Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

 

5th of May 2020

Telecommunications today is more essential than ever. Data and mobility have taken on a pivotal role across sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, smart cities, oil and gas, utilities, and more. Now, there is unprecedented demand on networks with cultural shifts due to the pandemic. Given the unpredictability of the future, and with many companies considering the possibility of permanently adopting remote work, the focus is directed to network contingency plans. One thing is clear: service providers with digitally advanced systems will adapt more easily to this cultural shift. And to enhance their systems, these are the top five factors they need to focus on:

Maintain high-performing and scalable networks

More people around the world are working from home due to lockdowns, and those isolating and in quarantine are spending more time on high-bandwidth streaming services such as Netflix, Youtube, and other entertainment channels, further increasing the network load. To serve this surge in demand and long-term cultural shift, telcos must invest in robust AAA infrastructure that is highly available, scalable, and stateless. Operators facing network challenges can transform AAA seamlessly and virtually, ensuring zero impact on their existing IT systems and integrations.

Automate workflows and processes

As their customers do more from home, telcos should also aim to reduce manual and in-person touchpoints. An advanced digital business support systems (BSS) stack helps automate business processes, including complex and repetitive tasks, freeing up network resources, and minimizing errors. Telcos can create, launch, deliver, and manage communications services entirely through a digital-first customer experience, keeping them ahead of the competition. Operators can introduce innovative plans, bonus policies, cashbacks, and targeted offers on-the-fly as the market evolves. Increased digitalization and personalization keeps customers engaged and loyal to the brand.

Digital transformation facilitates rapid implementation and customization as it possesses the following features:

  • Cloud-native services
  • Open APIs and standardized workflows
  • Automated provisioning, fulfillment, testing, chatbots
  • Microservice architecture

In addition, better internal processes and automated workflows mean higher productivity and efficiency in interacting with customers and vendors, while maintaining high operational excellence.

Deliver a digitally-advanced experience

It is crucial for telcos to adopt a digital-first approach to their business, not only because the majority of young consumers prefer interacting with brands through smartphones or online, but long-term cultural shifts due to the pandemic demand a rapid change to conducting business and serving customers virtually.

For example, customers prefer visual assistance to solve their problems. Vodafone has capitalized on this and uses the power of video to relieve the burden on their call centers that used to receive a staggering 5.2 million calls for technical assistance per year. They are now able to resolve customer issues remotely using AI and AR, helping their agents interpret and visually guide the customer, resulting in faster and more accurate problem resolution.

The main areas of focus for digitalization include:

  • Shift in-store customer experience to a digital channel
  • Reduce physical contact through virtual troubleshooting
  • Automate customer touchpoints to improve customer experience
  • Have IT systems that can support the cultural shift

Provide omnichannel support

With an increasing number of digital channels and a growing focus on customer experience, operators need to adopt an omnichannel strategy to keep pace with the expectations of customers. And its applications are two-fold.

For one, omnichannel engagement options extend a seamless, consistent, and unified shopping experience to customers across all touchpoints, whether they are shopping on the operator’s portal or through an online marketplace, physical stores, product catalogs, social media platforms, or chatbots.

Second, omnichannel self-care plays a significant role in the operator’s customer experience strategy, helping customers to play an active role in managing their accounts. Customers can manage their plans and services, create friends and family groups for special calling rates, and control data usage. The added transparency and increased ability to monitor accounts improves customer satisfaction and helps build trust. Automated and intelligent interactions through the web, mobile, and multiple social media channels further enhance the digital experience and empower customers with:

  • Automated digital onboarding
  • Simplified purchases
  • Automated support
  • Multiple payment modes
  • Swift complaint redressal
  • Gifting options
  • Parental controls

Move to SaaS to relieve IT

With the long-term shift to working virtually, a huge strain is put on a company’s IT infrastructure. SaaS software can relieve a huge burden on the IT infrastructure and ensure connectivity and reliability. One of the top priorities for all service providers must be shifting their infrastructure to the cloud because it lets them focus on digitization opportunities with limited investment. SaaS BSS architecture provides the telco with advanced modules, preconfigured fixed and mobile broadband plans, and 24×7 managed service operations, while a dedicated customer success manager ensures faster return on investment and reduced time-to-market. It also helps with reduced expenditure on hardware, infrastructure, maintenance, and more. The SaaS solution helps operators rapidly transform and adapt their business to modern technology trends that facilitate back-office process automation and digitize customer experience for their staff and subscribers.

