However, one thing I have found to be true of all of these events is that there are always running themes. Topics, that no matter what the speaking slot is seem to worm there way into everyone’s presentation, for better or worse.
The interesting thing though has been to see the difference between how people understand the concept or suggest approaching it.
Most of the operators who spoke referenced the need to better understand and engage with their customers but when they dug into it or got questioned further that is when the story seemed to change. Operators spoke about customer engagement in terms of how quickly they could get offers to the market and how they could use repository information to create a catalog of set offers. There is no doubt the above things can give subscribers a better experience but is this really smarter customer engagement or is it something else?
Vendors at the event have been reasonably joined up in their thinking on the topic. They have all come about it from different angles but the main message is clear, if operators are to stay competitive and drive new revenues then they need to start better engaging with their subscribers and understanding their drivers. They need to look at the information that is available to them on their subscribers and put it to work for them, which in turn puts it to work for the subscriber.
Openet’s, Martin Morgan summed it up well when he referenced the expertise of OTT companies in this regard. Companies such as Netflix or Spotify, interact with their customers in a highly relevant and personalized manner, taking full advantage of the large repository of rich subscriber information they have. There was the usual discussion around where these OTT companies fit in an operator’s value chain but the time might now be better spent looking at how they do business, how they are driving the incredible uptake rates we are seeing. I wouldn’t bet against customer engagement being at the heart of it.
Openet recently surveyed over 100 operators on the topic of “The Move to Digital”. One of the questions that was asked was what did operators think was their strongest asset; the number one answer was “network”. Network scored above “Customer Trust” and “Customer Base with an Ongoing Payment Relationship” which is really interesting considering the focus placed on the customer relationship this week. If operators are to really get out in front of their competitors, drive new revenues and combat the potential commoditization of data then it may be a case that “network” needs to fall down that list a bit!