Over the last decade, communication service providers (CSPs) have used outsourcing in many different ways. Faced with pressure from the capabilities of increasingly sophisticated devices, the burden on network capacity from the growth in rich content, and rising demands from social media users, providers have been feeling the heat. They have sensibly divvied network operations – installation, management and maintenance – to various partners, ensuring they could focus on customer needs.
Now, a new trend is taking shape that promises to permit providers to take outsourcing to the next level, allowing them to shift to cutting-edge digital technologies without the pain of transition. Along the way they stand to benefit from cost reduction, higher business velocity, and capacity to scale at will and the flexibility to innovate. Unlike the last wave of outsourcing that was largely network focused, this one – let’s call it “Transformation 2.0” – is centered on Customer Journey Engineering which leverages full-fledged on-demand Customer Journey as a Service (CJaaS).
CJaaS has been around for some time. CSPs have been outsourcing their billing, collections, revenue assurance operations, etc., to partners. However, there has been a tendency to zealously retain operational IT systems and applications on-premise. Outsourcing partners have run processes using the IT investments made by CSPs. Could this change? Can the rapid adoption of software defined networks (SDN), cloud technologies and a service-oriented economy force a change in mindsets? Can the complete stack of operations, along with the technology to address existing customers as well as new customers, be outsourced?
The implication of CJaaS can be dramatic and the impact of Transformation 2.0 is difficult to ignore. Under the new scope of CJaaS, a CSP (News - Alert) would find it easy to outsource processes like activation, fulfillment, service assurance, CRM, billing systems, operations support systems, partner settlements, etc., along with the systems and applications on cloud and an ops team on the ground.
The New Models for CJaaS
Even the business model would change. Over the years, CSPs have become comfortable with consumption-based models for network outsourcing. Now, they can adopt an outcome-based approach for CJaaS. Commercial agreements could be built around performance parameters such as number of customer interactions, net promoter score (NPS), customer churn and average revenue per user (ARPU). In this model, CSPs will own spectrum licenses and their customers. Everything else can be outsourced.
With strong performance incentives, CSPs can be guaranteed that CJaaS partners will bring intense innovation to the practice of Customer Journey Engineering. As an illustration of this, take our own experience with a U.S.-based Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). The customer has outsourced all service operations to us. Naturally, we want to surpass all performance parameters and metrics. To do this, we used Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to improve efficiency and accuracy, a command hub to streamline operations, and proprietary Next Generation Customer Service (NGCS) processes to address the future. The result is a far-reaching paradigm shift in how the customer runs business processes.
The truth is that today’s CSPs are under additional pressure from disruptive Over The Top (OTT) players. CSPs need to launch competitive messaging, audio, video and other innovative services for customers at the turn of a switch to counter the competition, or they will be left managing dumb data pipes. The only way to maintain agility and customer focus is to opt for partners who excel at CJaaS.
The obvious question CJaaS raises is of differentiators. If every CSP has access to CJaaS, where will the differentiation come from? In effect, CJaaS allows CSPs to move their focus from routine processes to innovation around customer needs. For example, a South East Asian CSP has created a daily data plan that subscribers can split the way they want. Of the, say, 1,000 units available each day under the plan, subscribers can allocate a different number of units each day for messaging, voice and data, depending on their needs. This has allowed the CSP to focus on marketing and acquiring new customers rather than manage IT.
CJaaS can open the doors for CSPs to work with a wider spectrum of products ranging from insurance to health and connected cars to food delivery. They can focus on new partnerships such as the one created between a CSP and a UK-based multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer. The retailer has become a re-seller of the CSP’s services with the ability to offer great value to customers.
Managing CJaaS Anxiety
The challenge for CSPs is to transition business logic to new systems. Many CSPs have invested decades in hardening their business logic—say, around order fulfillment—and are now reluctant to risk a change. Therefore, they continue to hire thousands of new people each year to help them scale their services instead of bearing with the pain of change.
It must be pointed out that the ‘pain of change’ is more a perception than reality. Given that there are no new systems to acquire and roll out (in the CJaaS framework, everything is in cloud) the challenge of transformation doesn’t exist. Readymade convergence of services (example: unified billing of all services for customers) are available, with the CSP only required to configure the system.
This doesn’t mean a CSP must blindly plunge into the CJaaS universe. We would recommend moving one or two lines of business such as data, TV or enterprise billing, at a time. Experiencing CJaaS and then determining how it will add value to business is critical. Admittedly, this slow testing of CJaaS waters will not give CSPs major advantages such as those brought about by converged billing, etc. On the other hand, it will achieve something far greater: it will get rid of apprehensions around CJaaS.
About the Author
Mohit Kalia is an Associate Vice President and Practice Head for billing and revenue management practice in the global media & telecom business process services (BPS), Wipro Limited. His responsibilities involve developing and building products and solutions around billing/revenue management for communication service providers. Mohit has over 15 years of experience across varied functions that include software development, project management, product training, solution design and strategy.
Edited by Alicia Young