Survey Says: Close Customer Focus and Real-Time Data Analysis Key

Posted: July 7th, 2011 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

In addition to organising an industry analyst day and customer / partner presentations, Comptel moderated an interactive session focused on the customer experience during last month’s Comptel User Group (CUG). The session, which involved our partners Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent, surveyed nearly 100 attendees on the evolving state of the customer experience, the role network and other service data and OSS play, and the significant potential revenue opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs). Like our past research, it yielded quite interesting results!

Respondents first indicated that they believe CSPs, when compared to over-the-top (OTT) players, device manufacturers and operating system companies, provide the best customer experience. However, as Cisco’s Russ Kaufmann brought up, OTT players have a head start in providing good customer experience for cloud services. Alcatel-Lucent’s Pierre Dubost also made a good point—if asked the question of who provides the best customer experience two years ago, there likely would have been a very different answer. But, CSPs are really trying to invest in customer care and focus on driving brand loyalty rather just pushing products.

Supporting this, nine out of ten participants pointed to customer experience management as one of the major factors contributing to operators’ survival and success—because as Kaufmann pointed out, when things do go wrong, it can greatly affect churn. These responses support those of a Comptel-sponsored Vanson Bourne survey, which previously identified customer experience management as a significant potential revenue opportunity. Eighty-seven percent of consumers said that their quality of experience influences their allegiance to their CSP, and the majority of them would not only move but also pay more money for faster, more personalised services.

While the importance of a high customer experience was clear, there was general agreement that it’s difficult to determine what exactly will satisfy each customer. More than half (55%) of participants indicated that network performance has the greatest influence on the customer experience, yet all of the other responses varied. Dubost was right in saying that all of these factors are impactful—ultimately, CSPs require a holistic view of customer behaviour in order to better manage (and take the necessary actions to ensure) the customer experience.

Clearly aligned in thought, 100% of survey respondents recognised the value of leveraging network and other service data and their OSS; however, only about one-third of CSPs noted that they are fully utilising this information. There is a huge opportunity for operators to gain superior insight into customers and improve end-users’ experiences. With real-time data analysis and a close customer focus, CSPs can also boost their bottom lines, for example, through profiling for targeted marketing campaigns and traffic shaping for premium services.

Comptel is excited to see how operators take advantage of the opportunities a real-time, interactive and personalised OSS platform presents. What do you think of the interactive session discussion? For more information about the survey results, please contact [email protected].

Closing out the 2011 Comptel User Group

Posted: June 20th, 2011 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Comptel User Group has come to an end. Last week, nearly 200 communications service providers (CSPs), partners, industry analysts and Comptelians from around the world travelled to Helsinki to discuss OSS/BSS and the importance of marrying technology with business strategy – and to celebrate Comptel’s 25th Anniversary.

Three major areas stood out, especially during Wednesday’s CSP presentations. First, and unsurprisingly, was managing the data and device explosion with OSS/BSS. Country host DNA Finland spoke about its application of policy control to help cope with subscribers’ demand for mobile broadband. The operator emphasised the importance of differentiation and network resource prioritisation / utilisation in order to keep its customers satisfied and come out on top in a fiercely competitive market.

Harmonizing OSS/BSS was also largely talked about during the conference. Two of our oldest customers, one from Latin America and one from Europe, reviewed their initiatives to increase efficiencies—whether in terms of cost, service delivery, etc. The first discussed its focus on migrating pre-paid customers to post-paid, while the second explained how it has been modernising its inventory system by consolidating and automating interfaces and outsourcing application maintenance.

Lastly, several CSPs shared how they were leveraging OSS/BSS to cater to specific market needs and thus grow their revenues. A Brasilian cable MSO touched upon how it is looking to mediation to help increase productivity and optimise customers’ home visit experiences (e.g. for installation and service support). In another case, a Kuwaiti operator talked about how it is enabling real-time, online provisioning and activation with Comptel Dynamic SIM Management—all to fulfill the region’s desire for vanity numbers.

