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Tag Archives: Networks

Strategies for Telcos to drive the digital economy Part 2

The internet waits for no one! It is changing the way businesses run and in today’s era, digital economy is not a distant dream but a reality.

As promised in my last blog, I will elaborate on the key strategies that I disclosed in my previous blog which will help CSPs in their digital transformation journey to become Digital Service providers and thus drive the economy.

Core Rediscovery – As said earlier, being digital does not always mean discovering new revenue streams of the digital world. It also means doing the basics brilliantly. Ensuring innovation can be brought with in the traditional services. It also means identification of a new way(s) of doing business to pull in more revenue, a classical example in interconnect business is Origin based billing & routing. Other ways of innovation are Direct CSP billing – MVNOs to cater to niche markets to indirectly gain customer base and revenues. SaaS models like billing-as-a-service to support smaller partners. DVBT2 – Digital Video Broadcasting, SMS based Cab booking, Toll free based calling Apps, Secure SMS/Missed Call – Mobile Banking etc. Rating and discounting models to define rating plans that can also assist in bringing in more revenue generation opportunities for existing and new traditional partners. These can be revenue share models or the new age models like pay as you go.

Discover New – There is absolutely no denial that digital world is surely opening new revenue streams for CSPs. The mantra to grab a share of this pie is to act fast. CSPs need to establish a fail fast strategy so that they can identify core area of strength early in the digitalization journey. Fail fast strategy shall enable them in continuing only with those new streams that make sense to the eco system in which they do their business. No doubt, IoT & M2M are the most fascinating areas in digital world. Other areas where CSPs can generate revenue are APIs, Analytics as a service, supporting new age MVNOs like Uber and Micheline (Tier-as-a-service), smart homes solutions provided by Qivicon founded by Deutsche Telekom. Digitalization is fueled by the capabilities of operators, and hence the outreach of the operators is now domain agonistic.

Collaboration Platform –With digitalization, difference between a partner and the end subscriber relationship is becoming blur. Partners also need attention and care like your end subscribers. CSPs will fascinatingly find innovative partners in garage companies, startups, small organization etc. Hence it is terribly essential that CSPs have a collaboration platform that addresses partner empowerment issues.

There are two ways in which operators can bring in novelty. One is by revolutionizing their own, which we see in the case of the telecom giants acquiring platform that enables the disruptive capabilities inhouse.  The Another way is to look for vendors who can provide them a converged platform to leverage the entire gamut of the partner ecosystem. The end goal is to stay ahead of the competition by providing traditional and digital services to end customers.

Customer Experience – Telecom market used to be oligopoly in nature, wherein the major players of telecom industries use to commodify the subscribers to mint money out of them.  Whereas now, in a perfectly competitive transition, we need to shift the paradigm to make customer and CSP relationship more human centric. This will help a CSP in designing the offerings to ensure consumer retention and to win new customers. The new age subscriber is demanding in nature and prefers an operator who is agile, innovative and cost effective.

Below is the survey shared by Capgemini, which shows low net promotor scores of mobile operators.

 

mobile-operators

 

This survey also talks about that 58% of customers are willing to switch to Digital only service provider and high value customers are more willing to change. Unless operators reform their customer satisfaction approach, the NPS will stay low and operators will keep losing revenue and customer base to digital players.

Operational Efficiency – Digitalization will lead to increase in number of partner relationships. Soon a CSP, during its transformation journey, will experience partner explosion. Digital services will result in plethora of data getting generated. To keep things under check, a CSP must bring in efficiency by making its operations also digital. Operations can be digitalized by automation, reducing redundancy of systems and data, seeking help from domain and system experts (consultation and managed services), empowering partners with self-care capabilities. CSPs design their partner handling capabilities both in terms of processes and solutions considering mostly trusted partners, hence the partnerships are also limited and the systems are also multi step and user dependent. In case of digitalization, CSPs need to associate with multiple entities who can bring in renovation, hence will see surge in partnerships. To handle partner explosion, processes of on-boarding and partner care should be particularly efficient. Partners are the new age customers, they are aware that they bring innovation and new revenue stream for a CSP, hence they should be treated with lot of care. Having an efficient eco-system for partner will surely bring in satisfaction and shall maintain a healthy partnership.

