How CSPs Can Innovate to the New Normal

Providers that offer a better service, such as deploying a highly integrated UCC solution with dynamic features, will come out ahead.

Service providers therefore have a great opportunity to demonstrate how seriously they take the quality and reliability that underpins customer experience—and to provide real customer benefits with a range of premium-based services. As an example, this looks like developing tiered network quality monitoring services with reporting and alerting at one end of the spectrum, through to troubleshooting tools for granular and forensic analysis at the other. Technology vendors should be providing this data in consumable industry-standard formats for maximum utility. With the right data in play, a wide scope of service possibilities enables the service provider to address all customer segments, with large enterprises (and those in certain industry sectors) most likely to value the higher-level services, with SMEs tapping into the lower levels.

Expecting more from technology vendors: Vendors play a big part in innovation. It isn’t enough to be pacified with generic data feeds, APIs and service capabilities; specific support helps to overcome barriers to innovation.

Riding the wave of digital transformation: The wider context of COVID-19 is providing added impetus to the speed of digital transformation in customer organizations. As some reports have found, COVID-19 has been a “kick in a pants” that will see DX innovations speed up rather than slow down in the aftermath of the pandemic. Service providers will see this in their own businesses and should continue pursuing the use of digital, cloud-based technologies to drive increased efficiencies and cost reductions themselves. But they should also consider their place in the context of other ‘IT applications’ that communications need to integrate with. For example, a coherent approach to application integration and APIs (with common CRMs and ERPs for example) is critical so that a service provider doesn’t lose business from customers that don’t see them slotting easily into their digitally transformed futures.

Working to galvanize a position as ‘trusted advisor’: In the new post-COVID environment, perhaps even more fundamental than the services they offer customers is the strategic business advice that service providers are ideally placed to provide, sitting as they do across all industry sectors with a firm grasp of emerging trends and drivers. Service providers have seen the world change around them, with verticals like travel, retail and hospitality hit hard by huge falls in demand and seismic changes in consumer behavior. Rather than wait around for things to improve, these customers must be encouraged to innovate faster and identify new markets to go after; they stand to potentially revolutionize their business models. Don’t underestimate the power of digital transformation to enable this level of change, or the pivotal role of service providers in showing the ‘art of the possible’ for communications and digital more widely. Service providers should be fueling the next wave of digital entrepreneurialism.

Keeping an eye on the competition: Service providers cannot afford to be complacent about the possibilities that the mass adoption of over-the-top offerings like Zoom have revealed. If customers feel positive about bankrolling employees’ $10-per-month subscriptions to a standalone video conferencing app, then what is the compelling reason to sign up for a service provider contract? Service providers need to educate customers about the importance of business continuity and how only they can deliver a complete UCC offering that supports how each worker works, on any device, across any network, from any place, at any time.

Providers that offer a better service, such as deploying a highly integrated UCC solution with dynamic features, will come out ahead. Access to self-serve options they may not be getting elsewhere empowers customers and allows them to  access meaningful data about their usage, improve quality and identify opportunities for cost savings.

Restarting and reimagining

Lockdown hasn’t been so much the mother of invention as the mother of discovery. Business customers never quite knew what was possible before COVID-19 forced them to find out. They will undoubtedly value flexibility and reliability more than ever before as they renew their commitment to greater digital transformation.

Service providers have a golden opportunity to innovate by adding value to the customer experience, optimizing digital transformation strategies, achieving greater productivity, and standing out in the market—no matter what happens next. But service providers must address their own innovation processes to achieve maximum velocity, acting with a startup-like focus, using resources judiciously and prototyping to pick winners.


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