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Category Archives: General

The Road to Being Data-Driven Starts with Knowing Where You Are

The telecom world is changing, and organisations are challenged to not only grow, but to merely stay relevant.  To cope up with the fast-changing environment, organizations need to be at a certain level of maturity where the decision-making process needs to move from gut feelings to number & reasoning-based practices. The mandate here is clear: Organisations need to become data-driven or risk being left behind. However, the reality is bleak considering that nearly 100% of enterprises want to become more data-driven, but only less than a third have accomplished that goal. The starting point to being data-driven starts with being able to assess where one stands, and which is the best way to move ahead to a certain objective, a notion which continues to remain challenging for organisations.

Almost all organisations have ventured into the woods of data analytics with a purpose to make a sense and get the best out of the huge volumes of data they have. Sometimes they ask what others (either in the same industry or across industries and academia) are doing and how they can replicate it, while at times they ask what new can be done that no one else has. To analogize the entire data analytics practice to the workings of an engine, an engine can be only as good as the sum of its parts. The parts must fit in well, the oiling mechanisms should help in friction reduction, the oil supply has to be timely and of course, the sparks need to be perfect. As many say, data is indeed the new oil and data analytics is fast becoming the engine (in this case, of growth).

Fine tuning this engine is the need of the hour. Assessing where we stand, which directions we can move towards and where would that lead us to, what would be the best enabler to move in each direction, and how to go about doing it, is mission critical. This, in itself, is an optimization problem where maximizing returns and minimizing costs given the multiple constraints is challenging.

Transformation is important, but to ensure true competitive advantage, organizations must transform themselves in a planned phase. The approach to analytics cannot be stochastic as it would result in more troubles than benefits. Organizations must traverse one stage at a time. Not only defining those stages is the need of the hour but also is knowing what steps one needs to take at a point of time to move from one stage to another. In this scenario, an Analytics Maturity Assessment becomes imperative.

We have been working with customers across the globe in helping them assess their Analytics Maturity, to define the business objectives and carve out an Analytics roadmap towards said objectives, through our Subex Analytics Maturity Models. Subex Analytics Maturity Models defines those stages and the steps between those stages, through an assessment across People, Process, Technology and most importantly Data.

To know more about why an Analytics Maturity Assessment is important, and how it can help your organisation, Schedule a Demo with us and our Subject Matter Experts will get in touch with you.

5G and the dawn of “age of inventions” – Key Takeaways from MWC19!

I am just back from MWC 2019 and am really excited to share my thoughts. The mood at this year’s MWC was of general enthusiasm and exuberance, particularly with respect to 5G and the possibilities it opens up for telcos.

When 3G and 4G happened telcos were slow to evolve and transform their business models. Global internet giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook made most of the mobile internet revolution in the last decade, whereas telcos saw continued pressure on margins, revenue and customer experience.

5G is yet another chance for telcos to #makeithappen if they can get their acts together. I firmly believe telcos have learnt from their previous experiences and are much better prepared for the next wave.

Here are my top three takeaways from MWC 2019

1. The dawn of “age of inventions”: 5G has finally broken through the hype and we saw some groundbreaking innovations being displayed around at MWC 2019. This is after the last few years where there was, in my view, a higher degree of tentativeness. We saw low latency, reliable connectivity-based use cases such as:

a)  Remotely operated medical surgery/ emergency medical treatment

b)  Ushering of “second great inflection point” # in transportation with autonomous cars, cars with natural language interface, cars with cognitive interface

We also saw several announcements in the area of IoT and Industry 4.0 with SAP, AT&T, Vodafone, Ericsson, Telstra etc. launching new solutions.

From Subex’s point of view, these are exciting times as our IoT Security solution is well positioned to help operators, smart cities and autonomous cars by providing much needed security cover.

2. 5G means intense Capex: While developing economies will continue to focus on monetizing 4G networks, developed economies will start rolling out 5G networks starting 2019. 5G rollouts will be Capex heavy needing massive investments in Radio Access Network with network densification, mmWave network rollouts etc. and in core network to support high speed, high capacity, low latency use-cases which 5G promises.

