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Analytics

Como bien dijo Gordon Gekko, en la película Wall Street (1987), “La mercancía más valiosa que conozco es la información”. Afortunadamente para las compañías de comunicaciones y sus Directores Financieros, no carecen de esta “mercancía valiosa”, la cual pueden aprovechar mediante analíticas.
Descubre cómo los Directores Financieros pueden aprovechar sus datos mediante analíticas de telecomunicaciones, para tomar mejores decisiones que impulsen el crecimiento y mitiguen los riesgos, viendo la grabación del webinar llamado “No te quedes atrás: una guía de Directores Financieros para aprovechar las analíticas avanzadas”, que tuvo lugar el 14 de diciembre.

Pero retrocedamos un momento.
El mundo de las telecomunicaciones, tal como lo conocemos, está evolucionando y, con él, el rol de los Directores Financieros también está experimentando un cambio drástico. Su papel ya no se limita a centrarse únicamente en el desempeño pasado, en los números y en la información financiera, sino que el mandato parece casi universalmente superado, y el Director Financiero necesita también proporcionar información sobre hacia dónde está yendo el negocio y cuán rápido lo está haciendo.
La participación de los Directores Financieros en la estrategia corporativa también se ha convertido en una parte integral del trabajo, ya que ahora tienen la capacidad y el mandato de contribuir directamente con la dirección del negocio, así como revisar e informar sobre su rendimiento. Todo esto significa que los Directores Financieros de hoy deben ser más estratégicos y necesitan asegurarse de que haya una mayor alineación con los imperativos estratégicos del negocio, y este requisito coloca al Director Financiero en el punto focal no solo para la presentación de informes financieros, sino también para los reportes gerenciales, además de mantener una hoja de balance sólida y saludable.
Pero, como sabemos, la naturaleza dinámica del entorno de las telecomunicaciones plantea múltiples obstáculos al Director Financiero moderno, que incluye -aunque no se limita- a lo siguiente:

_ Los CFO hoy en día deben asegurarse de que son capaces de aumentar el margen y el rendimiento de las ganancias.
Es un hecho bien conocido que los ARPUs han estado disminuyendo constantemente en todas las regiones del mundo y, junto con el lento crecimiento de los ingresos, está llevando a una erosión constante de los márgenes desde 2010 en la mayoría de las regiones. En medio de estos desafíos, el mandato de los Directores Financieros de aumentar los márgenes y el rendimiento de las ganancias es cada vez más crítico y difícil.

_Los intentos organizativos de aumentar los ingresos se están desinflando por errores y fugas.
Abordar las Fugas de Ingresos es una preocupación importante para los operadores de telecomunicaciones, y se está convirtiendo rápidamente en un mandato para los Directores Financieros, considerando que actualmente la mayoría de los equipos de RA reportan a ellos. Teniendo en cuenta que las Fugas de Ingresos tienen un impacto directo en el crecimiento de los ingresos, el rol del Director Financiero consiste ahora en tomar una postura proactiva en el tratamiento de cualquier error o pérdida.

_Evaluar los riesgos y desarrollar medidas para prevenir las violaciones de seguridad.
Al igual que las Fugas de Ingresos, las violaciones de seguridad y el fraude de telecomunicaciones pueden costarle mucho a los operadores, y es un obstáculo para asegurar que los Directores Financieros mantengan un balance sólido. $ 38.1 billones (USD) fueron perdidos por fraude en 2015 y, aunque el número está disminuyendo, las Telcos siguen sintiendo el impacto de perder dinero por fraude, y la tarea de resolver esto recae en el Director Financiero.

_Aumentar los Gastos de Capital durante un período de disminución de ingresos.
Una reciente encuesta realizada por TMForum, dirigida por Subex, reveló las siguientes conclusiones:
– 1 de cada 3 operadores no mide los rendimientos de la inversión en CAPEX.
– 77% de los encuestados considera que la utilización inadecuada de los activos lleva a un aumento de los costos.
– El 55% de los encuestados cree que la planificación de red se basa en suposiciones.
– El 64% cree que la planificación de capex está impulsada por la tecnología y no por los objetivos del negocio.
Por otra parte, los ingresos globales de CSP disminuyeron un 5,3% para el año terminado en marzo de 2016, mientras que el gas Responder a la volatilidad y velocidad de cambio
Las señales indican que los ingresos de los servicios tradicionales se estabilizarán en los próximos 10 años. De hecho, algunos analistas anticipan que los ingresos de los servicios de comunicaciones tradicionales se reducirán en un 50% respecto de los niveles actuales en 2025. Esto significa que los CSP deben adoptar la revolución digital y ya no pueden seguir siendo tontos sino que deben ser vistos como tubos inteligentes Al ofrecer servicios digitales y ser vistos como DSPs o incluso LSPs (Lifestyle Service Providers)to de capital aumentó, elevando los gastos de capital (capex/ingresos) a 19,8% para el año.

_Aumento de la competencia, incluso de los jugadores OTT.
Según Ovum, se espera que cueste a las Telcos un total combinado de $386 billones entre 2012 y 2018.

