Fortunately, what will really distinguish the telcos apart from the content aggregators are customer relationships and consumer insights. Telcos can leverage their unique knowledge of customers and relationships to provide value added services to both the content aggregators and end customers to improve their revenue streams. For example, telcos can provide payment and credit management services, security services to ensure safe and reliable transactions, and virus-free content download for content aggregators. Telocs can also offer localised campaigns and promotions for content aggregators based on their understanding of the local culture and customer relationship. Customers can then expect more convenience and better customer experience.
Focus on business effectiveness to gain competitive edge
Telco operators are under tremendous pressure to improve profitability and one way is by cutting cost. The temptation to reduce cost by consolidating IT systems is great. However, simply consolidating IT systems based on how things work in the past will not generate the desired long-term benefits. Hardwiring the old design paradigm in new systems will not solve challenges the industry faces in the future.
For example, a common practice in todays operating environment is for the marketing team to define requirements on what data they want to analyse, then the IT department will conduct the analysis and design the extraction from the data warehouse. The marketing team will then segment this data based on customer historical data and tailor marketing campaigns for the target customers. The whole process may take weeks, if not months. By the time the campaigns are rolled out, the behaviours and needs of the targeted customer segment may have already changed. It shows that the old paradigm simply cannot keep pace with the rapidly changing customer needs and expectations.
The key to future success lies in business effectiveness. It is about understanding the needs of customers in real-time, ability to change policies in real-time to manage customers changing behaviours, and to develop the targeted marketing campaigns in real-time. Imagine how user experience and loyalty can be greatly enhanced if customer interactions can be analysed immediately, evaluated against a database of customer profiles, and targeted with a promotion tailored specifically for them.
Moving forward, the competitive landscape of the telco industry will only be more challenging. Given that change is inevitable, telco operators will need to embrace the new challenges and re-invent themselves to provide the next-level of customer service and innovative offerings. For customers, these changes to the industry mean they get more choices, flexibility and value. The change is also going to make content more easily accessible by the consumers at a very competitive rate. Overall, if it is good for customers, it is good for business.
Peter Ho is head of sales engineering, Asia Pacific, with Convergys Corporation.
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