Subex showcased its Network Analytics portfolio driving smart spend, smart asset management and AI/ML driven network capacity planning use cases and these were very well received by both customers and prospects alike.

3. Digital Trust key to success in 5G: According Vittorio Colao, Ex CEO Vodafone one of the main challenges facing telcos is “the lack of a genuine customer orientation, which, if you have it, makes customers truly love your services and thereby drives value” (McKinsey Quarterly).

 As the 5G juggernaut rolls out, telcos will need to do aggressive network build outs, forge new partnerships, and offer far more critical services. Customers will expect ubiquitous connectivity of very high quality, investors will expect better management and ROI.

All this means telcos will need to really focus on building digital trust – a mechanism that creates trust in their offerings, processes and information systems. Failure would mean yet again handing over advantage to the internet giants who already benefit from global scales, not having to invest in expensive networks, and who have shown to be far more nimble in responding to customer needs. Subex with its focus on enabling digital trust through privacy, security, risk mitigation, predictability and confidence in data, is yet again well positioned to work closely with operators in building this much needed digital trust.

What do you think of dawn of age of invention powered by 5G? Let me know in the comments section below.

# Mckinsey Quaterly 

PS: Oh! Here is a bonus takeaway for those among you planning to be at MWC 2020. Wear comfortable shoes. One easily clocks 20,000 steps each day.

Are you 5G Assured? 4 Game-changing Business Assurance trends to evolve with 5G

Even before we could be content with 4G and its value offerings, the 5th wave of telecom evolution is already here. Telecom giants from Middle East Asia, the Americas and the European geographies have already built their first publicly available prototypes in the 5G environment and are aggressively working towards building newer service models to drive unparalleled customer experiences. All said and done it is still in silos since the very process of conceiving the 5G ecosystem is underway. OEMs and integrators like Nokia and Qualcomm have also created enablement environments for the CSPs to progress with their 5G on-going projects.

Release 16, one of the much-hyped releases by 3GPP aims to complete the IMT 2020 vision of building a fully functional 5G working environment is in progress. This, in turn, is going to change the entire scenario of business assurance.

Here are four forecasts which are going to change the perception of looking at Business Assurance.

  1. Business Assurance practices will be services driven and customer focused.

5G is a service driven architecture. The basic objective of 5G is to develop an integrated communications environment for driving scalability of services and Man-to-Machine interactions a reality. The evolution of 5G offerings, services and niches will be around 3 major value propositions as described in the IMT Vision 2020:

  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband
  • Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications
  • Massive Machine Type Communications

More such use-cases can be seen in the diagram proposed by ITU-T for enabling IMT 2020 vision.

ITU-T

The “switch to bill” outlook towards revenue assurance will soon be replaced by revenue enhancement and monetization of these freemium models of service delivery. With the first line of controls already being built and integrated into the BSS systems, the focus of business assurance will shift towards customer experience while maintaining the required financial bandwidth for sustenance and monetization of services offered.

  1. Managed services will converge for the OSS and BSS spaces.

Managed services have evolved separately for OSS and BSS parts of the telecom ecosystem and have required special resources (manpower & machinery) for execution. However, that will no longer be the case. 5Gs service-oriented architecture with network slicing capabilities would cause business assurance functions to be staffed with professionals who have a sound understanding of networks and the business aspect of services associated with it. Strong data interpretation and the ability to co-relate, interpret and present a business outcome with a network performance measure would be in demand. Also, new areas such as Network Asset Assurance, Spectrum and Capacity Assurance, (which were previously on the edge) would now be an integral part of the overall business model.

  1. Use of Advanced Statistical Methods and Analytics for Assurance Practices

5G, with its ability to support multiple service environments, will offer a great platform for the proliferation of Machine learning (ML) practices, both in the networks as well as the business domains. For example, ML may find use in enhancing self-organization feasibility through cognitive network management while in the business domain ML’s role would be to support QoS management in highly automated slicing environments.

  1. Integrated Security Practices will drive a whole new outlook for combating fraud

Cyber-security and traditional fraud management practices, until now have had different paths of evolution. Since 5G will be an end to end IP based delivery platform, this will cause cyber security and fraud management practices in telecom to converge to counter new fraud scenarios that threaten the confidentiality, availability and security of the business.

