Catering to the Multiplay Consumer
The dizzying array of new technologies and the convergence of voice, data, and other multimedia content will change the way telecoms and service providers interact with their customers, according to a panel of industry pundits at the Customer Experience Innovation Forum hosted by Amdocs in New York City yesterday. Service providers will have to focus more on the end-to-end customer experience and less on innovative technologies to drive customer loyalty and revenue.
While the introduction of new devices and innovative technology will still play an important role, the ability for service providers to personalize content and deal with the convergence of data via improved networks will determine their success in the marketplace. "It's becoming all about the customer experience," says Lawrence Kenny, general manager of telecommunications at IBM Global Business Services and a member of the panel. "The new generations of consumers don't care about the technology. It's about improving the networks and creating an individualized customer experience by targeting the right data delivery at the right time."
To stay competitive, service providers will need to offer customers the benefits of access to any service, over any network, at any time, and on any device, which is being made possible by the move to next-generation networks and the convergence of voice, video, data, and entertainment. "We're entering the age of what I like to call ubiquitous connectivity," says Emily Green, president and CEO of Yankee Group. The personalization of multimedia content will also provide marketers and advertisers with a means to personalize marketing campaigns like never before. "Services like TiVo, which were originally viewed as something of a threat from cable providers, are now providing advertisers with the ability to create really personalized ads," she says.
A recent Amdocs survey of its customers supported these emerging trends, with eight out of ten service providers forecasting revenue increases for IP-based services, including VoIP, IPTV, and video content. Another 72 percent said that demanding a seamless experience for all products and services was an "important business priority," the survey stated.
While delivering a branded customer experience in an increasingly complex environment is difficult, Michael Matthews, CMO of Amdocs, says that telecommunication companies are perhaps the best businesses in the world to delivery that experience thanks to the insight that can be drawn from their customer data. "If you think about it, they know what type of music you download for your phone, what video you're getting from the Internet, and what television channels you're ordering," Matthews says. "This industry knows more about their customers than perhaps any other, and they need to use that to their advantage."
In accordance with these developing trends, Amdocs also announced the latest version of its eponymous CRM suite at the event, Amdocs 7, which the company said is specifically designed to provide billing and other functions for multiple services, such as voice, video, data, and content.
The full Amdocs 7 suite, available now, is focused on enhancing two main areas of business process: customer facing systems, such as billing, self-service tools, settlements, and digital-commerce management; and network-oriented operations, such as service fulfillment and inventory management. Using SOA software standards to facilitate data exchange among suite components and modules, the platform will present service providers with a single view of the customer in an "increasingly complex environment," says Mike Couture, vice president of product marketing at Amdocs. "It's the first integrated platform developed for the needs of cable and telecom as they make the transition from the old world to the new world of converged services."
Amdocs 7 integrates technologies from DST Innovis, a provider of billing and customer care software focused on the cable industry, which Amdocs acquired for $238 million in July 2005, Couture says. Another enhancement to Amdocs 7 includes new connectors to third-party BI, analytics, and marketing automation platforms, which Amdocs doesn't include in its suite offering. This will allow service providers to calculate customer churn and profitability, which Couture calls "two of the biggest problems facing service providers today."
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