By: Jim DeMarco, CTO, Redknee
I find it appropriate that the title of this year’s Telemanagement Forum in Nice, France is “TM Forum Live!” It’s not because previous ones were dead, I assure you. Rather, it’s that everything in telecommunications has gone live-time. Long-planned, carefully scripted marketing campaigns and customer business operations for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have become irrelevant thanks to smart devices, consumers who are constantly online, and information that is easily accessed over the Internet. We live in a rapidly changing world where human beings are constantly connected: in command, informed, social, and always on. Fundamentally, customers have gone live, and CSPs need to catch up to this pace.
At this year’s TM Forum, Redknee is proud to be showcasing our longstanding strategic partnership with Microsoft to highlight the live-time nature of the Connected Customer Experience in this new world, including:
– Connected retail engagements, leveraging Redknee’s Unified Retail software, featuring Microsoft Dynamics Point of Sale and Dynamics AX Retail Server, to show a best practices approach enabling customers to link seamlessly their online shopping experience with their in-shop experience
– Social customer engagement, showing Redknee Unified BSS and Microsoft Power BI business intelligence tools to link real time campaign management with social networking tools for a more social, dynamic customer interaction
– Real time transaction processing, featuring Redknee’s Connected Suite, running on the Microsoft Azure cloud to support real time charging and policy decisions for connected devices in the Internet of Things.
The focus on customer experience stems from a rather simple paradigm, one which is obvious in the retail world but which has unfortunately been lost in the telecoms space for many years: the customer is in control of her own destiny.
A few statistics illustrate this story rather nicely: Consumers in North America own average of four connected devices, using every one of them every day, often simultaneously. Nearly half of all smartphone owners use it to access their social networks every day. 41% of emails read are opened on a mobile device, and nearly 2/3 of smart device users regularly read email while watching television. Online commerce crossed the $1 trillion barrier in 2012, and in two short years, will cross the $1.5 trillion mark in 2014. Over 80% of electronics retail customers research their purchases online before they ever set foot in a store, and nearly half of those do their research via social media. And they’re not just researching: 30% of social media users post about their consumer purchases. Just under half of the 1.3 billion Facebook users log in on any given day, and when they’re on, they’re spending an average of 18 minutes per visit. Customers are connected constantly, and connecting with each other. Our own research on mobile data usage in India shows that it has more than tripled in the past four years, with peak or near-peak traffic volumes occurring up to 20 hours out of every day (that’s right, people are surfing the net, often downloading videos, even while they’re asleep).
Customers are always on, highly informed, in command of their own decisions, and checking with their friends before they check with their CSP. Accordingly, the customer life cycle in telecoms has completely changed. What once started with a fairly limited set of service subscriptions tied to specific devices, with perhaps a mass-marketing campaign thrown in to drum up adoption, followed by a relatively stable and predictable set of usage patterns for services defined and delivered by the CSPs themselves, has morphed into a dynamic set of decisions about lifestyle, connectivity and content that is driven socially, adopted personally, for which the CSP is the retail provider of choice only if the customer trusts the CSP with their decision. Data transactions are driven by content, most of which is not created by the CSP, all of which is selected at time of service rather than days or months in advance. Most importantly, the customer, not the CSP’s marketing department, drives every one of these decisions.
This sea change in customer interaction and transaction management requires an equal change in technologies to support this Connected Customer Experience. CSPs must adapt to make themselves relevant and responsive. And CSPs must operate in a lean and agile fashion if they are to keep up with a socially connected customer base.
Redknee and Microsoft decided this year to showcase our mutual portfolios in a common presentation to highlight that our end-to-end offerings, featuring world leading business support systems (BSS) from Redknee and Microsoft’s best in class suite of real time retail, CRM and analytics software, bring a new and far more agile approach to telecom business management than any other approach on the market. Together with our partner Avanade, we are showcasing an end-to-end operation that starts and ends with a live-time, connected customer experience, goes in fast, adapts even faster, and enables the CSP to become an agile, responsive partner to its empowered customers.
Redknee is a world leader in real time, connected BSS, with more than 2 billion customers supported every day on the world’s most scalable convergent charging, billing and care platform. Microsoft is expanding its leadership position around cloud computing, commerce, interactive customer care, and most importantly fostering this Connected Customer Experience by providing real time, easy-to-use intelligence and operations systems. Our partnership brings together the best of both worlds: scalable, agile, easy to use software that enables the CSP to keep up with their customers.
I’ll be at “TM Forum Live!” this year together with my Redknee colleagues and my partners from Microsoft. Stop by, take a look at what an agile, streamlined company can do for its customers.
Chief Technology Officer
 “How Microsoft Helps Retailers Deliver the Experience Shoppers Crave,” Christian Johanneson, November 2013
 “Greater expectations Consumers are Asking for Tomorrow, Today,” IBM Institute for Business Value report 2014