Bottomline Question: How do I ensure business readiness for venturing into 5G?    

The readiness matrix for venturing into the 5G space can be broken into three major pillars:

  • Technology and Risk Readiness:

While venturing into the new generation of technology, it must be ensured the current network and systems are not cannibalized. One good way to start with is to ensure backward technology integration. This, in-turn, will ensure seamless onboarding. It is also required to premeditate necessary risk controls (business, operational, compliance and financial) involved in the different stages of migration to quantify the overall risk appetite to arrive at basic business decision of “to be or not to be”!

  • Business Model Readiness:

As stated earlier, the IMT – 2020 vision is to create business models best suited for the targeted customers. Depending on the existing value chain arrangements, the CSP can start identifying what kind of revenue stream partnerships can it afford to get into to roll-out services best suited to the proposed customer segment. It is suggested that in an economy that is cost-sensitive, sharing of capabilities (technology, manpower and resources) is the best way to start with.

  • Customer Readiness:
    Knowing the present capabilities, limitations, interests and desires of the customer is important and correlating these with the business model deliveries is imperative to the sustainability of the business. This not only helps the business earn more from the customer but also helps understand the changing patterns in their behavior much sooner and with visible effect.

What to look in a 5G transformation assurance partner?

To sum it up, it’s important to have an assurance partner that can support you in driving a technology transformation course that is so complex. The partner should be able to provide support at any leg of the transformation – from choosing the right model of delivery to helping realize monies out of it. The partner should be capable enough to drive decisions on risk treatment and help the business attain long term sustainability with an optimal amount of investment.

5 Key Reasons Why Telcos Should Turn to Digital Methods to Combat Fraud

Telcos are losing millions of dollars every year to frauds. Of late, we see that fraudsters have become smarter and the tactics used by them have evolved into a more sophisticated level aided by the smart technologies. Further, with digital services entering the new mix of offerings, traditional strategies no longer fit the bill. Digital services, especially those offered on IP networks, are more susceptible to attacks as evident from the recent hike in SIP-based attacks.

The growing complexity in the digital services ecosystem demands a future-proof approach to secure the networks and prevent revenue losses.

Let’s look at the top five reasons why you should invest in digital fraud prevention technologies.

  1. Proactive versus Reactive

Traditional fraud management systems are post facto; they rely on transaction records such as CDRs, payment vouchers, provisioning details, etc., which are generated post an event. Hence, fraud teams can never get ahead of an attack and can only react to it. However, with digital methods, the network is monitored in near real time and fraud teams can tear down a call and prevent frauds before they occur.

  1. Increased coverage to prevent frauds

SIP attacks are inherently complex; they range from Layer 3 based IP attacks, all the way to Layer 7 based SIP protocol attacks. All of the Layer 3 attack reconnaissance need not translate to a breach, but by keeping track of the origination of these attempts and then correlating it to high-risk behavior at the higher network layers, modern digital fraud prevention techniques can automatically prevent such attacks.

  1. Combat Zero-Day Threats

Of late, fraudsters are increasingly exploiting the vulnerabilities in fraud detection mechanisms and duping the system with malicious inputs. To avert such frauds, you need to employ an intelligent system that can detect such attacks in real time and prevent them before they impact the customers. With advanced Machine Learning (ML), you can create a defense against such attacks and future-proof the algorithm.

  1. Scenario Planning

Security and Fraud is an afterthought while new digital products are launched by telcos as the focus is initially on product functionality and the rush to go to market. This makes new digital services highly susceptible to attacks and breaches which are more often than not exploited very quickly by fraudsters. It is important that new digital services are put through vulnerability assessments and scenario planning so that obvious holes are plugged, and then continuous monitoring is put in place to detect any new threats to ensure profitability and prevent revenue leakages from fraud.

  1. Future Proofing to address the complex scenarios

As the digital framework grows complex, threat management becomes even more challenging.  With advanced ML capabilities, the new threat management systems allow you to gather threat intelligence from across the globe covering a wide range of digital products. This will help you identify new trends and malicious patterns. Further, it also gives insights on the specific tools and tactics employed by hackers, so you can bolster the system well in advance.

