The benefit of a long plane ride home with no diversions other than sitting through a playlist of hot-poker-to-the-eye “rom-coms” that I already watched traveling to and from the other spring trade shows is that I had plenty of time to stare out the window and try to decipher the avalanche of analytics marketing on display by vendors at this year’s TM Forum Management World gathering in Dublin.
One thing I can say for sure: If I was left scratching my head to differentiate one vendor’s analytics play vis-a-vis all the others, I can empathize with the notion of carrier’s recoiling at the prospect of having to sift through the mountain of data that analytics solutions could dump on them.
That said, I feel like I was able to make at least a somewhat coherent connection between the analytics solutions on display in Dublin, and the “management” portion of the Customer Experience Management umbrella under which so much of analytics messaging is housed. If analytics provides that data that yields the information which is critical to making coordinated management decisions – by coordinated I mean helping CxO organizations sing from the same sheet of music on efforts aimed at optimizing the customer experience – then it behooves the carriers to seriously auger into the various vendor solutions and determine which ones will really produce the most coordinated, most relevant insights for their particular customer base.
Nailing the “management” theme
Because an exhaustive list would make this column unreadable, two of the analytics-themed messaging campaigns that caught my attention at the show include:
- IBM: While Big Blue’s “Catalyst” presentation on its analytics project was uncharacteristically bland, two of the vendor’s booth demos on analytics were useful on how IBM uses analytics to drill down into data that provides very particular insights into an individual customer’s experience. Specifically, the demos on Insight-Driven Marketing and “Network Analytics” drove home the steps that IBM is taking to create better visibility into the individual services that are being delivered on a carrier’s network, and apply those insights into individualized marketing campaigns. If the future of the mobile broadband experience is to enable consumers to craft their own service offerings, then tools such as those displayed by IBM will be critical in helping operators to tap into, and then map, marketing campaigns to a number of specialized user profiles.
- Alcatel-Lucent: Clearly, Alcatel-Lucent tagged Dublin as the stage that the Motive-based CEM solution would be the Belle of its Ball. By unveiling its managed CEM solution – called Managed Service Quality and Assurance (MSQA) – Alcatel-Lucent left no doubt that helping operators to not only implement but also leverage analytics to gather insights into all levels of its business operations is a key pillar of the vendor’s CEM strategy. While listening to the particulars of how the vendor proposes to implement MSQA in a customer organization felt a lot like hearing a gang of lawyers define the meaning of “intent”, it is obvious that Alcatel-Lucent is willing to push the envelope when it comes to putting “skin in the game” in helping its customers meet customer attraction, satisfaction and, ultimately, retention objectives.
What about the “customer experience” part?
Under the heading of credit where credit is due, I was intrigued by LightReading’s observation that while the show focused a lot on the management aspect of CEM, there was little emphasis on how to transform the customer’s experience. While I can’t disagree in terms of outward perception, I think another key theme of the show does begin to address the concept – albeit in what some might see as a painfully iterative fashion. Though decidedly “unsexy,” the subject of OSS/BSS transformation starts to get at enabling some of the more coordinated efforts that can improve a customer’s experience when dealing with their service provider.
Oftentimes a disjointed customer experience is the byproduct of the lack of coordination between multiple, siloed, billing and operations systems that operators inherit as they have made acquisitions, or even launched new services. Rationalizing these systems is a gargantuan task. It is also the first step in providing customer service agents with “single screen” visibility into a customer’s account, and as a result, the starting point for a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience.
As with above, there are too many vendor’s addressing this topic to cover here. But, here are two of the vendor campaigns and/or activities that stood out to me.
- Ericsson: Without question, Ericsson came to Dublin to cement its status as an OSS/BSS giant in the telecom industry. Though most of the vendor’s activities were confined to a boat parked in front of the convention hall, for those that made their way onto the ship, Ericsson plied the attendees with loads of facts and figures in support of its OSS/BSS transformation prowess. Much of this information came in high school yearbook-sized publication detailing case studies of OSS/BSS projects that consolidated, streamlined, rationalized and transformed complex billing and operations systems for operators around the world. The net effect is that Ericsson made it clear that it views coherent and integrated OSS/BSS as the first step in creating a holistic CEM solution. It also spent ample effort in building the case that it has the chops to guide operators through this journey.
- Netcracker: It was obvious from Netcracker’s presence on the #MDW12 show floor that Netcracker took this event seriously as an opportunity not only to tell the world about its NEC + Netcracker + Convergys story, but also to reinforce its notion as a widely relied up on OSS/BSS partner. A coordinated progression of demos and a logo board the size of a drive-in movie screen left no doubt that Netcracker wanted to the show’s attendees to leave Dublin with its commitment to OSS/BSS partner to operators around the world burned in their memories.
While analytics will go down as the key topic of this year’s TM Forum Management World, it is important to note that there was more to this year’s event. Taking into account the OSS/BSS transformation messages by an array of companies, the overarching theme of the show to me was an effort by this year’s attendees to demonstrate how to implement multiple key elements of the holistic, end-to-end CEM solutions that we’ve been hearing so much about during the first half of 2012.
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