A study by Kearney, a leading global management consulting firm, found that “IT costs represent nearly 5 percent of telecom revenues, compared with industries such as manufacturing, utilities and food, which spend just over 2 percent of their revenue on IT.” That telecoms is a large consumer of IT services is no surprise. Yet still, these are significant amounts, and operators need to find creative ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency whilst at the same time delivering improvements in both customer and employee experience.
That starts with the implementation of a new IT system which is typically a long and costly process for a telecom operator.
You know how it works. A new tool is selected, often after a long and detailed evaluation process. The team responsible for selecting the tool hands over the task of getting the new tool operational to the IT delivery team. They typically have a standard, defined process that governs the implementation of all new solutions. Early in the process the programme manager will engage their roster of systems integrators to scope the delivery of the project, each of which submits a bid per the agreed rate card, with a set of milestones and a low-level delivery plan. The partner is selected, and the process kicks off. And then, many months later, the green shoots of a new capability start to emerge.
This is a process that’s served telecom operators, and most other large Enterprise businesses, well for decades. Yes, it might be slow and expensive, but if the ratio of “good” to “bad” projects is tilted to the former, then maybe this is just the cost of upgrading technology in large and complex organisations. But what this approach masks is the wasted effort that comes from having to repeat similar tasks again and again, across multiple projects. And this is a significant factor in the slow pace and high cost of implementation identified by Kearney in their study.
TM Forum, a global telecom industry association, is trying to tackle this issue head on, in collaboration with its 850+ member community. The industry body is a strong proponent of open standards and has published a world leading blueprint for best practice business operations. TM Forum states that the blueprint is “a comprehensive suite of standards and best practices to accelerate and de-risk transformation projects.” In other words, adopting the suite of business process, information and functional frameworks, plus the more than 50 REST based Open APIs will significantly reduce the likelihood of having to engage in repeatable work when implementing a new technology.
There is a high level of adoption by telecom operators of the open standards advocated by TM Forum. In their view, the main value drivers for adoption by CSPs are to “increase the speed [of] deployment of services delivered via a value-chain of partners” to “reduce internal and external integration time and costs” and ultimately “improve profits and business agility.” As part of the industry body’s efforts to drive implementation of these standards, they offer certification of conformance to both telecom operators and businesses that operate in the domain. To date, more than 50 unique member companies have achieved TM Forum certification and over 160 products/services have achieved the same standard.
Soon to be added to this list is Ikue.
Ikue, founded by a team of telecom industry leaders, has built the world’s first customer data platform (CDP) designed for telcos. The AI-powered solution stitches together all the operator’s valuable customer data into a real time customer state model. Underpinning the data model, the identity graph stitches device IDs, cookie IDs, email addresses and any other exposed identities to a single ID which allows operators to resolve identity of a visitor to a known customer in any channel they visit. This customer data is enriched with machine learning algorithms to create descriptive and predictive analytics, aligned to a proprietary marketing toolkit of customer value management use cases. The output of this process is a set of targeted marketing actions ready for business users to start activating to their customers.
One of the early priorities for the founding team was to align closely with TM Forum and its set of industry standards. Bronwynne Stoddart, CEO and co-founder of Ikue says that “a key principle for our business, based on our experiences of implementing complex technology solutions in European and African operators, is that for our CDP to be successful, it needs to deliver value for operators fast.”
A means of enabling that fast start for operators has been to engineer TM Forum standards into the platform from the start. The Customer State Model, the underlying data model on which the wider Ikue capability set sits, is fully aligned to the SID information framework, with 10 domains implemented. The solution is deployed with a TM Forum certified interface, with 12 REST based Open APIs available at launch, enabling seamless connectivity, interoperability, and portability across complex telco ecosystems. As TM Forum states, investing in these standards allows the Ikue team to “communicate with telco partners using the same terminology”. This leads to easier integration and interoperability of the solution which ultimately delivers “cost savings and efficiencies” for the operator.
Ikue will showcase these new capabilities at TM Forum’s flagship DTW Asia 2023 in Bangkok this week. Stoddart further added, “we’re very proud to be attending the TM Forum show in Thailand and that we will be the first CDP to receive TM Forum certification. The alliance of CSPs and partners has such authority in the industry that when we talk to clients about our partnership [with them] it brings immediate credibility and stature to our proposition.”
To find out more about Ikue and its TM Forum certified solution visit www.ikue.io