Huawei: Customer Experience Management is the key to expand & sustain business for service providers
Following a year marked by major contract wins and expansion of the company’s end-to-end ICT offerings, Huawei is already looking ahead to new opportunities in 2013. We catch up with Mr. Leo Xu, Vice President of Huawei Middle East, to see how the company has continued to evolve in meeting customer demands within an ever-chaning telecom landscape.
To kick off, can you please give us a glimpse of what Huawei has in store for visitors at this year’s Middle East Telco World Summit?
This year we are very pleased to focus on new business strategies that can be adopted by regional operators to distinguish their services and sustain profitability in the days ahead. We will have several senior executives & experts providing keynote presentations at the summit on this theme.
One of the specific topics that Huawei will be presenting is how the application of new ICT technologies and methodology can help operators evolve Customer Experience Management in today’s marketplace. With many operators on the cusp of 4G connectivity and users demanding converged solution with richer multimedia experiences, we will look at how operators from various departments and organizations can capitalize on a host of opportunities with better price modeling, translating vast network and service data into true brand loyalty, and more.
During this year’s event, we will also address recent challenges faced by operators with network infrastructure planning as well as financing of their evolution to 4G LTE. Bringing together a wealth of global case studies and reviewing new technology innovations developed by Huawei R&D global teams for mobile broadband, Huawei will be able to assist operators in maximizing values from their LTE deployments within the Middle East.
What stands out to you as some of the major achievements made in the Middle East telecom industry over the past year?
Within the last year heightened competition has certainly encouraged a lot of innovation on both the services and infrastructure layer. Mobile broadband offerings in particular have matured rapidly, with many consumers now able to enjoy new HSPA+ and LTE telecom experiences at speeds far surpassing traditional levels. To support the adoption of such technologies, Huawei worked to establish new certified LTE professional training program across the region, as well as completing record-setting transmission trials for several local telecom networks.
In alignment with more extensive fiber rollouts in countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE, telecom networks have also supported the growth of many e-government initiatives in 2012 within the fields of healthcare, academia and commerce.
Today there is also stronger business rationale for those in the telecom field to integrate new innovative “green” solutions with their existing “Legacy” infrastructure. Operators who took such initiative have seen incredible results, with growing number of success cases since the beginning of 2012 implemented and in production at both regional and global level. We have found these business cases to be particularly impactful in giving local entities the assurance that these innovative solutions offer compelling financial as well as environmental incentives.
With LTE services now a reality in many regional markets, what have you found to be the main challenges in deploying LTE networks and what can operators do to achieve success in the Middle East?
While the LTE horizon is bright with financial and environmental potential, we all should agree that the success of these long-term projects is realized and recognized over several years. Within the past 18 months we saw the very first LTE network rolled out in the Middle East with a lot of momentum behind it. Many operators in 2012 have also announced plans for upgrading their existing mobile broadband infrastructure in a transition to LTE.
This evolution has mandated service providers, regulators, and even technology vendors to revamp many of their core operations and standards so as to fully leverage LTE’s extraordinary capacity. From industry perspective; we are in fact still only on the cusp of discovering LTE’s full potential. In order to achieve continued success in the Middle East, we have found from a vendor perspective that some of the greatest LTE prerequisite today is to facilitate greater interoperability of mobile networks, the proliferation of LTE-compatible devices, and the establishment of business models that allow operators to efficiently monetize and grow their LTE portfolio.
Do you anticipate LTE spectrum availability to be an issue in 2013?
As legacy ICT networks are revamped by their newer and faster components, it will surely requires collective efforts of all players in the telecom space—regulators, operators and vendors—to accelerate the launch of the LTE service by securing appropriate spectrum bands. Huawei has been an active participant in such discussions globally and in the Middle East; which in some cases have extended over a period of 1-2 years. The premise of such involvement is that every player must contribute with the best quality of Subject Matter Experts, knowhow, theories and innovations to the table.
At Huawei, we have been fortunate to play a leading role in Middle East region for LTE deployment and continue to set the pace for LTE patents & standards globally. This allows us to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to regional projects especially for critical tasks such as spectrum re-farming and network interoperability.
Looking at the area of Customer Experience Management (CEM), do you see this becoming a larger priority on operator’s agenda? If so, why?
We recognize that with a surge in Smartphone adoption and increasing data services, operators nowadays need to shift paradigm from traditional network KPIs centric operation to service-centric operation aiming for quality improvement and assurances for a better end-user experience. The industry as a whole must transform its management style from Network Operation centric to Service Operation centric model that focuses on end user experience.
In order to truly understand actual user experience, quantitative data findings must integrate with subjective inputs, such as user satisfaction surveys; to establish more accurate “Customer-Experience Index” that can be used to guide any enhancements or transformation operation. Getting closer to the actual experience of the end users can help the service providers to expedite the process of discovering areas in which performance can be improved, dramatically increasing the total value of ownership.
What kinds of CEM solutions is Huawei advancing in the Middle East today?
Huawei’s SmartCare solution is a leading platform that supports the whole network (Multi-vendor), providing SQM/SLA/CEM solutions based on fully understanding of the network, services and subscribers demands. Huawei SmartCare also extends the traditional focus on a pure ‘Per Service' or ‘Per User' concept to a ‘Per Service, Per User' model. Huawei's R&D teams in Europe and China have further improved QoE accuracy by developing a framework and method for establishing “customer experience” indicator modeling that has received three patents and is setting the standard for the industry.
Several Class-A operators are enjoying the great benefits of such award-winning solution worldwide, and we anticipate that number shall be growing much faster in 2013.
In summary, what do you see as the major opportunities for operators looking ahead?
From a network perspective, competition amongst operators is becoming less defined by the types of technology used and instead benchmarked more closely to the customer’s actual service experience on a daily basis. This requires a holistic approach to evolve operators’ business models, creating broader, smarter and greener networks that will bring down operational costs while increasing the average revenue per user.
Notwithstanding the gains that have been made in the spread of mobile broadband, operators will need to continue acting swiftly and efficiently to corral big data, understanding and responding dynamically to their customer needs through intelligent network solutions that can facilitate instant, on-demand access for individuals as well as enterprises. By extending the use of technology such as cloud computing and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, operators can combat revenue stagnation in traditional service sectors.
A key element to this transformation will be the adoption of new operation model and transforming into Next-Generation OSS/BSS. Rapid advancements have been made in this field over the past year, with today’s enhanced tools that are effectively supporting network configuration and inventory on the operation side, as well as more efficient customer care, process billing, and payment collections on the business front.
We feel that Managed Services (MS) are also contributing significantly to the optimization and enhancements of the regional telecom industry. The Managed Services approach fundamentally allows operators to reduce network management costs and concentrate on their core business objectives rather than operational logistics. Outsourcing ICT infrastructure is no new phenomenon, but the approach and extent to which telecom managed services are now being adopted by operators are as versatile as they are varied. More than ever these outsourcing models are being used by operators as a prime differentiator to simplify network management and swiftly respond to customer needs; tapping a wide pool of third-party global experts and industry leading tools to optimize their network potential.
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