Stay tuned to get more updates from Subex.

To know more about our Digital Fraud prevention Solution Click here !

Selling devices – A boon or bane for Telcos?

Smartphone flashes in mind, when device is mentioned.  Devices, however, are a large ecosystem beyond smartphones – a range of equipment like dongles, routers, customer premise equipment (CPE) and IP phones, to name a few.  Devices are a great tool for telco to lock their customers in. For instance, the bundled offers with contracts spanning months provide predictable revenues for the telco’s.

The next wave of opportunity

With IoT and 5G making inroads, telco’s are preparing for the next-generation devices for home and office networks. A lucrative opportunity for telcos, as devices are critical to the IoT/5G penetration. Newer devices will be introduced, like small cells to boost network capacity and improve indoor coverage. It’s no wonder that telcos are investing into devices.

Are telcos benefiting from devices ?

Devices are an attractive opportunity as they improve customer stickiness and ARPU. Devices are good promotional tools to attract new customers and gaining traction even in emerging economies. Many customers extend their relationship with telcos beyond contract period.

Yet, procuring, selling and managing devices is riddled with risks. Fraud, leakages and unmanageable debt are hampering the revenues and profits.

A survey across telco’s states:

telcos stats

What are the risks?

Telco’s on an average spends 20% of their OPEX on procuring and servicing devices. The entire supply chain covering the forward and reverse logistics is prone to risks. The supply chain not only involves stakeholders within the telco (marketing, sales, operations, logistics, finance), but many external parties –manufacturer, supplier, financing partner, distributor, shipping partner, warehousing network, retail agents, repair/refurbish partner, and the end-customer.

risk

The technology stack is complex with at least 10 different applications and platforms involved. Leakages of stock in ordered vs received, inventory gaps, devices ageing at inventory, gaps at POS are a few technological risks to highlight.

Bane to boon – Manage the risks

How could telco’s control the risks & leakages, and make the best of the opportunity? It is important that Telcos have Device Assurance strategy in place to manage the device related risks. Stay tuned for more updates about Device Assurance Solution.

Cash in on Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics has long been the problem child of supply chain management. Increasingly that child has been in need of some serious help. This is due to two factors. The way in which the internet has transformed how we shop, and the short lifecycle of consumer goods. Although most consumers still like to shop in high street stores to find the products they like, at least 8% of sales are now from consumers just clicking on a picture to buy a product, comfortable in the knowledge that they can return it if necessary. In most countries, consumers have a legal right to return goods purchased on the internet. Many retailers now even offer free ‘try-before-you-buy’ returns, but the processes for managing those returns, known as reverse logistics, are far more fragile, costly, and susceptible to issues than the generally well-controlled forward logistics processes. Although return rates vary widely across different verticals, the average return rate has been calculated to be around 17 to 18%.

Brightpearl

Source: Brightpearl

Reverse logistics faces complex issues due to the ad hoc way in which consumers return items and vulnerabilities in the returns processes. Because reverse logistics is not seen as a revenue-generating process, it sometimes doesn’t get the attention it needs, but recently it’s been getting more widely recognized as having a key role in the company’s profitability. Having efficient processes for collecting, re-selling or recycling used items can bring in additional revenue and improve a company’s bottom line. There are other important reasons for giving more attention to reverse logistics.  Consumers are now judging companies on their green credentials, and consumers are aware that many electronic devices contain some highly toxic chemicals. Providing a channel through which old devices can be traded in and reliably recycled is a positive selling point. The efficiency of the returns process also has a significant impact on customers impression of a business.

Although the ‘returns revolution’ impacts all retail lines of business, high-value consumer electronics are especially prone to issues in the returns process.  Huge volumes of handsets, set-top boxes, routers, even TV’s and laptops, are now being returned through a multitude of channels for a variety of reasons. Warehouses may receive thousands of such goods per week. Most of those devices may still be working and able to be resold, but tracking such devices back from customers, assessing their viability for resale, refurbishing, repackaging, and then re-distributing them, is a substantial challenge.

