by July 1, 2010 0 comments



Telecom operators utilize perhaps the most complete array
of IT tools of any industry, simply because their entire business is based on
technology. An online apparel retailer may use CRM as a marketing tool, but his
core business is still clothing. For telecom operators, the core business is
based on information technology, right from myriad cell towers and servers to
Internet marketing to billing programs. As service providers embark on a global,
industry-wide efforts to transform their networks, business models and core
value propositions, the new environment demands that CIOs understand not only IT
trends, but also the critical business and operational needs to meet key
service-provider objectives. The ability to integrate systems, share information
and enable collaboration is now being recognized by strategic planners as
critical to enabling the transformation of both back and front-office
operations. As telecom players are nowadays introducing new business models and
service offerings that mix, match and blend technologies (such as wireless,
landlines, broadband, Internet and DTH Satellite assets), the role of IT becomes
critical, as it is no longer a support function but an integral part of the
product.

The picture will be more clear if we look at IT
implementation trends of the telcos over the last couple of years. In the year
2008-09, the majority of the IT implementations done for the telecom sector were
IT infrastructure based projects. Various companies were expanding their reach
by using IT solutions either to plan strategic roll out of fiber, wireless
networks or they deployed Security Operations Center (SOC) to detect security
incidents in proactive manner in real-time. Plus basic level of automation was
also done by some of the players like automation of email centers to cater to
the need of end users at a very basic level only. Several players started
providing services over the Internet. This included web solutions for the
internal employees that resulted in a paradigm shift from the old intranets.

Ravinder Jain CIO, Aircel

What according to you are some of the key challenges
that telecom industry faces today, which haven’t yet been resolved by using
IT?
The major concern for the telecom sector today is reducing costs of IT
services and keeping IT strategies in line with business goal. 
Organizations need to manage exponential subscriber growth as telecom has
seen a huge surge in the number of transactions being handled by the
operators. Dipping ARPU is also a major concern for the telecom players. IT
systems are needed to be configured properly to support data products like
3G.

What kind of IT solutions are you seriously
considering to deploy in  near future?
We are planning to deliver new innovative products for Aircel
subscribers. Plus a higher level of BPM / Business process automation is
also under development to enhance operations. Aircel uses Balance Score Card
(BSC) system for keeping its IT strategy in line with its business strategy.
Currently it is manual, but complete automation of this procedure is
underway. We are also preparing for next generation services like MNP and
MVNO

In the year 2009-10 as the big players were involved in
optimization their existing resources to have an edge, the new players were
involved in building up their infrastructure from ground up. However, there was
a requirement for the new players to deploy latest IT solutions to be at par
with the old players having a higher level of penetration. If we talk about the
IT implementation trends of 2009-10, most of them were enterprise wide CRM and
SCM deployments. Because, ironically, while telecom operators provide a means
for improved interpersonal communications, the operators themselves still have a
long way to go to make communications with their customers more personal. By
incorporating goals such as promotion campaign budgets, audience parameters, and
channel choices into the CRM effort, telcos have managed their resources better.
Some players enhanced the customer experience by providing a well designed CRM
to their outsourced call centers with a better interface. Earlier, these call
centers were provided an access to the CRM but the executive handling the
customers had to swap through multiple applications in parallel. Now the telcos
have modified their CRMs to provide all information to the executive in a well
managed form on a single screen resulting in reduction of customer call hold
time. Inventory management has also been a very important agenda for the telcos
this year. The enhanced CRMs are made accessible throughout the enterprise and
is closely integrated to other SAP or ERP systems to manage resources in a
better manner.

Rajeev Batra, CIO, MTS India

What according to you are some of the key challenges
that telecom industry faces today, which haven’t yet been resolved by using
IT?
Business & IT Alignment is the degree to which the IT applications,
infrastructure and organization, the business strategy and processes enable
and shape, as well as the process to realize this. A lot of studies both
literary and practitioner’s have shown that lack of alignment between
business and IT is one of the main reasons why organizations are not able to
tap completely into the full potential of their IT investments. Furthermore,
organizations with a high degree of business IT Alignment have been
associated with better business efficiency and performance. Consequently,
almost all IT surveys in the last 5 years conducted by top research and
consulting organizations put business and IT alignment as one of the top 5
needs for both CIOs as well as their business counterparts. This has been a
key challenge for a while in the industry and continues to be a ongoing area
of development.

