Service providers need to build agile, software powered networks: Jatinder Ahuja, Amdocs

By Manishika Miglani

Given the dynamic consumer behaviour and the ever-changing technology, Telecom operators today are finding it difficult to increase ARPUs. Also, with the OTT-service provider war in full swing, operators are witnessing challenging times in the face of tough competition from these unregulated over-the-top entities and retain customers. Coupled with this are stricter regulatory policies and heavy capital investments into newer technologies that add to their woes.

Therefore, telcos are looking to deploy solutions that will further raise the bar of their services as the only way of survival.

In an interview with Voice&Data, Jatinder Ahuja, Regional VP and Head, South West Asia, Amdocs India talks about the challenges faced by telecom operators, the arrival of 4G and the new big problem called “OTTs”. Excerpts:

Voice&Data: What are Amdocs’ current focus areas?

Jatinder Ahuja: We are focused on enabling our customers, telecom operators, to deliver superior customer experience to end users and helping them gain sustainable competitive advantage. Amdocs solutions, which include BSS, OSS, network control and optimization, coupled with our professional and managed services, accelerate business value for our customers by streamlining complex operating environments, reducing costs and speeding time to market for new products and services.

Voice&Data: Who are your clients and the portfolio of solutions you offer?

Jatinder Ahuja: Vodafone India, Reliance Communications, Tata Communications are some of our customers in India. Projects announced since the beginning of Amdocs’ fiscal year 2014 include:

  • Deployment completion of an integrated Amdocs BSS platform to provide billing business services for Vodafone India’s enterprise customers, part of a larger BSS transformation program in which Vodafone India is also migrating all postpaid customers onto a consolidated Amdocs billing platform
  • The selection of Amdocs’ Mobile Financial Services solution, in association with Triotech’s solution, to enable SBI to offer mobile financial services to India’s unbanked and under-banked population, using the mobile network of BSNL
  • The deployment of Amdocs’ Customer Management solution to support Reliance Communications’ more than 120 million customers.

Our portfolio of solutions encompasses innovative software solutions and industry specific services. Our software solutions include BSS/OSS, solutions for software powered networks, big data analytics, and mobile financial services solution. The services portfolio includes IT managed services, systems integration, value process operations, business consulting, and testing services.

Voice&Data: What are the key challenges that telecom operators face today?

Jatinder Ahuja: Today, operators face multiple challenges ranging from changing customer experience to accelerated technology innovation.  Consumers are not only looking for new and innovative services, but also want personalized and contextualized experience, and seamless connectivity regardless of device and location. At the same time, OTT services like WhatsApp and Facebook, YouTube are eating into service providers’ revenues. So the bigger question is whether the telecom operators want to be a bandwidth provider or a service provider? The only way for a Telco to become a service provider is by winning customer loyalty, and creating customer stickiness.

Furthermore, service providers have invested unprecedented amount of money in spectrum licenses and 4G/LTE network infrastructure. They are under increasing pressure to control capital expenditure, cut IT and operational costs, optimize their application landscape, and introduce new products and services quickly and effectively. Amdocs, as a global leader in customer experience solutions and managed services, can help service providers launch new and exciting services while helping them to lower their total cost of ownership and drive down time to launch new products and services.

Voice&Data: What are the opportunities for Amdocs and the telcos together with the arrival of 4G services in India?

Jatinder Ahuja: Deployment of 4G will help service providers deliver higher data speeds, which will drive the adoption of new services. They can offer services such as HD video and TV content, tele-presence, media collaboration, connected car/home, online gaming, and much more.  However, all these opportunities will realize, only when they are able to deliver superior customer experience and offset the onslaught by OTT players.  Amdocs can provide wide range of software solutions and services to enable service providers introduce such services and tap into new revenue streams.

Voice&Data: What is the new world of customer experience and how is it enabling telecom operators?

Jatinder Ahuja: The new world of customer experience is an era where wide arrays of innovative and personalized services are delivered seamlessly to end users, regardless of device or network. The scenario demands that service providers personalize and contextualize each and every customer interaction, and shape quality of experience with agile software-powered networks, while speeding time to market, optimizing business processes, and reducing costs. The service providers must focus on all these factors in order to succeed in today’s competitive landscape and ensure sustainable competitive advantage.

Voice&Data: What are the challenges in deployment of small cells by service providers?

Jatinder Ahuja: Small cells deployment is quite challenging given the number of small cells an operator needs to deploy – from finding the cell sites to network roll-out to operations and management of thousands of small cells. The high complexity and sheer volume of tasks required to deploy small cell network means that the service providers cannot meet their time, cost, and quality targets. One of the most significant challenges in small cell deployment is how to plan for small cell placements. How do you accurately identify hotspots locations? How do you maximize network ROI? How do you prioritize small cell placement based on customer value? The operators need an intelligent solution to cost effectively plan and deploy their network. Based on analytics, they need to make informed decisions about small cell placement and target investment to high value locations and customers.

Voice&Data: What solutions can operators opt to optimize existing systems and network assets to drive operational cost-efficiencies? How can telecom operators retain customers considering the struggle to increase ARPUs?

Jatinder Ahuja: Service providers are under tremendous pressure to cut their operational expenses and control capital expenditure. At the same time, they need to meet changing customer expectations by investing in technologies and solutions to deliver better experience. They should gradually start building agile software powered networks to shape dynamic quality of experience that today’s consumer demands. In the longer term, these investments will ensure operational cost efficiencies along with providing significant competitive advantages. Some of the solutions that they need to focus on are:

  • Network optimization solution and services (solutions like self-optimizing networks)
  • Network cloud service orchestrator (Network functions virtualization)
  • Virtualized policy control
  • Network roll-out solution
  • Next best network investment analytics application

Furthermore, operators need to focus on their core business strengths, and outsource operational challenges to partner-managed services experts and let them offer innovative IT and business services.

Voice&Data: How can operators maximize profit taking into account the ongoing OTT competition?

Jatinder Ahuja: The way to maximize profit in the face of stiff OTT competition is by delivering superior customer experience and wining customer loyalty, and quickly introducing new and innovate services that allows operators to tap new revenue streams.

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