult for MVNOs to take advantage of their data networks. They would charge prohibitive rates and force partners to pay for megabytes up front. But the market has recently changed, and operators like AT&T and T-Mobile are selling more airtime, while others are working directly with MVNOs to craft plans in exchange for a percentage of revenue. There are pros and cons to working with each operator, but it’s clear this shift is benefitting MVNOs.

The trend, however, hasn’t been as good for operators who risk losing their competitive advantage. The article points out that they, most likely, either feel forced to cooperate or are trying to reap the wholesale benefits of selling to MVNOs. Ultimately, these types of customised offerings and bouquet of service options benefit customers that now have more choices when it comes to selecting their network operators.

Pipeline…
Moving Customers to Tiers

Data capacity and bandwidth constraints continue to be a major concern for communications service providers (CSPs).  According to Cisco, the consumption of over-the-top (OTT) video is predicted to quadruple by 2016, at which point more than 1.2 million minutes worth of video will be travelling through the Internet every second. Additionally, as smartphone quality increases so too does their use for bandwidth-intensive activity, like video streaming. And as users are increasingly becoming data-centric, CSPs must figure out the most effective method for implementing controls on usage.

Some operators, like Comcast, are offering tiered data services to manage the network. While this may be a viable option, it’s also likely that subscribers will push back on this change in plan. However, keeping customers satisfied could simply come down to the variety of tiers a provider is offering like charging based on the type of data used instead of the volume, or paying more for priority data during peak hours. Ultimately, CSPs have the ability to differentiate diverse types of data in ways that they never have before. This means more targeted services and the potential to really stand out in the market.

What options other than tiered pricing do you think can be effective?

MarketingLand…
Airlines & Telecom Companies Are Best At Facebook Page Customer Service

A recent study revealed telecom and airline industries are tops when it comes to providing customer service on Facebook. T-Mobile and Sony Mobile were the most active brands in responding to customers and prospects, while telecom companies showed their customer-centricity by replying to 60.4% of user posts between March and May of this year.

This is crucial as Conversocial, a social media tracking site, indicated in a recent study that 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that ignore complaints on Facebook. It’s clear customer service should play a key role for CSPs not just on social media channels, but also as a standard practise throughout the business. For instance, CSPs can tap into the customer data they have on hand and determine – at an individual level – who to engage with, the right message to use, and the right time to do so. They can also monitor for issues within the network and proactively reach out to customers– before they head to Facebook to address the issue, the CSP has already responded. Now that’s customer service!


Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part One

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When following the hot industry trends, I found a lot of excitement around LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and wanted to share my thoughts on this emerging technology.

So what is LTE-A?

Well, in the simplest of terms, it’s the latest advancement in radio technology that will put one Gigabits/s bandwidth (or 1000 megabits/s) to your mobile device of choice, whether it’s a laptop, dongle, tablet or smartphone (and eventually feature phone). Network rollouts will occur once the technology is proven in trials and compatible devices are available.

For comparison, you can get up to 100 megabits/s through LTE technology and up to 24 megabits/s with ADSL technology. The bandwidth that LTE-A enables is similar to the fastest speeds from Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) technology and about three times faster than that of cable. It is also approved by the International Telecommunications Union as the true 4G technology irrespective of what industry marketing and some communications service providers (CSPs) are saying about LTE and DC-HSPA. Globally, we are just deploying LTE infrastructure, and thus, LTE-A will have its first major deployments sometime in the future.

Some Perspective

While the maximum speed will most likely be very theoretical, at least in the beginning, the technology promises to provide all of the bandwidth we need without wiring everything together physically, allowing for true mobility. To put that bandwidth into perspective, one HD quality video stream can consume up to tens of megabits per second depending on the encoding/decoding technology used. This would then decide how much of the CPU and graphics chip on your device would be used and how much battery life they consume on decoding the video feed. The less bandwidth that is consumed (and hence tighter compression used in video encoding), the more work the CPU and graphics chip will have to do, and more battery will be consumed. In theory, you would not need much video compression with LTE-A, as there is plenty of capacity and hence less demand on battery, CPUs and other chip development needs. Think about several HD video channels being streamed to your device and having the ability to use other services in parallel. It would also enable higher upload speeds, so your multi-megapixel DSLR pictures could be streamed to your cloud storage or photostream of choice in near real time.