_Responder a la volatilidad y velocidad de cambio.
Las señales indican que los ingresos de los servicios tradicionales se estabilizarán en los próximos 10 años. De hecho, algunos analistas anticipan que, para 2025, los ingresos de los servicios de comunicaciones tradicionales se reducirán en un 50% respecto de los niveles actuales. Esto significa que los CSPs deben abrazar la revolución digital, y ya no pueden permanecer como conductos bobos, sino que deben ser vistos como tubos inteligentes que ofrezcan servicios digitales, y ser vistos como DSPs o incluso como LSPs (Lifestyle Service Pviders).
¡Y los retos no terminan ahí! Hoy en día, los Directores Financieros necesitan dedicar más tiempo y esfuerzo a gestionar el futuro en lugar de residir en el pasado y, por lo tanto, necesitan analizar aún más los datos analíticos para conectar los puntos y predecir el futuro. Para su ventaja, los Directores Financieros de telecomunicaciones poseen cantidades de datos sin precedentes, de múltiples fuentes, incluyendo datos de clientes y datos de red, y pueden aprovechar estos datos a través del poder de las analíticas de telecomunicaciones.
Si se aprovecha de la manera correcta, mediante la aplicación de analítica avanzada, los Directores Financieros de telecomunicaciones serán capaces de abordar los desafíos que enfrentan y lograr resultados empresariales que se alineen con su agenda, a través de la generación de conocimientos de telecomunicaciones accionables. Los Directores Financieros podrán tener una visión de 360 grados de su contexto de negocios e identificar e incluso predecir proactivamente los problemas, oportunidades y amenazas, y les ayudará a abordarlos antes de las auditorías internas. Por estas razones, ahora se ha convertido en el mandato del Director Financiero conducir analíticas para la toma de decisiones tanto estratégica como operativa.
Mediante la generación de Conocimiento de Telecomunicaciones, una Solución de Analítica Avanzada puede ayudar a los Directores Financieros a satisfacer las crecientes expectativas que se les imponen en los cambios en sus roles, permitiéndoles:
_Proactivamente predecir y dirigir recursos para contrarrestar los riesgos y aprovechar las oportunidades.
_Reducir la incertidumbre al prever los cambios disruptivos, y responder y adaptarse para crear oportunidades de crecimiento.
_Predecir Fugas de Ingresos y Fraudes para enfrentar los riesgos de manera proactiva.
_Predecir las redundancias y reasignar los presupuestos para reducir y controlar los costos.
_Aumentar el impacto de las decisiones de precios y promociones mediante la optimización.
La solución Analítica Avanzada de Telecomunicaciones tiene el alcance de ayudar a los Directores Financieros de los operadores de telecomunicaciones a cumplir los objetivos de negocio de manera drástica, e incluso hemos visto o, mejor dicho, ayudado a un CSP de Nivel 1, basado en Norteamérica, a ahorrar costos, simplemente ayudándoles a resolver disputas. A través de la generación de conocimientos de telecomunicaciones, la asociación ayudó al CSP a mejorar su ratio de predecir y resolver disputas a 9x, lo que a su vez les ayudó a ahorrar hasta unos millones de dólares. Este es el poder de la solución Analítica Avanzada de Telecomunicaciones.
Para obtener más información sobre cómo los Directores Financieros pueden aprovechar las analíticas de telecomunicaciones para maximizar los ingresos y mitigar los riesgos, vea la grabación del webinar “No te quedes atrás: una guía de Directores Financieros para aprovechar las analíticas avanzadas”, el 16 de febrero.

As Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street (1987), rightly said, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.” Fortunately for telecom operators and their Chief Financial Officers, they possess no dearth of this ‘valuable commodity’, which they can leverage through telecom analytics

Find out how CFOs can leverage their data through telecom analytics, by gener to make better decisions to drive growth and mitigate risks by viewing the recording of the webinar on ‘Don’t Get Left Behind – a CFO Guide to Leveraging Advanced Analytics’, which took place on December 14th .

But let’s take a step back for a moment.

The telecom world as we know it is evolving, and with it, the role of the CFOs has also been undergoing a drastic change. His role is no longer confined to be solely focused on past performance, on the numbers, and on financial reporting, but the mandate seems almost universally to have been exceeded, with the CFO needing to also provide information about where the business is going and how quickly it is getting there. [1]

The CFOs involvement in corporate strategy has also become an integral part of the job, with CFOs now having the ability and the mandate to contribute directly to the direction of the business as well as reviewing and reporting on its performance1. This all means that today’s CFOs need to be more strategic and need to ensure that there is better alignment with strategic business imperatives and this requirement puts the CFO at the focal point for not just financial reporting but also managerial reporting, along with his core objective of maintain a strong and healthy balance sheet.

