Emmanuel Amamoo Otchere
Carrier Software Service Marketing
It’s raining digital everywhere, and yet the real storm of digital services hasn’t even started. We’re on the “edge of digital”, and innovation is driving multifaceted use cases that permeate all aspects of business and personal use. What “Digital Service” means to all industries today cannot be under-estimated. With prospects and percepts of business and technology transformation on the minds and lips of boards and executives, Digital Transformation is ultimately intended to enable new capabilities that include new services and business opportunities. To set on a path that delivers true and sustainable value of participating in the digital era, Digital Transformation will become the essential proponent that will drive the foundations of digital services.
At the heart of digitalization of services are intelligent processes. These processes must be interlocked with technologies to deliver services that adapt to customers, businesses and things. Key players in the digital arena define Digital Services as “one that has been entirely automated, and is controlled by the customer of the service. A typical example that comes to mind almost easily as a true digitalized service is hailing a cab when using a digitalized service like Uber App. This App manages to automate and simplify the process for planning a route, determining the kind of car you want, “calling” the taxi, knowing the time and cost of a particular route, invoicing and archiving historical journey etc. It’s taken commuting from point A to point B and automated as well as created valuable information “sets” through intricately applying digital technologies to what was once a manual or semi-functional process to deliver a new, improved and unique User experience.
Digital Services are conceived as “on-line” in nature or containing significant on-line capability. This online feature is primarily driven by connectivity, and most importantly this connectivity is delivered through mobile and wireless service providers mostly. On top of the connectivity factor is the ability to tap into data, content and myriad of information sets from disparate systems or even other “Digital Services” in real time. Network resources will spiral as “Digitalization” increases. There will be an App for almost all practically marketable services. With the future becoming that of everything-as-a-service, Telcos with/and their partners can/will become the heart of “digitalization”. The partnership will provide platforms to facilitate new business models and common interests that will “exist” without finite offerings, and continuously improve offerings to meet the circumstances of the markets they play in.
In this regard, the path to digitalization of services requires deeper understanding of consumer appetite and the trends influencing them, because consumers will use services and define new use-cases for services over an above development use cases. Example Mobile money, a trial service to offer simple movement of small amounts of money from subscriber – to subscriber is now a huge payment and transaction platform for both subscribers and non-subscribers as well as businesses. Understanding the potential of services and the shape or form they can take when put to the test of real users can be an unforeseen or somewhat tricky journey. Digital services offered through mobile Apps have varying attraction and factors of stickiness. Indeed some of these services have failed flat from launch or through their early lifecycle. What was missing, and why did some win faster than others. All these questions and more have also tormented the minds of boards and executives as they look for that silver bullet for Digitalization of services.
We all believe a service is to means to deliver value to a “customer”. The outcome of a service is to facilitate “reduction” in ownership of specific costs and risks. “Digitalized services” (like M-Pesa, Uber, Netflix, Emirates App, Alipay, Amazon shopping etc.) focus on removing or reducing a lot of those cost, associated risks and overhead from the activities and processes leading to offering and delivering that value. As we embrace what is now a fast-become App world, everything-as-a-service is a possibility that leads to the question – finding a niche service with a target market and delivering that value continuously. But how do you achieve continuous value delivery in a world where value evaporates almost easily due to heightened competition and changing user appeal?
We all understand that creating and offering digitalized services is a fantastic move for Telcos and their partners (Telcos et al) as they invest into capabilities that will enable realize higher and competitive value propositions (from dump pipe to value pipe). It’s not a onetime action of just creating Digitalized services though, for creating alone isn’t enough. Observe the frequency of updates that you get on your mobile devices for Apps - the new features, functionality and fixes applied, it demonstrates the very intriguing value that must be maintained. This comes from monitoring and understanding user behavior while identifying means to capture value from same. Without continuously maintaining Digitalized services the value offered shits to other competing Digitalized service providers, a case going back buttress the fast pace of iterative updates to digitalized service Apps.
These changes - in functionality, adding features and improving Apps - are supported by an “organization” that is nimble, deepening and expanding business on the fly. This nimbleness is required in the partnerships that Telco’s et al will form as they look to play in the digitalized services space. Successful Telco’s have approached enabling this nimbleness in three ways. (1) Embarking on digitalization with a complete transformation of the organization; (2) Complimenting existing business and operations with new Digital functions; and (3) Establishing or acquiring external businesses as complete and separate organizations to focus on Digitalization. Transforming to deliver or offer Digital services essentially leads to enhancing, optimizing or completely changing business, operations and even technologies to remain relevant.