Expense Optimization – Expenses are inversely proportional to profit. An aspiring digital operator must form a strategy around cost reduction. Based on a research house, software industry is gradually moving towards convergent approach from siloed ecosystem. This helps in reducing overhead of investing in multiple systems. Leveraging solutions that are based on open source technologies is another way of optimizing hefty recurring costs. If a telco can bring in operational efficiency, expense optimization will happen automatically.

This transformation will be a challenging journey for both CSP and its partners, but this will surely help an operator to rediscover itself and shall bring in more agility to accept and act on whatever comes down the path. Though there are many other factors and strategies that can be adopted along with the mentioned ones, these 6 strategies are our take on the transformation journey. However, it is very important for an operator to clearly identify the purpose of its modification, but it is completely okay to move step by step instead of adopting all 6 strategies at once. To start with the transformation, CSPs should reexamine the existing offerings, existing expense optimization plan, make the current operations efficient and ensure customer satisfaction in the existing services offered. Once there is a clarity in becoming digital in current line of business, identification of new streams will automatically fall in place.

We are discussing these strategies in detail at our booth (Booth # 5F10, Hall 5) in MWC 2018. Meet us in the booth to know more about how we can help in your transformation journey to drive the digital economy.

Sunay Zelawat

Sunay currently serves as the Product Manager of Cost Analytics portfolio. He specializes in Telecom Partner Settlement, Route Optimization, Interconnect Billing and Order Management/Provisioning. He has 10 years of experience in the Telecom Industry. He is also a keynote speaker in forums like GSC and an active contributor to online forums related to partner settlement.

Strategies for Telcos to drive the digital economy Part 1

In an ever-changing state of communication, innovation has become quintessential force that is driving the digital economy. Looking at the current trends, every organization wants to go digital. Being digital holds different meaning for different organizations based on the nature of their business.

But when it comes to the telecom world, going digital is more of a catchup rather than a race to be a pioneer. A lot of non-telco players are already digitalized from day one, and that too by using CSP’s platform and customer base. Rise of OTT players and other disruptors have done a significant damage to the traditional voice and text business as well. The consulting leaders such as Ovum and McKinsey predict the success of OTT players in capturing a significant share of telco services.

 

OTT's share

 

As the number of years ascends, the revenue graph takes an inverse fall and this analysis makes it important for CSPs, who have the best of world resources in the form of capital, customer base, infrastructure and brand name, to start doing things differently by shifting their focal point from just a traditional to a mix of traditional and digital services. Now is the time for the CSPs to take the process of metamorphosis seriously.

(Based on GSMA figures,) The period starting from 2016 to 2020 will witness substantial ballooning of the data and connectivity indicating clearly that digitalization is going to play a pivotal role in service providers growth and thus will help in balancing the loss incurred due to reducing revenues from traditional services.

 

mobile-broadband-connection

 

The transition from communications service provider (CSP) to Digital Service Provider (DSP) cannot be a quarantined approach. It requires partnership with innovators/disruptors to bring in new services and experiences. Confederation of progressive vendors with digitalized vision is indispensable in providing solutions that can support this transition. CSP to DSP transformation approach cannot be concentrated around only new revenue streams. Industry experts have defined DSP as a service provider whose, not only services, but also operations are under the single umbrella of digitalization. One who provides services as well as operations, both digitalized.

We have a strong view that there are lot other areas which are still left untapped.

Looking at the current scenarios, there are 6 key strategies that are listed based on the idea of helping CSPs in increasing their revenues by bringing innovation and creativity in their existing services, acceptance of new technologies, sustaining demanding customer base and reducing operational & transformation expenses. Below is the list of our 6 key digitalization strategies that are recommended for a progressive CSP during its transformation.

