Mobile World Congress Day 2: Getting Big Value Out of Big Data

Posted: February 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Mobile World Congress Day 2: Getting Big Value Out of Big Data

The first day of Mobile World Congress was a busy one, full of panels, speeches and workshops. When Day Two began, I knew it was going to be another exciting one, full of insights from thought leaders across the telco industry. Today, one of those thought leaders was Comptel’s VP of Analytics and Technology, Matti Aksela. Matti was a participant during the morning panel session, “Big Data Goes on Stage.” He joined executives from Blancco, Creanord, Omnitele, Tieto, and Tecnotree to discuss the current state of Big Data and the changes we can expect to see over the next several years.

Big Data is still a fairly difficult term to define. At Comptel, we believe that the term is a new label that’s being applied to something fundamental – the ability to build a business strategy around customer data. The panel acknowledged this, noting that telcos are handling petabytes upon petabytes of information that could potentially be useful to the business.

But what do telcos really need to make the most out of Big Data?

The Foundation of Data is Infrastructure

Tomi Paatsila, CEO at Omnitele, explained that scalable infrastructure is integral to Big Data analytics, because organisations have to be able to adapt to different traffic environments. Matti added that scalable infrastructure also needs to support different types of data to effectively consolidate all that information.

Part of that requirement is due to the emergence of new virtual machines (vms). Ideal infrastructures will have to be vendor-agnostic, providing a seamless integration for the technologies of yesterday, today and tomorrow. As Lucas Weber, product manager at Blancco pointed out, both virtualization and the rise of cloud computing have added new layers of complexity to the data that infrastructures must be able to handle.

However, collecting and processing all those petabytes of data can still be a cumbersome (and expensive) task for telcos, especially if they attempt to do so manually.

Automation for the Next Generation

The panelists agreed that automation is a key element to any Big Data solution. They also agreed that it’s important to analyse end-user behaviour at every possible touch point, a particular science of the customer experience that Comptel has championed for a long time. When telcos can collect contextual intelligence at every touch point, execs can make informed business decisions based on real-time, segmented customer interactions.

Matti often observes organisations that are frustrated with the results of their Big Data solution, because business leaders didn’t identity a specific motivation behind implementation. As Matti said on today’s panel, “The key is to start looking for value out of the data right away.” To do that, telcos need to decide which business problem can be solved with the help of Big Data. In Matti’s experience, the top use case is churn reduction.

Weber summed up the panel conversation perfectly: “At the end of the day, consumers and enterprises should benefit from Big Data.” As telcos strive to become customer-centric companies, the ability to efficiently utilise Big Data to create a better customer experience will be an important factor in their success, or their failure.


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

– Executive strategies for 2014

– Barriers to integration

– Technology priorities

– Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


Mobile World Congress Day 1: Customer Experience, Disruption Reign Supreme

Posted: February 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Mobile World Congress Day 1: Customer Experience, Disruption Reign Supreme

At long last, the wait is over. The hype and speculation and planning has come to an end and this year’s Mobile World Congress begins. The leading authorities in the telco field have all come together to share their thoughts on the current state of the industry, as well as what lies ahead.

Day One of the conference featured speeches by a number of industry experts and one of the central themes throughout the day was customer experience. Everyone at Comptel has been excited to hear this renewed emphasis on delivering better service. We’ve worked hard to enable communication service providers (CSPs) to become customer-centric organisations. The goal to deliver a better customer experience is already helping break down traditional silos that exist between CMOs, CTOs and CIOs and, in the future, this may become a make-or-break priority for every telco business.

For example, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chairman of GSMA and CEO of Telenor Group, believes that huge commitments from mobile operators to customers will be necessary going forward. He explained that, by 2020, there would be 22 billion mobile broadband connections and 200 million LTE connections, so telcos must be able to differentiate themselves by offering the best customer experience possible. Ahmad Julfar, Group CEO at Etisalat advised mobile operators to embrace increasing customer demands, from greater efficiency to personalised experience. In order to accomplish that, companies must have the right technological capabilities and a spirit of innovation.

Sirgoo Lee, CEO of Kakau Group, took this concept a step further, saying that innovation is not enough. He believes that organisations must be completely disruptive. And who better to harp on the importance of disruption in the telco industry than Jan Koum, founder and CEO of WhatsApp? Today, Koum highlighted the company’s most recent disruption – the introduction of a voice product. While this voice product stole the spotlight today, moving forward, Koum believes that data is going to be key for continued disruption.

The power of data is something that Comptel has believed in for years. In fact, it’s for that very reason that our VP of Analytics and Technology, Analytics Business Unit Matti Aksela shared his insights on what it takes to successfully deploy a Big Data strategy in advance of this year’s event.