In the case of complete Transformation, the example of Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) can be a relevant insight and learning. The Asian communications giant initiated as part of its transformation program, massive internal re-organization as it attempted to make headway against increased competition from key Digital services providers (such as OTT, and Wireless video messaging providers and services like VoIP etc). This approach has yielded success for SingTel by adopting a holistic range of initiatives that include business, operations and technology transformation to focus the organization completely on “Digital”. Addressing the three pillars – business, operations and technology (fig 1) assets of the organization, SingTel’s strategic goals of re-asserting its competitiveness to deliver trend-based user-centered services has been sharpened.
Transforming business, operations and technology can be a daunting task for many Telcos. For many more leveraging external services from competent professionals can be an advantage. Large and complex Telcos have adopted the “buy” model bring professional services onboard to make the transition a well managed one. Understanding the markets that Telcos and their partnerships play in is an uncompromisable part of the process. Assessing existing platforms, processes and skills for transformation requires more than just implementing new technology.
Digitalized services implement smarter customer and revenue management processes to underpin their operations and technology. By business transformation, organizations are transformed from the old ways of managing market, customer, resources and revenue processes to new schemes that are adaptable to new business models and optimized for new business relationships, new customer behaviors and market forces. Back in the days of the video rental shops, to rent a movie required physically going to a location, walking through isles of video shelves to select, then request availability, and then pay to rent based on a set time limit. Then there was the security deposit and credit handling of customers, managing returns based on schedules, managing copies of available videos based on demand, and applying the risk management of loss or overdue returns. A simple service such as renting a video had complex front-end and back-end activities which on hindsight had a toll on users.
With the debut of Netflix, the process of acquiring and watching a movie has been transformed with more value to the user. It’s online, providing real-time access to video content, self-managed with provisioning and fulfillment on the fly, furthermore reducing cost (intrinsic and extrinsic) to customer for video rental services. The result - a transformed market, better and seamless customer management, transparent billing and service assurance as well a smarter means to managing resources. Not forgetting the macro effect this has had on traditional video rental business.
Transformation of an organization can be a scary journey, but in there are success stories to promote the need to embark on one. In the area of business transformation, extensive Telco business processes standardization and business process design services offer less scary solutions to re-use and adapt business process frameworks, as foundations, for Telco et al cooperation with partners and other industries at large.
In the Operations dimensions, OPEX continues to spiral as traditional revenues based on the old business models of selling capacity diminishes ─ due to cannibalization brought by Internet and OTT services. From the increasing cost of delivering services across the network to misalignment of business and information technology systems, Telcos now lack trend-based user-centered appeal. Across the priorities of Telco’s, the over-lap and disconnect in multi-vendor operations and the lose oversight and management impact on user service levels, impacts on operational focus, and eventually on customer appeal for services. Telco’s today are plagued with many manual or semi-consistent and standardized customer engagement activities. These manual and semi-automated activities make uncompetitive the sales and customer operations strategies to lose the opportunity for partnerships or cooperation. Due to this, the opportunity of opening Telco business to new partnerships amidst the complex internal organization and conundrum of functionalized operations is expensive and therefore not attractive for new business models.
Operations transformation effectively aligns business and technology activities and investments. Using Lean methodology, Telco operations can leverage transformation of user support, knowledge management and day-to-day operating procedures to achieve the excellence needed to facilitate maximized sales and customer operations at the same time minimizing waste. Operations transformation opens up opportunity for incremental automation, improves functional interlock that focuses on organization wide score-cards and improves handoff, audit-ability and risk management of new business models.
In the Technology transformation plane, the different technology standards and architecture for Business, Service (Consumer), Enterprise and Classic IT domains can leverage standardization, consolidation and convergence by adopting technologies that support enabling business and operations digitalization. This includes the exposure of business and operations activities with tools like APIs to facilitate re-use, sharing and providing multi-dimensional use cases. Example - building and exposing Telco credit control processes for third-party use-cases like in the case of offering “activity” based insurance cover. Other examples include what is already happening with exposing Know-Your-Customer (KYC) operations and technical functionality of Mobile Money systems to be used by third-parties for user verification and validation. Technology should break down the boundaries of business and operations assets to facilitate flexibility in offering and promoting new services. Technology transformation must offer bi-model benefits to digitalization, such as real-time and self-service order management or customer support as well as fuel speedy products and services go-to-market.