Conclusion

To capitalize on cultural shifts and surging demand in data, telecom providers need to concentrate on a digital makeover, either as a complete network overhaul or a phased digital transformation. This includes not just offering better network capabilities but also implementing innovative tools and strategies to enable process automation and enhanced customer experience. Service providers must consider investing in digital technologies to build next-gen offerings and streamline business and IT operations, using SaaS software and agile methodologies to analyze and understand overall market demands, business requirements, customer data, and real-time delivery needs. It’s certain there is opportunity for companies to evolve in these challenging times.

Anand Ramani

Anand Ramani

Director R&D

A senior professional with more than 20 years of experience in the telecom BSS domain, Anand is passionate about adapting newer technologies and building digital products. He heads the company’s R&D activities for core products such as Digital BSS, WiFi, and AAA.

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Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

 

14th of January 2020

As evidenced in countries where it has launched, 5G brings massive innovation potential but is challenging to monetize if its only unique offering is ultrafast speed. Many operators are aware that 5G success depends on their digital Business Support Systems (BSS) and bringing innovation to their own business models. A recent study by TM Forum reveals that 72% of CSPs believe 5G revenue growth is completely dependent on transforming their BSS and OSS. However, digital transformation is beneficial even before 5G is rolled out: a robust BSS stack enables implementing and monetizing key 5G use cases, such as OTT partnerships and new business models, on previous-gen networks.

5G networks are anticipated to deliver a transformational customer experience with improved speed, connectivity, network coverage, interoperability, and more. And this will be further enhanced with omnichannel support, which offers a highly personalized, consistent, seamless, and holistic view of the complete customer journey. Enabling faster speeds and connectivity, rapid service creation and monetization, and differentiated partnership models for new revenue streams will be a necessity for operators. Those ready with 5G Core (5GC) architecture before the 5G market matures will have a competitive edge. It provides a high-level of orchestration and automation with the use of a modular 5G service-based architecture (SBA) required to meet future challenges and business needs. An effective digital BSS helps to fully monetize this transformation and derive maximum ROI.

How digital BSS unlocks 5G potential

With limited features and rigid architecture, legacy BSS cannot keep up with the evolving demands of customers as they embrace a digital lifestyle. With a digital BSS stack, operators can seize the benefits of 5G – a fact they are well aware of. According to this report , the global digital BSS market is expected to reach approximately USD 7,416 million by 2025, at a CAGR of roughly 15% between 2019 and 2025.

A digital BSS provides an elastic, modern, and convergent system in a virtualized network environment, giving CSPs an edge over competitors and enabling them to readily offer unique 5G services. An effective BSS transformation helps modernize fixed and wireless networks, as well as support CSPs to introduce differentiated services and automate business processes.

What should you look for in a digital BSS?

5G facilitates real-time rating, metering and charging for sophisticated digital services, along with monetization schemes such as QoS tiers, OTT billing and charging, partner settlements (B2B2X), and more – all of which is possible only with a flexible and agile BSS platform. Robust digital BSS architecture using the latest 5G standards is essential in this competitive and ever-evolving market – today and well into the future – to be able to support a dynamic environment and provide quick time-to-value in delivering new features and functions.

Top benefits operators enjoy with digital BSS

Modern digital BSS features help improve and monetize legacy as well as next-gen networks, driving the following benefits for operators:

1. Rapid and phased deployments
A truly modern digital BSS is modular, cloud-native and deployed virtually. For operators not wanting to undertake a complete digital transformation at one go, it’s possible to implement in phases, so there is low risk involved in migration and fewer resources are required to launch it. Further, End of Life is less frequent, and the hardware is much easier to manage.