What kind of IT solutions are you seriously
considering to deploy in the near future?
We are planning to deploy solutions that are aligned to MTS India
strategy of providing enhanced data services and quality customer care for
our customers.

Telcos have also been keen on automated workflows and were
stringently against any kind of time consuming manual efforts. They sought a
solution with exceptional tracking features so as to provide quality services to
its customers. Besides cost, another crucial requirement was an integrated
application to avoid the complexity of using multiple service-related
applications that result in ambiguity and inaccuracy in information, and of
course the duplication of information and effort.

This year has witnessed several green initiatives been
taken up in the telecom sector. Some companies have designed their datacenters
and other facilities from ground up in compliance with the best practices in
green IT. This has helped them reduce their carbon footprints considerably and
attain significant savings on CapEx and OpEx. This included deployment of more
power and space efficient servers, adaptive cooling techniques and better fuel
that does not produce high CFCs.

Tech Used
This year a very obvious component used in almost all the large scale
implementations have been the blade servers. This is due to the fact that every
telco had plans to consolidate and virtualize as many servers as possible. Also,
there has been a significant usage of SAN (Storage Area Network) across
datacenters which   can provide immediate and long-term business benefits from
raw data storage to disaster recovery and replication solutions. The benefits of
a storage network are seemingly endless. The storage suddenly becomes
fault-tolerant as services continue working even if we lose a Fiber Channel
switch, a disk array controller or a host HBA. With the right selection of
products, a company can also employ less number of people to manage storage. The
use of CRMs of all kinds were seen. Siebel from Oracle was preferred by big
players for managing their operations whereas Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM was
preferred by others.

Challenges Resolved
The key challenges for the telcos was managing the roll outs across multiple
circles including the network expansion and network planning. Datacenter
consolidation acted as a defining attribute to this task. Earlier some companies
had distributed databases hence the interoperability was not possible to a great
extent. And due to this, it was not possible to provide services to the users on
the fly. Also setting up of multiple database units added to both CapEx and OpEx.
Both network and financial planning required the creation of detailed graphs and
pie charts which used to be generated manually earlier by extracting data from
multiple Excel sheets. This was a grueling task in most of the scenarios and the
time taken in generation of these resources was so high that they became
obsolete.

Ramamurthy Kolluri VP, Networks —
OSS, Bharti Airtel

What according to you are some of the key challenges
that telecom industry faces today, which haven’t yet been resolved by using
IT?
Telecom companies are focused upon increasing their network coverage and
providing similar quality of service to cities and the rural areas. Despite
numerous innovative implementations, there is a dire need to follow a
consortium approach for sharing of key network information to improve the
network availability and minimize outages due to optical cuts. There is a
need to spread towards areas with low rural tele-density covering 70% of the
country’s population.

What kind of IT solutions are you seriously
considering to deploy in the near future?
We are planning to deploy a customer experience management system that
could help us improve customer satisfaction and it also help our marketing
teams. To maintan a high QoS, there will be a service quality management
which can assist multiple services, both voice based and data based. Plus we
are developing a next generation OSS to support our strategic planing teams
to beef up our operations domain.

But after the automated integration of the CRM with the
report generation, BI has resulted in a highly efficient reporting system
catering marketing teams, network planning teams and the CXOs. The allotment of
resources to the customers has also become very quick as the sales teams work in
close integration with the inventory CRM. Enhanced unified view of the whole
network coverage has resulted in increasing the penetration into untapped rural
areas comprising a large part of the Indian population. The next step ahead for
the telecom players is the advent of the 3G based services into the market.
Arrangements are being made by the telcos to easily integrate these services
into their existing IT infrastructure. Almost all companies are designed their
systems flexible enough to make this integration possible. Wi-Max and Wi-Bro are
also the two new technologies that are extracting ample attention from various
players. The telecom sector is now completely driven by innovation. Every
operator is coming up with new data services because value added data services
have emerged as a completely new and lucrative source of revenue for this
sector. Some innovative advances like live webcast systems have. Efforts are
being to make heavy content services such as media streaming, live video
conference and multi party video conferences possible. As the network
infrastructure of the telecom operators has ample capability to deliver these
services, some of them are providing these services as well. Few days back, we
saw this implementation in action in form of the live webcast of Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir V. Putin’s interaction with members of leading Indian Business
houses, cultural elite, scholars, scientists and analysts from across the
sectors over multiparty conferences in from multiple locations.

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

<