But, as we know, the dynamic nature of the telecom environment places multiple hurdles in the face of the modern day CFO, which include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • CFOs today need to ensure that they are able to increase margin and earnings performance
    • It is a well-known fact that ARPUs have been steadily declining in every region of the world, and coupled with slow revenue growth is leading to a steady erosion of margins since 2010 in most regions[2]. In the midst of these challenges, the mandate of CFOs to increase margins and earnings performances in becoming increasingly critical, and difficult.
  • Organisational attempts at growing revenues are being deflated by errors and leakage
    • Addressing Revenue leakages are a major concern for telecom operators[3], and is quickly becoming a CFO mandate considering currently most RA teams ultimately report to the CFO[4]. Considering that revenue leakages have a direct impact on revenue growth, it is now the role of the CFO to take a proactive stance in addressing any errors and leakages.
  • Assessing risks and developing measure to prevent security breaches
    • Like Revenue Leakages, security breaches and telecom fraud can cost operators heavily, and is an obstacle in the way of ensuring CFOs maintain a strong balance sheet. $38.1 Billion (USD) was lost to fraud in 2015, and though the number is decreasing YoY, telcos are still feeling the pinch of losing cash to fraud, and the task to resolve this lies with the CFO.
  • Increasing Capital Expenses during a period of decreasing revenues
    • A recent survey that was conducted by TMForum led by Subex revealed the following findings:
      • 1 in 3 operators do not measure returns on CAPEX investment
      • 77% of the respondents believed that inadequate asset utilization leads to increase in costs
      • 55% of the respondents believed that network planning is based on guesses
      • 64% believed that capex planning is driven by technology and not business objectives

Moreover Global CSP revenues declined by 5.3% for the year ended March 2016, while capex increased, pushing up capital expenses (capex/revenues) to 19.8% for the year.[5]

  • Increasing competition, even from OTT players
    • Which according to Ovum, is expected to cost Telcos a total combined $386 billion between 2012 and 2018
  • Responding to the volatility and velocity of change
    • The signs are that revenues from traditional services will plateau over the next 10 years. Indeed, income from traditional communications services is anticipated by some analysts to decline by 50% from current levels by 2025. This means that CSPs need to embrace the digital revolution, and can no longer remain as dumb pipes but need to be seen as smart pipes by offering digital services and be seen as DSPs or even LSPs (Lifestyle Service Providers)

And the challenges don’t just end there! Today CFOs need to spend more time and effort managing the future rather than dwelling in the past, and hence need to take an even closer look at data analytics to connect the dots and to predict the future. To their advantage, telecom CFOs possess unprecedented quantities of data, from multiple sources including customer data and network data, and can leverage this data through the power of telecom analytics.

If leveraged in the right way, by applying advanced analytics, telecom CFOs will be able to address the challenges they are facing, and achieve business outcomes that align with their agenda, through the generation of actionable telecom insights. CFOs will possess the power to have a 360 degree view of their business context and identify and even predict issues, opportunities and threats proactively, and will help them address them before internal audits. For these reasons, it has now become the mandate of the CFO to drive analytics for both strategic and operational decision-making.

By generating Telecom Insights, an Advanced Analytics Solution can help CFOs to meet the increasing expectations placed on their changing roles by enabling them to:

  • Proactively predict and direct resources to counter risks and leverage opportunities
  • Reduce uncertainty by predicting disruptive changes and respond and adapt to create growth opportunities
  • Predict revenue leakages and fraud to proactively address risks
  • Predict redundancies and reallocate budgets to reduce and control costs
  • Increase impact of pricing and promotion decisions through optimization

Advanced Telecom Analytics has the scope of helping CFOs of telecom operators meet business objectives drastically, and we have even witnessed, or rather helped a Tier 1 CSP, based in North America save costs by purely helping them resolve disputes. Through the generation of telecom insights, the partnership helped the CSP improve their hit ratio of predicting and addressing disputes to 9x, which in turn helped them save up to a few million dollars. Thus is the power of Advanced Telecom Analytics.

To find out more about how CFOs can leverage telecom analytics for revenue maximization and risk mitigation, view the recording of the webinar on ‘Don’t Get Left Behind – a CFO Guide to Leveraging Advanced Analytics’, on December 14th.

[1] http://www.ey.com/gl/en/issues/managing-finance/the-dna-of-the-cfo—perspectives-on-the-evolving-role—the-cfo-s-contribution

[2] https://www.strategyanalytics.com/strategy-analytics/news/strategy-analytics-press-releases/strategy-analytics-press-release/2015/01/23/global-trends-for-mobile-operators-show-stagnant-revenues-and-declining-margins#.WD-iJeZ9600

[3] https://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/global-revenue-assurance-survey/Documents/global-revenue-assurance-survey.pdf

[4] https://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/global-revenue-assurance-survey/Documents/global-revenue-assurance-survey.pdf

[5] https://www.ovum.com/research/communications-service-provider-csp-revenue-capex-tracker-1q16/

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The Scenario

Of late IoT has gained a lot of attention and every operator is at least thinking of leveraging this latest platform to offer innovative products, but the big question is how?

Many operators are relying on their vendors to come up with IoT use cases, the challenge here is that even the Vendors are still in process of deep diving as IoT is still a niche market.

One of the major factor that makes IoT an unknown area is the lack of visible use cases to be seen in our day to day life, though the developed counties have made significant progress, developing world is yet to embrace the “Smart” systems. With lot of emphasis on Smart cities, IoT business is here to stay.

When it comes to IoT Settlements, both Telcos and Vendors should start thinking out of the traditional wholesale approach. Telcos are looking for vendors who can support them with their traditional as well as new business areas with the centralized solution.