Is there really a need for this much bandwidth?

I’ve witnessed first-hand that once more bandwidth is available, it will get used. Remember the times of MS-DOS and the famous statement that 640 kB of memory is enough for everything? I’m feeling a bit old here, but seriously, we are masters of consuming 97% of our hard drives, for example, no matter what the capacity is—and the same applies to bandwidth. With recent advancements in HD displays in relatively small form factor (e.g. retina display in the new Apple iPad), it’s almost guaranteed we will consume available bandwidth. I’d think, however, that with such bandwidth, the need for large local storage on devices becomes less important, especially as cloud storage is becoming more affordable. Hence, we will see more video-enabled devices with minimal, built-in storage capacity.

LTE-A sounds promising, right? In my next post, I’ll discuss this technology further and highlight some areas where there’s room for improvement.


Preparing for Mobile World Congress 2012 with Great Anticipation

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Preparing for Mobile World Congress 2012 with Great Anticipation

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to blog, and a lot has happened in that time— you will see it when you visit us at Mobile World Congress (MWC) or online. Change wasn’t, however, the only reason for blogging.

While preparing for the event, I was reflecting on my past MWC experiences, and concluded that a lot is different, yet a lot is the same. What I mean is that we’re in the same place, Barcelona, in the same booth area, with many of the same companies and same people around us. But just like over the years we have evolved the frequency and way we travel around the world, our industry is undergoing a change, too.

Customers rightfully demand better value for money in terms of fairer treatment, better service and more interaction, and they are willing to spend more for premium treatment, like our recent study shows.

Just like me. I have recently had a few different customer engagement experiences and have decided to share one of them with you. It’s not specific to telecommunications but is an example in real-life customer experience nevertheless, and we all have these.

I have an ongoing issue with my car and its annual maintenance. Finland has quite a strict law on car maintenance, and for older cars, they are inspected annually for their condition. Well…I don’t drive an “old” car (over three years) but had the first inspection nonetheless. It didn’t go smoothly…

I had some pre-inspection maintenance carried out and got a green light from the shop. A truly very nice and helpful experience. I was also told that my issues with cruise control were now fixed. I then went to the inspection, and to my surprise, got two recommendations for corrections (with a notice of 10 days to fix them) for items that the maintenance report claimed were “checked and ok.” Not good.

Naturally, I called the maintenance shop, and have to say, I was given exemplary treatment. I was given the choice of my preference for the revisit time without any conditions, a free temporary car with no mileage limits and a very nice service manager who took as good care of me as he could in this case. The shop fixed the issues of the inspection and informed me when the car was ready via sms. It said that there were no charges, and explained what had happened, what they found out and what they did to fix the issues. The only problem is that the cruise control still doesn’t work.

I’m sure I will get great service once I’m able to return to the shop. I admit frustration that I need to visit it once more, but I know the staff acknowledged their error, will treat me well and will do their best to fix the problem. Not much more I can ask.

What is great about this experience is what makes a good treatment of a customer. The issue was not treated as the customer’s fault, plus keeping the customer informed and aware of what is being done, has been done and will be done in case the problem persists, is a great example of a real-time personalised treatment.

It would be great if the service was completed the right way the first time around, but technology can be complex and not very easy, so sometimes it just does not happen. Admitting failures, plus adapting to a customer’s schedule and needs, is a way to take care of a problem. Mistreatment, untimely communication or lack of engagement is a poor approach that can lead to further frustration and general customer dissatisfaction.

This is a level of engagement we all would like from our communications service providers (CSPs). With dropped calls, call scrambling, lack of bandwidth or network congestion, it would be great if the CSPs could immediately respond and inform that they have identified the issue and will do their utmost to give me, the customer, the best possible service at all the times. The good news is that the need to deliver a high-quality customer experience like this has been well acknowledged across the industry.

Like I said in the beginning, they require “change”, and Comptel is changing, too. We are passionate about helping CSPs engage with their customers in real time, and understand their customers’ personalised needs to interact at the right time with the right proposition in that specific condition. We hope to collaborate with CSPs to combine our knowledge to conquer the issues.

We have a lot to offer from self-care-driven, just-in-time activation of SIMs and services that enables service personalisation and dialogue-driven engagement with customers, to real-time, next-generation fulfillment and catalog-driven order management. Plus, Comptel can drive personalisation, quality of service (QoS) management and monetisation of data services with policy control and integrated charging, and support the explosion of transactions in the data-driven world with next-generation mediation. We also have recently added real-time predictive analytics to tie together our vision of ‘event-analysis-action’. It’s about making intelligent use of data to engage in a new way and to take actions towards improving the customer experience in real time. I think it’s beautiful.

I look forward to MWC 2012 and to meeting with as many new and old acquaintances as I can. Visit Comptel at Stand #1C06. Let’s ‘co’mmunicate!


Thinking of Postponing BSS/OSS Enhancements? Think Again

Posted: December 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Thinking of Postponing BSS/OSS Enhancements? Think Again

By: Deb Osswald, Research Vice President, Next Generation Network (NGN) Operations, IDC

Communications service providers (CSPs) often prioritize network investment over OSS/BSS, but they need to think again. OSS/BSS is now, more than ever, a critical enabler in shaping service portfolios and the customer experience.

It seems that with IT and networks converging and more and more services being delivered from IT clouds, we think CSPs might want to consider prioritizing IT-centric BSS/OSS initiatives right up there with network-enhancing ones. While we will stipulate that the network is the central asset of CSPs and is clearly worthy of major investment, it is also CSPs’ operational efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility that can more often than not help them distinguish themselves in the increasingly crowded communications landscape.

Unique assets like a flexible billing system and a simple-to-use, easy-to-navigate self-service, web portal can give CSPs a real advantage in the marketplace; plus, some increasingly important application areas such as analytics, policy management and customer experience management (CEM) can add to their value propositions. With robust capabilities in these key areas, CSPs will have much more to offer than the over-the-top (OTT), Internet-based service providers can possibly offer because these abilities will allow them to be much more innovative in how the service or application is ultimately created, configured, bundled/delivered and supported. In addition, CSPs are uniquely equipped to leverage differentiating capabilities like location, presence, context and even augmented reality to create new service mashups or supplement a specific application to improve its utility and ultimate value to customers.

Also, CSPs must be equipped to tap into the vast ecosystem of application, service and content providers, and must have highly automated systems and processes that can handle rapid integration, management, delivery and customer support for third-party-provided service components, applications and content. Costly onboarding of an independent software vendor’s application or slow and laborious implementation of a new pricing plan for data downloads can cripple the profitability of an otherwise highly profitable offering. To make matters worse, if CSPs don’t have their operations up to par and ensure they are highly automated, and yet are able to get to market an innovative offering that suddenly attains great popularity, the offering’s very success can kill profitability for that offering. A lack of automation for a particular offering that achieves a high volume of sales can dramatically impact profitability by compressing margins to unacceptable levels that will turn an otherwise successful launch into a financial and operational disaster.

With growing opportunity residing in the SMB and mid-market enterprise segment, CSPs would do well to invest in BSS/OSS enhancements, cloud infrastructures and integration of the two in order to ensure they can support business-critical application delivery (via the self-service SaaS model) to this important customer set that is fast-embracing the value of the on-demand, pay-per-use application model.

The bottom line is CSPs must realize that investing today will yield significant dividends tomorrow. Missing the boat on this new services paradigm (cloud, M2M, etc.) by not investing in operations today is missing the boat on attaining relevance in the markets of the future. Leverage your networks, invest in your BSS/OSS and provide customers with a relevant portfolio of fully automated, high quality, secure services, applications and content. Also offer customers a positive experience (high quality of service, SLAs when appropriate, etc.) and use the network to elevate the reliability of your offerings, but ensure that success of an offering means financial success as well.

