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Out With the Old, In With the New: What's Trending for 2013

By Rebecca Prudhomme Comments
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Rebecca PrudhommeWith 2012 very nearly a wrap, let’s pause for a moment to look back – and then (much more interesting) take a look forward to see what 2013 is likely to have in store for the communications marketplace.

2012: The word “convergence" makes many people understandably roll their eyes, since that word has been used for more than 15 years to denote the unification of services – voice, video, data, text – made possible by the Internet revolution and IP infrastructure. But we can credibly claim that 2012 was the year that convergence finally arrived, driven by the emergence of tablet-based computing (no longer just the iPad) and the iPhone/Android smartphone juggernaut. 

In the U.S., the past 12 months were also marked by continued industry consolidation, as shown most recently by Sprint’s proposed $2.2 billion deal to acquire the remainder of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own. And the continued shift to 4G LTE is strongly related to the fact that the center of computing has decisively shifted from the PC-based model to a mobile-centric one. 

Given all that, what trends can we expect for 2013? Herewith, our predictions:

Big data = big opportunity. In 2013, we’re going to see a move away from service providers focused mainly on the operational challenge of managing big data, to beginning to realize the business opportunity that big data enables. Perhaps the most important differentiator in the service provider’s arsenal against their over-the-top (OTT) competitors is the customer experience they provide their subscribers. By capturing more customer data and then using data-analytics tools to offer proactive and contextual experiences, service providers will be able to offer more enhanced services tailored to the individual subscriber. Furthermore, service providers will also be able to provide improved customer care by proactively managing their relationship with their customers.

The continuing data explosion. Data traffic is going to continue to expand at dizzying rates, powered by the rising tide of video, and highlighted by the growing increase in cross-screen viewing and service providers’ TV Everywhere strategies (for example, enabling customers to move from the TV while at home to a tablet on the train when watching a movie). Service providers need to harness this data, monetizing the demand for new data services while optimizing their network and IT assets. Therefore, in 2013, we’ll start to see service providers using 4G LTE as a means to introduce new, value-based pricing models and advanced services, and not just as a way to overcome capacity challenges and provide subscribers with faster speeds. This will require better integration between the network and the service provider’s business support systems, with policy control and real-time charging key to successful monetization.

Hello, “HetNet" haven’t we met? Meanwhile, to help prevent network-capacity shortfalls as data traffic continues to rise, service providers have been using Wi-Fi as a defensive offload strategy, while small cells have been deployed to help with indoor coverage at large shopping malls, sport stadiums and other crowded venues. But to really improve the customer experience, service providers will strive to ensure that their subscribers enjoy the same level of quality of service across various networks used – Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G – when they start watching a movie on their tablet at their favorite coffee shop before continuing to watch it in the car’s multimedia player. To achieve this, service providers will need to integrate all the different networks involved.

Now, the integration between small cells, Wi-Fi and wireless networks that such an experience demands, isn’t easy; such heterogeneous networks, or “HetNets," raise challenges of large-scale network planning, deployment and optimization, as well as session continuity, quality of service (QoS) assurance and security, but it’s a challenge that service providers have strong incentive to address. We’ll definitely be hearing more about HetNets in 2013.

Omni-channel customer care and service. The new mandate for service providers is to connect with their customers more effectively beyond the call center. Today, despite an increased investment in online self-service channels, many people still find these channels cumbersome and end up calling the call center, which is expensive for the service provider and can be time-consuming for the customer. That’s going to change: Service providers will integrate their different channels so that customers will be able to interact with their service provider via the channel that they prefer, and continue this interaction from one channel to another seamlessly.

In this context, we will also see that smartphones and smartphone self-care applications will play a significant role in the way customers interact with their service providers. Service providers will integrate their different channels so that customers will be able to interact with their service provider via the channel that they prefer, and continue this interaction from one channel to another seamlessly. For example, if I want to change my data package, I want to be able to do the research on my PC at the office, save a draft order in my shopping cart, think about it on the way home, making changes to the order on my smartphone and then make my purchase from my tablet later in the evening, without having to start all over again from scratch. It’s all about simplifying the experience for the consumer.

To sum up: These are the trends we see making a difference for service providers (and their customers) in 2013.  To see how accurate our Amdocs crystal ball really is, let’s meet up back here in a year and see how close we were.  In the meantime, Happy New Year!

Rebecca Prudhomme is vice president of Product & Solutions Marketing at Amdocs . She currently leads Amdocs’ entire global team of product marketing professionals focused on bringing to market Amdocs’ products, services and solutions.

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