US-based BSS vendor Matrixx has committed to a UK tech R&D ecosystem as part of a rapid growth strategy and push to help telcos with their OTT challenges.
Innovation Martlesham, based out of R&D hub Adastral Park, is a research and development community involving Cisco, BT, Juniper, Intel, O2 and Sandvine looking at driving innovation in next-gen telecoms services and platforms. Matrixx says by participating in the ecosystem it will be able to harness local telecoms service development talent from regional universities, such as Essex, Cambridge and Suffolk.
Matrixx spoke to Telecoms.com at Mobile World Congress recently about the importance of developing more sophisticated and customisable service interfaces for engaging with customers. Jennifer Kyriakakis, VP of Marketing for Matrixx reckons telcos need to adopt the same approach to CEM as digital players, lest they run the risk of being branded as “stodgy” and “old”.
“You think about Uber, and what makes a digital player interesting. It’s all about doing everything through an app and making it easy,” she said. “Sign up with your credit card one time and you’ve got an ongoing payment model. Their customer service is incredible, and you do it all through your phone too.
“Think about what it takes to do that. They need a lot of information to deliver to their customers, in real-time whenever they want and wherever they want it. Uber conducts a million journeys a day; Amazon does 40 million a day in high season.”
For an operator to begin thinking about giving the same experience as their digital counterparts, they have to be looking to leverage the swathes of network traffic they possess in real-time, Kyriakakis says.
“It’s so hard for operators to interact with their customers, and it’s such a big problem for telcos,” she said. “They’re running their network, and it’s so different to the relationship that Uber or Amazon has with their customers. Sure, they’ve got their self-care apps rolled out; but they are nothing compared to what their customer experience should be, and they’re not able to use that as a channel of engagement.”
The struggle, Kyriakakis says, is in migrating a traditionally convoluted and clunky approach to signing up new customers to an all-digital experience where services are procured dynamically through a consistent interface across multiple platforms; from the first handset order to social media and content bundles.
“Stodgy old telcos are struggling to set up a digital brand; a digital brand that’s all online where customers buy their handsets via the web, get it delivered, turn it on and immediately open the app to put in their credit card information. Boom, they’re online and onboarded as a new customer in five minutes,” she said. “Then they pick the services they want, when and how they want them, they can totally customise that for Facebook or Spotify packages. It should be as easy as that.”
This dynamic, digital approach is all well and good for established markets with credit cards aplenty; however emerging markets face a different challenge, where pre-pay is dominant in the absence of debit cards and credit checks. The solution here, Kyriakakis claims, is in carrier billing.
“In a lot of countries, people don’t have credit cards,” she said. “So the idea of pinging $10 a month for miscellaneous services isn’t going to work by direct debit. So telcos will be adopting more payment options for emerging markets and other carrier billing ideas so customers can get Netflix, say, and pay for it in cash when they pre-pay.
“Making that transformation is essential for telcos in today’s world, with the existence of OTT players. It’s not going to be easy, it will be painful, but you talk to telcos who have done it and they say they didn’t like it, but the results are amazing.”
According to Matrixx, today’s telco needs to acknowledge the existence of OTT players and attempt to harness and monetise their popularity with consumers. The days of trying to actively combat the OTT threat with proprietary apps have come and gone with largely unremarkable or unsuccessful results; so operators are faced with the existential challenge of delivering OTT communications or entertainment services in a way that also generates revenue and a customer experience which drives repeat business and increased ARPU.