The problems begin as soon as a customer says they want to return a device. Whether it is because the device is faulty, unfit, incorrect, unwanted, or because they’re terminating their contract, they must provide notification that the device is getting returned. Agents must correctly capture the details of why the device is getting returned and issue an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation). This will trigger a complex sequence of processes to terminate services in the network, calculate bill adjustments, prepare downstream systems for receipt of the returned devices, update inventories on receipt, manage the inspection, refurbishment, and resale of those devices, and potentially issue replacements for faulty devices. Depending on factors such as contract, warranty, device status, termination type or customer rating, customers may be liable for additional charges or eligible for compensation.
Reverse Logistics

Typical return channels would be to send a device by courier, return it to a shop, or a technician may return the goods.  Whatever the channel is, devices will often arrive without a clear indication of which customer account they relate to.  Returns to stores are particularly problematic with agents failing to scan in barcodes or register returns correctly. In-store systems may not be able to record IMEI, IMSI and/or serial numbers, and there is no motivation for staff to label returned devices accurately.

With so many moving parts it’s no surprise that many devices become stranded or lost along the way, and customers getting charged incorrectly. Operators have been known to write off more than $5+ million in lost devices per month.

One solution is to implement automated controls that provide monitoring across all systems in both forward and reverse logistics, thus assuring that devices can be monitored from the initial order in CRM, in and out of warehouses, with couriers, shipping, refurbishment partners, finance companies and activation status in network service provisioning.  With monitoring systems in place that can even detect the physical location where devices are installed, it’s possible to validate inventory, bill customers and partners accurately, prevent fraud, recover maximum value from returned devices and understand why devices are getting returned.

Subex provides ROC Device Assurance solutions to operators around the globe, helping to track down missing devices, reconcile and correct billing, CRM, provisioning, distribution and inventory systems with world leading discovery and reconciliation capabilities.

Its Not Just a Conference – But a Celebration!

It’s almost time for the 15th edition of Subex User Conference!  As we count down the weeks, days and (soon to be) hours, many are starting to plan their agenda for the week.

For those who are new to this extravaganza, the Subex User Conference is an annual gathering of telecom operators, technology partners, and Subexians dedicated to sharing first-hand knowledge and provide insights into Subex Products and Solutions, give an unbiased opinion about the performance of products and influence product roadmap and also discuss on some of the challenges faced by Telcos today. This is our 15th year uniting thought leaders who are at the forefront of the telecom industry for two days of informative sessions and networking opportunities. The conference is hosted on 24th & 25th of October in Grand Hotel Excelsior, Malta.

My team often say that this is the only time of the year that they see me working 😊. For me, this the most exciting time of the year and is more like getting prepared to host a carnival or a big fat wedding!   I am more than a little excited to kick off this year’s festivities and host our customers and partner delegates in beautiful Malta. We’ve got workshops, informative sessions, demos, and social events to help make this conference unforgettable.

To all of our Subex User Conference registrants, we hope you are just as excited as we are for this year’s event! We are eager to share what we’ve been up to, where we’re headed.

Every year we carefully pick a theme for our event and align our sessions and speakers to the theme.  Digitalization is the most powerful driver of change. It brings change across all aspects of the business. A known reality! Well, that’s not the theme we are talking about; Imagine a situation where your competition helps you with you topline! Telecom operators are innovating and reimagining their fundamentals; rebuilding their market positions, business systems, partner ecosystems, networks, and business processes.

Reliance Jio created the world’s largest mobile CDN to satiate the Bollywood yearnings of 1.4 billion Indians through high quality, low latency video streaming. #Reimagining Network

GiffGaff decided that crowdsourcing their customer support via open forums creates transparency and overcomes mundane, and at times ineffective and cumbersome. #Reimagining Processes

Verizon bought Yahoo as they saw Digital Advertisers as their new customers. #Reimagining Customers

Google Fi – Google partners with operators across 170+ countries to deliver Planetwide “Roam like Home.” #Reimagine Partners

Keeping in mind such rapid evolutions, the theme of this year’s event is #Reimagining Business

In addition to significant learning and networking experiences, we’ve set aside time to have a lot of fun at this year’s conference. We’re hosting two social events that will help you make new friends in the Subex User Network.

