FIFA World Cup 2010: Lessons Learned from Spain

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: Andrew Gavin | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

On Monday morning, South Africa woke up with a big ‘hangover’ (figuratively, but no doubt also literally for many!), as the month long party that was the FIFA 2010 World Cup came to an all too sudden end. As if the final seemed to read South Africa’s desire for the tournament not to end, it took 116 minutes of dueling, with a penalty shootout looming four minutes away, before Iniesta’s goal saw Spain defeat the Netherlands 1-0.

Of course, the conclusion of the World Cup also kills my ‘license’ to waffle about football on what is a telecoms, and more specifically OSS, blog.

So what better way to conclude the blend of football / telecoms posts than to take a look at some of the lessons communication service providers (CSPs) in Africa could possibly learn from the winner of the World Cup – Spain.

  1. Get a good goalie. Spain did not win the tournament as one of the top goal scoring teams; in fact, they finished sixth on the list with only eight goals (their finals opponent, the Netherlands, were second with 12). The lesson for operators in Africa is that, in an environment where ARPUs are constrained by low GDP per capita, you cannot always ‘score lots of goals’—so you need to focus on ensuring that you do not ‘leak them’ to ensure profitability. In Spain’s case, they had Casillas as their goal keeper who went on to win the Golden Glove as the tournament’s best keeper, who only let through two goals in seven matches. For operators, this starts with a reliable OSS: automated fulfillment to remove the risks of user error (or fraud) and ensure that all activated services are being billed—and a robust policy control, charging and mediation platform to ensure that services are differentiated and all usage is being monetized. Comptel has many times seen the returns on investment operators have achieved by plugging revenue leaks using our tried and tested OSS solutions.
  2. Keep possession. One of the keys to Spain’s success was the way in which they strangled their opposition, starving them of the ball and reducing their goal-scoring opportunities. In the final, they had 57% of the possession. For operators in Africa, where about 96% of subscribers are prepaid without any tie-in, churn is a major issue, and CSPs need to focus on retaining their customers to ensure their opposition don’t score off them. This is, of course, easier said than done and involves a multi-pronged approach, including ensuring that the customer is not over-charged, services are quickly and reliably activated/de-activated and end-users have access to innovative services.
  3. Play the game—not the man. One of the features of the final was the aggressive approach the Dutch took in an effort to disrupt the Spanish game. While this appeared to work in the first half, the Spanish continued to focus on their game, and eventually, the Dutch had no response. Similarly, operators should avoid being dragged into price wars as a means of competing, but should focus on service innovation. Nobody ultimately wins price wars, and unless you are sure you can win playing ‘ugly’, you may find that your opposition actually has a better game than you. Key to doing this is the ability to rapidly launch new and innovative products to the market in a cost-effective manner. As a founder of the Product and Service Assembly Initiative (PSA), Comptel has been involved in many TM Forum (TMF) Catalysts since 2006, working with other operators and vendors on ‘proof of concepts’ to define how products can be rapidly launched by allowing existing and third-party capabilities to be discovered, modeled and assembled into marketable product bundles ready for automated fulfillment upon ordering. The lessons learned from this have been built into Comptel Catalog to assist operators in rapid, but cost-effective, product assembly.
  4. Get a Psychic Octopus on your side …

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