There were certainly some interesting stories and takeaways this year! Attendees, should you have any additional feedback on the 2011 Comptel User Group content, we welcome your thoughts. Or if you would like to learn more about any of the above areas and how Comptel can help, please contact [email protected].

Happy Birthday Comptel!

Posted: June 16th, 2011 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Today marks Comptel’s official 25th birthday. This is quite an accomplishment in the OSS and broader telecoms market! As our head of corporate development, Simo Sääskilahti, said in a recent press release, it really is testament to Comptel’s close collaboration with customers and focus on developing long-term partnerships.

Yesterday, during his Comptel User Group welcome speech, CEO Juhani Hintikka highlighted some of the key milestones in our quarter-century history. Did you know that…?

  • Comptel’s mediation solution supported the first GSM call in 1991.
  • Today, we serve more than 280 communications service providers across 85 countries and reach more than one billion subscribers worldwide.
  • The Comptel Dynamic OSS is behind 20 of the 30 largest mobile operators and processes approximately 20% of the world’s mobile CDRs.
  • Comptel has delivered approximately 1300 projects since its start.
  • About sixty percent of the company is located outside of our Helsinki, Finland headquarters. In fact, the office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is rapidly becoming one of our largest.
  • Comptel User Group gold sponsor and partner IBM is also celebrating an important birthday today.

We’re proud to have helped so many operators empower their communications services, better serve their subscribers and drive their businesses forward. The customer case study presentations yesterday were great proof points of our collaborative efforts and successful deployments–the feedback and enthusiasm we’ve since had has been excellent. For those customers and partners in attendance at the Comptel User Group, we hoped you’ve enjoyed your time in Helsinki and celebrating our birthday with us.

Customer Experience Takes Centre Stage at the Comptel User Group

Posted: June 15th, 2011 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

We began the 2011 Comptel User Group yesterday with our second annual OSS/BSS industry analyst day. As I previously mentioned, customer experience was a major theme within each of the presentations.

Our CEO, Juhani Hintikka, first explored the concept of data as the new oil—operators haven’t tapped the potential of subscribers’ information, he explained. In order to create customer loyalty and, at the same time, derive new sources of revenue, they need to exploit every event or transaction in a customer’s lifecycle (without compromising privacy) in order to gain critical insight and take proper action in real time.

Greg Scullard from Comptel’s CTO Office took this thinking a step further. Operators have largely focused on processing orders without developing real relationships with customers. But, as he noted, time is of the essence, and it’s the details that are paramount to winning customers’ hearts, minds and wallets. Operators should instead make analysing subscribers’ behaviours a priority; by doing so, they can find a way to interact with customers much earlier than points of sale, proactively ease their frustrations and prevent churn.

Whether speaking about next-generation fulfillment, the evolution of mediation and charging, or the potential of these two core Comptel areas when combined (e.g. dynamic SIM management), the leadership team proved that operators really need to think about OSS as an integral component to improving the customer experience and enabling their businesses.

Comptel User Group - Radisson Blu Espoo

Overall, the day’s conversations on customer experience were informative and lively, and industry analyst feedback on our corporate strategy and technology vision was positive. We look forward to building on the discussions today with our customer and partner presentations, and tomorrow with several interactive roundtable sessions.

Welcome to the 14th Annual Comptel User Group

Posted: June 13th, 2011 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

It seems like we were just in Windsor … but the 14th annual Comptel User Group is now upon us!

This year, our contact forum for customers, partners and industry analysts is being held in Espoo (near our global headquarters in Helsinki), Finland. Participants can look forward to networking with Comptel’s executive management, our catalog-driven fulfillmentdynamic SIM management, mediationcharging and policy control experts, and each other like in years past.

