Executive summary

Understanding more than network performance

Faced with market saturation and fierce competition from both traditional operators and Internet service providers, telecommunications companies face daunting customer retention challenges. Competing players constantly look for ways to improve quality and enhance performance, trying to set themselves apart on the basis of excellence in service delivery.

“For the first time, we are able to match network activity directly to customer accounts, which is transforming every aspect of our operations.”

Head of Business and Operational Support Systems

 

For enterprise accounts in particular, this major telecommunications company started to look for something more than pure network performance data. If it understood its customers better, could it tailor its services and products to their needs on an account-by-account basis? In short, could it leverage network data to improve the customer experience?

The company’s Head of Business and Operational Support Systems comments: “For years, we had focused relentlessly on improving our technical network performance. As a result, our operational teams had an excellent view of the network itself—but in most cases, we knew very little about how individual customers were interacting with it. For example, which services were they using? What aspects of network performance were most important to that account? How good was each individual subscriber’s experience with the network?”

The company’s sales and marketing teams also wanted a fuller picture of their customers, to help understand what customers really wanted from their communications service provider, how the company could best serve their needs, and how to improve retention rates.

Like most telcos, the company relied on multiple business management solutions, serving various functions and different groups of users. Technical personnel managed the network provisioning and performance monitoring, while sales and marketing teams focused on customer-facing activities. With a large number of internal and external users asking for information, providing a comprehensive view was simply not possible.

Transformation

Unified customer insight

The company rapidly realized that while it had the customer and network data it needed, its decision-makers lacked an efficient, automated way to combine, analyze and understand that data. Turning to IBM for assistance, the team phrased the challenge as “How can we stop customers from leaving unless we have a plan to make them stay?”

The IBM team worked with the company to deliver a solution using IBM Analytics Solutions for Communication Service Providers (CSPs), a portfolio of telecom-focused analytics offerings that provide deep insights into customer behavior and customer experience.

The solution combines real-time network usage and performance data with reference data from CRM and other business systems. This gives operational, sales, marketing and financial planning teams the insight they need to make smarter decisions. It enables them to be more customer-centric in every aspect of the company’s business—both day-to-day and over the longer term.

The IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs portfolio contains pre-integrated components for data ingestion, enrichment and storage. In the case of this IBM customer, data needed to be ingested from very diverse sources, including network traffic instrumentation, device provisioning systems, CRM and marketing systems, and external sources from partners and third-parties.

The IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs offering uses best-in-class IBM technologies to ingest and prepare massive amounts of network and usage data from diverse sources, including IBM Sourceworks, Empirix and Anritsu. This data is enriched with customer data from CRM and customer device databases to gain a more rounded picture of each network event.

The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems explains: “Combining all this data with the unique multi-dimensional analysis provided by IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs gives us a new level of insight. Previously we just saw a call being routed from one mobile transmitter to another. Now we can see it as the employee of one of our enterprise clients using the desk-phone in his office to call a colleague on her iPhone. We’re seeing people, not data—which completely transforms the way we think about network events.”

IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs meets the challenge of storing and managing these huge volumes of data by incorporating and pre-integrating highly scalable big data storage technology. By providing built-in and pre-integrated support for data storage schemas, data aggregations and search and query models, the big data storage components of IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs make it possible to analyze millions of customer records and network performance data points within minutes, and present the results in customized dashboards for decision-makers.

The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems comments: “For the first time we are able to match network activity directly to customer accounts, an ability that is transforming almost every aspect of our operations.”

For example, insight into network activity combined with customer usage data allows the company to identify likely priorities for each account. Customers that show high data consumption may be more sensitive to network speed, while customers consuming VOIP services may be more concerned with service availability and dependable quality of service.

By understanding customer behavior, the company can shape its service provision more accurately, serving customers better and improving the experience for end-users.

The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems explains: “With this solution, we are able to address network issues more proactively. For example, if subscribers are experiencing a temporary degradation in the services they consume, we can not only act quickly to repair or upgrade the network, but perhaps also contact the customer to inform them that the issue is being addressed.”

Results

Transforming the customer experience

The original use cases for the IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs offerings were largely based around delivering a customer-centric approach to network performance and optimization. However, the sales, marketing and financial teams rapidly realized that the solution’s ability to deliver deeper insight into customer behavior offered significant business advantage for them too.

For example, sales and marketing teams can leverage the insight to deliver tailored marketing offers with higher response and acceptance rates. The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems adds: “We are now able to target corporate customers more accurately, based on understanding whether voice or data are the key decision points when they renegotiate a contract with us, or if network security, performance and availability are key issues for particular groups of their users.”

Additionally, where questions arise over network performance, executives can use the dashboard capabilities to generate detailed reports within minutes.

The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems explains: “IBM Analytics Solutions for CSPs helps us highlight network performance from a customer-centric perspective. This allows our conversations to focus on tangible KPIs that affect each customer’s individual situation, and how services can be tailored to help achieve the customer’s objectives.”

The new capabilities allow the company to move away from looking at its network from a maintenance-focused perspective, and concentrate on understanding what customers want and how services can be prioritized. The next step will be to introduce Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to help the company understand the effect of service changes and improvements, and help direct investments to areas that will have the greatest positive impact on customer satisfaction.

The Head of Business and Operational Support Systems concludes: “Our President is very happy—he sees the solution as a pillar of the transformation of the company. Our executive sponsors are continuing to invest because they see a lot of value in the system.

“Ultimately, by knowing exactly what matters to our customers, we are in a much stronger position to address core industry challenges such as customer acquisition and retention. The insight we have gained will help us plan our services to meet long-term demand in the highly competitive, constantly evolving telecommunications sector.”

Solution Components
Software

  • IBM® Customer & Network Analytics for Communication Service Providers
  • IBM Analytics Accelerator Framework for Communication Service Providers

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