FROM TM FORUM LIVE, NICE, FRANCE: Shankar Arumugavelu, CIO at Verizon, claimed the telecoms industry is not moving fast enough to capitalise on the digital evolution it championed, with data still an untapped asset.

“Data is the new oil and analytics is the new refinery,” Arumugavelu said, adding telecoms operators have the right to win in this space because they own the key infrastructure underpinning always-on connectivity.

However, the challenge now is to understand customer expectations have changed and to meet the growing demand for the level of service quality and transparency emerging in other industries. Arumugavelu said telecoms could learn from other sectors such as the airline industry, which has introduced greater transparency and flexibility in its service offerings.

“Customers are looking for mobile first,” he said. They want to be able to access services anytime, anywhere, and on demand.

Arumugavelu pointed to the efforts Verizon is making to transform its own products and services, with unlimited voice, text and data plans, the ability to upload a home TV package via the Fios network in one click, and early access to services over-the-top while customers wait for an engineer to install their equipment.

It is also important to be able to anticipate problems customers might have in the home network or point them to different price plans that might suit their needs better, Arumugavelu added,

Digital transformation
Key to all this is digital transformation, which “must come from the top”, said Arumugavelu. He said Verizon made strides in streamlining and modernising its systems, and focused on new ways to engage customers and gain more insights into the customer experience.

“Digital transformation equals business transformation,” he added, noting it’s not just about technology. Operators have to simplify their processes and policies, obsess over the customer experience, modernise IT, and attract and retain top talent. They also need to fail faster in order to succeed faster: “Don’t wait for perfect,” said Arumugavelu.

– Anne Morris, contributing reporter to Mobile World Live