In today’s digital economy it’s survival of the fastest. The speed of generating value, meeting customer expectations, and getting products and services to market will decide whether you are moving ahead or lagging behind. As Ben Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.” In a world where time-to-everything matters more than any other strategic imperative, it’s time for communication service providers (CSPs) to accelerate their digital journey. The clock is ticking!
The bar for digital-first customer experiences has already been set by FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google), with COVID-19 acting as a catalyst. Pandemic-induced lockdowns connected customers more than ever before, resulting in heightened expectations from every industry, with CSPs being no exception. Consumers value companies that know them well, anticipate their future needs, and deliver the right product at the right place at the right time: literally. Don’t just take our word for it: 56% of Millennials said they would switch over to a tech company (e.g. Amazon, Facebook) should they offer a communications service. The new digital imperative is clear: Meet your customers on their terms and deliver great digital commerce experiences anytime and anywhere they choose.
To survive in this new digital world order, CSPs must provide more choices and flexibility to consumers and enterprise customers to deliver a superior experience across all touchpoints. New products, services, and packages must go to market in days—even hours— to stay ahead. The good news is that the majority of CSPs understand the need to accelerate the speed of innovation, bring new offers to market more frequently, and adopt a more experimental mindset: 67% of CSPs surveyed agreed that launching new products and solutions more regularly is critical for them to be able to compete in the digital economy. In an age when everything is expected to be immediate, available, and hyper-personalized, it is no longer sufficient to simply provide the best product or service and be the first to get it to the market.
What are the challenges?
Although CSPs understand they must accelerate their time to market and improve customer experience, there is a gap between what they want – real-time omnichannel experience and rapidly developed differentiated and innovative offerings – and their ability to provide. The sobering truth is that most CSPs have product launch processes that are highly complex, lengthy, and no longer relevant today, spending 15-20% of their revenue on acquisition and retention. Some providers still see churn rates of up to 75%.
The chasm between back-office and front-office systems is the biggest obstacle for any CSP in creating an exceptional digital commerce experience. This pursuit of new business models, speed, and agility cannot succeed via legacy business support systems (BSS) which are monolithic, slow to implement new services, and enormously expensive to operate. Bottom line: the speed of your BSS is likely lagging far behind the rate of change in consumer and market expectations.
What next for success?
In this rapidly evolving world, CSPs need to modernize their BSS, focusing on agility and responsiveness for rapid innovation, simplifying all complexities and elevating the customer experience. This doesn’t mean ripping out and replacing your existing BSS, a mammoth and expensive exercise. Instead, a practical incremental approach makes sense. Deploying a cloud-based, microservices-enabled platform is one way to harness the speed and agility that CSPs need.
Look to your peers who are already moving ahead. One of the largest mobile and cable service providers in the Netherlands was facing two challenges: 1) Create a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints, and 2.) Create new products, services, and promotions fast. They were losing revenue opportunities due to the limitations of legacy infrastructure, primarily back-end systems. They decided to modernize their BSS with a platform integrated with the existing order and logistics back-end system. As a result, the operator could reduce store handling time by 40%, and release new mobile products in hours.
Faster time-to-market is a competitive must, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The pandemic acted as a wake-up call, forcing CSPs to look at their existing digital commerce capabilities. Business and IT leaders need to ask themselves some hard questions: What does this speed imperative mean for our industry and business? What is the penalty we are already paying for being slow? What changes are needed in our legacy BSS to quickly respond to market changes, new developments, and technology changes? Answers to these questions will set the speed context for your organization, and determine how you will grow your business in the years to come. A concentrated, informed focus on speed will enable your business to speed ahead and take a podium position within this burgeoning digital revolution.