At the heart of offering digitalized services, managing and maintaining technology and operations is of prime importance. This is partly to facilitate continuous value delivery in the face of competition, and ensure better resource utilization. As already iterated, creating and capturing value through services must start with understanding the market that Telco’s play in. Given the nature of territorial boundaries Telco’s operate in, the luxury of taking a service from one territory into another may deliver unpredictable result - a scenario that can in itself be expensive. First the need to understand your market is key. Understanding markets includes in-depth knowledge around products and services that will be attractive to user segments. Also there is the need to know what is offered by competitors from other industries and comparative innovations using business, operations and associated assets – looking beyond selling pure capacity.
By assessing Telco markets, use cases for business, operations and technology assets can be identified for digitalization to improve options of monetization.
Partnerships are of significance as cross-industry cooperation for ecosystem operations is the new fuel for digitalization of services. By transforming and exposing assets such as Telco business processes, operational assets, technology capability and functionality, new service cases can be realized to promote everything-as-a-service. Industries like Finance, Transport, Health care, Trade etc are just a few areas of cross-fertilization of business, operations and Technology cooperation for Digitalized services. We notice the extension and digitalization of Telco business processes for credit control, prepaid balances and online charging in the scenario of Mobile Money services as an example.
Iterative methodologies will be essential to start quickly and continuously deliver value when considering Digitalized services. An iterative model (like in Fig 2) will require close interlock between business, operations and technology functions with only one aim - capturing and creating incremental value for users. Using an iterative model that incorporates the business, operations and technology dimensions of an organization means addressing the life-cycle of what it takes to identify create and maintain digitalized services.
In contrary to traditional services, Digitalized services have a short time lapse between identifying an opportunity or challenge and addressing that gap with features or functionality. DevOps and Agile methods have become popular with Digitalized services as providers are able to optimize their original roadmaps and optimize such services to ensure stickiness with their user base. Digitalized services like Apps create and capture value – intrinsic or extrinsic. Through Agile and DevOps (fig 3) methods, Telco’s et al can fast create, fast evolve and also fast fail in order to keep focus on value while learning about their user base, managing costs, risks and resources.
Creating a “Digital Service” requires characteristics that deliver the promise of rich service and user experience. These features are pertinent to digitalized services and revolve around: (1) access to capabilities, information and resources when needed ; (2) the ability to align capability and allocate capacity to fulfill requests immediately ; (3) serving users through one-stop shop portals ; (4) facilitating self-service ; (5) and finally support community-based experience and sharing . This is the ROADS characteristics of a Digitalized service, and it serves as a pathway for Telco’s to apply Digitalization to own services as well as ecosystem services. RAODS represents the key pillars that winning digitalized services have in common today.
For Telco’s looking to digitalize, ROADS is essentially that framework that will identify the degree to which a digital transformation program can go. Understanding User needs and interactions within a Telco’s catchment market can lead to implementing the right knowledge management and support processes, which means offering differentiated experiences for users. Here, knowledge management process will include the use of enabling technologies like Big Data to have a deeper understanding of business and operations processes.
Platform defines a near and present opportunity for Telco’s to partake in the digitalization of services. Huawei is enabling Telco’s through platforms that facilitate Digitalization of services across the Business and Consumer IT domains (fig 4). Huawei’s Software services offers along with trusted partners, Consulting and Integration services to assess and understand Telco markets through well defined series of programs – including benchmarking to map out and execute Digitalization strategies.
With Huawei’s extensive global experience across diverse ICT focal areas, facilitating digitalization is considered a wholesale program that needs prime partnership across market and business consulting, service design and build, implementation and management. ROADS is a fabric of solutions Huawei promotes for Digitalization. The delivery of these solutions is based on specific professional services that can be offered functionally or cross-functionally to enable Telco’s attain platforms for Digitalization e.g. Business Enablement System, Cloud Service Delivery Platforms, and Hybrid Video Solutions etc.
