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How CSPs Can Thrive in the 'Digital Darwinism' Era

Francesco Venturini
11/5/2018
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We're witnessing the era of "Digital Darwinism," with technology and society evolving faster than most companies -- including communications service providers (CSPs) -- can adapt.

For CSPs to succeed in these turbulent times, they must pivot to new growth opportunities. This requires a series of decisions about how to transform and grow the existing business while simultaneously developing and scaling new businesses. It also requires the right investment strategy to ensure that the timing, scale and direction of investments are calibrated adequately.

Whatever long-term growth strategies a CSP chooses, one "do-or-die" move it must make is to become part of consumers' daily routines. This is particularly critical in today's environment, with disruptive players such as Amazon and Uber rewriting the rules of engagement -- and in doing so increasing customers' expectations and their ability to move fluidly from one provider to another.

The battle of net promoter scores (NPS)
Since the cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly higher than the cost of retaining an existing one, CSPs must become -- and remain -- part of consumers' digital routines. This will require providing customers with a hyper-personalized, relevant and ever-evolving platform-like experience throughout their journeys, across multiple touch points and without being intrusive.

These digital journeys are increasingly dependent on a mesh of interwoven, cooperating platforms, organizations and individuals, all of which potentially have a monetized role to play in delivering on customers' expectations. In such a complex scenario, the interaction is not only with the customers, but with all connected "things" and with the wide variety of ecosystem players -- from home security to health, TV and more -- that have a role in the new disruptive value chains.

To meet customers' increasing expectations and win the battle of NPS, CSPs must rethink the product strategy to get even closer to customers, thereby creating a competitive advantage. How can they do this? Through an intelligent omni-channel platform.

The transformation to omni-channel
Operating in a truly omni-channel way can be a game changer for CSPs. But it's often complex -- requiring significant coordination between the C-suite and technology teams; a product-owner mindset, meaning they must have a clear vision of what they want to build; and, most importantly, the transformation to a new operating model focused on business agility.

Key to this will be advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to leverage real-time insights about the customer -- their propensity to churn, the ARPU -- that enable them to offer personalized offers and services. These real-time insights, together with historical data, can help CSPs predict their NPS scores and take proactive measures to help improve those scores.

Omni-channel also brings another crucial element to light: operational efficiencies, which translate to a lower total cost of ownership. Omni-channel means configuring applications once and being able to use them across touch points. This helps CSPs offer more digital-first, mobile and online services that, in turn, create efficiencies because more services will be "self-assisted" by the consumer.

But carrying out a successful omni-channel transformation isn't easy. Among the challenges:

  • Siloed channels -- resulting in a poor customer experience and spreading data and transactions among different applications -- requires simplification, "decluttering" anything that is not perceived as valuable by the customer.

  • The typical tension between IT and business regarding ownership of the channels and related applications, which inhibits innovation and a shared vision of what the new business will look like.

    This transformation journey requires a solid blueprint for both the business and IT architecture and the operating model, one that we refer to as the multi-speed approach. The multi-speed architecture and operating model provide a framework that conceptually decouples a CSP's landscape into four domains, each having its own specificity and speed needs:

  • The systems of engagement
  • The systems of record
  • The systems of insight
  • The systems of trust

    Implementing an intelligent omni-channel approach means digitally decoupling the platform from the legacy systems while still providing the ability for data to flow from one to the other. This allows the CSP to focus capital and efforts on the omni-channel platform to give the customer a first-class, seamless experience, while letting the existing systems continue to do what they're good at. For example, the system of record can continue to focus on reliability and control while mastering operational data.

    Design thinking, data-driven, agile and DevOps development models are the currency of omni-channel. The underlying technology platform should make the user experience unconstrained by legacy systems, instead using microservices and open source in combination with products to build capabilities that are shared across the multiple customer touch points to improve efficiency and speed up the time to market with new offerings. An omni-channel platform should also make extensive use of APIs to support new and extended value chains across the entire B2B2X ecosystem.

    The consistent use of data available through the platform and digital journey should power the omni-channel capabilities, making the user experience increasingly relevant.

    Approached in this way, with the right technology and ecosystem in place, supported by a newly organized business, CSPs can make omni-channel a reality, capturing growth and winning the NPS battle.

    — Francesco Venturini, Global Industry Managing Director for Communications & Media, Accenture

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