Deb Osswald manages IDC’s research on telecom industry business and operational practices and systems and contributes to the firm’s broad portfolio of network infrastructure market research. She is leading IDC’s telecom software research with a focus on delivering business value to clients through research efforts focused on communications service provider (CSP) investments in software-driven IT, including cloud and machine-to-machine (M2M) service enablement platforms, analytics applications and tools, business and operational support systems (BSS/OSS), service delivery platforms (SDPs) and next-generation policy management.


More from Management World Americas: Why Attend Tradeshows?

Posted: November 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on More from Management World Americas: Why Attend Tradeshows?

This was the question TM Forum’s president and CEO, Martin Creaner, posed during Tuesday’s keynote speech at Management World Americas in Orlando. He noted that almost everyone in the industry is aware of the current challenges facing and opportunities awaiting communications service providers (CSPs), from increasing pressure on revenues and the threat of cyber security, to the potential of data mining and the impact of new regulations. With competition at every turn, Creaner believes that CSPs must transform or risk being relegated into dumb pipe status—delivering someone else’s services to someone else’s customers for a low return.

And the real value of attending tradeshows and conferences isn’t to find out about these trends, but rather to explore how our peers are addressing them. And it seems that every CSP’s strategy is centered on growing new revenues while maintaining a superior customer experience.

CSPs are looking at innovative marketing techniques, new pricing models and more, in order to grow revenue and offset the erosion of traditional income streams. They’re also looking at innovative content services to generate complimentary additional revenue, with things like smart grids, M2M and mobile payments. These all have huge potential but also pose huge risks because, as Creaner said, you don’t know what you don’t know.

In that same vein, it’s a reality that OTT players and complex value chains have a distinct presence in the market, and the only way to assume a role here is if the CSP can add value. Creaner believes that the fact that CSPs own a network, or own lots of customers is not enough—to penetrate the OTT market, they will need to prove they are adding a particular value that the whole industry needs.

Ultimately, when it comes to maintaining and growing the customer experience, a holistic view is needed. CSPs must focus on end-to-end customer experience management and be in a position to manage service quality across the key value chains.

We’re excited to continue this conversation with colleagues and peers at the show, approaching Management World Americas and the ever-changing telecom world in general with an open mind.


Closing out the 2011 Comptel User Group

Posted: June 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Comptel User Group has come to an end. Last week, nearly 200 communications service providers (CSPs), partners, industry analysts and Comptelians from around the world travelled to Helsinki to discuss OSS/BSS and the importance of marrying technology with business strategy – and to celebrate Comptel’s 25th Anniversary.

Three major areas stood out, especially during Wednesday’s CSP presentations. First, and unsurprisingly, was managing the data and device explosion with OSS/BSS. Country host DNA Finland spoke about its application of policy control to help cope with subscribers’ demand for mobile broadband. The operator emphasised the importance of differentiation and network resource prioritisation / utilisation in order to keep its customers satisfied and come out on top in a fiercely competitive market.

Harmonizing OSS/BSS was also largely talked about during the conference. Two of our oldest customers, one from Latin America and one from Europe, reviewed their initiatives to increase efficiencies—whether in terms of cost, service delivery, etc. The first discussed its focus on migrating pre-paid customers to post-paid, while the second explained how it has been modernising its inventory system by consolidating and automating interfaces and outsourcing application maintenance.

Lastly, several CSPs shared how they were leveraging OSS/BSS to cater to specific market needs and thus grow their revenues. A Brasilian cable MSO touched upon how it is looking to mediation to help increase productivity and optimise customers’ home visit experiences (e.g. for installation and service support). In another case, a Kuwaiti operator talked about how it is enabling real-time, online provisioning and activation with Comptel Dynamic SIM Management—all to fulfill the region’s desire for vanity numbers.

There were certainly some interesting stories and takeaways this year! Attendees, should you have any additional feedback on the 2011 Comptel User Group content, we welcome your thoughts. Or if you would like to learn more about any of the above areas and how Comptel can help, please contact comptel.marketing@comptel.com.