Operators obsessed with operational excellence consistently struggle to fathom the nuances of customer experience. Be it the measuring yardsticks, standards or solutions, communications service providers' primary focus has always been on operational finesse. The communications industry is fast becoming a commodity business, and the only way service providers can differentiate is by focusing on providing holistic customer experience. Service providers' underlying software infrastructure forms the essential backbone for enabling this customer experience. With the advent of advanced video and interactive services, along with operators' focus on M2M and NFC, 4G-oriented service providers need their software fabric to be agile, dynamic and scalable, which their legacy software stack cannot support.
We believe that next-generation service provider IT (SPIT) systems will transform the way service providers understand the connected experience of their customers. The value of the service will largely depend on software enabling the ideal customer experience. Let us look at the nine key attributes of a next-generation SPIT system.
Personalized service and offer creation based on reference, context and location. Subscribers are becoming more demanding, and today's communications customers expect personalized offerings, ubiquitous access, broad choices and reliable, seamless experiences. Hence operators' service models need to encapsulate the tenets of ubiquity, immediacy, personalization, location, context and community in order to launch services that are successful and profitable. A next-generation SPIT system should be able to understand user preferences from user transactions, usage records, social connections, etc., and adapt itself to provide the best service. It is aware of user context and location and takes these as inputs to predict the ideal quality of experience (QoE) that the end customer expects from the interaction with the intelligent network.
Environment for service archetype creation and simulation of services. Each service building block should have the ability to be modeled in an integrated development environment. The environment should help in creating a prototype of those services and testing those services. As most service providers are not going to create all of their services in-house, the ability to quickly model the impacts of services created from external players in the ecosystem is also critical. Reusable service building blocks should be created, keeping in mind commercial parameters as well as network resources available to deploy these services. Services today are more complex and are interdependent, hence simulation models and testing scenarios are also far more complex.
Continuous optimization of business processes for superior customer experience. A next-generation SPIT system needs to bridge the gap of translating analysis into real-time actions and operations that impact operators' business processes. The system should be able to integrate and analyze operational data in real time, and based on that be able to optimize and trigger actions that influence their business processes. The most radical change that needs to happen is that limitations or constraints of the service provider's software infrastructure cannot dictate their business processes and strategy. The only way service providers can provide a holistic customer experience is by building clear business processes that drive the software infrastructure.
Real-time and event driven. The software systems will process complex events in real time, and provide the users of the system with the best actions to take based on those events. This directly enables the service provider to lower risks and provide excellent experience to their customers. A next-generation SPIT system should be able to not only process and correlate event stream processing, but should be able to use advanced analytics modeling techniques to gain the best insight into their customer behavior. Effective use of predictive analytics, coupled with real-time transactions, can integrate information from the handset, applications, network and CRM in order to provide an integrated view of the customer that is consistent across the entire organization and enriched with outside data services to render the most dynamic information.
Proactive service and network resource management capability. The system should have a self-healing capability to proactively take care of device constraints or provisioning issues based on service quality before it impacts the customer experience. A next-generation SPIT system should be able to self-monitor for anomalous events in the network, then diagnose and fix them dynamically and in real time. This enables load-balancing and optimizing network resources as well, which provides economic benefits to service providers. A next-generation SPIT system should be able to arm service providers with the ability to preempt service degradation by constantly monitoring and measuring and maintaining their service metrics in real time. This unified service experience model in SPIT systems aids in optimizing the subscriber experience in real time and in a seamless manner.
Subscriber-centric service control and service continuity. It is essential that the software system should support services that are portable on different end devices. Seamless hand-off between devices will be critical to providing the ideal experience missing today. A next-generation SPIT system should be able to provide session continuity and device interoperability over different device touch-points for a seamless interaction between the customer and the network. For customers to have the choice, control and convenience to interact with the provider, the software enabling it should provide end-user service control across all service touch-points, including devices, portal, kiosks, contact centers, retail stores, etc.
End-to-end Intelligence. Each building block with a next-generation SPIT system should be endowed with the intelligence to understand its role within the architecture on the event that it is tracking, executing or acting. Once this information is pieced together holistically, actionable intelligence should be available to both the customer and the service provider. The policy manager, identity manager, network intelligence manager and business intelligence form the pillars of the SPIT system. QoE is the aggregation of QoS and the intelligent context. Service providers should use the QoE measure to determine parameters such as profitability of the customer, lifetime value of the customer, ability to launch innovative business models, real-time visibility of network resources, etc.
Empower organization with new metrics. A small number of non-changing metrics, such as ARPU and churn, were fine for an earlier era, but no longer give an accurate picture of customer satisfaction or probability of customer churn. Customer experience KPIs as well as KPIs involving continuous improvement or end-to-end intelligence are becoming critical for the success of next-generation business models, and these need to be supported by a next-generation SPIT system.
Scalable and able to operate at low operational cost. It is absolutely critical for a next-generation SPIT system to be scalable and telco-grade, as it needs to handle billions of events and transactions every day. The solutions should be low-latency, have massive parallel processing capability and be able to operate at very low operational cost. Real-time event processing is absolutely critical, and the solution needs to respond to events in milliseconds.
â€” Ari Banerjee, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading