Counting Down to AfricaCom 2012

Posted: November 6th, 2012 | Author: Fariha Shah | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Working in marketing, I am constantly trying to identify which conferences are the right fit for showcasing various products and solutions. While conducting these searches, Comptel, like other practical companies, often finds itself targeting the fastest growing market: Africa. It may come as no surprise, then, that Comptel will have a stand at the 15th annual AfricaCom conference taking place 13-15 November in Cape Town. This year’s thought-provoking programme promises to reflect Africa’s potential to influence a market already filled with vibrant new dynamics.

At the show, we will have a dedicated team of experts on-site that are happy to speak with communications service providers (CSPs) about the true value we can bring to their business by driving innovation and growing lifetime value through real-time, personalised customer engagement.  The Comptel team is looking forward to demonstrating how to reduce churn by transforming data into actionable intelligence. Acting on this intelligence, in addition to maximising customer lifetime value, helps CSPs distinguish themselves amidst a competitive market. The company will also discuss how to achieve accelerated and accurate advanced service deployments to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty and their propensity to spend.

Will you also be attending the conference? If so, be sure to stop by Comptel’s stand, #C05, to find out how the right integrated mediation, policy control, charging, service fulfilment and predictive social analytics capabilities can deliver a fresh approach to telecommunications business for greater profitability.

To set up a meeting in advance, please contact comptel.marketing@comptel.com. Looking forward to seeing you in Cape Town!


Join Comptel at the Global Broadband Traffic Management Congress!

Posted: November 1st, 2012 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

From 6-8 November, the Comptel team will be participating in Informa’s flagship Global Broadband Traffic Management Congress (BBTM) at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. While communications service providers (CSPs) have seen success with the rapid uptick in data usage, they are simultaneously seeking ways to better manage and monetise these services. BBTM offers the opportunity to explore the latest developments for changing the path of diverging revenue and traffic growth curves, and learn more about the policy control and charging tools available to help deliver mobile data, optimise quality of service and the customer experience, and boost CSPs’ bottom lines.

Comptel not only will be on hand at booth #14 to discuss the latest data pricing models, congestion management, Big Data and analytics, real-time charging and service personalisation and more, but also will present alongside the more than 100 speakers (including 50+ from CSPs) during the Congress. On Tuesday, 6 November, at 16:25 (Track B), Simo Isomäki, head of global business support, will elaborate on the crucial role of predictive analytics and contextual intelligence in relation to policy control and charging, and how CSPs can gain actionable insight from customer behavioural patterns to personalise and monetise broadband services. Simo will also take part in a Track A panel session on the obstacles for two-sided business models that same day at 12:30.

BBTM is a tremendous forum for networking with others across the mobile broadband ecosystem. We would be delighted to meet you at our booth or have you attend one of Comptel’s presentations. Enjoy the event, and please contact comptel.marketing@comptel.com should you like to arrange a more thorough discussion about Comptel’s comprehensive portfolio of Customer Engagement solutions and how we apply our CIQ4T approach to policy control and charging.


Contextual Intelligence Gets Personal

Posted: September 21st, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Earlier this week , I was speaking at 16th Annual Nordics & Baltics Telecom Executive Forum in Copenhagen about Contextual Intelligence. A colleague of mine, Malla, did a great blog about it before the conference, but I thought of giving a bit of a different view of my day…

Context: Dad
Time: 08.00, UTC+2, Helsinki
Story: I woke up – and being a family dad taking care of the morning routines for my kids.- and having breakfast with them, all the while waiting for the nanny to arrive and for me to start my regular working day.

Context: Travel Organizer
Time: 08.15, Helsinki
Story: It was time for me to leave to the airport. I took my laptop bag, gave a hug to the kids. I checked my bags, airline tickets, USB sticks, passport and all other necessary stuff for the trip and ensured they were rather well packed to ensure smooth transit at the airport. I then jumped in to a taxi and waved my family bye-bye, knowing I’d return the same day.