The Concept

Understanding “Internet of Things” concept is very simple, it is a network of “Things”. Things are physical objects that can be added to a network, have sensors and can be controlled using software. These things can be as common as day to day devices like a Fridge, a Car, a thermostat and so on. The purpose of connecting ‘things’ is to have a centralized access to their features and to control enormous data they are capable of producing.

One very obvious fact that can be identified from IoT is to have a medium for keeping things connected. This creates an immense opportunity for telecom operators to provide medium for supporting the connected items. According to Gartner by 2020, the Internet of Things will grow to 26 billion units installed which excludes connected PCs and smartphones. This will add $1.9 trillion to the global economy. Intel estimates 31 billion devices to be connected by 2020. According to Cisco by 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected, whereas Morgan Stanley feels that the number is much higher and it can go up to 75 billion.  The good news is, there is a substantial growth opportunity for everyone, right from smart device manufacturers to the smart service providers everyone can get their share of business from IoT.

The Process

Let us consider an example of a smart home. There are multiple interconnected devices which are installed for security, entertainment, utility etc. These are all connected to a centralized hub, which in turn is connected to the IoT platform. IoT platform consumes the data generated by these smart devices for insights and to make sense of this huge data.

To establish this network of devices connected to hub and IoT Platform, internet is needed. This gap is filled by the Telcos. So bringing in smartness requires lot of partners to work together. Let us enrich above example to get more clear understanding of the multi partner involvement.

A  leading furniture retailer has introduced a new Smart Home Solution, where consumer can install smart devices such as TV, Fridge, Air conditioner, Washing Machine, Radio, lighting solution, thermostat and security solution. Finally these devices are connected to hub to have a centralized control of the devices.

A smart Hub ensures all smart devices speak the same language, this enables user to remotely control the devices even if the user is far away from the home. To bring in more intelligence the data gets transmitted from smart devices to the IoT Platform. The IoT platform analyzes the data, apply rules and makes devices more smart based on the usage patterns.

Finally the most important piece of this setup is facilitated by a Telecom operator to ensure internet connectivity for all the devices to communicate. Telecom operators can also bundle voice and SMS services along with data to take actions based on the defined rules. E.g. in case there is a security breach, device can initiate a call & SMS to the owner and insurance company to inform this breach.

So in this particular eco system, we have seen multiple partners working together to establish a Smart Home solution.  Similarly there are multi partner IoT use cases for Smart Car Fleet, Smart Healthcare, Smart Grids, etc. In all the IoT use cases irrespective of the catered domain, Telecom Operators and IoT platform vendors will always play a significant role, directly or indirectly they will contribute to billions of dollars in the IoT economy.

For a Telco, providing backbone is not the only important thing in IoT space. With the complex partnership models, Partner Management, Billing and Settlements are other crucial activities that will result in the Cost and Revenue identification.

The Solution – Partner Management, Billing & Settlement

With the cut throat competition and reducing margins in the traditional Wholesale business, operators are adding new dimensions to their business with immense revenue generation capabilities of Internet of Things.

A new age partner Settlement solution cannot limit its functionalities to just traditional business models. There is a requirement for settlement solutions to be more agile in accepting and delivering new business requirements with short time to market. If we talk about IoT for a Telco, now partners are not limited to Voice or Content providers, rather the list is getting much diversified with partners coming in from various domains like health care, agriculture, utility, etc.

For a smart home solution, a telecom operator can provide IoT backbone to a furniture retailer , where the Telco will ensure internet connectivity and will enable IoT platform in collaboration with a cloud computing platform. Here the furniture retailer becomes the Telecom operator’s customer and the cloud platform provider is Telco’s vendor.

Partner Management & Settlement solution deployed at Telco should take care of partner (Customer & Vendor) lifecycle management, easy on-boarding, business transparency along with IoT billing & settlements. Partner Settlement solution should also be capable of managing plethora of Meta data that will be provided by the IoT Platform for billing and Partner analysis. The volume of IoT data can be much more compared to traditional usage data.

The system should also be capable of providing innovative products and should do billing accordingly. Key point here is to have personalized plans created based on the business need. Some of the products that can be offered as a part of IoT platform are:

  1. Flat Rating – Flat rates for data, call and SMS for each units.
  2. Fixed Charges – Fixed product price for unlimited data, voice & SMS
  3. One time & Recurring Charges – Product to support one time and recurring charge capabilities
  4. Device Based – Charge based on number of devices connected
  5. Slab & Tired based – Data, Voice and SMS to be defined, rates varies based on the slabs & Tiers
  6. Pay-as-you-go – Charge only based on the usage, deduction from Prepaid Balance
  7. Cross Domain Products – IoT clubbed with content or other interactive services

IoT billing & settlement is not just limited to the Telco and their direct partners, it has to be extended to the associated MVNOs in from of Billing as a service. There can be a multi-level partner involvement as well, say based on the movie genre analysis information available in meta data generated by a Smart TV, a latest movie can be suggested for subscription through an entertainment company , and hence the entertainment company can become 2nd level Advert/Content partner.

IoT is still evolving, there can be many aspect that are yet to be explored. This is the right time for Telcos, platform and equipment vendors to start investing in IoT to stay ahead of the competition.