Here’s a quick rundown of a few things to look forward to at #SubexUC:

The Bucket List Life: What if we tell you that we have James Bond speaking at the event!!! Excited?? Well, even we are. This high energy, opening keynote session, will perfectly set the stage. Powerfully delivered by Kenyon Salo, who has been referred to as the ‘James Bond of Speaking.’

Technology Keynote Sessions: We’re bringing you the leaders who are at the forefront of the industry for this year’s technology keynote sessions. Click Here to see the full list of speakers at the event. With the fantastic line of speakers, we are sure that you will make the most of your visit and return to your work empowered by knowledge & connections.

The Sessions: Some sessions will showcase what other users have accomplished with Subex Products & Solutions. Get tips, tricks, and ideas from your peer group, as well as Subex SMEs.

The Company Update & Roadmap: Get a preview of an inside look at our roadmap. Our CEO Mr. Vinod Kumar and Mr. Rohit Maheshwari – Head of Strategy & Products will walk you through the long-term vision of Subex and changes we’ll make to Subex products in the future.

The Social Events: All work and no play make for a very dull conference, and we don’t do dull. We are hosting a welcome reception for our delegates on 23rd October at the Grand Hotel Excelsior. Be prepared to come dressed in Subex Colors (Blue & Green). On 24th of October, after a full day of sessions join us on a Harbour Cruise and witness Malta’s living past and unwind with your peers and enjoy traditional Maltese hospitality and culinary delights.

It is our sincere hope that you share in our excitement for this year’s conference. We are geared up and more than excited to host you at this beautiful Island – Malta. We certainly had a lot of fun in arranging this two-day event for you, and we selected what we think will give you a fun and authentic taste of Malta.

We look forward to hosting you!

Account Takeover – Fraudster Intelligence

Account takeover fraud is one of the most common fraud types across the world. Fraudsters use the various methods to takeover an existing open account within the mobile operator or the banking instrument. The commonly used method of committing this type of fraud is vishing or smishing. As per CFCA fraud survey, account takeover accounted for an estimated fraud loss of 1.7 Billion US Dollars in the year 2017.

In all these scenarios, the primary goals of the fraudster are to gain access to the account and (by-) pass the validation steps. In many situations, such validation may only require low-level knowledge-based authentication, so basic information obtained by the fraudster is used to validate and by-pass controls in place and to takeover the targeted account.

I was investigating an Account takeover fraud case for one of the leading telecom operator in the APAC region wherein the fraudster used a different type of methods to commit this fraud. Many customers lost millions of dollars from their bank accounts without the knowledge after their account was taken over by the fraudster. On investigation, we identified that the fraudster’s primary motive was to takeover both mobile and banking account and then initiate multiple fraud transactions. He used Social Engineering, CLI spoofing, Spoofed website & Malware to commit the fraud.

The Fraudster sequentially executed his schemes. He targeted only the high-profile subscribers in a region. He acquired all the information of the subscribers using social engineering methodology and called up the subscribers pretending to be a Bank executive and Mobile operator security officer. He asked the subscribers to download a malware-infested application from a spoofed website, following which he gained remote access to their mobile phones.

The malware would read the SMS’s & call logs from the subscriber’s mobile and forward the details to fraudulent server. It also deleted the SMS & call logs from the mobile handset before the subscriber knew the same. The intention behind the reading of the SMS & Call log is to Bypass the second level authentication for completing the banking transactions. With this method in place, he was able the execute multiple transactions without the knowledge of the subscribers.

Impact to Telcos?

When subscribers approached law enforcement agency, the Law penalized both Telco and the bank and recovered from them, the amount lost by the subscriber. The Law took this action to protect the interest of the customers and secondly it was negligence from the service provider that led to the revenue losses of the subscribers.

Telecom & banking service need to protect the subscribers from such fraud attacks by providing awareness to subscribers. Fraud management systems need have intelligence built into them to detect the fraud attack and control damages at an early stage.

