Re-imagining Telecom Operations: From Contract Negotiations to Customer Service

February 9th, 2024 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by N Shashidhar, VP & Global platform head, EdgeVerve

In the digital age, telecom is more than just a sector—it’s the ultimate digital influencer, pioneering tech revolutions and ensuring we’re always plugged in. But behind the veneer of seamless connections and next-gen services lies a complex labyrinth of operational challenges ranging from intricate contract negotiations to maintaining high customer service standards.

Telecom giants don’t have it easy. From keeping up with massive network infrastructures to adapting to fast-paced tech shifts, they are juggling a lot. And it’s not just about expanding their networks for our ever-growing data needs; they also have to smoothly blend their old-school systems with the latest tech innovations. Amidst this hustle, they’re navigating regulations, working with finite digital resources, and trying to innovate in saturated markets. Being some of the most debt-heavy companies, they are riddled with profitability issues- a challenge compounded by heavy investments in 5G spectrum and networks that haven’t yet paid off. Not to forget, with the rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) providers like Netflix, traditional revenue streams are being sidelined, pushing telecoms to explore new avenues and value propositions.

How can telecom leaders need to elevate their game and design a future that’s both efficient and obsessively customer-focused? To answer that question, let’s first dive deep into the existing challenges.

Understanding the Impact of Complex Challenges in Telecom Operations

BCG found that “Telcos consistently score below other sectors on customer satisfaction.” Service glitches, high price tags, poor experiences, and tech hiccups are symptomatic of deeper issues. Blame it on outdated tech, enterprise siloes, or just plain inefficiency.

Case in point? A telecom giant drowning in a sea of 700,000+ tower rental contracts that needed manual oversight. The team painstakingly combed through each contract, identifying beneficial terms that might result in capital refunds and detrimental clauses that could cause revenue losses. This tedious process missed potential risks and cost-saving opportunities, affecting efficiency and accuracy. Or consider the Malaysian telecom company where agents juggled 20+ apps under different profiles to address customer queries. Time-consuming and repetitive searches across multiple systems affected response time and accuracy and tanked customer satisfaction. Problems like these are commonplace across the telecom industry and affect business performance and growth. 

Enterprise siloes, especially, are operational vacuums that are stifling communication, curtailing innovation, duplicating efforts, magnifying inefficiencies, and resulting in fragmented customer service. It’s not just about inefficiency anymore; it’s about lost opportunities. Siloed operations can cost companies a whopping 25% of their revenue. Breaking free from these corporate echo chambers is essential for staying competitive in a fast-evolving market.

And telcos know this, which is why they are focusing their energies on technology-led transformation. The quest for connected, agile, innovative operations where ideas and information flow freely is real. BCG found that 78% of telcos are in the middle of a digital transformation, business support system transformation, or operations support system transformation.

But here’s the twist—most of these transformation efforts are destined to fail. Why? A piecemeal approach that only exacerbates the silo problem by creating a complex landscape of old and new systems. In addition, rapid shifts in strategy and market conditions often outpace system upgrades, leading to misalignments.

Ensuring Digital Transformation Success With a Platform-based Approach

To overcome these transformation challenges, telecos need a new approach – one that looks at a holistic customer journey, integrates systems across the business, and liberates data, making it accessible and available across the business to drive AI use cases at scale. It’s about creating an ecosystem where enterprise-wide scale and integration drive next-gen experiences and innovation.

Enter the platform approach. These AI-first platforms sit on top of the tech infrastructure to annihilate siloes and accelerate digital transformation. Yet, the essence of a platform-centric method goes beyond mere integration. Platforms connect data voids, offering a clear view of people, processes, and collaborators, help generate actionable insights from comprehensive organizational data, and set the stage for integrating AI capabilities in the workflows. What’s more, they are flexible enough to embed new technologies into their fold as they emerge, making the most of both existing and future tech investments.     

Platform-based Transformation in Action

Case in Point #1: Contract Negotiation

Remember the telecom operator struggling with 700,000+ tower rental contracts? Using a platform approach, they could reimage the entire contract review process and minimize human intervention. The result? Contract insights that were available on demand for real-time decision making, 60% productivity improvement of the contracts’ negotiation team, and recorded savings of $21 Mn by acting on contract insights.  

Case in Point #2: Customer Service

The Malaysian telecom player integrated disparate systems to create a smart user environment for their agents. Access to a single-view dashboard with real-time data lowered Average Handling Time, improved customer experience, and reduced operational cost. What’s more, a connected journey helped the company process 50% of bookings with zero-touch automation. Similarly, a leading Australian telco transformed its contact center operations and improved customer experience by seamlessly integrating multiple applications across technology stacks. Their sales-to-fulfillment conversion improved by 12%, repeat call rates reduced by 30%, and net promoter score skyrocketed from -27% to +54%.

A Fluid Approach For A Future in Flux

As disruptions rise alarmingly, telecom companies need fluidity in their operations to drive unparalleled efficiency, customer-centricity, and resilience. The reimagined AI-first platform approach not only solves today’s pressing challenges but also lays a robust groundwork for the industry’s dynamic evolution in the years to come. As tech morphs and user expectations skyrocket, it’s time for telecom leaders to not just keep up but set the pace.


About the author:

N Shashidhar is an accomplished VP and Global Platform Head with an illustrious tenure spanning more than 25 years in the software industry. Not only is he a founding member of EdgeVerve, but he also had the distinction of being a part of the vanguard team that conceptualized and established EdgeVerve as a dynamic product subsidiary of Infosys. Shashidhar’s diverse experience in product and platform domains is unparalleled. Throughout his career at Infosys, he has donned various influential roles gracefully, showcasing his expertise across Technology, Client Engagement, and Functional Leadership sectors. Passionate about Strategy and Business Transformation, Shashidhar has left indelible footprints in the sands of business architecture. His remarkable contribution in transforming the Engineering Business and, later, during the nascent stages of Infosys’s Products & Platforms business speaks volumes of his strategic acumen and leadership skills. As the Head of Strategy and Operations for the Edge Portfolio, he was at the helm of transforming EdgeVerve. His relentless pursuit of refining the EdgeVerve portfolio strategy has been pivotal in the organization’s evolution. Academically brilliant, Shashidhar was bestowed with the University Gold Medal in Engineering. He also holds an MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. In the realm of software and business transformation, Shashidhar’s journey and achievements stand as a beacon of inspiration and a testament to his prowess.

About EdgeVerve:

EdgeVerve Systems Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infosys, is a global leader in developing digital platforms, assisting clients to unlock unlimited possibilities in their digital transformation journey. Our purpose is to inspire enterprises with the power of digital platforms, thereby enabling our clients to innovate on business models, drive game-changing efficiency and amplify human potential. Our platforms portfolio across Automation (AssistEdge), Document AI (XtractEdge), and Supply Chain (TradeEdge) helps inspire global enterprises to discover & automate processes, digitize & structure unstructured data and unlock the power of the network by integrating value chain partners. EdgeVerve, with a deep-rooted entrepreneurial culture, our innovations are helping global corporations across financial services, insurance, retail, consumer & packaged goods, life sciences, manufacturing telecom and utilities, and more.

EdgeVerve. Possibilities Unlimited.

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