Infographic :

partner-settlement-solution

In the previous blog in this series I looked at how the use of persona, and creating customer journey maps for those persona, can give new insights on how to engage customers. By collecting customer data and tracking user interactions across all touchpoints, it’s possible to not only create an revealing profile of a customer’s interests and behaviour, but also better understand if the products and marketing are addressing customer’s wants and needs.

Technology is now rapidly opening up new sources of customer data including everything from health and well-being apps to our children’s activity online. Soon our heating systems, cars, refrigerators and every other connected appliance that’s about to hit the shelves will be churning out a stream of data back to the marketing departments of big corporations. The effective use of this big data undoubtedly has great potential to improve our lives, but there is also an increased risk that the individual’s privacy could be compromised, or the data could also be used to discriminate against an individual unfairly. In a recent case in the UK vulnerable customers were advised to buy energy on tariffs that were far higher than others available.   The same is true of insurance and medical care, and many cases exist where it’s been found that corporations are exploiting data to prey on the vulnerable. Add to this the substantial risks of identity theft and fraud as a consequence of data breaches, and consumers could be forgiven for feeling anxious about how well their data is being protected, and how it’s being used.

In an effort to stop corporations from exploiting big data negatively and better protect consumers the European Union has raised the bar on data protection by drafting the the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This new set of rules will apply not only to countries within the EU, but also to companies operating outside the EU, if they have networks or trade data with partners within the EU. Enforcement is expected to start in the spring of 2018.

The European commission’s website states that:

The objective of this new set of rules is to give citizens back control over of their personal data, and to simplify the regulatory environment for business.

Furthermore, as reported by consultancy group itgovernance,

The Regulation will enforce tough penalties – proposed fines up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20million, whichever is greater

For a large multinational the fines could get very substantial and significantly impact on share prices.

The GDPR sets out 8 Data Protection Principles that must be followed. The ICO, UK’s independent Information Commission, has provided clarification of how these principles need to be applied. For example, Principle 1 refers to Processing personal data fairly and lawfully. As described on their website,

In practice means that you must:

  • have legitimate grounds for collecting and using the personal data;
  • not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned;
  • be transparent about how you intend to use the data, and give individuals appropriate privacy notices when collecting their personal data;
  • handle people’s personal data only in ways they would reasonably expect; and
  • make sure you do not do anything unlawful with the data

Perhaps one of the key new areas is in the use of big data and analytics for customer profiling. This is covered under Principle 6 of the GDPR under the somewhat obtuse description of ‘automated decision making’. ComputerWeekly have produced a number of documents and guides to help businesses to understand how the GDPR will affect them. In one of their latest blogs they explain

The regulation introduces a number of restrictions on profiling, including the right for an individual not to be subject to a decision which significantly affects the individual and which is based on automated profiling. In many cases, profiling will only be permitted where the explicit consent of the individual has been obtained. 

The implications for targeted marketing are unclear, but potentially significant, as it makes companies accountable for ensuring that customers

  1. Are made fully aware of exactly how their data will be used
  2. Explicitly agree to the way in which the data will be used
  3. Do not suffer any negative consequences from the use of their data.

As ComputerWeekly reports

These restrictions are likely to have a considerable impact on businesses engaging in, for example, big data analytics, as well as more general business activities, such as credit scoring and employee monitoring

In an article by the International Association of Privacy Professionals , they add that data subjects (customers)

…may also request to know the purposes of processing, the period of time for which data will be stored, the identity of any recipients of the data, the logic of automatic data processing, and the consequences of any profiling.

Corporations are now in real danger of drifting into a situation in which they are in breach of the new regulations, face substantial fines and seriously damage customer relations.

In the final blog of this series I will be looking at how customers are becoming increasingly concerned at the inability of corporations to keep their data safe, and how high publicity data breaches are eroding public confidence.

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Customer Journey Mapping can provide great insights on how customers see a company from their perspective. Insights that can lead to an improved customer experience, trust and loyalty

In the first blog in this series on customer analytics, the technique of Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) was discussed as a way to follow how customers move from one touch point to the next, and track their emotional well-being during those interactions. In the last blog I described how using a persona to represent a group of customers would allow marketing to get a better understanding of customers. In this blog I will explore how Customer Journey maps can be created for persona to visualize an idealized journey for the group represented. This is now becoming a well-accepted technique for not only improving user experience in software design, but also in the design of products, digital and conventional marketing channels, architecture and many other areas.

There are two basic approaches for creating persona. One is to base the persona on in-depth research of the customers within a market segment, and the other is to base the persona on intuition, sometimes referred to as a provisional persona. In reality, it makes most sense to use a combination of research and intuition, and then verify the persona with those who have front line contact with customers. Generally customers belonging to a company’s biggest market segment would be targeted first and a primary persona is created to represent them. If the team creating the persona do not have direct knowledge of the customers in that segment then they will need to conduct research to understand the values and motivations of the group.