“Roam like Home”: Cost Optimization for Profitable Margins

Before I begin my story, let’s go back and revise some elementary school math concepts on profits and losses. I would often wonder why Mathematics would be right before the break and our bellies would often be rumbling with hunger and curiosity over what was packed for lunch……. Sigh! Those good old days…well coming back…

Profit = Selling Price – Cost Price

Easy wasn’t it? Well guess what, this formula does hide great secrets to being sustainable in business. Now, getting back to my story…

Last year, in September one of the larger and popular global telecom service providing giants from APAC introduced the concept of “Roam like home” where the international roaming was almost made free for incoming calls while the prices for out-going local and international calls were kept very nominal. The introduction of this concept was after the realization of the fact that international roaming was no longer a profitable revenue stream. It was a huge opportunity loss to the telco when its customers procured SIMS with local operators at the international destinations to use data or make calls. Data usage, which otherwise is quite expensive at international destinations was a dominant driving force for procuring local sims at international destinations.

This operator leveraged on its multi-national presence and introduced multiple plans with base prices of less than 10 dollars a day, which provided unlimited data usage. The plans instantly became a hit with the consumers, and the utilization of home sim-cards at international destinations grew exponentially. However, we must not forget that to have pulled off such a successful offer it did take months of planning on restructuring the costs to maintain an optimal state of profitability without compromising on the Quality of Services.

If one were to decode the CSP’s margin assurance strategy from a cost perspective, to ensure continued sustenance of the offer made, the telecom service provider must have restructured and optimized the costs under the following cost heads:

  • 1. Incremental Cost Optimization:
    This cost head includes all the fixed and the variable costs that go into the conception of a product. While not much could have been done to the fixed costs, the operator played around with the variable costs such as labor charges or the costs associated with transmission. Introduction of shared & centralized services for revenue management of international roaming for various subsidiaries can really play an effective role in optimizing the workforce-related costs which majorly contribute to the cost addition of services.
  • 2. Joint and Common Costs (JCC) Optimization:
    These costs have a compliance aspect associated with them and occur when the costed item is produced efficiently only in combination with other items. The sum of each item’s allocated JCCs cannot exceed the total of all items’ JCCs. To optimize on this aspect, on some home-like roam packs, the CSP, with consent from the end consumer, by default, deactivated some Value-added services and third-party costs like CRBTs, VOD, access to premium content and other high bandwidth services. Re-activation of these services at international locations were made on advance payment of add-on fees over and above the base pack activations.
  • 3. Fully Distributed Cost & Historically Embedded Cost Optimization:
    Services like Last mile connectivity, equitable service distribution through efficient route optimization, cost of laying of infrastructure are some of the contributors to the FDC component while all hardware maintenance and replacement costs contribute to the HEC component.

The operator took advantage of its presence at international destinations to restructure the revenue sharing model by enabling international customers to latch onto the subsidiary’s network to enjoy the full band of services available at home. For areas where the operator did not have its subsidiaries, it tied up with local internet service providers that provided public & private Wi-Fi hotspots for seamless data connectivity through Wi-Fi offloading or revenue sharing with preferred local and regional CSPs through its well-placed steering strategies.

For optimization of Historically embedded costs (HEC), the CSP planned for traffic load balancing through intelligent route optimization while simultaneously looking for technology alternatives where the cost of replacement was nominal when compared with the benefits provided. The operator indulged in asset sharing for signaling optimization. As per sources, the service provider of late has been seen entering into an agreement with vendors who could deploy SDNs and support NFVs for load balancing over the cloud infrastructure to reduce the impact of additional long-distance traffic over underlying network and systems.

While cost-optimization is one of the many techniques to maintain a healthy bottom line for sustainability, it indeed is of paramount importance. As Clive Humby rightly puts it – “data is the new oil,” we will continue to observe many such systemic changes in Telecom players regarding the perception of margins soon. For more insights on what Margin Assurance holds for telecom providers of the future, do check out our Point of View on Margin assurance.

Boost your Campaign ROI through Promotion Assurance

“Why do you love your service provider?”

