Management World Americas: Putting the customer first

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas: Putting the customer first

Yesterday, I was able to listen to some of the customer experience management (CEM) sessions held here at Management World Americas. Of course, customers were the core element of these presentations, but what became abundantly clear was that more than ever, customers are being thought of as assets to service providers’ business. When it comes to CEM, it’s no longer just about managing the experience – true CEM is going beyond that and ensuring each interaction with the customer is positive and consistent, which in turn will build a stronger connection with the service provider.

For instance, I listened to Joe Ewan from Innocent, a UK-based consumer food and drink company that specialises in natural smoothies and juices. This company has the number one smoothies in Europe and a giant fan-base because, as Joe put it, they invest the time and effort for a two way relationship with customers. One piece of advice he gave to telcos is that it’s easy to talk, and it’s harder to listen – but if you listen, you can learn. For example, every month Innocent generates a report that summarises feedback from the various customer channels like email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This is a truly honest synopsis of both the positive and negative, and has been used to drive real change in the business. In addition to helping improve products and processes, this approach keeps customers satisfied because they like knowing that their experience matters.

I saw this approach exemplified in a case study session with Equinix, a premium carrier data center provider offering global interconnection opportunities. For Equinix, a seamless global experience is essential with over 60% revenue coming from customers across multiple regions worldwide. To achieve this, it mapped the customer lifecycle and looked at each interaction, keeping in mind that every touch-point is important. What the company developed was a 360 customer view for quick and effective communications. For instance, they learned that some customers were unhappy because they were receiving too many messages from the carrier. The answer was simple – cut down on these communications.

Now, Equinix provides a seamless experience to their customers and was able to drive positive change just by listening. It’s refreshing to learn of examples like these as we continue to put the customer first, and I’m eager to hear more as the show progresses. Have you heard any interesting customer-centric stories recently?


Join Comptel and NET at Management World Americas 2012 Next Week

Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Join Comptel and NET at Management World Americas 2012 Next Week

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.


The Next Stop, M2M: Biggest Trend of Our Time?

Posted: November 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

During my recent attendance at Management World Americas, it became clear that the subject of machine-to-machine communications (M2M) had progressed from the innovative discussion stage into concepts and uses within real industry verticals.

I listened to an interesting session in which the presenters noted that M2M may well, in fact, be the biggest trend of our time; however, as it currently provides only one percent of mobile revenue, communications service provider (CSP) investment is being held back.

What the market seeks is a one-stop approach, or umbrella solution for connectivity and M2M applications—similar to the Ethernet-exchange or Cloud-broker principles currently being seen across the industry. Through this approach, there’s great potential for growth, particularly for value-added services, if CSPs can prioritize and exert discipline in M2M investments and resources.

Vendors focusing on specific vertical markets will be ideally placed to gain a seat at the table, as many verticals, such as utility, healthcare, manufacturing and retail, use some form of M2M. But as sure as death, tax and CAPEX reduction, CSPs are looking for a quick return on investment (ROI), and in order to improve time-to-market, they must first invest in the right enabling technology.

To truly succeed, they will need to build an enablement framework that includes a connectivity model, device templates, collection and data analysis—assuming that the 3G/4G network is either in place or under construction. Within this framework, a defined catalog of specific service descriptions, superior scalability and automation are all necessities, as is using collected data to make analytical assessments and provide proactive resolutions to problems. Some good examples include using smart-grid meter data for innovative pricing, or using automotive data to aid in preventative maintenance and warranty cost reduction—these, of course, are not even one percent of the potential uses of M2M technology.

A key concern related to the implementation of M2M is the massive IP scalability required for end-devices, and industry forums are already investigating how IPv6 will have a leading role to play. Another way to help address these concerns is through just-in-time device activation or dynamic SIM management, where retailers or equipment wholesalers can enable devices at the point-of-sale—bringing significant cost-efficiency. This approach could typically be welcomed in the impending introduction of new, SIM-enabled vehicles rolling off the production line.

Ultimately, initial reluctance of CSPs to make investments in M2M needs to be offset with assurances around operational efficiency and acceptable ROI dependent upon time-to-market. This coupled with an ability to automate, maintain cost control, billing models and OSS are key considerations CSPs must make in order to play in this opportunity-rich space.


Three Certainties in Life – Death, Tax and CSP Cost Reductions

Posted: November 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A trip to Orlando in November to experience the weather of an English summer had the added bonus of finding TM Forum’s Management World Americas in the wonderful Peabody Hotel and Conference Center.

Some clear positivity has been demonstrated in the telecoms IT industry over the last year. The “Cloud” has been gaining further momentum, machine-to-machine (M2M) is finding new innovative applications across enterprise verticals, and communications service providers (CSPs) are realising the value of eco-system-delivered services.

Amidst rapturous applause, Martin Creaner opened Management World Americas by acknowledging (for a change) that we all knew what challenges are facing CSPs and the market, and that vendors and OSS/BSS solution providers should be getting on with delivering innovation. He stressed that the event was all about putting competitive engagements to one side, collectively learning how peers are addressing challenges and how, by sharing ideas one or two times a year, everyone could really contribute to creating a better world—quite profound and worthy of a Nobel Prize, I think!

