By Sanjay Mewada,
Vice President of Strategy
In 2015, accelerating trends will intersect at lightning speed. This will create opportunities for communication service providers (CSPs) that are rife with business complexity, new technology introductions and the need to capitalize on major concepts that have been under discussion during the past several years.
With a nearly excessive focus on macro trends for 2015, it’s time to look more closely at some of the micro elements of these trends that will be the focus for CSP investment in the coming year. If there is one common thread for the entire industry, it’s that time is not a luxury; we need to figure out these phenomena fast. Below is a look at four trends for carriers to focus on in 2015.
#1: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE BECOMES KEY DIFFERENTIATOR
Enhancing customer experience is a major macro trend that will accelerate in 2015. But the micro view for CSPs will be to shift their focus from ordering processes to shopping experiences. Players in the e-commerce and m-commerce domains have changed customer expectations for how things are purchased—whether online or via contact center interactions. There is a massive difference between an ordering process—something linear and born of a monopolistic approach to the market—and a shopping experience. A shopping experience is fun, personalized and infused with logical recommendations; it empowers the customer. An ordering process tends to be none of these things. In 2015, CSPs will focus on creating shopping experiences that rival what their customers find elsewhere online. In turn, this means revisiting user experience on a Website or contact center desktop, as well as revamping product catalogs and product definitions, improving offer management and leveraging customer history data.
Vice President of Strategy,
#2 CUSTOMER ANALYTICS DRIVE OPERATOR COMPETITIVENESS
Delivering customer analytics is another macro trend that will either maintain or increase momentum in 2015. In the micro view, however, the focus needs to be on targeting very specific segments with highly competitive offers. We see this deeper level of segmentation emerging in mobile markets already. Operators have to target their own subscribers with “next-best offer” types of deals because every operator is targeting the competition in the same way. This has created a churn-intensive price war that can only be combated by offering better deals and more value in smarter and more automated ways to specific customers. After all, no one should understand an operator’s customer base better than the operator itself.
#3: SHIFT TO REAL-TIME BILLING STARTS TAKING SHAPE
The shift to real-time billing is another emerging trend, but may really start to move forward in 2015. The micro aspect of this trend is seen in product models that break away from the boundaries of the traditional 30-day billing cycle. Today, if an operator provides a limited time offer, freemium trial or other duration-based service, billing becomes very complex. Pro-rated and mid-cycle credits span multiple bills and cause confusion, which leads to greater costs associated with fielding billing questions and complaints. For these proven models to work—especially in an environment where CSPs want to sell more value-added services on top of their network offerings—billing must not be tied so closely to the 30-day cycle. That often means integrating real-time charging and next-generation rating with traditional billing to enhance functionality without disrupting the large-scale systems and processes that shepherd billions in revenue.
#4: NETWORK VIRTUALIZATION DRIVES SERVICE INNOVATION
Harnessing network virtualization is a key macro trend that everyone is talking about. The micro trend of virtualization is maturing beyond the lab and getting serious about service innovation. Subscription mobility; dynamic, on-demand private clouds; as-needed global networking; turning the CSP network into a reusable, adaptive service platform—all of these ideas need to be on the drawing board in 2015 to move them into production. The key to delivering these ideas as innovative new services will be getting management and orchestration (MANO) right. Exposing network functions via software-defined networking (SDN) and replacing legacy hardware with network functions virtualization (NFV) is where the heavy lifting is done, but MANO is what will put new assets and network capabilities into play as differentiated services. Effective MANO is critical to having SDN and NFV alleviate the crunch rather than compound complexity, especially in an environment where urgency reins due to escalating volumes of consumer mobile devices, M2M applications, autonomous IoT machines as well as massive volumes of content, application and business data traffic and transactions moving to the cloud.
2015 will be a year of innovation and anxiety as the race to see which carriers come out most successful heats up.