Customer Experience Management Will Be a Top IT Priority for Telcos

Customer experience management (CEM) has emerged as the top driver of telco IT investments in 2014, according to Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights report.

The company forecasts that telco IT spending will reach $60.7 billion by 2017, with investments geared towards telecoms infrastructure (cloud platforms, server virtualization and Operational Support System/ Business Support Systems (BSS/OSS) systems to support LTE implementations) and online channels to support customers' increasingly digital lifestyles. Following a survey of senior IT Ovum found that a long-term shift in spending towards customer-oriented systems and on improving customer satisfaction within the telecoms industry.

Survey respondents identified multichannel integration and service personalization as top areas of focus in the next 18 months, with 67 percent, and 61 percent planning to increase spending in these two areas, respectively. Elsewhere, business intelligence and advanced analytics(predictive or Big Data analytics) will be key for operators: over 80 percent of respondents will deploy these at the network level in an attempt to offer an enhanced connected experience with predictable, consistent, and relevant services at each point of interaction in the customer lifecycle.

“After many years of cost reduction, senior telco IT executives clearly see the need to invest again in CRM projects that will support overall customer experience,” said Shagun Bali, an analyst at Ovum, in a statement. “Over the next 12 months, consolidating and developing integrated multichannel CRM systems and business processes will be top of the priority list for operators. However, to succeed, networks need to be smarter.”

Telcos will need to deploy new optimization and monetization tools to run their networks and services more efficiently, creating new opportunities in turn, Ovum said. As such, policy management and improvement of operational support services will also be in the spotlight: nearly 45 percent of operators see it as a top-three priority for the next 12 to18 months as they look to apply controls at the individual subscriber level in order to customize the user experience. 

“Telcos need to get their IT, network operations, and marketing departments on board to fully take advantage of policy management tools,” Bali said. “All three departments have high stakes in this, and all three need to be in sync with each other for it to work. Meanwhile, vendors need to provide actual metrics to back up their performance claims, as telcos will look for concrete examples and use cases that demonstrate cost savings and revenue-generating opportunities.”