To summarise a relatively light-hearted introduction, Mr. Creaner recommended the following points of wisdom and focus for the coming year:

  • CSPs will be concentrating on growing new revenues to combat declining asset value, whilst maintaining customer experience to minimise subscriber churn.
  • New revenue streams will come from clever product bundling and marketing, service enhancements, such as location-based services, plus some early adopter M2M innovations (e-health etc.), which are great ideas but carry investment risk if they are not successful.
  • Over-the-top (OTT) players are here and will not be going away, so CSPs need to fight for their place in the value chain. Making a broader portfolio available in the broader market is key, such as offering diversified services within the cloud.
  • CSPs need to leverage their assets and operational experience to become cloud service brokers.
  • Death, tax and CSP CAPEX/OPEX reduction are the three certainties in life.

Management World Americas Video: Diego Becker on Show Trends

Posted: November 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas Video: Diego Becker on Show Trends

Between meetings, presentations and all the other happenings at Management World Americas, we managed to steal a moment of time with Comptel’s vice president of the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA), Diego Becker, to discuss his thoughts on the event. Customer experience has been a common theme at the show, and in this short video, Diego expands on this and shares some thoughts on additional trends he’s seen arise from the event. Take a look at the below video for an update from the Management World Americas floor!


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.


Management World Americas: Cocktails with Comptel and Discussions around Data

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

This year’s Management World Americas, taking place in Orlando, Florida, is buzzing with excitement and even may be the biggest yet, with a rumored 500 attendees! To kick things off, Comptel hosted a cocktail reception on Monday evening for press and analysts, which involved a lively discussion around OSS/BSS industry trends, particularly fulfillment. At the reception, Comptel’s CEO Juhani Hintikka presented the company’s strategy and described how Comptel is addressing the most pressing issues challenging communications service providers (CSPs) today.

One of the most prominent hurdles is the volume explosion – with mobile data making up 30% of traffic, and still growing, and video traffic alone expected to consume 66% by 2015. Juhani asserted that this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge: if that data can be turned into information, this would create a basis to really differentiate and enhance customer experience.

This is especially true when it comes to over-the-top (OTT) players. Instead of competing with them, CSPs must begin to think of how to work with them, bringing to the table some key assets. Those assets include the control of the network, the BSS/OSS infrastructure (being able to deliver and charge for services), but also potentially the understanding of customers – which is where turning data into information comes into play. In other words, OSS plays a role in creating a reliable ecosystem that is attractive to potential partners.

However, CSPs are not there yet. What they need is to be able to turn data into actionable information, or as Juhani put it, deliver on the new paradigm: event – analysis – action, in real time.  In other words, Juhani believes the real value is to act in real time, jumping on an issue when it’s hot instead of letting it fester. If you can get the analytics right, you gain an opportunity to increase revenue – adding value rather than simply pushing a technology.

This message was well received by the press and analyst present at the event.

Stay tuned for more updates as we take in all that Management World Amercas has to offer!


Management World Americas: OSS Consolidation & Operational Excellence

Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of stepping in for Gareth Senior and presenting with Emilio Rodriguez of Mexico’s Axtel as part of Management World Americas’ Operational Excellence Summit. We were a part of the “Back Office Simplification” track, which was among the first conference sessions of the day, and many of the themes from the keynote perspectives were explored in greater detail through case studies, such as Axtel’s as well as those from Comcast Cable and XO Communications.

To briefly summarize, Comptel and Axtel outlined how to do more with less. We worked with the communications service provider over an eight-month period to consolidate its five mediation and provisioning systems into a single, convergent platform—all to enable Axtel to roll out WiMAX and FTTH. And, in the end, we helped to not only deliver an on-time, on-budget project, but also prepare Axtel for next-generation network technologies, reduce its operational costs by 30 percent and improve its business agility.

Like Keith Willetts said, cost-cutting measures such as OSS consolidation are important for alleviating the squeeze on revenue and margins. It is also critical for improving efficiency (resulting in fewer processes) and taking friction out of operators’ businesses (leading to more flexible and responsive service development and improved customer support).

Comptel hopes that those in attendance at Management World Americas enjoyed our presentation and Operational Excellence Summit track. We invite you to leave a comment with any thoughts or questions.


Management World Americas: TM Forum on the Revenue Crunch

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

The communications industry is changing—revenues from traditional voice and messaging services are declining, and at the same time, consumer demand for bandwidth is proving to be insatiable. As mentioned yesterday, TM Forum is examining this conundrum and the steps communications service providers (CSPs) need to take in order to beat the revenue crunch at Management World Americas.

First to provide some perspectives on the issue was TM Forum chairman and CEO Keith Willetts, who noted that it is actually more of a margin crunch. While executives are immediately inclined to cut costs, he explained, it isn’t the only answer to level the playing field. CSPs must not also forget about the customer experience and business growth.

Mr. Willetts went on to discuss the importance of back office simplification, business process standardization and network / system evaluation (topics that will be covered in greater detail throughout the week) in addressing the challenges presented by the crunch. These, plus the intelligent application of IT, are required in order to do more—faster and cheaper. And, the smart pipes are those that glue useful technologies like SOA together, thus enabling smart services and smart business.

The keynote concluded with a look at what Mr. Willetts sees as the next big thing for enabling the digital economy. He noted that there is significant potential for a federated set of CSPs that can develop a trading platform (whether it be content, cloud services and more) for business—much like Amazon’s concept. In addition, those that can reach into the OTT part of the value chain—and extend what they currently do well—will be best positioned to offset declining revenues and diminishing margins.

What do you think of TM Forum’s perspectives on the revenue crunch?