IoT as a driver of commercial transformation
For communications service providers, IoT is not the same old thing. Adhish Kulkarni, SVP and GM of digital engagement and loyalty at Evolving Systems explains.
If you’re a communications service provider (CSP), you’ll have noticed that your industry is undergoing a quantum shift in how business is conducted. The commercial transformation you’re presently experiencing is driven principally by digitalisation, the process of digitally connecting things in a way that enables new business models to be created as well as improving existing ones in a radical new way.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is central to this change. Previously known as machine-to-machine communication – as long as two decades ago, M2M business models were winning communications industry awards – IoT is hallmarked by merging telematics with multi-device concepts. Today, there are sensors everywhere and they all collect data that can be used to drive innovative billing, better customer service, and a great deal more. The limit is simply your imagination – or what business models you’re able to execute.
In short, digitalisation puts greater profits, improved margins, more flexibility and increased customer satisfaction within your reach.
To support and capitalise on opportunities that the communications network and IoT offers, service providers must shift the focus of their IT backbones from governing isolated locked-in solutions to using software that enables them to leverage all their data for almost any imaginable purpose. This requires what is sometimes known as “information convergence”. Software solutions that offer this capability in one area or another will be among the most critical and at the same time have the most appreciated attributes required for developing and tapping value in the digital network.
However, the change to digital operation can put an enormous strain on the service provider who suddenly has to manage multiple, distributed resources in an effective way. Doing so effectively demands a common layer in which distributed data assets can be managed from a unified perspective. This may be for a variety of use cases; customer excellence, billing, asset management, or others.
Adding urgency to the need to change, the communications industry over the last few years has been increasingly exposed to declining margins and a high level of service commoditisation. To counter these, service providers must turn static existing products into smart and responsive services; improve customer experience by increasing service efficiency and visibility; and deploy new and differentiated offerings to enhance brand value
Meeting the challenge: IT Transformation
At the heart of successfully meeting the challenges outlined above, service providers will have to use Information Technology both in a different way as well as more effectively than ever before. As data becomes the main driver for the digitalisation, IT – and in particular data related technologies – will need to become a central component in the development of services in every aspect of the landscape. As such, successful modern CSPs will build their core offerings on a modernised technology backbone. This is where a substantial part of their digitalisation budgets must be spent.
It is critical that expenditure delivers the highest possible return on investment (ROI).
The change required is significant. Reinforcing existing analogue technology to extend the life span of legacy IT investments, as well as safeguarding present-day assets, will not be enough to win future market share. That will be reliant on leveraging a large amount of real-time data that needs to be collected, analysed, and integrated into key business processes at the right time, enabling unique customer expectations to be quickly met.
Furthermore, these assets need to be controlled, based on business process results. This means that the older legacy point applications must be drastically enhanced with a modern real-time data management technology to enable marketers and customer experience managers to monitor, optimize and control their business in real-time.
The importance of real-time data
In the telecoms industry, digital-ready IT must deliver:
Highest levels of reliability when it comes to capturing business critical data coming off any network from any source;
A proven path to transition from analogue to a digital oriented IT architecture;
The means to cope with an exponentially increasing data load and increased complexity;
An end to silo based, locked-in IT and OT data.
One key point that emerges from this new digital landscape is that, in general, BSS platforms and solutions must be based on powerful data integration technologies capable of solving multiple challenges. These can help CSPs transform their business models from products to modern services by turning previously limited processes (for instance, in the area of customer experience and loyalty) into high-valued digital assets that generate continuous revenue.
Such a platform needs to be able to collect any operational data from multiple, relevant sources in real-time to both better manage the customer experience as well as giving enhanced control generally, over all customer interactions. In this way, a state-of-the-art technology will be able to deliver a fast and cost-effective way to address digitalisation, often by more effectively leveraging an asset already in place. The outcome is a more efficient operating model that gives the service provider a measurable commercial advantage.
What do you want your solution to do?
In a nutshell, CSPs need to transform disparate data from multiple operational, customer, and product-related sources into usable, focused data (i.e. actual information), that enables them to execute use cases based on what that data tells them. In this process, traditional organisational siloes are reduced, enabling the CSP to take a more holistic view of its entire commercial performance as well as potentially gaining a real, 360-degree view of the customer.
In other words, the right solution should provide a new way to leverage any relevant data created within the businesses.
It should have been designed specifically to capture this customer-related data from multiple sources, build the 360° profile and integrate with communication and provisioning channels. This will allow for better management of real-time, context-driven decisioning using Machine Learning algorithms, and will drive advanced customer journeys for best-practice customer value management use cases and measurement; which in turn allows users to realise loyalty rewards and engagement programs that combine products and services with an ecosystem of partner products.
In the fast-evolving IoT world it’s critical to remember that machine communication’s value still lies in its ability to provide service to the customer. That’s a paradigm that next generation IT must address.