As Mobile World Congress 2014 unfolds this week, we’ll be curious to see what other central themes emerge in the keynote presentations. For now, though, it’s clear that the priorities we’ve set for 2014 reflect the changing needs of the telco industry. Be sure to keep checking back in for continued roundups and thoughts on this year’s event!


Want to learn more about telco in 2014? Download our new eBook, “What Telco CMOs and CTOs/CIOs Are Thinking in 2014.”

In this eBook, we share exclusive, global executive research that highlights:

– Executive strategies for 2014

– Barriers to integration

– Technology priorities

– Attitudes toward data & planning

Download


Mobile World Congress: A Week in Reflection (Part II)

Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mobile World Congress: A Week in Reflection (Part II)

To continue my reflections on the week in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress (MWC), the event certainly proved once again to be one of the geek highlights of the year, with a show floor full of tablets, touchscreens, techniques and innovative applications. Blackberry (RIM) were making a big splash around the Playbook which looked…reasonable but the same as the other tablets on the streets trying to play catch up to the popular iPad. The company’s decision to not include native e-mail, calendar or contacts applications in its first operating system (OS) may have contributed to the poor reviews, but last week, it showcased the second iteration (OS 2.0) that had been announced in February. It still doesn’t have a complete messenger capability but is at least an improvement, and now offers support for SOME Android applications. Can’t help but feel that they need to stop playing catch-up and look for new innovation before getting completely left behind.

Speaking of new innovation, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note that is trying to blur the device segmentation lines. It’s a 5.3-inch hybrid tablet that can be used as a phone (not a bad idea—maybe they have something here?). Being an iPhone and iPad user myself, I think there is certainly a space for something the size of a Kindle (eReader), as people everywhere seem to be happy carrying them around. I can’t help but think that we may be going from lipstick-sized phones back to the early 90s-sized handset brick. So will it lead to a new generation of pay-as-you-go users who buy one, then revert to using it as a tablet but still have a desire for a pure “phone”?

Having one of its larger offices in my hometown, I felt a certain level of pride seeing Intel (“the sponsors of tomorrow”) at the show and demonstrating its ‘from device to the cloud’ innovation. The ‘Intel Inside’ tag was now being associated with two primary themes: a new smartphone built in partnership with Orange and the concept of augmented reality on the handset. The jointly developed smartphone, driven with the type of processing innovation we saw in PC chips ten years ago, was demonstrated using a graphics-intensive driving game—real time rendered onto a TV and mimicking the type of performance you would expect from a high-quality console gaming experience. Then, the booth jockey hit passers-by with a visually jaw-dropping demonstration of augmented reality. The device used its camera to identify the image it had been presented, then through the cloud, it fetched back striking live 3D imagery, video and adverts to explain what you were looking at. Go check it out—the demo video is on YouTube! Impressive to see some true leaps forward in technology and its applications.

Microsoft were keen to introduce its new handset to the crowd by challenging passers-by to take the “Windows Mobile Challenge”. The company threw down the gauntlet against popular Android and Apple smartphones on tasks such as sending email, attaching photos to messages and creating contacts. In reality, the biggest challenge being faced by Microsoft is attracting developers to build a comprehensive library of applications that can be used with the Windows OS. The OS blends together Xbox Live gaming, Zune multimedia, personal media (photos and videos), social media utilities, productivity tools and third-party apps, which are organized into categories called “Hubs.” But will the consumer trust it on a handheld device? Historically, you would hear murmurs of freezes, lock-outs and crashes, so fingers crossed that those fears have now gone.

It wouldn’t be possible to provide a small snapshot of the show floor without mentioning Android whose manifestation was popular, busy, fun and fresh. But it wasn’t just the ice-cream sandwiches and tube-slide that Android came to show off; in fact, the big message was about the ecosystem, and how through a growing army of worldwide developers, device vendors are thriving. The Google Mobile Blog recently quoted some fascinating figures relating to this Android phenomenon.

Securing the Handset – The BOD Conundrum

After talking to VMWare about its proposition for the show, an extremely helpful lead evangelist explained that the company’s major theme addressed how to keep enterprise IT in control of their user accounts. The Bring your Own Device (BOD) trend is continuing to grow at an enormous rate as users become increasingly drawn to a preferred device—and not necessarily the one they were issued by corporate IT. The biggest reluctance from users has to be that they don’t want to carry two handsets—one for work and one for personal, plus the device they have will also carry media and applications that a corporate–approved handset may not permit. VMWare have developed a HyperVisor client for mobile that securely partitions the corporate applications and content from the ‘leisure’ profiles on ‘any’ handset. I say ‘any’, but currently, it’s been launched for Motorola, Samsung and Nokia. The really useful side to this product is the ability for IT to remotely control the handset-based corporate client from a central web-based application, bringing a high level of admin-based security back under control.

