As you may have seen last month, Comptel has been honoured by World Finance magazine as having the Best Innovation of Western Europe, 2013. The award recognises Comptel’s ongoing efforts to provide new products and services to communications service providers (CSPs) that help them adapt their businesses to the realities of the telecommunications market today.
CEO Juhani Hintikka recently traveled to London to receive the award from World Finance’s Jenny Hammond. He also sat down with her for a brief video interview about the challenges and opportunities facing CSPs in 2014. Specifically, he discussed the emerging capabilities of software-defined networking (SDN) and the consolidation that’s impacting CSPs as the competition for revenue increases.
“It’s essential to differentiate by harnessing the intelligence and data available in CSPs’ networks,” he explained. That means CSPs need to think carefully about how their OSS/BSS are being harnessed and how Big Data analytics can be applied to derive increased value from them. He also detailed Comptel’s continuing innovations into automated service fulfillment and policy control and charging.
In addition to the interview with World Finance, Juhani wrote a feature for the magazine on what it will take for CSPs to grow today. For CSPs to evolve and take advantage of the new opportunities becoming available to them, he writes in the piece, silos need to be flattened, and data has to be democratised across an organisation. Only when C-level executives can focus on one common goal – and apply the latest technology – can CMOs, CTOs, CIOs and CEOs work together to fuel a new kind of customer experience and drive their businesses forward.
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.
In June’s poll we surveyed the trendiest buzzwords circulating within the telecoms sector. “Analytics/Big Data” edged out with 43% of the vote, followed by “Customer experience management” with 38%. Rounding out the top three was “Innovation” with nearly 10% of the vote.
This month, we take a closer look at the poll’s trendiest buzzword to better understand what Big Data/Analytics means to you. Tell us what excites you most about applying Big Data/Analytics to the telecoms sector. We welcome you to post in the “Comments” section below as always.
Today, we announced Comptel’s financials for the second quarter of 2012 and for the first half of the year as a whole. This is a personal milestone for me, as it marks my second year fully immersed as CEO — and as you’ll see from our mid-year highlights, I’m confident in the direction the company is moving.
This past quarter, our order backlog rose to a record high, as we won a significant EUR 5.4 million project to consolidate the mediation systems of a leading operator in Western Europe.
The upfront investments in the customer interface have yielded results in our largest regions, Europe and Asia, and we won seven new customers globally. Although our net sales have not yet met expected levels, they stayed on par with last year’s numbers, EUR 20.3 million (EUR 20.0 million). And we are optimistic our investments will grow our 2012 net sales approximately 10 per cent from the previous year. Integration of the advanced analytics expertise acquired in February 2012 has proceeded exceptionally well, resulting in winning our first deal for Comptel Social Links software.
We continued to bring new products to the market as key strategic initiatives. The major launch of Next Generation Comptel Fulfillment 8 software this quarter was received remarkably favourably by the OSS/BSS industry. We also unveiled our Contextual Intelligence for Telco (CIQ4T) concept this quarter, providing communications service providers a framework for bringing customer experience to the next level. This innovative approach truly differentiates Comptel in the market.
Our business mix of licence and services sales was impaired by the personnel, project delivery and marketing costs, causing lower operative results than expected. To remedy this, we initiated first productivity action by streamlining R&D in Norway and further cost saving initiatives will bring us approximately EUR 10 million on annual level. During the second half of 2012, we will realise EUR 3-4 million savings. These initiatives will secure our competitiveness, sustain the execution of our strategy, and deliver an estimated 0 – 5 per cent operating profit of net sales, excluding one-off items.
Beyond the figures, we also concentrated the first half of the year on executing our new strategy. We opened new offices in Istanbul and Cairo and announced several major customer wins around the world. These included, Telefónica Central America’s mediation consolidation that enabled the efficient management of more than half a billion daily transactions, Thai mobile operator Real Move’s deployment of Comptel’s Fulfilment solution to gain customers from the 3G market, Kcell Kazakhstan’s replacement of its provisioning and activation system with Comptel’s Fulfilment suite to support its 3G rollout, and Kuwaiti’s Watanya Telecom improvement of its customers’ first use experience with Comptel’s Dynamic SIM solution.
