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What will data look like for 2013?

THERE are many, many people who talk about this issue. For instance, Director, Market Insight and Strategy at Amdocs Michal Harris—who is awesome, by the way—says that we’re going to see a move away from service providers just worrying about the operational challenge of managing data to operators beginning to realize the business opportunity that big data brings.

And if you look at the trends toward data and video traffic, you can see that the number of people enjoying LTE coverage is going to skyrocket in the next couple of years. Unlike the Web today, the semantic Web won’t just reside within computers, laptops and mobile devices. Instead, it will be part of electronics like refrigerators, cars and televisions. As a result, the Web will be able to track more data and behaviors, transmit that data, and ultimately interpret and process it on behalf of people, making our lives that much easier.

This may be geek talk, but on the devices we use the most (the computer, the phone and the TV), it will be easier to connect all our information and desires. While it may seem scary to some, technology will get smarter about what we like and want and will be able to deliver data that is interesting to us, even before we ask.

That said, Harris stressed that by capturing more customer data and then using analytics to offer proactive and contextual experiences, service providers will be able to offer more enhanced services relevant to the individual subscribers. Furthermore, service providers will also be able to provide more improved customer care by proactively managing their relationship with their customers.

Harris’s second prediction: Service providers are going to make omni-channel a top priority for 2013. They will be following the example of leading retail vendors who have already made omni-channel part of their business strategy. “For example, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has said, ‘Vodafone wants to be the Amazon of telcos, not in terms of selling but rather top customer service.’”

“At present, despite an increased investment in online, self-service channels so as to improve customer care, empower the customer and reduce costs through fewer calls to the call center, customers are still finding these channels cumbersome and often have to phone the call center to reach a satisfactory resolution of their query or attempted purchase. In this context, we will also see that smartphones and smartphone self-care applications will play a significant role in the way customers interact with their service providers,” Harris said.

Citing that “if I want to change my data package, I want to be able to do the research on my PC at the office, save a draft order in my shopping cart, think about it on my way home, make changes to the order on my smartphone and then make my purchase from my tablet later in the evening, without having to start all over again from scratch. It’s all about simplifying the experience for the consumer.”

In 2013, Harris said, we’ll start to see service providers using LTE as a means to introduce new, value-based pricing models and advanced services, and not just a way to overcome the capacity challenges and provide subscribers with faster speeds. This will require better integration between the network and the service provider’s business support systems, with policy control and real-time charging key to successful monetization, and it will allow service providers to introduce new, innovative data services.

Now the integration between small cells, according to Harris, Wi-Fi and wireless networks that such an experience demands, is not easy; such heterogeneous networks (HetNets) raise challenges of large-scale network planning, deployment and optimization, as well as session continuity, quality of service (QoS) assurance and security, but it’s a challenge that service providers have strong incentive to address. We’ll definitely be hearing more about HetNets in 2013.

“It is most likely that there will be a greater momentum in service providers’ penetration of new verticals such as in the case of the connected home and health monitoring solutions [which are often enabled by new cloud technology]. The “connected home” solutions as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions are becoming more prevalent. Interestingly, we are even beginning to see service providers partner with one another in M2M solutions.”

In fact, Harris predicts that many more partnerships will be formed. As a recent Amdocs survey showed, service providers, over-the-top (OTT) players and device manufacturers all see the importance of forming strategic partnerships to achieve business growth.

“By joining forces with OTT players, service providers will be able to bring innovation and brand differentiation quickly to the market, but this will demand open and effective partner management systems for revenue sharing, easy onboarding of new partners, high QoS, and a winning customer experience that is only possible with integrated IT systems that effectively leverage customer data. For service providers, it is most certainly data that is going to make the world go round and it is this that is driving the trends predicted on both operational and business fronts for 2012,” Harris concluded.

That’s an important message for big brands, too. We can realize that we have an unprecedented opportunity to shape what the world will look like in the future and to support the people who are trying to make the world look different.

 

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Bubuwit Squeaks

Good strategy

Big-picture strategy comes from senior management. This topnotch adman had the chance to be in meetings with the senior management of their biggest client, and their understanding of all the issues around all their brands, positive and negative, is really inspiring. But it also speaks to the fact that for organizations to be successful, they need leadership that understands the nuances and specifics of their market or brand, or product, or whatever it might be. Because ultimately, that’s where strategy comes from, and that’s where the client is going to get the competitive advantage that strategy can give them.

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