Posted: July 18th, 2012 | Author: Juhani Hintikka | Filed under: News | Tags: Africa, analytics, business, charging, CIQ4T, Comptel, CSP, Customer Service, Europe, financial, fulfillment, innovation, Middle East, policy control, strategy, telecom, telecoms | 1 Comment »
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.
We also launched a new portfolio approach with our Customer Engagement solutions and Comptel Services Portfolio, in addition to a refreshed Comptel brand identity at Mobile World Congress Barcelona in February. We shared a white paper regarding Contextual Intelligence for Telcoms at Management World Dublin and organised our annual Comptel User Group in Copenhagen with more than 100 participants from leading service providers and industry analysts. On top of this, our customer engagement solutions were honoured in Pipeline’s Innovation Awards and the 2012 IBM Beacon Awards as the best communications industry solutions — reinforcing our capability to bring innovative products and solutions to the market.
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.
Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: cell towers, CSP, fulfillment, intelligent interactions, LTE-A, LTE-Advanced, mobile broadband, next-gen mediation, online charging systems, policies, policy control, provisioning and activation, Service Provider IT, SPIT | 1 Comment »
In my last post, I touched on what LTE-A is and the benefits we can expect from it, including much more bandwidth. However, there is some room for improvement with this technology.
The Price Issue
First and foremost, there are cost issues related to the massive performance increase. For instance, if you have a mobile broadband bundle with a capacity of 2 GB, this could quickly be consumed in roughly 15-20 seconds. If you’re a heavy user today and spend about 30 GB a month, at maximum capacity, it would not last long in LTE-A. Depending on how the service is put to market, consumers could end up paying a fortune for its speed—hindering adoption and prolonging the transition to LTE-A.
So why will it be so pricey? There are a few fundamental reasons. First, the cell in LTE-A is smaller but much faster than those found in previous generations. So this means that we will have more cells (think of these as the roadside ‘towers’), but they will most likely be built into streetlight poles and other facilities in addition to physical towers. Here’s where the price comes into play—each cell has a cost. In addition, each of those cells needs to be connected to the core network somehow (typically microwave radio or optic cable), and with more cells comes more cables and more complex networks.
Also, each cell needs to transport more data as bandwidth grows. Thus, the infrastructure to support such bandwidth requires major investments by communications service providers (CSPs), including in new technologies like small cell devices for more specific locations. We can also expect more fibre rollouts, which will need to be connected to all kinds of routers, switches and repeaters in the telecom network. These will all need to be planned, installed and operated. While we assume that efficiency increases in hardware over time (smaller space and faster speed) and power consumption decreases, all this infrastructure will have a major impact when it comes to cost. In addition to the purchase and operations, the cost of labour for actually digging up the ground, laying the cables and filling the ground can really add up.
What about Vendors?
This means a lot of various things for software vendors like Comptel and others in the OSS/BSS and Service Provider IT (SPIT) field? We believe the infrastructure rollout will need to be as automated as possible to drive the need for an excellent fulfillment process, logical network connections and efficient resource management. This will, in turn, reduce wasted time and money. The increase in bandwidth will likely drive more customer offerings and drive the need for service orchestration and catalog-driven order management. The complexity of the service must be conveyed in a way that makes sense for customer segments using the network capacity, and various service bundles should be prepared and proposed.
One may, however, discover that there are so many different ways to bundle these services that they completely avoid it and allow customers to self-personalise their subscriptions in advance or just in time. CSPs will naturally want to charge and control this usage and the bandwidth that customers are getting, such as services without quota restrictions like music streaming with a fixed monthly fee. Perhaps they can consider time-, location- or service-specific profiles of policies that enable customers to enjoy the vast capacity at full speed.
With this in mind, we already enjoy a degree of granularity like watching a TV series at full capacity, while others view it at a lesser quality, all enabled by policy control and online charging systems. We’re also starting to see CSPs analysing and adapting their customer engagement through intelligent interactions like free services and campaign offers, better matching service profile configurations and other things that better suite personal preferences of usage. All of these services need to be activated, changed and deactivated in real time with a provisioning and activation engine that can scale to the vast speed and low latency.
