Huawei: ramping up digital transformation is a “must” for carriers
“We’re seeing digital services developing fast, and the complexity of networks is also growing fast: that is why digital transformation is not an option, but a must.”
So said Jacky Zhou, vice president of Huawei marketing and solution, speaking at a media roundtable at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The event followed the vendor’s latest Operations Transformation Forum (OTF 2022), at which it placed emphasis on the need for mobile carriers to “accelerate digital operations transformation” to propel themselves towards greater business success.
The roundtable was also attended by Zhou’s Huawei colleagues Simon Liang, director of Huawei consulting and system integration marketing and solution, and Bin Feng, director of Huawei software marketing and solution.
Zhou said that with digital services developing at a rapid pace, the company has been collaborating in recent years with operator customers, industry organisations and other industry partners to encourage transformation practices.
“We believe that we need to start with the right high-value scenarios,” he said. “This includes reviewing and analysing the entire customer journey, and we hope to increase agility during the purchase stage and improve user experience during the youth stage of users.”
Zhou added that the OTF acts as a “great platform to engage with customers, industry organisations and partners to discuss the challenges face by digital transformation”. Alongside this, he said, it is a valuable means to identify useful methods that can help accelerate the transformation journey that is vital to operators’ future.
Phases and dimensions
Liang believes the best way for carriers to transform operations is to follow a “maturity assessment model” that contains several different dimensions: strategic planning, value measurements, organisation of processes and digital platform development.
The model is aimed at allowing carrier customers to assess where they are, where they want to be in the future and how they can achieve their digital transformation goals. But Liang emphasised that this transformation can occur only when it is put into practice by operators looking to achieve digital transformation results.
In the last five years, Huawei has accumulated further experiences and learnings on digital practices in terms of observations and measurements, delivery, and marketing and sales, after previously focusing primarily on its own digital transformation. As a result, the company now has a better idea about what kinds of strategies can be effectively implemented for future transformation to obtain greater business value.
“We look forward to working with more operators, industry organisations and partners so that together we are able to find the best possible directions and paths of digital transformation, and can unleash the greater value of it,” said Liang.
As Huawei is heavily involved in this transformation, he identified the need for the vendor to engage with operators in a much “deeper” way in this evolving world, altering the nature of how such collaboration works to help “achieve business success together with our customers”.
“Our partnership with operators can no longer be the traditional cooperation between a vendor and an operator,” explained Liang. “Instead, we’d like to upgrade our relationship to be a friendship and to make us each other’s family.”
He added that he hoped to achieve more business success together with customers.
When it comes to digital transformation, the number-one goal in working with operators is to help them improve their revenue, said Feng.
Operators today face stiff competition from over-the-top (OTT) media service providers such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, but also have benefits that they can use to their advantage, said Feng.
While OTT providers have enjoyed significant success in recent years, with streaming services proving popular with audiences, Feng believes that operators often have larger customer bases in individual countries, a stronger background in ICT technologies and better channels to reach users, helping to negate the threat from OTT providers.
These benefits can aid operators in both the B2C and B2B markets in different ways, Feng added. “In the B2B segment, ICT technologies and experience of an operator can be introduced to vertical markets,” he said. He believes that new types of customer engagement could also introduce unique ways of increasing revenue for operators to consider.
He gave an example of a Kenyan fintech service that has helped an unnamed operator with which Huawei works to increase the customer penetration rate of its monthly broadband (MBB) subscriber base to 80%. What’s more, he added, the company is delivering this operator an additional $30 in average revenue per user (ARPU) every year.
He said further that in the B2C market, operators can “tap into their larger user base to roll out a greater number of digital services”, including in areas such as video ringback tones, fintech services and 5G messaging – all of which could contribute to increasing revenue for operators.
This shows that it isn’t just developed markets that Huawei is targeting for its digital transformation partnerships, but that the company is also looking to pursue opportunities in developing markets.
There is still much room for growth in such countries, with the firm pointing to low penetration rates for both mobile broadband and fixed broadband in emerging markets. For example, in many of these markets the penetration rate for 4G remains lower than 30% and home broadband penetration can be lower than 10%.
As a result, emerging markets offer great opportunities to tap into opportunities for digital transformation and platforms to aid business success, said Zhou.
Zhou added that Huawei can help to accelerate the process of user migration from 3G to 4G, given the need for faster digital transformation in the current climate, but that this relies on methods different to “traditional” means.
“In global markets, especially in markets in southern and northern Africa, we have deployed data-driven platforms to accelerate the user migration for our customers,” he said. “These digital methods have helped us to speed up the user migration journey faster than what a traditional method could ever deliver.”
At the OTF Forum, Huawei also unveiled new solutions to its SmartCare and AUTIN products. These are designed to meet the digital goals of businesses and consumers, and have become available through “accumulated digital transformation practices of Huawei and our customers”, said Liang.
To better support the digital transformation of telecoms providers’ operations, the vendor says it has decided to consolidate silo systems into a unified digital platform. “This year, we have just released this SmartCare series of products, which are designed for optimising experience along the customer journey,” said Liang.
He said that the Smart Planning offering is designed to increase the precision of network planning and construction, while Smart Optimisation serves to optimise the network.
Alongside these offerings is the Smart Experience tool, which allows operators to deploy proactive experience management solutions, while the Smart Decision platform will help operators to conduct precision marketing.
Finally, Liang highlights a new offering called Smart DataCube, a converged data engine that provides a local platform to help the operator “unleash” the value of data.
On the side of its knowledge-driven and intelligent operations service, AUTIN, Huawei announced that it would be rolling out its i series of products, which involves four different offerings.
This includes iFM, which is used to conduct fault management; iPM, which is used to manage performance; iEM, an event management offering to enable service-oriented operations and maintenance (O&M); and iStudio, a local development platform designed to facilitate transformation.
Through these offerings, operators can review and select what they need. Carriers will have the freedom to select multiple offerings or just a single one, making it easier to kick off the digital transformation process.
To further enhance the transition for operators, Huawei also announced a cloud-convergence billing platform called CBS R22 and a new Customer Engagement Centre.
The billing platform is cloud-native, allowing an increase in reliability while also reducing the total cost of ownership for operators by around 30%. In addition, it allows agile service provisioning, shortening the time it takes to bring in a new software release upgrade from three months to seven days.
Via its new Customer Engagement Centre, Huawei says operators will be granted key benefits through the use of intelligence and video capabilities. The centre comes with all-channel video capabilities, meaning that many of the services that could previously only be accessed in offline channels can now be moved online.
As an example, Huawei explained that this would help in areas such as troubleshooting home broadband, for which voice calls made it previously more difficult to pinpoint faults, but that the video service has now made easier.
Intelligence capabilities will also be offered to operators through the centre, reducing the average cost per call by 30%. This comes from two sources: the first is through the improvement of fault mitigation, while the second is through its intelligent recommendation feature, which reduces the average waiting time for operators by 20%.
Huawei hopes that all these new services can help operators progress their digital transition into the future. “We hope that the new offerings can enable the better transformation of operators and bring better experience to their users,” said Feng.