Comptel Headquarters

Focusing on the theme of customer experience, the event will feature a corporate strategy overview from CEO Juhani Hintikka, followed by a live Comptel Dynamic OSS demonstration led by CTO Gareth Senior. Communications service provider customers, including DNA Finland, Telenor Norway, Net Brazil and Claro Peru, will present, and a keynote from partner IBM will cover smarter communications through data analytics.

And once again, we will moderate an interactive session with panelists from partners Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent. The Q&A will explore the changing face of the customer experience, the critical role of OSS, and how network and other data can be translated into new revenue opportunities for operators.

As always, we invite both those attending and those unable to make the event to participate in discussions on “The Dynamics of OSS”—and to kick things off, show us how much you know about this year’s Comptel User Group location. Write your answers to these trivia questions in the comment section below.

When was Helsinki founded?

In what year were the Olympic Games held in Helsinki?

In what year was Helsinki a European City of Culture?

What is the number of the tram that is also known as the City Tram?

Survey: Where Will Operators’ Revenues Come from in the Next 18-36 Months?

Posted: November 16th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Last month, Comptel and partners Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent led an interactive session at the Comptel User Group (CUG). (We also captured snapshots of it, as well as some of the presentations and attendee testimonials, in the following video.)

During the interactive session, we polled the approximately 100 telecom executives in attendance on their perceptions of new technologies, like cloud, LTE, M2M and third-party applications, and the consequential impact on communications service providers’ (CSPs) business models. After analysing the data, we wanted to share some of the interesting survey findings.

Nearly 60% of attendees considered LTE-enabled mobile broadband to hold the greatest potential for transforming CSP revenue models over the next 18 months. Interestingly, both the Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent representatives on the panel, when asked to comment, said that they see cloud and mobile data applications as the killer revenue drivers.

Meanwhile, some OSS/BSS industry analysts, like Teresa Cottam of Telesperience, made the point that the responses would be different if the CUG attendees were asked about the next 36 months.

So, we ran the vote again and saw that responses were much more fragmented; a third selected third-party applications and content, a little more than a quarter chose LTE-enabled mobile broadband, and only a share of votes went to M2M and cloud.

The conclusion from the panel and from other commentators was that LTE will lay the grounds for new business models, hence the short term (18 months) bet on it and the longer term belief in cloud, content and M2M.

Other feedback to the CUG survey revealed that:

  • In terms of revenue erosion, 60% of attendees thought that LTE-enabled mobile broadband will significantly wear down the revenues of fixed-line businesses, while 40% of respondents said that the impact would be marginal.
  • Three-quarters of respondents mentioned that they are either already working with third-party application and content providers (ACPs) or are planning to within the next 12 months. All respondents expected CSPs to be working with third-party ACPs within the next three to five years.
  • Finally, 97% of CUG attendees responded that cloud services will definitely generate revenues, but only 22% noted that these will be significant for CSPs. Most (59%) concluded that cloud services will result in relatively modest revenues for CSPs.

Overall, operators seem to be optimistic about the impact of new technologies but are unsure as to how these will translate into new revenue streams.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the CUG poll results—do you agree or disagree with any of the findings?

Around the World

Posted: October 15th, 2010 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Scott Stewart CIO Blog…
Telcos Could Rule the Clouds
Scott Stewart, blogger, CIO and cloud computing consultant, highlights a recent blog post by Chirag Mehta that discusses the massive opportunities that telcos (large and small) have in the cloud computing space, and shares his thoughts about how telcos can be well-positioned to provide and distribute virtualized desktops, infrastructure as a servicesoftware as a service, voice, video, cloud-based enterprise applications and productivity tools.  The premise of Stewart’s post is his experience of putting together a business case for cloud computing—it was discovered quickly that the telco model was favored (out of public, private, hybrid, etc.) and tagged by his business as the ‘trusted cloud’ model.  Why is this?  Because with the telco model, you are able to deliver the full benefits of a cloud-based subscription model, but without the dependency of the Internet.  Under this model, you are still able to provide the economies of scale with shared services and multi-tenanted cloud—but delivered over a secure, private, high availability network.  Stewart believes telcos are so well-equipped for cloud computing because many have already been through multiple evolutions of upgrading their networks to the latest protocols and architectures, and most already have advanced knowledge of cloud architecture and operate modern service delivery platforms.  What are your thoughts on telcos and cloud computing?  It was certainly a hot topic at our User Group—check out Bob Machin’s recap of the roundtable discussion.