Context: Business Traveller
Time: 08:40, Helsinki
Story: At the airport I had done the check-in’s the day before and moved rather quickly through all the necessary security procedures to be early at the gate. I noticed that I had a plenty of time and I chose to go through the story I was going to present one more time over a cup of coffee.

Context: Aircraft enthusiast/spotter
Time: 09:40, Helsinki
Story: When going to the plane by bus transfer I happened to think about the plane I was going to take:. a Bombardier CRJ 200, 1st trip for me on this type. The type turned out to be a rather familiar configuration among the CRJ types I’ve flown before and also similar to many other smaller regional jet configurations. Inside there is a 2+2 seater configuration and I had the aisle seat on row 10, mid-plane.

Context: Storyteller for conference
Time: 10.00, Helsinki
Story: I thought of the topic I was presenting and wondered about the angle to take. I had had many go’s at this, but I had a new idea based on my day. I felt pretty much like sitting on a bus on my way to a customer meeting in the ‘neighboring city’, especially when considering the price tag of the flight: a whopping 49€ (two-way) plus taxes. The fare is also split between the airline and airport, so not a lot. I made a comparison in my mind between how far I would get with about 40€ using long-haul busses or trains and this flight. The conclusion was that air travel is at least as cheap as or even cheaper than busses and trains, especially for comparable distance and speed. Right there and then I realized that I was ‘riding a bus to Copenhagen to give a speech’.

Context: Travel organizer trying to be in the right place at the right time
Time: 10.30, UTC+1, Copenhagen
Story: Knowing I had a customer meeting before the speech, I ‘fled from the airport rather quickly and luckily, the formalities are rather relaxed in Scandinavia, so rather soon after landing and taxing to the right stand, waiting for the bus to arrive, walking through the customs, entering a taxi after visiting an ATM to get local currency, I was on my way to the conference venue . Phew.

Context: Conference Guest
Time: 10.50, Copenhagen
Story: At the conference venue hotel, Radisson BLU Scandinavia Hotel, I announced myself to the conference organizer, material and update on my speech slot and also cleared the process of updating my slides for the speech with the organizer, just before I was to meet my customer contacts.

Context: Sales/Marketing person
Time: 11.00, Copenhagen
Story: I can’t give out many details, but I think the meeting went well with the customer representatives and I felt rather pleased having thought over the story that I walk through with them.

Context: Industry Expert giving speech to conference audience
Time: 12.00, Copenhagen
Story: My speech started on time. I gave my speech, not liking the fact I was the last speaker before lunch. That is a rather challenging position for a speaker as people may have their minds wandering to lunch, and utilized my own day, like I’m doing here, to add bit of flavor to the message. After the speech, I grabbed my gear, greeted our local team participateding in the conference and spent a few minutes with people talking about my speech and started my journey back home.

Context: Worried dad thinking can he make it back on time
Time: 12.35, Copenhagen
Story: Sitting on the backseat of the taxi, I prepared myself for as a quick run through the airport as possible. I knew I had to be on that plane if I was to relieve the nanny in time, as her employment contract pretty much is for 8 hours day. We arrived to the airport at 12:45.

Context: Just another business traveller
Time: 12.45, Copenhagen
Story: Although I was in a rush, the rest of the people seemed to be as well, so I did not get any special treatment at the airport and while I felt a strong urge to ‘run for it’, the flow of people and ‘the process’ took it’s time. I boarded ‘the bus home’ pretty much on-time, (by my calculation, I was the 3rd last person to enter), but they did not announce my name yet, nor any others.

Context: Aircraft enthusiast/spotter
Time: 13.25, Copenhagen
Story: ‘Just another A319’. I have been in so many to date, but the high-light was the comfy seat and the satisfaction, that it seemed just possible to be at home on time. And the day was pretty successful too.

Context: Businessman
Time: 13.40, Copenhagen
Story: While travelling back, I was checking out a couple of potential business trips and familiarized myself with a few key details I had to pay attention to still by the end of week. I had some coffee to help me keep focused and my mind on the key issues. Once again, this felt really similar to taking a bus and having my own ‘space’ with little interference from other people or the scenery outside. ‘The bus’ landed 10min early and I felt exhilarated to see the plane to tax to a gate nearby the exit area. Time of landing was 15.50.