2. Accelerated monetization of use-cases
A 5G-ready digital BSS stack lets operators rapidly monetize the data network with innovative and personalized offerings, enhancing the digital experience for subscribers and improving customer loyalty. The elastic and convergent platform provides a network environment for CRM, convergent charging and billing, with REST APIs that offer the flexibility to quickly introduce a host of digital services with new billing models.

3. Centralized catalog management
With 5G, network slicing, and the surge of IoT and other data-intensive services like AI and VR, it will be challenging for CSPs to meet the demands to support new business models and use cases on the fly without expensive and lengthy backend code changes. A digital BSS stack with a centralized product catalog enables CSPs to swiftly respond to this network evolution. A common product repository and robust API framework allow CSPs, partners, and distributors to accelerate TTM for new products and services and improve revenue and customer engagement. With modern centralized catalogs, plans can be defined by many metrics such as volume, value, time, and quality of service. This core functionality helps ease teamwork and collaboration, manage offers efficiently, support multi-play offerings, and provide quick access to prebuilt use cases library.

4. Improved customer management
Customer relationship management covers all important aspects of the customer lifecycle, from registration and hierarchy to offering a 360-degree view to CSRs for subscribers as well as enterprise customers. With digital CRM, operators can implement automated workflows, streamline sales and support, and use chatbots and AI to reduce manual CSR workload. Additionally, it enables instant issue redressal and quick troubleshooting with web and mobile self-care including live chat options, lowering operational expenses and reducing churn.

5. Efficient revenue management
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP networks bring. Convergent charging facilitates automated rates and charging mechanisms. Further, revenue management solutions with reliable interconnect and billing for roaming help manage diverse partnerships, enabling CSPs to efficiently charge other operators for use of their voice, data, SMS, and other network infrastructure. A modern digital BSS with real-time APIs can also facilitate new 5G use cases like surge or congestion charging at times when the demand for digital services is high.

6. Enhanced partner management
A digital BSS stack with an integrated partner management platform helps improve operational agility by streamlining the partner lifecycle. It helps cultivate relationships with simplified onboarding, self-service, and support for a host of partner functions such as content, OTT, IoT, interconnect agreements, roaming, MVNO, and others. A partner management solution with open API integration works seamlessly with third-party systems.

7. Automated omnichannel support
Improving customer experience is not merely about providing better user interfaces on various devices, but also integrating the process across channels. Omnichannel support allows operators to provide a consistent, seamless, and highly personalized self-care experience through web, mobile and social media platforms, ensuring swift problem resolution while making customers feel more connected and valued. The most recent additions to this trend are WhatsApp-, AI- and NLP-powered chatbots for instant redressal of customer queries.

Telcos are already in the battle to build 5G networks and intend to offer improved quality of service to customers. And as they invest billions of dollars in 5G RAN, they must remember that an effective 5G strategy includes IT systems to generate ROI on that investment. Digital BSS has the great benefit of being modular so it can be rolled out in phases, mitigating the risks involved in a largescale migration of one’s billing system. To maximize their chances of success, operators must modernize their infrastructure with a digital BSS transformation today.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

How Partnerships Are the Key to 5G Success for Telcos

 

23rd of October 2019

The proliferation of smart devices and high-speed internet has revolutionized the telecommunications sector, and the advent of 5G is further bolstering this transformation. Earlier, telecoms mainly partnered with other operators to share their networks, data, messaging and voice services through wholesales agreements, but these partnerships have evolved considerably over the years. In order for 5G to be a commercial success for telcos, more advanced partner models will need to be supported for all of the new use cases and devices that are envisioned for the network.

Today, a modern partner management solution for 5G success enables the convergence of partners across multiple sectors and caters to highly diverse needs. Unified partner systems cover key segments like distribution, IoT/M2M, content/OTT, roaming, wholesale billing, MVNO, and more. The result: automated processes, the ability to launch any partner model, and reduced operational costs.

