It’s all about outcomes: Redefining the approach to telco services
The word “service” clearly implies something to do with serving somebody. That hasn’t always been the model in telecoms, where traditional service development has either been driven by what the network can do (“Our gear is really good at x and y, so let’s push that to our customers”) or what competitors are doing (“They have such-and-such, so we need to catch up”).
The result has been a reactionary approach to innovation, with services that don’t always have a lot to do with the customer. Providers everywhere know this has to change if they want to stay relevant: the old define-and-push approach no longer works.
What’s needed instead is a demand-and-pull model that embraces the new ways people and companies consume services and content, rooted in the best possible experience. That means reimagining the entire process based on “experience outcomes”. And it has a direct impact on service provider operations.
Integrating the business, opening up the ecosystem
To move to a demand-and-pull model, service providers have to start understanding their business as a totality and not just in terms of the infrastructure elements behind individual customer touchpoints. It's not only about what they sell or how they provision it or troubleshoot it when there are issues. It’s about all those things combined.
The good news is that providers who get this right and leverage their customer insights will have a lot of power to drive a different experience — and different outcomes.
The better news is that they don’t have to do it alone. In the 5G era, the network becomes a platform that providers and their partners can use equally — and collaboratively— to create services that meet customer needs, from online gaming packages with the network built in to industrial automation services. The sky’s the limit.
Relationships trump everything
The structure of the telecoms industry hasn’t caught up with the ways people use their devices and data. I think about the times I’ve tried to use online banking or a rideshare app while traveling only to get the message I’m being hit with a roaming charge. As a user, I don’t care whose network I’m on, I just want to use my apps.
What if instead of penalizing me for trying to use my device, my provider offered a premium that let me to use my apps anywhere? I’d go for that, and I’d feel taken care of. For service providers, this is about seizing the moment and monetizing it by fostering relationships that increase in value.
Again, this requires seeing the network as a fluid platform for services that support those kinds of relationships with end customers and third parties. To do that, traditional processes need to change so the customer’s need is always in view and all the handoffs within the network are geared toward meeting that need.
Shifting to an outcomes-driven demand-and-pull model can’t be done just by putting a digital veneer on existing processes. Traditional service providers have to become digital service providers. It's a mindset: a way of thinking that alters everything from the innovation journey to service delivery. It requires getting past thinking about operations simply as the network operations center and being much more service-centric.
Because the network is changing profoundly — along with the customer journey — operations needs to change, too. We need to break down the silos and moved to a closed-loop approach that’s driven by business outcomes and not by what the network can do. There needs to be a new and better balance between supply and demand based on intelligent, on-demand processes that support the management of digital services from end to end over a software-based network.
Clearly, these kinds of services will be more complex than the ones offered today. My colleague, TL Viswanathan, will explore what that means in the next blog in this series — and what service providers can do about it.
You can also watch my interviews on the Future of Operations website for more insights on the major trends affecting service providers as they enter the 5G era.
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