Context: Mix of businessman and dad
Time: 16.10, UTC+2, Helsinki
Story: While taking the taxi home, I synchronized emails, sent a few text messages to my wife and nanny telling I would be on time, and made few business calls just to ensure things were moving in the right direction.

Context: Dad
Time: 16.30, Helsinki
Story: Coming home, I was immediately being greeted by my kids and a rather happy nanny, who updated me on how the day had gone. I joined my family for a walk with and then later for dinner together.

This very long story has a point. 1st of all, it is no longer a big adventure to ‘take the bus’ via air travel. In a similar fashion, the way we communicate is changing from ‘vanity and luxury’ to ‘common and everyday’, even more so by generations younger than mine for example. Prices in commodity markets are known to be tight, and hence it is vital to understand the contexts in which the individual people find themselves in a much deeper and rich fashion to be able to address the exact, detailed needs of these ‘smaller and smaller segments of people’ whose contexts change within day, like mine did on this rather unusual, but still, very interesting day.

Contextual intelligence for Telco is all about understanding the fine-grained segmentation of customer base, addressing the needs of the customer within the right context and at the right time and with an attractive interaction. This makes the Communications Service Providers more important and relevant to their customers, and at the same time, makes the CSP a much more relevant party to the so called ‘OTT players’ who I’d like to call partners or customers of CSP. After all, the OTT players , also yearn for accurate and detailed information on the people using the services. This information could potentially be provided by the CSP. How many contexts do you think you have in your life? How much each of them overlap with each other and would you have different needs as a user of communication services when finding yourself in those contexts? Would it be great to have these contexts understood appropriately at the right time with the right kind of service? I would LOVE that and we at Comptel are working hard to making it a reality. That’s why we at Comptel say “Comptel – Making Data Beautiful”.


Applying Contextual Intelligence to Monetize the Data and Differentiate with Information

Posted: September 17th, 2012 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This week, 17th and 18th September, the Comptel team will participate in Marcus Evans conference ‘16th Annual Nordic & Baltic Telecoms Executive Forum’ in Copenhagen, Denmark. We are looking forward to having an interactive conference with a lot of comprehensive discussions, with particular focus on analytics, contextual intelligence, customer insights and experience and predictive policy control. The 16th Forum brings together the leading telecommunication market players, primarily from the region, to exchange experiences and share strategies to ensure profitability in a highly competitive Nordic telecom environment.

The main title of the conference ‘Manage Data Explosion and Boost IP Service Innovation to Achieve Top-line Revenue Growth’ is very promising as it incorporates a number of relevant topics that include the opportunities for service offering that are combined with the rapid data growth to boost revenue; efficient and dynamic churn management; and the proliferation of business models, e.g. the co-operation with OTT providers. Let us also not forget Big Data with all its capabilities and requirements. With a setup like this, a lively discussion is guaranteed.

Comptel’s Simo Isomäki – Vice President, Head of Global Business Support – is going to cover an actual and interesting field of topics with his speech about ‘Applying Contextual Intelligence to monetize the data and differentiate with information’. He’s going to elaborate on the crucial role of analytics in gaining insights from customer behavioural patterns and provide some concrete use case examples to address the following questions: What are the requirements for differentiation and how to explore the variety of alternatives for data monetization. We would like to welcome You to join us for this session.

We would be delighted if You visited our booth to have more thorough discussion about contextual intelligence and predictive policy control, and Comptel’s overall comprehensive portfolio. Wishing You a great and successful event !


Q2 2012: An Update on Comptel’s Business and Strategy

Posted: July 18th, 2012 | Author: Juhani Hintikka | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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.


Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part Two

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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.


Informa’s Policy Control & Real-Time Charging Conference: A Sneak Peek

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: Thomas Hasselman | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 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.


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

Posted: March 14th, 2012 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 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)?

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: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | 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!


Preparing for Mobile World Congress 2012 with Great Anticipation

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 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!