In my next blog I will elaborate on these strategies in detail and discuss how it will help CSPs to transform themselves into DSPs and thus help them to drive the digital economy. Stay tuned!

 

transformation-strategies

 

Sunay Zelawat

Sunay currently serves as the Product Manager of Cost Analytics portfolio. He specializes in Telecom Partner Settlement, Route Optimization, Interconnect Billing and Order Management/Provisioning. He has 10 years of experience in the Telecom Industry. He is also a keynote speaker in forums like GSC and an active contributor to online forums related to partner settlement.

Capex Optimization: A strategy for growth, or defense?

The battle is heating up and speeding up in virtually every market. Customers want the newest, latest, greatest handsets, products, and services.  But how long has this battle been heating up, really?  The answer is simple:  Since the 1980’s.  All that has continued to change are the tools used by the operators in the battle.  Let’s examine the latest tools being used in the Americas and understand how that impacts Capex.  The results may be surprising:

In what is arguably the start of the latest rounds of “artillery”, T-Mobile launched free roaming to over 100 countries in 2013, and started attracting customers by the millions away from the likes of AT&T and Verizon.  After the immediate dust settled and the program was seen to actually be viable, AT&T responded with paying the early termination fees for converting subscribers from T-Mobile.  In the process, flat rate plans with expanded data benefited all of us, as T-Mobile and AT&T both offered non-contract based data allotment increases, for no cost (and in many cases, lower costs) to existing subscribers, to shore up their retention numbers.

Verizon has taken a more conservative approach, saying they have the largest 4G network, which has caused AT&T to counter with having the fastest 4G network.  Not to be left behind, T-Mobile responded with offering to roll over unused data, and to unleash attractive unlimited plans via their recently acquired MetroPCS brand.

All the while, Sprint, the last major national carrier in the mix, has been losing market share while “sprinting” to greatly expand their 4G network.  In the recent weeks they have jumped into the market with a very viable message, aimed directly at AT&T and Verizon, to cut subscriber bills in half…literally.  They even took out an ad in the most expensive slot in the world:  The American Super Bowl.  This ad was designed to “apologize” to AT&T and Verizon.  The results of the campaign, however, are not making Sprint apologetic at all:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlJ2sJJu1io

And now the latest, and perhaps most interesting move, has been the international expansion of some operators into Latin American markets.  The model is simple:  Buy a Latin operator network.  Re-brand it to your internationally known name.  Offer local services that extend all the way into North America.  No roaming or interconnect, and all local calling.  This is a major threat to long-time incumbents in the Latin market, and it’s already happening. Three years ago I was asked what I thought the impact of 4G/LTE would be to the markets.  I made a quite possibly crazy prediction that 4G was going to upset the way we understand roaming and interconnect, simply due to the fact that data, VoIP, and the new products that were going to ride on femtocells and wifi / wimax were going to totally change the playing field.  Could it be that something similar is gathering momentum today?

What is the common thread in all of these battles in the Americas market(s)?  Quite simply, the operator revenues are not growing, or are not growing at the pace to keep up with Capex spend.  Networks are being extended and evolved not to add revenue, but instead to sustain revenue.  Here’s an example:  In the last 24 months I have moved my entire family to 4G.  My bill decreased.  More data was added to my plan.  My bill again decreased.  I then expanded my home DSL to a 30x increase in speed.  My bill stayed flat.  All of this involved more network capacity and expansion in products and services.  But I was not further monetized…I was just retained.

Capex optimization, if pursued for growth, could be considered a great goal and something to strive toward.  However, if Capex optimization is pursued to simply maintain your revenues (and market share), this should no longer be considered a goal, but instead a critical strategy for longer term survival.

