Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Communication service providers that embrace the latest cloud-based contact center as-a-service technologies will put themselves in a better position to help their clients make a digital transformation that leads to new and broader revenue streams.

Two of the hottest industry catchphrases right now are digital transformation and digital disruption, both of which speak to the way technology — particularly information and communications technology — is impacting our world. For businesses, the primary objective of a digital transformation initiative is to create new and significantly broader revenue streams through the application of digital technology. While the goal of a transformation appears simple enough, the execution of such a strategy is where many companies find themselves feeling disrupted.

Telecoms, CSPs Among Most Disrupted Companies

Widescale disruption affects an industry when companies innovate processes and entire business models so effectively that competitors who stick with the status quo way of doing things lose marketshare, profitability and customers.

One industry in the midst of significant disruption is retail. Numerous factors have transformed the consumer shopping experience, but Amazon’s unprecedented dominance is far and away the most impactful shaping influence on today’s customer journey. The eCommerce giant shows no signs of decelerating its takeover of new markets, and retailers worldwide are scrambling to adapt. The 2018 RIS/Gartner Retail Technology Study sheds light on where companies are at in their transformation process. Despite this omnipresent threat of Amazon, the study shows that while only 2 percent of retailers do not have a strategy in place, 18 percent have a desire to transform their business, 27 percent are designing a strategy, with 35 percent delivering on digital transformation.

What’s even more interesting is that other industries are experiencing greater disruption than retail, according to a survey of 2000 C-level executives conducted by Russell Reynolds Associates. Telecom companies ranked second as the most disrupted organizations (media was number one) with 62% of telecom company executives expecting moderate or massive digital disruption. By extension, communication service providers (CSPs) are among the top companies feeling the weight of disruption as they hurriedly try and keep up with their customers’ evolving business needs.

Where Today’s Disruption Happens: The Contact Center

The internet and e-commerce drove the first wave of digital disruption. Social media, peer-based community feedback and mobile applications changed how companies and customers communicate with one another. The Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices, sensors, big data, analytics and artificial intelligence are driving the current wave.

Digital transformation impacts all aspects of a CSP’s business, from how new products and services are created to how they’re marketed, sold and supported. The contact center is a primary hub of communication with a CSP’s customers and should be the central focus of digital transformation projects. TM Forum’s Chief Analyst Mark Newman describes digital transformation not as an ideal for communications service providers but as a mandate that successful CSPs must take seriously.

Vital Elements of Digitally Transformed Communication

Making a successful digital transformation should include initiatives to ensure communication with customers is seamless and connected on all channels — particularly web, mobile social, and messaging channels. It’s also imperative that communication is personalized and even predictive. Customer interactions must be supported by relevant and timely customer data. Digital transformation within the contact center is often aimed at optimizing and improving the omnichannel customer experience (CX) between CSP and their customer, protecting the relationship and expanding revenue.

Internal initiatives can play into and be applied to external actions, where the CSP focuses on providing an improved omnichannel customer experience to create new lines of revenue by offering contact center as a service (CCaaS) as a new digital service. This expertise, with both technology and the digital customer experience, is at the nexus of a clear opportunity for service providers.

CCaaS and the Cloud: Key Ingredients for a Successful Contact Center Digital Transformation

For quite some time, CSPs have offered a portfolio of applications to customers that complement their core telco services. A primary motivation for providing enterprise business applications, in addition to a bundle of broadband-based data and voice services, is to reduce churn on “less sticky” broadband service contracts and avoid customers shopping around for better rates.

Whether they know it or not, CSPs are ideally positioned to offer CCaaS by having the core infrastructure, network, and operational ability needed to deliver cloud applications as a service. They can leverage their cloud-based architectures, especially around multitenant offerings. Not only does this model allow for amortization of the platform cost across many customers, but it also helps CSPs operate, maintain, and upgrade the multitenant cloud application efficiently, passing along operations efficiency to their end-customer.

Customer expectations have evolved to the point where knowledgeable customers now dictate the experience, including the engagement channels (e.g., mobile, social, personal) they prefer and the criteria necessary to keep them coming back. Savvy Telco’s, CSPs and network service providers have embraced this reality and are rolling out cloud contact center solutions. By integrating CCaaS into their applications portfolios, these operators are finding the stickiness mentioned earlier by playing an integral role in helping their customers meet clients’ demands well into the future.

The cloud enables companies to be more agile in responding to their evolving technology and communication needs. Leveraging cloud-enabled contact center technology both within the CSP’s contact center, as well as creating a contact center as-a-service product offering as a new revenue stream, embraces the objectives of digital transformation. As the CX trend matures, it’s becoming clearer that businesses have to adapt, or they will fail. One only needs to look at all the disruption happening in retail to see how dire it is for companies to get the digital transformation and CX equations right.

Service providers that accept this reality can play an invaluable role in helping their clients embrace the customer experience revolution by leveraging the latest cloud-based CCaaS technology and combining it with predictive analytics and best practice expertise. It’s these ingredients working together that form a winning digital transformation recipe for CSPs and their customers.

by Jacki Tessmer, vice president of cloud and service provider strategy for Enghouse Interactive.