Like many of its global counterparts, the telecom sector in Europe has had its share of ups and downs. Sample this-according to KPMG, the sector has over 150 telecom operators, all fiercely competing for a share of the pie (read: subscribers). The result?-The dubious reputation of being one of the most fragmented markets in the world. The reality is that Europe’s telecom industry is a battlefield. Intense competition exists from low-cost entrants to the market, consumer habits are shifting in the blink of an eye (blame it on the internet) and regulation is designed (and determined) to keep prices low.
Of course, all these factors have had a less than desired effect on revenues-always an important factor. According to a lobby group, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association, revenue from European operators dropped by 11 per cent to €248 billion between 2009 and 2015. Now, the aim of this blog isn’t to write-off the sector as a has-been. On the contrary, I intend to focus on the technology side of things, because, let’s face it, however grey the facade, technology is and will remain every operator’s bread and butter.
Allow me to elaborate on that last statement. The market is (and will always) continue to respond to the increased demands of consumers and enterprises for advanced, converged services and solutions. The bottom-line is that the need of the hour-any hour-for an operator will be to enhance scale, deepen reach and broaden capacity if they are to retain customers in the long term.
So, which technological innovations are likely to do the trick? Several, according to the folks at Gartner, including computing, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, advanced, pervasive and invisible analytics, context-rich systems, smart machines, cloud/client computing, software-defined applications and infrastructure, web-scale IT and risk-based security and self-protection. Clearly (and I am stating this without a hint of irony), there is no end to technological advancement!
Now, let’s talk about the most relevant ones to my line of work -advanced, pervasive, invisible analytics and context-rich systems. Both have been the subject of fierce industry debates for a while now. They have also attained the pride of place in almost every company’s product-related literature. There is a small catch, though. While both are sound concepts and worth examining in detail, it’s important to keep in mind two factors-pervasive analytics lose their sheen without a strong focus on actionable insights and not mere data aggregation. Second, the purpose and meaning of context-rich systems is lost, without ensuring they capture and understand the importance of profiling a customer-i.e. where they are located and what makes them tick. In short, these systems ought to speak the same language as the customer.
Here’s where we come in. Without making it seem like I’m tooting my company’s horn, permit me to briefly introduce our product portfolio which is relevant to this discussion. Dubbed Customer Value Solutions (CVS), this portfolio is aimed at ensuring our customers (read: operators) increase loyalty and drive usage across all channels (namely, voice, text and data). The end result is an up to 5% increase in revenue for the operator in question, across its entire base of prepaid customers!
I shall focus on the Revenue Plus platform in this piece, along with two of its modules-the Loyalty Management Solution (LMS) and the Interactive End-of-Call Notifications solution (iEOCN). Now, simply put, the Revenue Plus platform is a data-driven tool that helps marketers deliver highly contextual marketing across multiple channels and on any device. And here’s where the contextual bit comes in-the platform ensures marketers can acquire, analyze and apply information about what makes a customer tick (context, context, context) to orchestrate personalized real-time interactions. The end result-more revenue and a solid edge over the competition-both of which, needless to say, rank high on an operator’s wish-list.
Now, let’s talk about LMS. Can you imagine, a customer who stays put on your network for years, despite your competition offering more value for money for the same bells and whistles? Yes, this can and does happen (Still not tooting my company’s horn). In a nutshell, LMS allows customers to earn points based on the value of their purchases and service consumption patterns. What’s more, they can trade points for rewards. For an operator, the bottom-line is motivating customers to increase their spending, thereby driving profitable behaviour. The operator is able to build continual customer engagement by leveraging rich customer insights to deliver innovative, timely and contextually relevant propositions. Customers, on their part, can avail of a range of compelling offers including lotteries and auctions, sweepstakes, gift catalogue, exclusive deals, instant rewards, the list is endless.
Sounds good so far? Now let’s talk about iEOCN. Again, a digital marketing solution to improve marketing effectiveness by delivering contextual and actionable offers with end of call notification. The ‘call’ could also be a data session, or even sending an SMS, and the notification itself can be delivered within 250Ms of clear-down. Operators, expect your revenues to get a boost-use this platform to deliver contextual, actionable offers to your consumers. Why, you ask? Well, how does wider reach and a higher response rate sound? I rest my case.
With any luck, I hope I have managed to subtly convey my message. It’s quite simple, really, the latest trends in the telecom space suggest that money is being left on the table. There is so much that can be achieved-just think-up to 5,000 campaigns, numbering 400 to a customer, multi-channel delivery spanning SMS, USSD and email and very short response times. Need I go on?