Once a persona has been defined then it’s possible to look at how the company would engage that persona in a sale, and the hope is that the persona would follow each engagement at every touchpoint, even long after they’ve made the purchase and are using the product. The framework for this is known as the Customer Lifecycle. There are many versions of this but they all share some basic stages, as described by Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler in a paper called “E-metrics, business metrics for the new economy

  • Reach: Trying to get the attention of the people we want to reach.
  • Acquisition: Attracting and bringing the reached person into the influence sphere of our organization. 
  • Conversion: When the people we reach or have a more established relationship with, decide to buy something from us.
  • Retention: Trying to keep the customers and trying to sell them more (cross-selling, up-selling).
  • Loyalty: We would like the customer to become more than a customer: a loyal partner and even a ‘brand advocate’ Moments of truth

This can be represented either horizontally or in a circular lifecycle type chart

The Customer Life Cycle – Source: E-Metrics Business Metrics for the New Economy by Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler

The persona journey describes how it’s anticipated that a particular persona would move through the lifecycle. It would describe the channels through which it’s expected they are made aware of a product, how it’s expected they would research the product and what would motivate them to make a decision to buy. Key points in the journey where customers decide whether to continue or abandon the process are known as ‘Moments of Truth’, a term coined by Jan Carlzon, the well-known CEO of SAS Airlines who turned the company around in just a couple of years.

Walking in the customers shoes in this way is not easy, and would normally be done as a workshop with representatives from across an organisation, but it’s an exercise that can provide many useful insights. Service quality gaps, cross channel alignment, ways to better engage customers and align internal teams are just a few of the many benefits that come from journey mapping. When idealised journey maps are compared with the actual journeys that customers take then many preconceived ideas about how customers see and engage with the company may get thrown out and fresh ways to engage, retain and acquire new customers be discovered.

In the next part of this customer analytics based series of blogs I will be looking at the security implications of big data and advanced customer profiling, and how regulators around the world are trying to protect an individual’s right to be treated equally by large corporations.

In my last blog I discussed how different generations are challenging marketing departments to meet them on their own ground. For one key demographic, the Millennials, that ground is the mobile and highly social world in which these digital natives live. For another, the more cost conscious middle aged parents with teenage kids, the battleground is through more conventional channels. However it’s not enough to just choose the right channel for marketing a product. The products, product branding, and marketing language itself needs to be appropriate for those customers as well. Different customers have not only different expectations of the products they use, but also different expectations of the way they like to be told about those products.

The one thing all customers have in common is that they like to be treated as individuals. Individualism is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history, although it could be said to have first really been expressed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), as Angus Jenkinson identified in his paper ‘Beyond Segmentation’. Rousseau says that truth is subjective, and that traditions and customs must pass the individual’s test ‘can they be authentic for me’. That is a test that consumers increasingly appraise every product with. Can it be authentic for me?

It may seem an impossible challenge to treat every customer in a way which is appropriate to them alone, but there is another approach which can help product designers and marketing departments have a much better understanding of customers, and that is through the use of persona.

The concept of archetypes and persona was formalized early in the 20th century by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, but it was the Angus Jenkinson who more recently defined the meaning in a marketing context. Jenkinson suggested that marketing needed to move beyond the top down reductionist approach of segmentation and take a more bottom up approach of grouping customers with similar attitudes and behaviors.

‘segmentation, as normally understood, represents only the first stage in response to the market (individualism) phenomena. It is the first breakdown of the monolithic market into smaller units. It is possible to go further.’

There are definitely strong similarities between the concepts of segmentation and grouping, but there is a fundamental, if subtle difference. It is the difference between gathering individuals into groups, as opposed to dividing the group into segments. As Jenkinson says,

It is much easier to think of developing a relationship with a group (of people) than a segment. How many segments do you personally have a relationship with? Do you want to be part of one? A group connotes…a community of individuals.

Consumers, as individuals tend to gravitate and have loyalty towards something. To change the corporate perception of customers from being part of a segment to being individuals in a group is a fundamental paradigm shift in building customer relationships, and it requires marketers to develop a much more personal understanding of their customers. Marketers have to understand customer goals and frustrations, their values and behaviors. It is with this new understanding of the importance of the individual that the marketing concept of the ‘persona’ has arrived. Personas are ‘model’ characters created to represent all the members of a group. The term persona as used in this context was actually coined in 1999 by Alan Cooper in his seminal book ‘The Inmates Are Running the Asylum’, in which he says that persona, among other benefits,

Provide a human “face” so as to create empathy for the persons represented by the demographics.

Not only do persona models give a detailed account of the emotional needs and values of that group, they often even include a picture of what a typical individual in that group may look like. This is not to say that segmentation is dead. Far from it. Segmentation is still an important tool to help identify the key groups of ideal buyers, but once those groups have been identified then persona need to be created for the segments to give them emotional characteristics and values that they can be identified with. Only by understanding what really motivates customers and providing products that fit in with customer’s lives can marketers grow brand loyalty and trust in a world where the customer is truly king.

In the fourth in this series of customer analytics blogs, Walking in the Customers Shoes, I will be looking at combining the concept of persona with customer journey mapping to understand how to deliver a better customer experience.

We live in a world where technology is like a digital liquid that’s flowed around every aspect of our lives. There’s no doubt that technology can help to oil the craggy wheels of daily life, and while some find this enabling and liberating, others consider the intrusion to be more insidious. Working out where people stand on this issue is generally just a simple matter of checking their birth date. Many born before 1980 tends to view social and on line everything with suspicion, whereas those consumers born after that date, referred to as Generation Y, or Millennials, are far more comfortable with social media and sharing everything online. In a recent report from Pew research it was shown that the Millennials are much greater users of social media than their parents.