Likewise, the usage data will be so diverse and vast in its volume that a next-generation mediation system with massive scalability is needed to enable managing the online feeds of data and transactions securely and to adapt the data from various sources and formats with all of the potential various destinations (and their formats). This layer we saw formed in the CDR/file world will also be very necessary in the new online/diameter world.
In summary, behind the acronym LTE-A, there is a promise of vast bandwidth, which no matter how you look at it, will surely benefit us, especially as many other innovations can then be applied to it. There are some hurdles to overcome, but just as many opportunities presented with the technology.
If you’re interested in talking about LTE-A a bit more, please leave a comment or come to our booth at the upcoming Management World 2012, taking place in Dublin in May, to chat with me about it.
Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: Thomas Hasselman | Filed under: Events | Tags: Analysys Mason, Informa, policy control, real-time charging, traffic management | 1 Comment »
Here at Comptel, integrated policy control and real-time charging is one of our core areas of expertise. I couldn’t be more excited to explore this topic further at an Informa conference next week in Amsterdam. It’s always great to network and share ideas with communications service providers (CSPs), analysts and others across the industry. Plus, this time, I have the opportunity to give both a presentation and participate in a panel discussion at the show.
To give you a brief preview, I’ll first be leading a session titled “Exploring End-User Appetite for Buying Bandwidth Boosts and the Real-Time Charging Mechanisms Required to Support These Policies” on Tuesday, 24 April at 16:10. In this presentation, I’ll show how CSPs can use policy control to offer customers more personalised service packages and create upsell opportunities. I’ll provide an in-depth look at why CSPs should focus on interacting with customers in real time upon the point of usage rather than concentrating on the point of purchase or point of complaint.
A bit later in the day, at 16:35, I’ll join Zain Kuwait’s Monther Alomani and Tekelec’s Joanne Steinberg for a panel discussion on “What Policy 2.0 Enabled Services Are Delivering Incremental Revenues for Operators Today? Success Stories and Future Possibilities”. Moderated by Analysys Mason’s Glen Ragoonanan, we’ll debate how CSPs can effectively use traffic management technology to increase ARPU, and share what innovative services we are seeing generate interest and revenue from subscribers today.
Will I be seeing you at the upcoming conference? What policy control and real-time charging issues are you looking forward to discussing?
If you cannot make it to my presentation or panel session, I hope that we can connect at Comptel’s booth in the exhibition hall.
Posted: March 14th, 2012 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: analytics, cloud, M2M, managed services, mobile, Mobile World Congress, MWC, NFC, policy control, tablets | No Comments »
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)?
||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!
||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.
||Alcatel-Lucent specifically leading the field with a conference-wide 4G deployment that its execs leveraged to great effect.
|Policy Control & Charging
||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!
||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.
||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.
Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Events | Tags: brand, Comptel Dynamic SIM Management, customer engagement, mediation, Mobile World Congress, MWC, order management, policy control | No Comments »
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!
Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: analytics, CSPs, customer engagement, customer experience, fulfillment, mediation, Mobile World Congress, MWC, personalisation, policy control | No Comments »
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!
Posted: January 20th, 2012 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: bandwidth, CSP, LTE, OSS/BSS, policy control, policy management, VanillaPlus | 1 Comment »
Policy control is near and dear to us here at Comptel, and we’re very excited for the upcoming February / March issue of VanillaPlus that will have a special focus on this area. In fact, Comptel has contributed some thoughts for inclusion in that issue, and we’d like to provide you with a sneak peek.