When the “Best” System is Not Good Enough
As part of Microsperience’s series on sourcing telecoms BSS and OSS, analyst Teresa Cottam looks at some of the common limitations and pitfalls when evaluating BSS/OSS in her post.  She highlights a frequently overlooked point: that the “best” system may not be the right system for you.  Most people’s concept of “best” is related to function; that is, the range of complexity of functions the system can perform.  As Teresa discussed in her recent post BSSOSS: Buy in haste, repent at leisure, there is too much emphasis when buying BSS/OSS on the technical features of the systems and not enough on other factors.  People often believe that capturing all of the possible features required now and in the future is a good starting point to map vendors and evaluate their offerings.  In fact, it can lead to extended and inefficient tendering processes, additional cost, frustration and sometimes completely the wrong decisions being made.  In Teresa’s opinion, the very worst approach is to have extensive feature requirements without any attempt to weigh them intelligently.  When a fully-functional system is in place you rarely find that the CSP implements all of the functions they seemed so concerned with when selecting the system.  The key takeaway from Teresa’s post is that there is no overarching ideal solution to CSPs’ business problems.  Each business has a legacy position, different objectives and challenges, and therefore different requirements.  What is great for one business may not be great for another.

Light Reading…
Data Surge Fuels Policy Control Boom
The market for telecom network policy control servers is booming as CSPs scramble to manage the growing volumes of data running over their networks.  According to research conducted by Heavy Reading, operators are aiming to use their policy control platforms to develop new charging models and develop tiers of services, so they can move away from the flat-rate mobile data models that currently prevail.  More than 70 network operators were surveyed about what prompted their decisions to deploy policy servers or Policy Charging and Rules Function (PCRF). Some of the report’s key highlights include:

  • More than 80 percent rated the option “Enable us to apply ‘fair use’ management techniques to better handle network congestion” as either critical or important.
  • 80 percent also cited “Enable us to offer tiered or customized services to different classes of customers or to individual customers” as either critical or important.
  • More than 75 percent picked out “Improve our ability to meter and charge customers for service features and attributes” as either critical or important.
  • And almost the same number identified policy servers’ ability to help carriers “improve quality and depth of network traffic and applications reporting and analysis” as either critical or important.

Graham Finnie, Heavy Reading’s chief analyst, says the key to making the most of policy servers is to be able to change policy conditions/rules without requiring the vendor to rework the code, and to have them interconnected with a number of other key network and SPIT elements.

Are Cloud Services a Market for Telcos to Lose?

Posted: October 13th, 2010 | Author: Bob Machin | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

At the Comptel User Group last week, a number of the communications industry’s issues du jour were offered to the delegates for roundtable discussion. Amongst the most popular was the topic of cloud services.

It’s a subject which has not exactly suffered from neglect this year, but nonetheless, it was interesting to hear it discussed between communications service providers (CSPs) and network specialists (such as Comptel partners IBM, Cisco and Alcatel Lucent)—people who have a real and pressing interest in how cloud will play out as a credible service for CSPs as well as a possible new revenue source for equipment and software suppliers.

The attention of the group was quickly caught by the question of how big an opportunity cloud could be for telcos.

There is little doubt that cloud services are going to be big and in great demand—the business case is easy to make, in terms of both cost savings and business flexibility. Furthermore network and virtualisation technologies are making cloud increasingly viable. This will continue with the roll out of 4G, which will make access to cloud-based services ubiquitous across fixed and mobile networks.