Milennials

This is probably because Millennials are the first generation that have grown up entirely with the internet and mobile phones.  They are ‘digital natives’. It’s difficult to know exactly what effects this has on general culture, but one surprising change is that Millennials tend to be far more optimistic that their parents were when they were young. While Generation X and before are more inclined to have a cynical and pessimistic attitude towards the future, a recent report by the Pew Research Centre, Millennials in Adulthood, has found that, despite feeling detached from politics or religion and burdened by debt and recession, the Millennials are inexplicably much more optimistic. According to a recent Gallup poll, eighty percent of millennials, aged 18 to 29, feel positive about the future and say their standard of living is improving.  The reasons for this relentless optimism are unclear but researchers at Pew have pondered that it may be down to more nurturing parenting, or perhaps it’s because millennials always feeling at the centre of their own social network.

Another characteristic of the millennial generation is that, contrary to predictions that technology would free us all from work, they are now working harder and are more driven to succeed than ever before. In his book ‘Generational Teaching: Motivating the Minority’ Christopher Alan has also found that Millennials are ‘more polite and considerate’, ‘attentive and respectful’ and prefer to work in teams rather than in a hierarchy. Goldman Sachs also says that they are also more health conscious and savvy than earlier generations.   But, as ever, the picture is never that simple, because it seems that the Millennial generation is itself divided in two, as Pew Research has written

Just 40% of adults ages 18 to 34 consider themselves part of the “Millennial generation,” while another 33% – mostly older Millennials – consider themselves part of the next older cohort, Generation X.

This all has very great implications on marketing, and how companies should reach out to different generations. Connecting with customers is one of the greatest challenges marketers face, and capturing Millennials is now one of the key battlefields for competing companies. As Leah Swartz of Millennial Marketing says

‘When it comes to fashion and shopping, there isn’t a more important demographic for retailers to reach than millennials.’

Goldman Sachs have even put together an infographic dedicated to marketing to Millennials in which they identify several key things to consider when marketing to the ‘largest generation in US history’. In summary they are

  • Living at home longer
  • Marrying later
  • Sharing, not owning
  • Exercise choice in purchasing
  • More health conscious

From a non-millennials perspective it may seem that they are so immersed in instant messaging and playing computer games that they are oblivious to the real world, but, on the contrary, millennials are very much aware of the state of the world. It’s just that this revolution is a lot quieter than the ones before, taking place as it does silently from the screens of our phones and laptops. The silence is an illusion. The volume of noise is now measured in packets of data rather than decibels, and it’s loader than ever. If companies don’t engage with different generations of customers on their own ground then they will not be heard at all.

In my next blog I will look at how Millennials and other demographic groups can be better served by adopting a customer-centric approach to marketing.

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A Customer Journey Map can help businesses to deliver a better, more personalized service

When Doris Day sang the jazz classic ‘Sentimental Journey’ she described the joy of returning home to the things she had missed. Back here in the 21st century we also feel a sense of joy when we get home, but it’s often because we can finally get a reliable internet signal through our Wi-Fi.   Mails download, WhatsApp messages pour in and all those photos and vids we took get uploaded to share.   The sentiment that people feel when they get home and find their internet service is not working is generally far less happy. It’s a sentiment that I experienced first-hand, having suffered from a service that was slower than old fashioned dial-up for several months. Web pages with sliding graphical widgets and targeted advertising completely stopped loading. After endless rounds of calling support, listening to distorted 80’s pop tunes while stuck on hold, and re-booting of modems I just didn’t want to speak to them anymore. In today’s marketing vernacular, I was not having a good “customer experience”, so I left them and went to another service provider.

Although the initial buzz around customer experience may have died down from a few years ago it is still regarded as the single most important ingredient needed to have a successful business. In a recent report Watermark Consulting studied the cumulative stock returns of the top 10 “Leaders” and bottom 10 “Laggards” in Forresters CX index and found

Leaders outperformed the broader market, generating a total return that was 35 points higher than the S&P 500 Index.

Laggards trailed far behind, posting a total return that was 45 points lower than that of the broader market.

In a world of commoditized products and services businesses now rely on customer experience more than ever to differentiate themselves from the competition. However, in the report ‘Customer Analytics: How to make Best use of Customer Data’ the Aberdeen Group has reported that

96% of companies are not fully satisfied with their ability to use data (both customer and operational) in CEM programs’

In order to provide good a customer experience companies need to do 5 things

  1. Introduce good data governance practices around customer data
  2. Create a unified view of customers across all touch points
  3. Profile and segment their customers
  4. Track the emotional impact of a customer interactions with the company over time.
  5. Use that intelligence to guide agents on how to provide the best support for customers.

Enter the world of the customer journey map. A customer journey map (CJM) is a visual representation of all the interactions a customer has with a company, through every touch point, with a measure of the customer’s attitude towards the company during those interactions. For example, receipt of a bill may be a negative experience, whereas receipt of some reward, like bonus loyalty points, would be viewed more positively. These sentiment scores may be collected directly through touch point surveys and recording call dispositions, or inferred based on history and through the use of analytics.

Agents that have an immediate grasp of a customer’s journey and level of satisfaction are far more successful at resolving issues and upselling than agents who do not have that insight.