Time to Celebrate a Successfully Executed Show

With a fresh new look and feel, clear strategy and positioning, over 185 pre-arranged meetings with clients, prospects, analysts, partners and the press—it warranted a celebration. Every night ‘Co’mptel invited passers-by and friends to informally join it for champagne and the best tapas in Barcelona! Timo Koistinen, senior vice president of Europe East, (seen here) was more than happy to kick off the celebrations.

The End for Fira Montjuïc

Up until 2006, this event had taken place in Cannes and was known as 3GSM World. Since then, the Fira Montjuïc had quite adequately taken on the mantle. Looking at the increase of attendees and now the broadening ecosystem of multi-vertical contributors and vendors, the GSMA has made the decision to up sticks and relocate to Fira de Barcelona Gran Via in order to provide approximately 50% more exhibition space. In addition to the usual lottery to get the prime exhibition spaces, the buzz around the event seemed varied, ranging from “well, it’s closer to the airport” to “it’s too far out of town”, but we’ll see. I look forward to another strong showing by Comptel in 2013.


Mobile World Congress: A Week in Reflection (Part I)

Posted: March 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mobile World Congress: A Week in Reflection (Part I)

It was another sunny February at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Barcelona brought a welcome respite from the tail-end of a snowy winter across Finland and central Europe. The last time I was here was 2009 during my time at InfoVista. I then thought that fifty thousand attendees for an event was remarkable, but this year, more than 67,000 visitors from 205 countries were in attendance, including more than 50 percent of attendees holding C-level positions and 3,500+ CEOs. Although an astronomic figure, it was hardly surprising based on the advances made in technology in recent years. In fact, back then, the sceptics were out in force asking “Why would I need a tablet device from Apple when I have a PC or Mac and an iPhone?”. Looking at the current size of the tablet market, it’s clear that the discussions at MWC are noteworthy predictions of what we can expect to see in the market and at future shows.

A Refreshing New Look for Comptel

“Wow, you’ve changed! was the reaction of many of our customers, friends and analysts to the new face of Comptel that was revealed. The new brand with the tagline, “Making Data Beautiful”, that had been publicly announced only days before, took many by surprise but was the catalyst for fresh discussions around new products, solutions and positioning.

All the Big Players, Exuberance and Excess

The usual suspects packed into the exhibition; many of whom weren’t happy with one stand. These “big hitters” such as Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Cisco—builders of next-generation mobile infrastructures—had covered all bases by appearing with both commercial (marketing) and closed areas.

For the commercial appearances, Huawei certainly took the prize for the biggest exuberance as can be seen in the image, with a cascading liquid neon display. The Chinese giants certainly also took the Hateley prize for having spent the most on MWC, and this was clearly visible not only on the expo floor but also all around Barcelona!

One of the key business and thought leadership areas for NSN  was Machine-to-Machine (M2M). The company discussed an enterprise vertical-focused solution that leveraged a traditional managed service architecture, complete with infrastructure and processes, alongside a service enablement layer with a “smart” object focus. These “smart” objects obviously relate to the new generation of consumer and commercial devices containing SIM or other forms of IP communication to the network—either public or private. The operational and value chain associated with the entire M2M opportunity is still largely undefined and without standards; however, one thing is for sure: the important role that will be played by the application developer community and strategic eco-system partners that communications service providers (CSPs), network vendors and systems integrators (SIs) will need to form. NSN has clearly taken that into consideration for its ‘fully managed vertical end-to-end services’.

The Top Topics

So what were the top themes this year (that I noticed as an exhibitor)?

Theme Sponsor Observation
M2M GSMA, network and OSS vendors, device manufacturers, mobile operators Early technology adopters and innovators only at the moment. Earliest standardisation expected in 6-12 months. Value-chain is open for interpretation!
Cloud-based Services Network and OSS vendors, cloud and virtualisation vendors, data centre hosting companies Mobile operators adopting cloud-techniques for operational and cost-efficiency in the midst of severe data and content demand and growth. Bring your Own Device introducing IT security challenges and opportunities for virtual machine providers.
LightRadio Network vendors Alcatel-Lucent specifically leading the field with a conference-wide 4G deployment that its execs leveraged to great effect.
Policy Control & Charging OSS/BSS vendors Although disputed by Comptel’s 2010 announcement, identified as an important trend in the next 12 months.
Actionable Intelligence & Analytics Revenue assurance and OSS/BSS integrators and vendors, customer experience management-focused vendors, network vendors, other independent software vendors Most have “analytics” in their go-to-market pitch; however, as seen, it can be applied across the industry in different forms. Not a lot of “action” in the actionable intelligence!
Managed Services OSS/BSS integrators and vendors Aligning with mobile operator needs to outsource and reduce operational and development costs, so they can focus on their core businesses.
Application Development Android, Blackberry and a multitude of smaller developers The future is definitely in app development—the “trendy” and “place to be” community of the conference.
Consumer Electronics (Smartphones & Tablets) Samsung, Blackberry, Motorola, Nokia—the usual suspects Innovation around an existing theme (tablets). Geeks’ paradise but nothing earth-shattering. Galaxy Note was about the most significant.
Near-field Communication (NFC) and Cell-enabled Electronic Payment Operators, innovators and GSMA An attempt by mobile operators to “own” electronic payments using NFC in the handset tied to subscriber identity and profile. New operator-banking partnership opportunities but security regulation is a hot topic.