In one feature, Comptel CEO Juhani Hintikka weighs in on policy management as a means of bandwidth conservation and as a way to create upsell opportunities. Juhani explains how this is becoming a reality as policy concepts evolve and mature, and discusses additional opportunities available to communications service providers (CSPs) if they can take advantage of this function. This becomes especially relevant with the rollout of LTE, where almost every user transaction must travel through the policy control engine. As such, the Policy Charging Rules Function (PCRF) must be able to both handle the scale and complexity of these transactions—calling for a need to combine OSS flexibility and support to fit CSPs’ business models as well as provide network-level transaction processing.
In another article, Comptel’s policy control solutions manager, Joonas Ojala, shares his thoughts on how policy management will allow CSPs to better control their bandwidth to best provide a package that fits customer needs. To do this, CSPs need to steer away from technical attributes and focus more-so on use cases and analysing customer behaviour in order to differentiate service packages appropriately. For example, those who surf the web randomly should have a different option than corporate customers who may have a higher priority allocated to them in terms of speed.
To learn more about Comptel’s thoughts on these topics, check out the upcoming issue of VanillaPlus!
Posted: January 12th, 2012 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: 2012, APAC, Asia-Pacific, broadband, customer experience, M2M, mobile, network capacity, network optimisation, OSS/BSS, policy control, predictions, TelecomAsia | No Comments »
Informa Telecoms and Media Blog…
12 Top OSS/BSS Trends for 2012
Analyst Peter Dykes highlights an exciting outlook for the OSS/BSS sector in 2012. He predicts that the growing requirement for more complex rating and billing functionality will open up opportunities for vendors, and says that improvements in this area are necessary for operators embracing LTE. For 2012, he also believes that in both mature and emerging markets, there will be a greater focus on areas such as customer experience, business intelligence and innovation in handling network congestion.
The predictions Comptel believe are particularly interesting include the rise in demand for OSS tailored to M2M services, which Steve Hateley recently wrote about, and the growth of policy-based online charging (OLC) as operators seek to offer more innovative services. What 2012 prediction do you think is most surprising?
Five New Challenges for APAC Telecoms in 2012
Ovum analyst David Kennedy believes that tightening margins and streamlining business processes will be the main theme for the Asia-Pacific telecoms industry, as overall growth in the mobile market slows and competition for customers increases. David believes these five trends will drive the market forward in the region in 2012:
- The push for cost optimisation and efficiency – this will grow in importance due to increasing competition and margin pressures.
- The importance of customer service – operators will work to stay ahead of the competition with promotions, marketing, better network convergence/reliability, etc.
- The future of smart devices and mobile app ecosystems – successful devices will need to integrate applications, content and services into the platform.
- Network data management importance– as data surges, operators are being forced to alleviate network congestion and will roll out a combination of solutions including more LTE networks and Wi-Fi offloading.
- Bundling for customer retention – more bundling is expected to emerge for mobile-only and second-tier operators.
Do you agree that these trends will define the APAC telecoms industry in 2012 and ensure continued profitability and improved efficiency?
Mobile Network Predictions for 2012
In 2012, the mobile market will see two key trends emerge: technologies critical to maintaining a high user experience and initiatives providing additional profit growth opportunities while reducing costs. In an effort to improve the customer experience and increase revenues, operators are looking to invest in network sharing and traffic optimisation.
Another major issue in 2012 will be coverage for LTE networks, most notably in markets where operators only have access to high frequency spectrum. LTE femtocells are predicted to boom in popularity, which will benefit residential, business and public hotspots. However, deployment of LTE small cells for capacity improvements is not expected to be widespread in 2012.
Additionally, investing in traffic optimisation for video is a hot topic, with content providers, CDNs and other vendors, and mobile operators debating various ways to deliver mobile content efficiently. We’re looking forward to seeing mobile innovations in action at the upcoming London Olympics, where operators are expected to showcase the successes of their technologies.
Posted: October 25th, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: bill shock, billing, charging, customer experience, Customer Service, FCC, policy control, telecom, usage | No Comments »
Analysis: Is Bill Shock Pressure Creating a Tipping Point for ‘Great’ Customer Service?