Through professional services Huawei offers the ability to manage the transformation of Telco’s towards offering digitalized services by bringing ecosystems of trusted partners and vendors. This is achieved through prime responsibility which includes Systems Integration and Managed Service. Engagement streams include:
Offered along with trusted global consulting partners, Huawei and Partners offer Digital Transformation Strategic Assessment by clearly understanding a Telco’s business and work with them to develop a digitalization program. Through this service Huawei can define the technology that will enable realize the program. The digital transformation strategic assessment includes stakeholder mapping, developing organization-wide vision with clear goals and objectives, and performing detailed user and experience journeys. This includes Telco IT landscape assessment to align, yet aggregate both business and technology assets into the digitalization program. This includes future platforms, as well as addressing any tactical quick wins that can be achieved through technology projects to ascertain and demonstrate value. To support this, we create a benefits map for digitalization, giving Telco’s a business case for transforming.
Assessment services offer multi-national services such as benchmarking to help standardize or realize cloud-based or unified services. They include business performance, enhancement opportunities, gaps in capability from both market and Telco and as well impact of Digitalization programs.
Already, Huawei’s ongoing periodic assessment of the global ICT space with the Global Connectivity Index report showcases the commitment and experience that can be leveraged to support benchmarking needs.
To bring responsiveness to business, Design offerings cut span business and technology functions to void the gap between business and technology domains. By focusing on enabling the business grow, Design services include front-end and back-end business process services as well as user experience of products and services. Offering Business process design, Application design, Information design and infrastructure design, Huawei’s design approach uses Enterprise Architecture frameworks to define the structure and operation of the organization. Telcos get comprehensive high and low level blueprints based on roadmaps and business models / business cases developed in the Assessment program.
Design services enable engage enhanced business models, provide for technology simplification, enhancement, and automating business activities across solution vendors and offer integral risk mitigation and management based on focusing on services and users. Design services include helping to implement front-end solutions for e-Care and Omni-channel experience using DevOps methodology. Design is an early stage in the Huawei’s Application Development & Maintenance (ADM) services offering
Handing off from Design phase, ADM offering leverages Solutions Design, Build and Implementation services and brings both Agile and DevOps methodologies together for fast materialization. Of course we understand the need for Telco’s to be able to speedily go-to-market but as well to readily and speedily be able to optimize and improve services. Given the continuous need to pay attention to market and user experience, ADM provides the right platform for Telco’s et al to fast create and fast evolve Digitalized services.
By approaching ADM with Agile and DevOps methods, cost effective materialization of Digitalization strategies can be assured. Implement in small increments and consistently scale-out to a large markets market and base in the most cost effective way to remain responsive. Huawei’s Software Integration services with ADM reduces risk of architecture evolution for digitalized services and offers ecosystem platform implementation services to manage risks of transformation while applying Agile project management methodologies for continuous value alignment.
Post successfully digitalizing services, Telco’s will need the ability to continuously monitor and manage user experience and business value. Integrating Big Data operations support into day-to-day activities for decisive insights and combining Business operations and platform management (infrastructure and application assets) offers comprehensive life-cycle based approach along with ADM. Digitalized services require life-cycle approach to operations and maintenance with need to manage performance and capacity essential to drive user experience and stickiness.
Managing and assuring experience of Digitalized services becomes an integral program as Operations and ADM become integrated. Given the use of new technologies and capabilities to create platforms for Digitalized services, Telco IT may most often lack full knowledge or skills needed to support the new technology factory. In this case, Huawei Software Managed Service is able to offer integrated business and technology operations support and will manage the architecture across supporting multi-vendor applications and infrastructure to deliver the promise of ROADS experience.
Digitalizing services needs business, operations and technology transformation to truly make Telco’s the platform for cross-industry digitalization. By offering comprehensive service capabilities to support Digital transformation, Huawei Carrier Software brings trusted partners to “tease-out” Digitalization opportunities of Telco’s in their catchment market. With seamless handover to deliver on Digital strategy blueprints and roadmaps, prime systems integration engagement brings the responsibility of a Huawei as savvy ICT partner to manage risks and architecture design, build and implementation of Digital strategies. To continuously capture and create value, Managed Services is offered to Telco’s to bolster internal skills or to completely free Telco’s to focus on business and customers.
Huawei’s integrated approach to transformation offers an assurance to Telco’s willing to take advantage of Digitalization by leveraging Huawei’s multi-disciplinary ICT experience, Software professional services and extensive array of trusted partners to offer Telco’s solutions for Digitalized services.