Overall, the first half of 2012 has been largely focused on executing our strategy, investing in bringing new products to market, winning new customers and developing our Services Business. As we move into this next quarter, we’ll continue onwards building on our stated strategy and remain confident the productivity programme will secure our competitiveness. And 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 second half of 2012.
Rounding out our series of videos from the 2012 Comptel User Group is Simo Isomäki, vice president of global business support at Comptel. In this video, learn why Simo was drawn to Comptel – more than a decade ago – and what he considers to be the most dramatic technological invention of our time.
Adding to our series of videos from the 2012 Comptel User Group in Copenhagen, Steve Hateley, director of product marketing, shares what his favorite ‘co’ word is and the technology innovation that excites him most. Watch and hear a surprising, little-known fact about him, too!
Henk Ensing, technical consultant for TNO Information & Communication Technology, a Dutch institute for applied science that specialises in helping companies innovate, covered the potential for dynamic billing and why communications service providers (CSPs) need to inject some new thinking into their charging concepts and business processes. He highlighted that the key elements to dynamicity were analysing transaction-based usage, applying intelligent business rules and considering the contextual status of individual customers. Coincidentally, these were the main attributes for Comptel’s own Contextual Intelligence for Telco (CIQ4T) perspective.
Henk went on to state that dynamic billing brings the element of customer trust to a new level and illustrated this with an analogy comparing CSPs to fresh produce market merchants. Many people have a regular routine of going to the market on the weekend, generally stopping by their favorite vendors for particular foods. The vendors, in turn, are familiarised with their customers’ preferences and can tailor the products they sell accordingly or make recommendations on complimentary additional products based on their extensive experience with the produce—further strengthening their interactions. The vendors, however, don’t always have fixed prices on their produce, which may vary depending on factors like the season and supply. Yet, what keeps the customers coming back? It’s the relationships the vendors are building and nurturing.
Similarly, dynamic billing is based on strong customer relationships where each transaction is a unique opportunity to create a positive end-user experience. Taking into account the context of and appropriately targeting each individual customer interaction is key though. For example, CSPs should consider where the customer is in his or her lifecycle and what products will fit his or her specific needs and wants, at an appropriate time that adds true value.
Policies that govern charging and the network have an important role to play in understanding and implementing this dynamic ability. According to Henk, the beauty of dynamicity is that these policies can be changed in real time based on customers’ evolving requirements. Say, if someone gets paid every two weeks, he or she can opt to make a payment during that time and customise it depending on his or her personal preferences.
Henk’s thoughts on dynamic billing and charging concepts fit in nicely with the discussions at Management World 2012 and reflected Comptel’s own thinking on how CSP innovation needs to evolve. Analysing customer behaviour is just one step of the process, but intelligently determining their contexts to make interactions more relevant and personalised will significantly result in a high quality of experience and improve CSPs’ bottom lines. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening loyalty through a focus on relationship enhancement.
Hello from Ireland, or as they say in Gaelic, Dia dhuit! Comptel is having a fantastic start to this year’s Management World 2012 – where the sun is shining and the Guinness is never in short supply. This year’s theme is “Rethinking Communications – Enabling Connected Life”, and the key undertones so far seem to be innovation, the customer experience and revenue monetisation.
The keynote speakers on day one of the conference touched on some interesting points to this end. In particular, TM Forum chairman Keith Willets began with the humbling statistic that there are now six billion people connected on the planet, who are cumulatively driving the speed-up of change – a “digital tornado,” he called it.
As this digital revolution occurs, so too comes fundamental changes to mobile architecture, and the big question is – can communications service providers (CSPs) adapt quickly enough and deliver the innovation levels that will be required to survive and prosper? Keith also talked about CSPs needing to continue to break down product silos with IP services and find ways to work with over-the-top (OTT) providers, as well as described this new digital economy as SAASification – with new exciting opportunities emerging for simplified service offerings in various verticals including healthcare, energy and M2M.
So how do you rise to the top of the digital world? Keith assured the audience – do what you do best, and forget the rest. Innovation will be huge, so instead of punishing failure, encourage risk-taking. Look to collaborate and partner with other telecoms software and CSPs to enable and maintain innovation.
