Henrique Vale, Head of Nokia Software for MEA at Nokia, tells Intelligent CIO that CSPs are living in an age of unprecedented opportunity due to the advent of 5G.
Are we living in an unprecedented age of opportunity for Communication Service Providers?
Yes we do. There is a new shift in the industry especially for CSPs (Customer Service Providers). With the advent of 5G digitisation there is potential for new services and new functionalities for end customers, enterprises and CSPs. Indeed, we are in a good time and we will see a lot of change coming in the industry with a lot of benefits to operators and end users.
How ready is the Middle East for the advent of 5G?
I would say the Middle East is well positioned on this front. I think all CSPs, or most, in the region are preparing themselves for the new age in terms of digitalisation with 5G. We see a lot of movements, a lot of interest on 5G and potential use cases. I would say that the Middle East itself is ranking very well and is on the forefront of the industry.
Do CSPs have a legacy barrier they need to break through?
I think it’s clear the legacy is there as all the CSPs they have their own networks. Some of the components of the networks have been there for 10 or 20 years but I don’t think that’s naturally a barrier. It’s not necessarily a barrier; it’s something to take into consideration whenever they move towards a new technology like 5G or when they take their existing services into a digital framework.
This means legacy is not necessarily a barrier. It can be something CSPs will leverage to be much more successful in the future. There are a few things they need to take into consideration. When you look in to the industry there are some start-ups even in the service providers space that are much more agile because they are starting from scratch as they don’t have this legacy – that’s an advantage of the start-ups.
But they also have disadvantages. They don’t know the industry, they don’t have customers, they don’t have the experience of providing services from the past which is very relevant for coming into the new digital framework and new services.
What sort of CSPs are going to be successful in the future? Will it be the most agile ones?
Those that are going to be successful are the CSPs that will be embracing the new technology and being able to move their services and their processes into a digital era. Our children have a totally different way of consuming services. They use Facebook, Snapchat and other applications, and they usually don’t talk through phone calls. The way they interact is via applications.
They expect the service to be always available. If they ask a question to the service providers, they expect an answer on the spot.
Whenever they want to interact with a service provider they don’t call, so this generation of customers will not call to say ‘my service is down’. They will probably send a message so all the service providers need to move themselves to address these new ways of communicating, these needs and requirements that means transforming their operations into a digital framework to be able to respond in real time.
So, these are going to be the successful CSPs, those that are able to transform the present mode of providing services into a digital environment where things happen in real time, where people expect whenever they contact the service provider that they know about their problem and will provide them with an answer.
CSPs will have to embrace and become true digital service providers and provide services in the digital environment measurements. They need to provide context awareness for the services the customers are getting so that they can manage the customer experience. They need to be able to provide solutions that enable the customer with proactive and predictive care. The solutions will enable the customer to use autonomous customer-care by themselves.
Can you give an example about how CSPs can monetise the digital experience?
For instance, I’m seeing a football match or concert on my mobile and I’m a prepaid customer. I’m seeing video and then running out of my data budget, what happens in a normal situation when I exhaust my data package is probably getting a message and the service being interrupted.
This is probably not the best way to monetise the service because if I’m seeing a football match and I’m a football fan I’m very keen on that moment to top-up my account and continue to see my video. So what you can enable, for instance, is when I’m watching my football match and I’m running out of data, my service provider will send me a message saying ‘Mr Customer, you are running out of data’, and provide me options to top-up without leaving the application and interrupting what I am watching.
So I can be on a TV channel on my mobile and I get a notification from my service provider saying ‘you are going to run out of data soon, if you want to continue seeing your match you can top up’, and I don’t have to leave the application so my experience continues to be very good and I know my service provider is taking care of me.
This means that the probability and the willingness to top up at that moment is very high. So this is a way to monetise the experience and monetise the digital moment.
I know CSPs tend to be sat on a lot of data end to be so on a lot of days. What can they do to draw value out of the data?
Most of the CSPs have a lot of data about the network and the customers. They need to use the data with insightful actions. For example, the example I gave of topping up a football match is only possible if the CSP is making use in real time of data such as billing data, what the customer is doing at that moment to interact with their customers towards improving customer experience and monetise those moments.
These are the experiences that Nokia has been pushing for – what we call Customer Experience Management. It correlates information out of the network, it correlates information about the users and with that we can take actions to improve the customer experience.
So the data and information is available. This is the framework Nokia provides on customer experiences to provide the means to correlate information from various sources, networks, operations, back office, customer care, billing, and having that information provide contextual awareness and provide value added services at the moment the customer needs it.