As we come out of the pandemic, TM Forum says the telecom industry is emerging with a restored sense of purpose. Indeed, one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic in 2020 was the telecom sector which received a much-needed boost as public and private sector organisations shift to remote work and move business applications to the cloud.
Like banks, telcos generate unparalleled quantities of data from transaction to customer behaviour to telemetry. It is forecast that by 2050, telcos will gather data from 95% of the world’s population thanks to the widespread use of mobile devices, wearable tech and wireless information.
However, in the current environment, telcos are still a long way off compared to Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple in terms of how they use this data to maximise value.
Driving sustainably profitable business
In a mobile-first country like Indonesia, telcos have a unique opportunity to connect with customers and build their mobile presence. Especially with COVID-19 having accelerated the demand for mobile data services alongside support requests, these service providers must juggle expectations for always-on connectivity and service support.
Forrester principal analyst Dan Bieler says the COVID-19 pandemic has moved telcos up the value chain. “COVID-19 offers telcos the opportunity to demonstrate that they understand and can address current customer pain points,” he continued.
A crisis is an opportunity
Asked how COVID-19 has impacted XL Axiata’s business operations, XL Axiata’s director & chief information-digital officer, Yessie Yosetya called out a comment from the CEO: ‘never waste a good crisis.’
“We are not only looking from the customer experience perspective but also internal. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a big shift in customer behaviour in terms of the fear of missing out, lockdown, and limited mobility. This requires them to find other channels, and this is where digital plays a big role,” she added.
Data – the starting point of customer experience
During its 24th anniversary in October 2020, Dian Siswarini, president director & CEO of XL Axiata, said: “We are openly aware that the existence of network infrastructure and telecommunication services, internet, and digital data will be increasingly important to sustainable development in all fields.”
Phil Scanlon, vice president of sales engineering, Asia Pacific, Japan & Middle East, Solace, commented that XL Axiata has ‘pretty much-digitized everything’ to transform how it engages with customers and the community.
He added that the move is necessary because the environment demands that a business knows as much about its customers in real-time. But knowing is only one part of the strategy.
“It is equally important to know how to leverage (technology and process innovation). Leveraging what's already there helps to create more data, and we're certainly seeing volumes. Everyone's talking about how the volume and variety of their data are increasing, and how they want to do things in real-time,” he added.
Event streaming supports real-time customer engagement
Yosetya acknowledged that customer behaviour continues to change but the importance and necessity of engagement haven’t. She cited the example of engagement preferences changing because of the pandemic.
She observed that before the pandemic customer engagement in Indonesia relied heavily on face-to-face interaction. The lockdowns in 2020 have meant the closure of retail branches and an inability to read the customer’s emotion at the point of engagement.
According to Yosetya, the shift to digital engagements called for an infrastructure that would allow it to respond to changing customer behaviour in real-time. She conceded that the current legacy systems and processes were not up to the task.
Solace’s Scanlon explained that the old architecture of moving information is inadequate where information is distributed across channels (or touchpoints) and decisions need to be made in real-time.
“Events are everywhere, and businesses need to be able to capture and harness this. It is also no longer just a single interaction but a mesh of connected different interactions,” he commented.
He stressed the importance of being able to give people visibility on where the information is going and coming from.
Yosetya explained that as an innovative company adopting new technology is not something new.
“We continually look at how we can improve ourselves. Our organisation is built with the mindset of providing a good customer experience and therefore we consider the rest to be just a technical challenge,” she added.
She also acknowledged that with IT projects, nothing can ever be as flawless or smooth as we would like it to be, but it is something that we need to do.
“I think managing is just a part of our mindset as well,” she concluded.
For Yosetya, this mindset starts at the top. The CIO's job is to be an enabler. To do so requires one to do his or her homework, including before choosing a path or picking a technology. She concedes that there are risks involved but says it’s a calculated risk.
“XL has always tried things first, and we understand the pitfalls through that. Without us trying, we will never know,” she concluded.
Scanlon added that it's all about taking the time to understand what the technologies do and what benefits you can get from them. Talking to other people in the industry can also help.
“It is not just around technology change, but also about mindset change and the thinking around customer-centricity. I think that educational aspect was very critical to me,” he opined.
Click on the PodChat player and listen to Yosetya and Scanlon offer their opinion, experience and collective insights into how businesses, including those in the telco space, can benefit from
- What is customer experience according to XL Axiata?
- How has COVID-19 impacted the ability to achieve its stated goals around customer experience?
- You’ve chosen an event streaming approach as opposed to an event-driven architecture. Why is that? What does an event streaming platform deliver to your business?
- How did you manage the transition from the previous solution? What limitations were you able to solve with the new solution?
- Today, what else are your plans to further extend the benefits of MyXL across your business?
- How prepared are you for the next change – both in business model and technology?