At the end of the day, this is the billion-dollar question which drives the entire telecom industry. When one ponders the answers, quite a few would emerge – flawless connectivity which helps my business flourish, a well-priced model which keeps families closer than ever, providing a backbone that keeps a country productive, etc. But in most surveys (and in my personal experience), it is the attempt at focused engagement that keeps most of us linked to the same Telco. Giving me freebies on my birthday, suggesting I change my plan to one which suits my business travel (even though the rental might be lesser) or even the act of proactively passing me some benefit during a network downtime adds that human element which tends to create brand loyalty.

From the above, it is clear that successful promotional campaigns can do wonders in terms of customer retention as well as acquisition. With the plethora of analytics tools powering the marketing departments across most Telcos, differentiated, qualified, and value-driven campaigns are a reality. Of course, some have gone farther than others in this regard. But the question which I will explore in this blog is whether this practice creates risks and brings in more issues than it solves.

Now, I look at Promotions and Campaigns from a more general perspective. It’s like eating at Dominos. While Dominos makes some decent pizzas and has a large customer base, it faces the same issue as all other eateries – consumer fatigue. This is not just caused by the limited choices (assuming a market where you could only eat Dominos pizzas), but also the sheer banality of the process. In this environment, if one offers a package deal (drink + pizza + lava cake) at 50% of its list price pursuant to a customer also purchasing a premium feast pizza, the break from the monotony of the pizza ordering process itself drives a sense of “anticipatory need.” Now, this is the easiest level. Going beyond, if Dominos were to use analytics to understand and anticipate my ordering behaviour and suggests a ready cart with one click check-out, I would be delighted. Too much to ask? Well, the reality is, this is what subscribers expect from their service providers today.

The Inside-Out of Promotions

With promotions emerging as a major business strategy in today’s competitive telecom environment, targeted campaigns can help Telcos increase revenue, margin, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and overall brand stickiness. However, the differentiation comes with its own challenges, and so does the ROI. The returns from the campaign greatly depend on how the Telco addresses each one of the challenges. Globally Telcos have allocated a significant portion (around 8%) of their budget for promotions and advertisements, but the results, in terms of campaign ROI, are not as expected. The ineffectiveness of campaigns could occur due to several reasons including lack of planning, improper budget allocation, incorrect metric measurement, wrong promotion qualifiers, incorrect target list, and many more.

Let’s examine some of the challenges associated with driving successful campaigns and see how Telcos can mitigate them to gain maximum return from their campaign investments. I will broadly classify them as:

  1. Data Access and Integrity – Each stage in the promotion launch process is critically dependent on the accuracy of the facts from the previous stage. It is of paramount importance to ensure that the raw datasets are accurate, complete, and integral. Unfortunately, most marketing teams do not have access to a comprehensive data integrity engine.
  2. Promotion Complexity – Promotions can widely vary in nature (i.e. the device, vouchers, services, etc.), and most operators do not have a ready-to-use promotion risk matrix or checklist. This leaves assurance teams at a disadvantage to deal with the volume and velocity of new promotions.
  3. Time to Market – Competitor pressure in most regions leads to a very short release/launch time for new promotions. In the absence of automation, this means pre-launch testing is usually sample based, and the test results are contaminated by confirmation bias.
  4. Lack of Automation – Many of the checks required to ensure high ROI on promotions require a high level of automation as manual interventions usually introduce errors.
  5. Regulatory Hurdles: Regulators may apply a cap on certain promotional offers announced by Telcos. For example, In India, there is a 90-day cap on such offers, so the Telcos find it difficult to optimize the market spend and achieve the target within the short span of time.

So, why invest in a Promotion Assurance program?

Having the right product does not always guarantee revenue. Telcos may be losing out to competition due to lack of visibility into how efficiently promotions are rolled out. Promotion assurance programs, which build around modern analytics and intelligent automation techniques, emerge as a winning solution in this context because it helps the Telcos define the campaign KPIs and measure ROI from each on a near real-time basis, so they can take corrective measures appropriately.

Challenges inherent in the current approaches and the evolving marketing conditions pose higher risks to campaign ROIs, and more importantly, might impact the customer experience. It is the need of the hour for Telcos to implement a promotion assurance strategy that focuses on the business, system, process and customer aspects of the campaign.

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