Do you agree with the hot topics I’ve identified? Leave a comment and let us know what stood out to you at Mobile World Congress. Also stay tuned for the second part of my reflections on the Barcelona event.


Summarising My Thoughts on Mobile World Congress

Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Summarising My Thoughts on Mobile World Congress

I thought I would have been able to blog more during Mobile World Congress (MWC). How wrong I was though! In retrospect, I have to say I’m not at all disappointed about it, as MWC was a great event for Comptel. Ulla Koivukoski and others can say more about that. In this blog post, I’ve tried to focus more on the product side of things, but first wanted to say something about the way we looked.

The launch of our new brand was noticed by all who have known Comptel for a long time. It was great to hear the positive feedback as well as MWC attendees’ curiosity about the new brand. When I saw our new tagline, ‘Making Data Beautiful’, being noticed by one of my favourite technology news sites, it warmed my heart. The Register even gave us a special mention in its MWC coverage (any news is good news, or would you disagree?). To me, it’s very clear how we make data beautiful, but I welcome everybody to discuss it with us—we are happy to share our story with those interested.

At MWC, we also unveiled our focus on offering Customer Engagement solutions, where our product portfolio helps realise our ‘event-analysis-action’ vision. It seemed to be well understood and led to some very interesting discussions during the event. In addition, there was a natural interest towards Comptel Social Links and our future plans with that product, which we recently acquired from Xtract.

The future of policy control and online charging and the importance of integrating them (which we already did in 2010) still had a major buzz around it. This is not where the evolution of policy control will stop though—it’s actually quite the opposite, and we’re heavily working on new capabilities in this field. Some of those ideas were recently referred to by Alan Quayle in his MWC summary.

Comptel Dynamic SIM Management and our Wataniya Kuwait project garnered a lot of attention, too. Many discussions began on how self-care personalisation is a tool and way for communications service providers (CSPs) to enable loyalty, and how catalog-driven order management is essential for such self-care to be effective and cost-efficient. This is especially important when aggregating over-the-top (OTT) and other third-party offerings into the CSPs’ own offerings.

During the same week as MWC, Comptel was awarded with an IBM Beacon Award for the Best Communications Industry Solution. I think it’s a great honour from one of our most long-term strategic partners. It was given based on our mediation product, which is being used by about 20 of the 30 largest CSPs (by subscribers) and processes 20% of the world’s usage events. This was a figure that came as a surprise to many, but we have an extensive install base with multi-billion events being processed per day.

There lies a key question for CSPs. With data processing volumes expected to grow 10-100 times with LTE, according to various reports published, how scalable is your mediation system, and more importantly, how cost-efficient is it really to scale to these volumes? We expanded on the work we did with Heavy Reading on this topic during the event.

We also demonstrated some of the most recent product advances we’ve made, and proved that we are not just talking on a conceptual level but can demonstrate how our products actually work. One of these was the new release of our catalog-driven order management solution.

MWC for me is always a lot more than just meetings with partners and customers. It’s a way to see the people behind email addresses. The event brings a lot of people together, and you get to see former colleagues in their new roles and old friends long gone, and build on those relationships, which are very important, at least to me. This relationship building is also very crucial for CSPs to do with their customers; the deeper the relationships are, the more profoundly difficult it is to let go. But like every relationship, it needs to be actively cared and nurtured. And like we say at Comptel, that is beautiful.

For some reason, after a rather exhausting event filled with long days and a lot of meetings, I felt somewhat sad to be sitting in the airplane on my way home. Not that I didn’t want to go home, but I very much enjoyed MWC this year. If you had some great experiences, why not leave a small comment here?

For those that read my previous blog post about the failing cruise control on my car, the story had a happy ending. The maintenance shop fixed the problem, and I had first-class customer service during the re-visit.

I’m starting to move my sights to Management World 2012 in Dublin, where you can also meet us and find out more about Comptel. I don’t want to spoil the event by telling you what we’re going to show there, so be patient, we always have something new cooking. Let’s ‘co’-operate and ‘co’-create better customer engagement until then!


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!