Most telco, ISP, satellite and cable TV companies are focused too much on infrastructure and operational requirements instead of data-driven customer experience and new routes to revenue, a CMO Council survey of 212 senior level professionals in marketing and information technology at communications service providers, cable and satellite operators worldwide in April and May of 2011 has found.

One can argue that some of the identified issues are resolvable with better tools, and are of a tactical nature, while some are cultural, structural and therefore more dangerous threats. One might also note that the survey confirms well understood issues. Few, if any observers, would argue that large service providers are unaware of the challenges inherent in adapting their “utility” style legacy with a fast-paced and changing ecosystem where applications supply more of the end user value.

The survey of marketing and IT personnel also logically indicates there are many ways software and data capabilities can better support new service creation.

Carriers are often times fighting significant internal barriers and cultural issues that are not susceptible to solution using better software, though. Some 68 percent of respondents say their traditional corporate mindset is out of sync with the demands of the business.

Rapid change and growing complexity within the ecosystem clearly are seen as issues.
Some 81 percent of respondents say they struggle to launch and provision new services quickly and cost effectively.

But most of the problems seem to be tactical. Respondents say they lack the data and insight needed to create personalized services. Some 72 percent report they lack the subscriber insight and intelligence critical to the execution of a more personalized user experience.

There are many other subsidiary or tactical issues as well. Some 75 percent say they need integration between disparate data sources. About 52 percent say they do not have good capabilities for segmented offers and promotions.

Some 42 percent indicate they need improvements in their CRM and subscriber management and tracking systems.

Fully 59 percent of respondents say they are considering new revenue sources from over-the-top (OTT) services, but 94 percent aren’t exploring partnerships such as revenue sharing with OTT providers. Though important, that also seems to be a tactical issue.

Most service provider executives fear becoming a low-value participant in the ecosystem, with the obvious implication being that access providers need to create new forms of value, one way or the other. See this.

Respondents say retention efforts and revenue optimization also are critical. Some 70 percent say a slowdown in adoption rates in developed countries has increased the importance of their subscriber retention and revenue optimization. See this.

The one issue that is difficult to address with better software is culture. Over 66 percent of the operations surveyed feel that the traditional corporate mindset within their organization is out of sync with the new forms of competition and service delivery.

Some 81 percent of respondents struggle to launch and provision new services quickly and cost effectively. About 78 percent indicate they are not able to target individual subscribers with offers and upgrades based on both historic as well as current behavior and needs.

Some of those issues are tactical, and can be addressed by software. But large organizations of any sort are notably challenged in the areas of nimbleness. Recent management changes at Google intended to restore a more-innovative culture simply confirm that thesis.

Large organizations struggle to make important decisions and make them quickly; are challenged in the areas of innovation and change; and tend to suffer from more internal friction. Communications service providers are not uniquely challenged, in that regard.
Read more here.

In some parts of the world, regulators, often with the support of dominant service providers, have opted for a “structural separation” model, where the network operations are separated from the provision of retail services. Some might argue that is a solution for cultural issues as well, though most industry executives likely would disagree.

A dispassionate observer might well conclude that the cultural and organizational skill sets needed to create applications simply are different from those needed to run large networks with huge public interest obligations and regulations, especially in highly-competitive markets.

Most observers might agree that large communications service providers will have more success creating features using their networks that can be sold to third party partners, rather than focusing primarily on creation of attractive, high adoption applications using the network and its features.

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