And, analytics’ use for personalising products and tailoring services for customers will play a big part at the end. Ultimately, success will come from customer centricity and, in particular, real-time, individualised engagement – after all, Keith asserted, it’s now the customer that holds all of the power!
We’re looking forward to the rest of Management World 2012, and if you’re interested in speaking with us, then swing by the Comptel booth, #64!
A recent Informa Telecoms & Media report indicates that mobile broadband growth in the Middle East and Africa will outpace that of fixed broadband. In fact, mobile broadband subscriptions are set to multiply more than 16 times to 430.7 million by the end of 2015, up from 25.39 million in 2010.
These numbers are a bit deceiving though, as the high incidence of multiple SIM use means that the number of unique users is markedly lower than the number of unique subscriptions. As the article points out, this will continue to be the case in the coming years because users want to take advantage of promotions and on-net tariffs, and due to the varied quality of service and extent of network coverage offered by different operators.
This article discusses the European Commission’s plan to regulate the mobile roaming market, lower the data and voice charges incurred when traveling abroad and ultimately reduce bill shock. Currently, Europeans are paying an average of €2.2/MB. The proposed plan will dramatically reduce that number to 90¢/MB starting July 1, 2012 and falling even lower to 50¢/MB by July 1, 2015. As Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, stated:
“Competition is still very weak. Customers still get a raw deal when they cross borders. Operators still enjoy outrageous margins, particularly on data downloads.
Within a single market, there is simply no justification for huge mark-ups, just because you’ve crossed an invisible internal border that is supposed to have disappeared. And just because customers have little or no choice in the matter.”
Although this strategy would seemingly have a negative impact on CSPs’ revenues, these cuts may actually work in operators’ favour since high prices may be preventing people from using their phones while abroad. What do you think the new regulations will mean for the industry’s future?
Ovum’sInnovation Radar series highlights telco innovation in the second half of 2010. After tracking 300 new service launches across the fixed and mobile market segments, the analyst firm found a major trend—telcos are now innovating more collaboratively. They are carving a niche for themselves with adaptable structures that can support innovation rather than seeking to simply create the next best application. The telcos that did this, while leveraging their networks, brands, customer relationships, partnerships, etc., made significant strides at the end of last year. Analyst Emeka Obiodu also noted that, “the pre-eminence of the adaptable structure is going to become more pronounced as telcos move towards the future of SMART (operators that provide services, management, applications, relationships and technology) and LEAN (low-cost enablers of agnostic networks) players.”
Management World 2011 got off to a good start today despite the looming ash cloud. TM Forum reported an increase in attendance—up from 3100 to 3500—and we had the first of 100+ pre-set meetings with customers, partners and industry media and analysts.
Unfortunately, Barack Obama was unable to swing round to our booth today, as he left Dublin early last night to London. However, Ireland’s minister for communications, energy and natural resources, Pat Rabbitte, gave a nice welcome to begin the keynote session. The major theme for this year is: innovation, and how the industry needs to evolve to deliver revolutionary, profitable services. Like Mr. Rabbitte and the rest of the morning’s speakers noted, establishing collaborative partnerships and enabling customers’ journeys (in which OSS plays a particularly important role) are crucial to this.
Ben Verwaayen, CEO of Comptel partner Alcatel-Lucent, joined in via a video message from the eG8 to discuss the challenges of today’s digital economy. According to him, it’s important to connect the dots between operators’ interactions with consumers; as we’ve written before, customer loyalty will change if subscribers’ expectations are not met. The industry needs to be better able to cope with their demands.
Following Mr. Verwaayen was Stephen Shurrock, CEO of O2 Ireland, who explained how his organisation is trying to be
Stephen Shurrock, CEO of 02 Ireland
relevant to customers’ and Ireland’s journeys. To seize the data opportunity, O2 is focused on taking the complexity out of service / price plans—it’s about giving consumers the confidence to further take up data offerings, he said. The operator is also spurring innovation by expanding into new areas like financial services and the mobile wallet, and through its network-sharing deal with Eircom to provide better speeds and greater rural coverage.
What did you think of the morning’s presentations on the “innovation revolution”? We look forward to discussing this concept further while in Dublin.