Happy Holidays!

Posted: December 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Each holiday season, we send our greeting cards electronically and donate the money saved from the traditional, printed cards to a charitable fund. In 2011 Comptel selected Plan International to receive our donation and in 2010 we worked with the Kileva Foundation.

This year, we have selected Kiva.org to receive our donation. Kiva.org is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Kiva lets individuals, groups and organizations to lend as little as USD 25 to help create opportunity around the world. We have provided loans to four individuals across the world; Williams in Uganda, Susima and Angelina in Philippines and Rosario in Peru. We invite you to take part to Comptel’s team and help us to help provide financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services.

To all Comptel’s customers, partners, investors and friends, we wish you a peaceful and happy holiday season and look forward to another fruitful and cooperative year in 2013!

Top tips on passing the Project Management Professional exam

Posted: December 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Top tips on passing the Project Management Professional exam

The Europe West region in Comptel, have been encouraging their Project Managers to study for and attain the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

I am pleased to say that on Friday 23rd November I passed my PMP exam and proudly became a Project Management Professional! Europe West now has 4 PMP certified project managers in their team.

My latest blog covers why it’s sensible for organisations to encourage and support their Project Managers in achieving this qualification. Furthermore, whilst it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share my tips for passing the exam!

  • Credibility: Having a Project Management team who have the qualification adds weight to our services credibility. Highlighting our experience and knowledge of Project Management.
  • Motivation: Setting this objective and supporting your Project Manager’s to attain this qualification is a good motivational tool.
  • Standardising approach and language: By learning the PMP approach, your project managers have a common understanding of process, terminology and templates.
  • Learning new ways of doing things: No Project Manager knows it all, so learning the PMP way, will also help teach new techniques and ideas.

My Top tips on passing the exam are below, they are not an alternative for hard work mind and I’m afraid a thorough revision of the PMP study materials will also be required!

  • Memorise the mathematical formulas relating to Earned Value. Being able to recall these 4 formulas will help answer a good number of questions on the exam.
  • Focus on the process groups around Risks and Scope. A good understanding of these two areas will help prepare you for the exam.
  • Thoroughly revise Project Closure activities. Whilst they appear easy, it’s worth thinking about the order in which you’d logically close a project.
  • Practice exam questions religiously and above all, concentrate on why you got any answers wrong.
  • The day before the exam, my manager said to me, when looking at the exam questions, if you are stuck; take a step backwards and look for the most simple and straight forward answer. Don’t always look to justify a complicated answer, sometimes the answer is the simple option!
  • Finally in the exam, have confidence, rely on your experience and revision. Trust your instincts!

If you are in the process of studying for your PMP certification, I wish you good luck! At Comptel we recognise it’s a worthwhile achievement for individuals and the company alike!

Management World Americas: What can CSPs do as customer touch points increase?

Posted: December 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas: What can CSPs do as customer touch points increase?

Management World Americas 2012 is coming to a close, and as I looked at the beautiful sunrise this morning (which you can see in this picture), I was reflecting on our time here and all of the stimulating conversations and topics that are so relevant to our industry.

In particular, we recently discussed putting the customer first – a key theme in the customer experience management (CEM) sessions — and I’d like to expand on that a bit. In thinking about CEM, another trend we’ve seen come up here is that customer touch points are rapidly increasing, with ever more players having a role in the customer experience. As new devices emerge, over the top (OTT) services are introduced, and data usage continues to surge, this should come as no surprise. In fact, I found it interesting that even when it comes to contacting communications service providers (CSPs) directly, customers generally use multiple methods such as web, phone, email and SMS.

What all these various touch points and subsequent players mean for CSPs, though, is that it’s challenging to control the customer experience end-to-end. To help mitigate this, it’s essential to take advantage of the data at hand by collecting and analysing customer information. Doing so will provide a clear picture of who the customer is and allow for more personilised interactions at each touch point. As Ulla mentioned, this was something that was very prominent during the Equinix case study session where the company collected data and mapped the entire customer lifecycle for a complete view of customer activities and preferences.

In order to really make this strategy successful, a holistic approach to customer experience is needed, with both the marketing, IT and telecom teams aligned in their goals. Automated processes is an asset in bringing these worlds together – simultaneously looking at what’s happening in the network and coinciding customer activities. Where these two elements meet is where automated processes play a key role – enabling CSPs to see exactly what the customer is doing, understand the context, and automate an appropriate, personalised response. Strengthening this with machine learning means that CSPs can track customers’ behavioural patterns dynamically and automatically adapt to those as they change throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

Of course, I’d like to emphasise that this should be used in combination with personal, human interactions. Treating customers this way, with a human touch and by providing unique communications based on their preferences, is key  to differentiating in an ever crowded market. And with automation helping this, CSPs can make many more targeted offers at the right time – a crucial factor to enabling a positive customer experience as touch points continue to expand.

Management World Americas: Putting the customer first

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

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

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

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

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

Management World Americas 2012: Everything that can be digital, will be

Posted: December 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas 2012: Everything that can be digital, will be

I’m here at Management World Americas 2012 in Orlando, Florida, where the air is filled with excitement. This year, the theme is “everything that can be digital, will be” – which is reinforced by the rapid growth of our digital economy, expected to reach $20.4 trillion by 2013. Kicking things off this morning was TM Forum’s President and CEO, Martin Creaner, who addressed how to manage complex services as this growth continues, and discussed the industry’s transformation.

To illustrate his point, Martin drew a parallel to frogs – if you put a frog in cool water and then slowly increase the heat, the frog will boil alive before he realises that his life is in danger, even though he’s aware of the gradual temperature change. This is an analogy to the problems our industry faces. We realise change is happening all around us, in the types of phones we use, with increases in data usage, how we use that data, and beyond. But understanding these changes and actually doing something about them are two entirely different things.

That’s where the challenge of innovation comes into play. When it comes to innovation, there are two categories – the first is sustaining innovation, which is about making things better and improving on products and services that already exist in the market. The second, and more difficult type of innovation, is disruptive. This is focused on creating a new market, with new technologies and services.

Currently, market leaders tend to be strong with sustaining innovation and poor at disruptive innovation. Martin noted that, while always important to cater to customers, the downside of sustaining innovation is that it can hold you captive by them. To avoid being the boiling frog, organizations really need to both sustain and disrupt with their innovations. Martin explained that breaking the cycle comes down to putting space between your innovative efforts and the demand of existing customers. In doing so, you can not only innovate for the here and now, but also take steps to change for the future.

This is something we pride ourselves on at Comptel, especially with our Contextual Intelligence for Telecommunications (CIQ4T) concept – a way we’re innovating for service providers. It allows them to understand their customers with predictive analytics, and interact with them intelligently for relevant offers and, ultimately, for a better customer experience.

We’re excited to see what the rest of the show offers, and if you’re at Management World, stop by our booth (#7) in the expo hall!