Alex Leslie predicts that customer experience will improve as a result of regulators’ efforts to lower bills for mobile usage. His article was published on the heels of new FCC and CTIA guidelines dictating that network operators send voice or text alerts to users as they approach data limits. Regulators in Australia, Asia and Europe are already following suit.
Even though regulations are often met with resistance, history shows that they can be beneficial in giving rise to improved solutions and services—and customer experiences. For example, previous rules about data usage and billing accuracy led to revenue assurance with communications service providers (CSPs) improving their billing strategies. Do you think history will repeat itself, with the new bill shock regulations opening opportunities for CSPs to differentiate themselves in the customer service department?
Policy Is Still Strategic, But Changing
A survey by Heavy Reading shows that network operator executives expect policy management to gain importance, and predicts that a new generation of policy gear will be deployed to handle increased functionality. The survey results also reveal interest in using policy control to enable business models with third-party content, and mirror Comptel CEO Juhani Hintikka’s predictions that the next phase in policy control will take advantage of third-party applications with content prioritisation.
What these new business models require is more scalable policy technology that can integrate with charging and billing systems, so that operators have a wider range of triggers to drive policy, both in creating new services and in managing congestion.
The Four Main Pillars of the Telecoms Customer Experience
Telecoms analyst Teresa Cottam writes that many CSPs are focusing on their own needs rather than looking at customer experience from the customer’s point of view. She says that there are four main pillars to the telecoms customer experience:
1) Network Experience
2) Commercial Experience
3) Product Experience
4) Service Experience
The pillars need to simultaneously work together while also being individually optimised in order to support the overall customer experience. Even though customers should be the focus of the business, Teresa stresses that operators still need to be profitable. The key challenge is finding the right tools that will help CSPs improve customer engagement and at the same time, help them increase their revenue.
Posted: September 28th, 2011 | Author: Bob Machin | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: charging, customer experience, fulfillment, OSS-BSS World Summit, policy control | 3 Comments »
Day one of a well-attended OSS-BSS World Summit in London, and the talk is all about customers. Networks, even handsets, are little mentioned, and bandwidth and bytes seem like yesterday’s unhealthy obsessions—the customer experience is now paramount, and henceforward, all shall be customer-centric.
Fine words and, many would argue, not before time—but what does it all mean in practise?
It could mean, as Charlie Hunter-Schyff, new media planning head of O2 demonstrated, applying analytics to location information to derive better-focused customer promotions. It could mean more sophisticated blending of policy control and charging functions to create a finer-tuned customer experience—an approach championed by Comptel. Less thrillingly, but perhaps more realistically, it could just mean, as indicated by Matthew Mason, director of billing and collections at Du in Dubai, and a compelling speaker, getting your act together in pretty much every department and making sure every process from order fulfillment through trouble ticketing to billing is as slick, faultless and efficient as it can be. That, after all, is what makes a customer perceive a company as excellent, and what makes customers stick around, spend money and even promote you to their friends. Perhaps this is the difference between having a customer-centric organisation and applying customer experience management (CEM).
What does it mean to software vendors? Really, it means that for any product or solution—not just CEM products—to be taken seriously, they need to be couched increasingly in the context of the customer experience. Does my fulfillment deliver a slicker, more faultless and trouble-free experience for my customer? Does my charging platform allow customers the payment options they appreciate? Is my policy control focused on the network or on my customers? Do all of these functions act together to allow me the holy grail of customer management, a ‘holistic’ customer view which pulls together customer information from CRM to HLR and lets me provide a wholly personalised service?
There is a compelling sense of real possibility around the customer, as Susan McNeice from Yankee Group observed in a speech at the end of the day. This feels like a real tipping point in industry attitudes and behaviour. Many communications service providers are genuinely and rightly excited by the prospect of turning to their advantage a customer understanding which would be the envy of most OTT players, and using it to create a value proposition for which the customer would be willing to pay a premium. They are sensing the possibilities—and now is the time for vendors to step up to the plate and demonstrate how they can be realised.