And no one questions that carriers have some real competitive advantages to exploit in the cloud services market, particularly through their command of the communications network and their influence and control over the quality of delivery.

So cloud services for telcos—it’s all good? Well maybe.

Our delegates raised an issue which we don’t believe has been widely discussed—exactly how evident are telco advantages to the addressable market? Telcos know the value of their technology, but to what extent is it a differentiator for the average customer? After all, it’s hard to value what you don’t understand. Are SMEs aware of the difference between ‘smart pipe’ and ‘dumb pipe’? Do they know (or care) how little influence the IT- or Internet-based provider can have over the quality of service (QoS)? Do they understand the difference that QoS will make to the reliability of their connection?

Telcos undoubtedly have great advantages in the provision of cloud services, but there’s still a lot of education to be done to sell those advantages to the market. Now, as we move out of the early-adopter phase, telcos must grab that all-important mindshare.

Comptel User Group: Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Comptel User Group has got off to a great start!  We’ve had more than 100 communications service providers (CSPs), partners, analysts and Comptelians from around the world travel to Windsor to share their experiences with OSS/BSS, network transformation, service innovation and business growth, among other things.

Wednesday featured CSP and technology partner case study presentations on the challenges and opportunities around mediation system upgrades, network discovery and inventory, as well as:

  • Dynamic SIM management, including number allocation.  Country host O2 gave a keynote presentation that looked at the evolution of what SIM can do; this area is rapidly expanding, with the technology being embedded into more devices like automobiles.  Following that, a Wataniya case study covered the demand for vanity numbers in Kuwait and how this form of personalization is driving a better customer experience and competitive differentiation.
  • Subscriber repositories for generic user profiles.  Hong Kong’s SmarTone-Vodafone led an interesting session that looked at the provisioning of subscriber profile attributes, like customer type (fixed or mobile broadband, etc.), and how it has helped the company to offer unique, personalized data and other advanced services, and enable the concept of the ‘smart pipe’.
  • Policy control (both in terms of bandwidth management and roaming cost control).  TeliaSonera spoke on the launch of its 4G network and the introduction of its new tiered pricing plans to balance revenues (monthly fee plans), resources (network usage allowances) and customer satisfaction (faster speeds).  In addition, Brazil’s Oi covered the importance of PCRF in optimizing customers’ quality of service and allowing it to innovate new services.

Thank you again to those customers, partners and staff that presented yesterday.  If you have any questions about the content or would like to learn more about these areas, please contact [email protected].

Stay tuned for thoughts from the solution workshops and LTE and cloud services roundtables.  We’ll also have the results from our interactive voting session around CSPs’ revenue streams and business models.

Comptel User Group Kick-Off: What Lies Ahead for OSS/BSS?

Posted: October 6th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

The Comptel User Group (CUG) kicked off yesterday with a lively, interactive discussion involving members of our executive management team and several OSS/BSS industry analysts.  The core theme throughout the day—what lies ahead for OSS/BSS?

Arnhild Schia and Gareth Senior first posed this question by looking at the dumb pipe, smart pipe and Telco 2.0 business models, and which type of communications service provider (CSP) can best balance revenue, resources and the customer experience, to come out on top.  The group talked about the many variants (customer base, region, etc.) that affect this—and the critical role software suppliers play in helping to strategically direct CSPs to the best position.

Building on this, the discussion shifted to cover the following hot topics—and more:

  • The importance of understanding the ‘wholeness’ of the customer (taking customer experience management to the next level),
  • Charging fairness, whether it be the conundrum of the ‘all you can eat’ model or that of roaming management,
  • The evolution of the fulfillment process, as it becomes more active, real time and ‘service aware’, and
  • Business policy management, with new technologies like cloud and LTE changing the game.

We look forward to diving into these challenges and opportunities further today with customer and partner case study presentations, and tomorrow with solution sessions and issues-focused roundtables.

Leave a comment, and let us know what you think lies ahead for OSS/BSS in the coming months and years.