Partnerships will pave the way forward

Telecom leaders are currently thought to be risking billions of dollars as they struggle to address a host of challenges. High-cost wireless and fixed connections, coverage outages, demand for improved customer service, and an ever-growing list of competitors are only some of the roadblocks in deriving ROI.

International consultancy BearingPoint recently commissioned a study in which 85 executives of Tier 1 and Tier 2 Communications Service Providers (CSPs) from Europe, Asia, and the US, as well as 440 executives from sectors such as IT, technology, automotive, transport, banking, and insurance, were interviewed. According to their findings, 60 percent of the CSPs believed working in collaboration helps drive cost-effective and innovative solutions, while 59 percent were of the opinion that partnerships help them remain competitive, and 51 percent believed they would improve customer experience in the telecom market.

However, the study found that telco transformations tend to focus on adopting new trends in technology for short-term financial success, “as opposed to working to address an increasingly widely held view that if CSPs don’t consider new digital business models, they will not survive in their current form.” Overall, it concluded, most CSPs still view digital transformation as a means of achieving short-term cost reduction, instead of attempting to gain long-term benefits such as the scope for new business partnerships.

It’s essential for operators to alter this approach to remain relevant and for their businesses to be profitable. They will need to move beyond delivering connectivity to become digital ecosystem enablers, co-creating new services with partners and subscribers. Partner management converges three key tenets of modern business success: improved customer experience, service innovation, and competitiveness.

Many of these advanced partnership models can be implemented on LTE networks, and as operators upgrade to 5G, they will be able to enhance existing use cases as well as introduce new ones. In addition to 5G, new technologies that create partnership opportunities include IoT, network function virtualization, software-defined networking, cloud-based platforms, and more.

The role of partnerships in 5G monetization

As 5G networks and devices materialize, partnership models will be established in multiple layers, from sharing infrastructure and exposing network capabilities as a service, to launching a wide range of devices and services onto the system.

5G has raised consumer demands considerably, with expectations like unlimited data usage, downloading movies in seconds, and unique services and devices like smart home appliances. This means there is a need for CSPs to monetize beyond data bundles and introduce indirect monetization mechanisms with the help of schemes like sponsored data.

New models could be created with 5G that don’t exist today and be the key to telco success. Imagine a telco could spin up a 5G network slice for a ride-share company like Uber, with a revenue-share agreement based on total distance the fleet drove, all reported and charged real-time via API. Or a telco sells SaaS home security devices and takes an upfront fixed fee and monthly fee from the manufacturer. There are endless possibilities and use cases for CSP marketers to dream up.

What CSPs must now do is look at investing in platforms that enable them to monetize innovative 5G business models. This includes IoT and network slicing-based services that speed up tech advancements for various next-gen applications such as VR apps, industrial IoT apps, smart cities, connected healthcare, smart home ecosystems, wearable technologies, infotainment systems, and more.

How it works: smart business models

An effective partner management software helps reduce the total cost of ownership with fast time-to-market for new offerings. Smart revenue-sharing models allow CSPs to create new revenue streams and handle today’s ever-evolving digital and communications needs with solutions for both marketing and back-office departments.

With these smart models, CSPs can:

  • Create personalized partner contracts
  • Speed up and automate the partner on-boarding process
  • Support telecom and non-telecom partnerships
  • Support multilevel hierarchy models
  • Offer advanced self-care for partners
  • Enable any business model or billing type

What the future holds

Customers want innovative services at faster speeds. CSPs are expected to meet these expectations at every touchpoint. And to retain customers, they must meet future challenges from competing technologies quickly and at an acceptable cost.

To achieve this, CSPs must focus on partner management solutions that will help them launch offerings involving high volumes of data and video, mobile workload volatility, a greater number of connections and demand for lower latency to develop transformative strategies. Also, new revenue streams can be created by monetizing lucrative OTT content, partner applications, and other partner relationships.

