Miguel Carrero: Actionable Customer Intelligence can help
operators avoid the mistakes of the past that resulted in
disintermediation in the customer value chain
LTE presents operators with major new opportunities — and major new challenges. To tap into the opportunities, operators must re-think traditional notions about BSS, OSS and subscriber data management. They need to break down internal silos, integrate functions in a new way so customer data can be monetised — and ultimately, deliver a new kind of customer experience … one that can re-claim customer loyalty.
While LTE is undoubtedly the cost effective answer to the unprecedented demand for mobile bandwidth that operators are experiencing, it doesn’t come without challenges. Customers will certainly use whatever bandwidth becomes available and once they have it, they will expect richer services and livelier experiences. Operators must support those expectations. In addition, because LTE, unlike its cellular network technology predecessors, provides pure IP connectivity all the way to the subscriber, it allows any vendor, over-the-top or otherwise, to access operator customers with services. Against that backdrop, users will still expect their operator to provide them with quality services and well-tailored packages for their needs and usage preferences. Operators, on their side, will be forced to differentiate on quality and relevancy. So building intimacy with their customers to predict their differentiated needs and to monetize these is among their top priorities.
The arrival of LTE further complicates the operator landscape because, as all research predicts, subscribers will have multiple devices. Operators need to enable the customer experience to be seamless across multiple devices and homogeneous regardless of the access network. Here, customer intelligence becomes pivotal, as operators need to manage their real-time interactions based on identification of the device connected to the network — AND the customer’s profile and preferences, his specific bundle or package of services, and finally, his overall value to the operator.
The complexity will only intensify when voice over LTE or VoLTE comes to market. VoLTE, as any VoIP technology, is concurrently pervasive and network quality sensitive. Operators will have to perform quality management to sustain a positive service experience.
A single view of the customer
Operators therefore need to put systems and processes in place that go far beyond the traditional customer experience management regimes that many use today. Simply knowing there’s a device connected to the network isn’t enough. Operators need to be able to understand their customers better and be able to react accordingly to that increased understanding. They need a single, integrated view across all the disparate systems involved. Then, once that intelligence can be extracted, operators can act upon it in real-time.
HP’s Actionable Customer Intelligence helps operators provide a highly personalized experience for their customers — which can lead to better customer retention and new revenue generation. With a more intimate relationship between operator and customer, the customer has a greater propensity to buy services from the operator because they see that the operator understands their needs and has trust that the operator can deliver a superior experience. With that trust — and new, personalized services, the customer is more likely to engage with the operator — and less likely to move to another operator.
Intelligence is what enables operators to provide a better user experience to their subscribers. If operators build better relationships with their customers, they will reduce the number of complaints, improve retention, and generate greater revenue and profits through the delivery of new products and services. Also, it enables operators to be relevant in a value chain that incorporates a multitude of over-the-top service providers.
Operators need to act now in order to avoid becoming disintermediated from the digital value chain. Today, they are still very much in the game and have a real opportunity to become not only the provider of commoditised network access, but also the service broker for a range of third party service providers in addition to their own offerings. By accessing their own customer data, operators can add value in two directions.
First is in their own ecosystems: Operators can use this data to identify what services customers want, how they want to pay for them, and how those services can be made to be most relevant and monetisable. The other direction is in the wider value chain: Operators can use that data to inform and assist partners. That must be done carefully, protecting the privacy of the user but customer data, along with the networks themselves, may yet prove to be the operator’s greatest asset.
HP coined the term Actionable Customer Intelligence to address this holistic, single view of the customer and the process of building it, analysing it and acting upon it. Operators hold a lot of information about the customer and the first step is to bring that together to build one single, sophisticated, highly personalised view of the subscriber. Next, real time analytics are applied to the digital information that operators uniquely hold regarding their customers.
Finally, the operator needs to act upon that data and analysis to provide a personalised user experience. Those actions can take many forms and aren’t just confined to addressing customer problems but also to making relevant offers about price plans, bundles and special deals. HP’s Actionable Customer Intelligence proposition brings together the different technologies that traditionally come from different systems, disciplines and domains within an operator.
Gathering and analysing ‘Big Data’
Mastering customer data is critical to operators’ ability to maintain and strengthen the loyalty of their subscribers and the over-the-top service providers’ value chain. Collecting and analysing “big data” — as well as unstructured data — is an essential element in the effort to recognize what customers really want, and what they expect.
Traditional relational databases struggle to manage big data, and this is why HP’s acquisition of Vertica technology (column-based database) is so important for operators. It is designed to handle massive data sets very quickly. Looking at unstructured data, which represents 85% of customer data, we see the need for a different technology. Here again, an HP acquisition, Autonomy, will be extremely useful in helping operators manage the huge flows of valuable customer information.
With Vertica and Autonomy, HP can now help operators leverage real-time big data and unstructured data to generate valuable enterprise insights. This broad range of expertise and solutions is what sets HP apart from its competitors in the market place.
Build, analyse, act
HP Actionable Customer intelligence is designed to leverage three latent capabilities of operators. The first is the many repositories of customer data. All operators have such data, but it is broken apart in many different silo repositories. They need to build a repository that integrates and/or federates data into a single view of the customer. Second, there is the capability to analyse the data. Again, most operators have a certain level of analytics capability, but often, it’s not in real-time, or it is limited to structured data that’s already in a database.
The third element is the ability to act upon the insights gained from an analysis of customer data. Operators accomplish this via service control policies, service promotions, or packages with targeted characteristics.
Operator approaches can be modular in the way they build, analyze and act. Different operators have different priorities and may choose to focus on the build part of the process, or they might emphasize the analysis of intelligence they already collect, or they might be at a point where they can readily apply policies to their operations.
Overall, LTE introduces several changes that can impact the very fundamentals of telecoms’ business management and operation. These kinds of initiatives are best performed using proven change methods and measureable objectives.
HP experience, combined with its portfolio of technologies, solutions and services, enable operators to take what they want and grow into the holistic concept of Actionable Customer Intelligence in a modular way.
HP understands the differences that operator customers have. Operators may have different systems, technologies and visions as to how they should adopt this level of customer intelligence. They might, for example, decide to deploy such solutions in-house, they might work with partners to deploy these capabilities or they might look to entrust this core capability to a managed service provider.
HP has recently worked with one European mobile operator to help launch its LTE network. The HP solution is a good demonstration of the power of Actionable Customer Intelligence. HP has delivered solutions for subscriber data management (SDM), policy control and charging, all to enable the operator to better anticipate usage demand, improve quality control and personalize end user services.
The operator wanted to provide its customer with the best possible mobile experience and accordingly selected the HP Subscriber Data Management/User Data Repository architecture. HP Home Subscriber Server (HSS) was also deployed to extend the HP SDM architecture, which included the HP Home Location Register (HLR) and HP Profile Manager. The outcome is a smooth, cost-effective co-existence of 3G and LTE that now positions the operator to reap the benefits of Actionable Customer Intelligence.
The power of Actionable Customer Intelligence is that it sits at the intersection of how operators manage both network and IT technologies. Actionable Customer Intelligence also occupies the intersection between real-time and non real-time, as well as the multiple dimensions of big, unstructured data, network technologies and policy management.
Actionable Customer Intelligence can help operators avoid the mistakes of the past that resulted in disintermediation in the customer value chain. More importantly, Actionable Customer Intelligence can help operators deliver a differentiated LTE experience. GTB
Miguel Carrero is director worldwide of Actionable Customer Intelligence at HP Communications and Media Solutions