It was great to attend this year’s TMF event in Nice and catch up with the progress of the Omnichannel Collaboration Catalyst – a proof-of-concept project exploring the omni-channel experience in telecoms, from a customer perspective.
Led by a consortium of TMF members, the Omnichannel Collaboration Catalyst is focused on identifying the major BSS-related pain points, and streamlining the customer experience.
The Catalyst is promoting the benefits of omni-channel adoption in the telecoms sector, and demonstrating how critical it is to operators as they remodel themselves as Digital Service Providers (DSP). In fact, the Omnichannel Catalyst validates what AsiaInfo has been saying about the importance of omni-channel, in terms of enhancing the customer experience, and incorporating new digital channels and product offerings.
So where does the Catalyst differ from AsiaInfo? The big difference is architecture. Where the Omnichannel Catalyst has brought together best-of-breed players, in Big Data, eCommerce and CRM, to create a single system, AsiaInfo has created a next-generation omni-channel CRM where those capabilities are native to the platform.
We conducted a study last year, in partnership with Northstream, to quantify the business benefits to telcos of deploying omni-channel CRM. As part of that study Northstream interviewed a number of Tier 1 operators to understand their view of omni-channel and how they felt it would affect their business.
The majority of operators that Northstream spoke to see omni-channel as a gradual evolution, which requires changes in IT systems, processes and organizations. However, not all have had success with this approach because it increases complexity in the system and takes a long time to deliver. This means that most operators are still working with fragmented multi-channel systems that create an inconsistent, disjointed customer experience that fails to deliver for today’s customers and their increasingly high expectations.
In my view, the ‘best of breed’ approach taken by the Catalyst can add substantially to the complexity (and the cost!) – from procurement and contracting, through to software integration and customization, and to subsequent change management in the organization. The whole point of omni-channel is to simplify business processes, reduce operating costs and, ultimately, remodel the operator as an agile DSP. It makes it harder to do that with a system designed by multiple parties.
Omni-channel customer engagement is complex, calling for a huge amount of accurate information to be available to the customer and the operator 24/7. Managing this requires IT systems to be designed from the ground up to handle omni-channel at an architecture level – separating the business processes and data from the front end so that they can be shared across all channels. Omni-channel must be integrated into the operator’s enterprise architecture, not simply ‘bolted on’ to do the job.
Transitioning to omni-channel is an ambitious goal; the systems supporting the migration must therefore be equally ambitious, which in many cases will involve swapping out the legacy IT for a system that has been designed specifically to support this new digital reality.