So, the goal is to achieve the right balance between traditional and digital to create the richest customer experience. A unified and effective partner management solution ensures greater collaboration between multi-disciplinary partnerships, which is vital to success and the key to ROI of 5G.

Want to learn more about innovative partnership models and how Alepo’s digital BSS can prepare you for 5G and IoT? Click here for our 5G-ready digital BSS flyer.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

9th of March 2017

As mobile technologies have evolved, so has the telecommunications customer base. While ten years ago, customers were looking for little more than access, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has created new demands and opportunities that expand the role of the service provider.

Simple one-fits-all service worked in the past, but as technology has evolved, so have customer needs and expectations. A recent IBM study on Generation Z showed that 75 percent of respondents picked a mobile phone or smartphone as their device of choice, and 47 percent said they use their smartphones when shopping in a store. Further, prior to making any purchasing decisions, Generation Z uses their phones to research products and services to compare prices and discounts.

So, as technologies and consumers evolve, CSPs can find themselves left behind, crippled by their legacy systems into offering impersonal plans, leaving current and potential customers unsatisfied.

It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that CSPs should strongly consider transforming into DSPs (Digital Service Providers). What distinguishes DSPs is precisely this fine-grained service, and ability to bundle several offerings, such as broadband access, content, and mobile apps.

A DSP is a service provider which has evolved from offering just the core telecom services, to providing broadband access, content, services and mobile apps to its customers.

While this evolution can be challenging, it is a necessity for providers who wish to remain competitive. In order to fully monetize their networks, it is imperative that they offer bundled and nuanced plans to a customer base ready to pay for these features.

But what exactly does it take to transform from a CSP to DSP?

How to evolve from a CSP to a DSP?

Becoming a DSP is about becoming more responsive and adaptable to consumers’ wants and needs around mobile data services. A stellar customer experience – complete with personalized and contextual mobile data offers, real-time usage alerts, unique roaming offers, and everything digital – is central to being successful as a DSP.

The core ingredients of a successful DSP:

  • Subscriber Segmentation Capabilities: A CSP needs to have granular segmentation capabilities based on parameters such as location, age, gender, consumption, device type, and many more. Mobile data needs for each subscriber varies greatly and requires this segmentation for smart offers that increase ARPU. A recent study by The Manifest reveals that of the 511 smartphone users surveyed, almost 40 percent use social media apps frequently – almost four times more than any gaming, communication or messaging apps. However, if we were to consider another context – enterprise customers – we’d find that their aim is to limit their employees’ use on certain social websites while at work and instead promote other services. To cater to these two different segments, an operator must create a customized offer for each.
  • Rich Contextual Data Offer Creation:  CSPs should be able to create offers based on multiple parameters: QoS, apps and content, time, device type, data usage, and subscriber profile, as well as network-centric parameters like congestion, access network, and location.
  • Sponsored Apps and Offers: CSPs can partner with other ecosystem players, like OTT apps or digital services, to offer special promotions or plans that are subsidized by the partner. For example, an operator may offer a plan where video streaming is free from one of their local video partners, to drive consumption of that content.
  • CSPs Own App: A lot of CSPs are choosing this option and urging users to install their native app. Using the app, subscribers can instantly purchase a data pass, or even create their own, based on how much data and validity they want to buy. In addition, users can subscribe to personalized data usage alerts. Subscribers can also elect to set their own bandwidth speeds for data, to manage and even “stretch” their usage.

The transformation of a CSP into a DSP is indeed disruptive, but it is the need of the hour. CSPs need to evolve their legacy systems, molding their business models to stay relevant and profitable in the market.

In the coming times, consumers and their needs will be the driving force of the market. CSPs need to understand this and create valuable offerings and business processes that put consumers at the center. CSPs need to plan ahead of the changing market requirements to beat the curve and relevant to their customers at all times.

Click here to read how Green Com modernizes its mobile network with an Alepo BSS Transformation solution, resulting in 10% higher revenues within just two months of deployment.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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