So ultimately, how do operators monetize networks?  Perhaps the question needs to be focused on monetizing customers – by turning attention toward strategies that get more share of wallet.  Operators should invest Capex into supporting behavioural shifts in their customers.   Mobile wallet, xBanking, xCommerce, etc, need to be provided as revenue-generating services by the operators, for those customers.  It’s no longer about getting money for network services…it’s now about getting money from supporting a behaviour facilitated by those network services.

John-Brooks

Vice President – Product Management – John Brooks serves as the Vice President of Product Management in Subex. He has over 26 years of experience in Telecommunications, spanning Fixed, Mobile, Data, and Video technologies. Within the industry Mr. Brooks was a board member for the GBA, founded the TM Forum Fraud team (authoring the first International Fraud Operations and Fraud Classifications guides), and now leads the TM Forum Network Asset Management team, focusing on transformative best practices for SDN/NFV operations. Over the years Mr. Brooks has served as an Advisory Board member for a prominent technical university, and has spoken at over 50 industry events and authored numerous papers on topics spanning IoT, Digital Disruption, Big Data, and Enterprise Risk Management. With Subex (formerly Connexn/Azure) since 1999, he has directed over 40 successful Cost, Revenue, and Business Optimization engagements at over 24 top-tier carriers globally, including AT&T, America Movil, BT, Vodafone, and Verizon.

Asset Assurance – Translating Visibility into Capital Savings

As one of the largest capital line items in every operator’s budget, Network Capital Expense continues to drive large numbers every year.  Re-purposing fixed line and backhaul assets, moving to complete IP backbones, migrations to newer technologies (e.g., LTE), and demanding more throughput from the same asset footprint have all contributed to consistent pressure on capital, regardless of previous years’ growths and efforts.

 

Each year, network capital planning and budgeting have repeatedly been baselined on factors that include:

  1. Growth planning and projections
  2. Network maintenance and replacements
  3. Decommissioning and retirement
  4. Previous year expenditures

Each of these factors contributes valuable intelligence that help planning activities determine and set budget levels, but critical gaps are also created in the process that strand capital indefinitely.  Gaining visibility into the available capital assets, and acting on that knowledge are the primary keys to actually preserving capital, creating peak utilization efficiency, and generating the highest level of free cash flow in the business.  But what aren’t operators doing today?

The ability to understand what capital is stranded in your network is based on visibility.  ERP systems consistently lack views into deployed assets; similarly, inventory platforms have a good (yet almost always incomplete) view into what is deployed.  What isn’t known are factors around capacity and utilization rates, lost or vacant assets, or status of all “tagged” assets.  This, coupled with a clearly orchestrated and managed retirement and resale process, positions the operator to not only “connect” data from ERP and Network sources, but to also act on that data in a way that is poised to saved the average operator tens of millions of dollars in capital expense and increase free cash, all in the first year of such a program.

Without the ability to act, no realization of optimization and savings should be expected from any program – this is the difference between mere reporting visibility, and a program to drive the data through a lifecycle that culminates in tremendous operators gains.  This is a unique set of capabilities for any operator, and it forms a program Subex calls ROC Asset Assurance.

John-Brooks

Vice President – Product Management – John Brooks serves as the Vice President of Product Management in Subex. He has over 26 years of experience in Telecommunications, spanning Fixed, Mobile, Data, and Video technologies. Within the industry Mr. Brooks was a board member for the GBA, founded the TM Forum Fraud team (authoring the first International Fraud Operations and Fraud Classifications guides), and now leads the TM Forum Network Asset Management team, focusing on transformative best practices for SDN/NFV operations. Over the years Mr. Brooks has served as an Advisory Board member for a prominent technical university, and has spoken at over 50 industry events and authored numerous papers on topics spanning IoT, Digital Disruption, Big Data, and Enterprise Risk Management. With Subex (formerly Connexn/Azure) since 1999, he has directed over 40 successful Cost, Revenue, and Business Optimization engagements at over 24 top-tier carriers globally, including AT&T, America Movil, BT, Vodafone, and Verizon.

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