The first step in understanding a customer’s journey is to introduce good data governance practices and create a unified view of the customer. The Aberdeen group also observed (in their ‘Big Data in CEM’ study) that

More than half of all (56%) businesses lack a unified view of the data captured across multiple channels and stored in systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, e-commerce and enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Customers should then be profiled and segmented along demographic, financial and behavioral lines. Then, by recording their changing sentiments during various interactions with the company, a picture can be built up of how different segments progress through their customer journeys and it becomes possible to understand which interactions lead to greater customer loyalty and value, and which lead to churn.

Customer journey mapping helps companies to understand their customer needs and provide the kind of personal advice and support that builds trust.   Trust that encourages customers to buy more, stay loyal and spread good news about your business.

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Running a business can be like sailing a ship.  It’s not enough to set a course and expect the ship to just get there.  The sea can be rough, the weather unpredictable, and just under the surface there may be hidden obstacles. Any number of problems can push you off course, or, at worst, sink your ship completely.  A sea of data washes around the business which can either drag you under, or carry you swiftly to your destination.  So what can you do to ensure a safe arrival at your destination?  The following checklist will help you get ready for your journey.

A strong ship

You will need a ship that can sail in all weathers, and has a reliable track record for sailing long distances.

Subex has a pedigree of providing enterprise strength software to the telecoms industry for over 20 years. Subex ROC can crunch billions of call records daily

A clear destination

Without an agreed destination your business will drift aimlessly and will eventually run aground.  By setting clear objectives everyone can work together to ensure the ship stays the course.

Subex consultants can help to plan for your voyage and set a course for you planned destination. Subex Analytics help to keep a business on course by using historic data to predict which direction a business is heading.

A good map

Your map is your business strategy, but this shouldn’t be set in stone.  A business strategy must adapt to the changing conditions and business leaders must remain vigilant to make course corrections when necessary.

Subex ROC provides has a modularised framework that can be quickly adapted to handle new challenges or changes in course.  The course to follow can be mapped out in KPIs that provide constant visual feedback to inform you if your business goes off course.

A navigator who knows the way

Pick the right currents your ship will be carried quickly to your destination, but getting caught by the wrong ones can set you miles off course.  A business embarking on a journey into the unknown needs an experienced navigator to guide the way.

Subex consultants have the experience to guide a corporation across open water or narrow straits of competition, regulatory requirements and market demands.

As soon as sailors began to navigate beyond the sight of land then they realised they needed more than just the stars to find their way. Compasses, Nautical maps, sextants and marine chronometers all advanced the quality of analytics available to navigators, but until radar, LORAN and GPS arrived in the late 20th century sailors still relied largely upon dead reckoning and gut instinct to find the way, and their journeys would often end tragically.  Now Subex analytics can provide the same kind of objective view of where a business is heading that GPS provides for sailors.  Subex analytics can see through the fog and turbulent waves of data that flood into an organisation and threaten to knock you off course.  Using advanced time series forecasting, correlation, what if modelling, and pin sharp visualisations Subex ROC can navigate through a sea of data and help to steer your business safely to its planned destination.

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You’re an Analyst so you love data, right? Data is the oxygen of an organisation, but just as a living creature needs a heart and clean arteries to keep its oxygen infused blood flowing smoothly, an organisation also needs to maintain its systems and system interfaces to keep that data flowing smoothly and efficiently. As an analyst you will probably feel physical pain if your supply of data is cut off, and may even begin to experience panic attacks, but a good analyst will persevere in finding a cause of the blockage and find a way around it. That’s why we have spread sheets everywhere. Spread sheets are like virtual scuba tanks for an analyst, providing a personal supply of data to play around with in a world where the usual source is either unreliable to completely unavailable. What’s even worse is that the supply of data is generally under someone else’s control, which will often be your resident IT group. Need a report on Sales for a new product by region? Ask IT. Need the data on a daily instead of weekly basis? Better ask IT to change the extract. Need to know which customers are churning by a specific market segment? You guessed it.

So you get a report to tell you everything about everything, stick it into a monster spread sheet and start to play. But then the data changes. It’s no longer relevant and you haven’t been able to get an update. You’re blind and the presentation is tomorrow morning! You are facing the same reality that countless organisations are facing across the globe, which is that data held in spread sheets and on laptops around the organisation starts turning stale as soon as it’s loaded, and that can lead to organisational paralysis. Despite the promise of flexibility and agility spread sheets can actually cause inflexibility, as functional silo’s become more divided and inter-functional processes break down.

There must be a better way. If only the data was always to hand and you didn’t need to go to IT cap in hand to get a report that is obsolete before it’s delivered. If only you could get instant access to the data you need in an enterprise strength repository that automatically loads data 24/7, and then provides you with all the tools you need to transform, enrich, aggregate, correlate, forecast and generate beautiful charts to make sense of it all. Then imagine that the product that does all this is the core for a wide range of integrated solutions from billing to network management, asset assurance and cost management, and that you, or anyone else in the organisation, is now able to pull up to the minute analytics out from any those systems, as well as any other systems within your organisation, from one central portal. Then you would be looking at the Subex ROC, the powerhouse at the core of a comprehensive range of products that put control back in your hands.

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