Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent remind carriers that the customer is king


Wireless infrastructure providers are taking a good look at their customers’ customers, and what they see is opportunity. Forward-thinking carriers need to take an “Amazonian” view of their business, according to Ericsson North America’s vice president for strategy, Ray Bariso. “At every point that I touch the customer how can I present them with a revenue event or an opportunity for me to increase their experience, but also make value-added revenue at the same time so that they actually feel happy about spending a dollar, or five dollars?” asks Bariso. “If you look at the vision of where communication service providers desire to move, and where they have to move, they have to employ that same kind of thinking.”

Ericsson wants to leverage its portfolio of BSS/OSS software to enable carriers to learn more about their customers. Last year the company made a significant investment in operations support systems and business support systems with its billion dollar purchase of Telcordia, and last month Ericsson purchased Canada’s ConceptWave. “OSS/BSS really is an engine for realizing the network society,” says Bariso. “The acquisition of Telcordia gives us increased market leadership in North America so now globally as well as in North America if you look at the overall market share in OSS, BSS and service delivery platforms Ericsson is the market leader.”

Alcatel-Lucent has also acquired software expertise, with its 2008 purchase of Motive, a company which Alcatel-Lucent is now repositioning as provider of data analysis. “Traditionally motive was device management software … but since the early part of this year we have brought in another part of the business specifically around analysis,” says Greg Owens, Alcatel-Lucent’s senior marketing manager for customer experience solutions. Motive now offers solutions aimed at helping carriers to better serve and understand their customers, and to use that understanding to build brand loyalty.

Customer service representatives can use data to offer a better customer experience, and in the aggregate that data offers valuable insights to operators. “You are really talking about the business transformation,” says Alcatel-Lucent solutions marketing manager Ajay Pande, adding that with Motive his company has added a consultancy to help carriers “turn insights into action.”

Ericsson’s Bariso agrees that mobile operators are witnessing a transformation in their business. “If you think about the way services are changing for the customer, voice and messaging and video are essentially becoming services or apps amongst a sea of hundreds of thousands of different apps, and voice and video are being integrated into those apps,” he says. “The way the business models are innovating and changing, as well as connecting the devices, the advent of the cloud, and the ability to consume information in the cloud using mobile devices – all those things are really changing the economics of our customers’ industry. They have to focus on all these different services more so than the network for future revenue growth.”

Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are both clearly committed to investing in software in order to add value for their customers. So news that Nokia Siemens Networks is ready to sell its BSS unit is of interest to both companies. Ericsson is the said to be very interested. Bariso says his company is looking for acquisitions that make sense in this area. “If you look at our objective to continue to invest and grow in this space we’re always looking for new opportunities to grow where it makes sense for us and our customers,” he said.

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Martha DeGrasse

Wireless Martha DeGrasse has been creating content for RCR Wireless News since 2011. Recent feature reports include Building Tomorrow's Neworks, Outdoor DAS and Small Cell Case Studies, Wireless Infrastructure Service Company Review, and Investing in HetNets. (All of these can be found by clicking on Reports at the top of this page.) At RCR, Martha also developed the 5 Things to Know Today series and the Mobile Minute. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York. Martha left Dow Jones to move to Austin, Texas, where she managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Follow her on Twitter @mdegrasseRCR