The concept of personalized products and services is not new but digital technologies enable telecom companies to deliver customized services at a scale and in ways that were previously unimaginable.

The development of Big Data models and the use of Business Intelligence platforms are now the main infrastructures of the network and part of the digital domain, allowing the analysis of customer data in real time to deliver customized and contextualized user experiences to millions of customers simultaneously.

During the MWC 2017 in Barcelona, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, “While previous models of customization were dependent on high levels of customer engagement, today’s contextualized experiences are automatic and seamlessly integrated into every experience using artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics and real-time feedback loops”.

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A number of essential attributes characterize customer expectations in today’s digital world. At every stage of buying a product or service – research, decision, purchase, payment and after sales – customer expectations are becoming increasingly exacting.

But only three of these attributes are necessary to be a success in the telecom world.

 👤 First of all: Anytime, anywhere. The advent of the internet has brought the customer expectation of real-time access to information about a product or service into the mainstream. In today’s fourth revolution this expectation has extended to the product or service itself and it defines the customer experience.

 👤 Secondly: Customer Interaction and self-designed products. Customers around the world and in different industries are now willing to design of their own product, service or brand experience, Android and Google are ideal examples, not only in cases where they allow the customization of service features but also for models that provide customers with the necessary tools and information to design and build that.

 👤 Thirdly: The user experience factor. A recent study found that two-thirds of customer had switched providers at least once because of poor service they had received. Almost half of customers surveyed were open to products or services from “non-traditional” industry players. It is the case with voice services and WhatsApp, or the Cable TV Operator and Netflix. Digital Models generate different approaches to the user experience. The idea is to provide great service and also great user experiences.

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The IoT will introduce new types of connected devices (cars, homes, etc) into the mass market and and a more demanding consumer as well

The task of providing service at the desired level of immediacy, agility, and user experience is made more challenging for telecom companies because of the increasing breadth and complexity of their business. Traditionally, the business model of the telecom operator has been separated in verticals such as fixed line, mobile, broadband, broadcasting and content. The convergence has changed all this and commodities become the access and network infrastructure simultaneously. On the other hand, it has increased the variety of customer archetypes in the base and the complexity of the operations.  It was the first indicator that the industry needed transformation. The IoT will only increase the complexity of introducing new types of connected devices such as cars and connected homes into the mass market, defining a new, more demanding consumer as well.

It is the reason why telecom companies need to embrace some key cultural and strategic characteristics of Digital Economy businesses in order to better reflect their market. Consumers now (sometimes unknowingly) expect more personalization in their lifecycle with businesses.

Telecom operators need to adapt to people’s behavior on mobile, across their customers’ lifecycle with the company and increasing personalization from the back-office and network technology. That itself represents a transformational challenge.

The other challenge is how to create an environment to innovate and fail faster in order to change their business models and how consumers view them. An industry example of this is AT&T’s Emerging Devices Organization (EDO). Characterized as a ‘start up within the larger organization’, the EDO was formed to quickly identify and create new business models within the broader mobile ecosystem.

The key is to understand the customer not the technology

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For generating this kind of culture of innovation, operators should be able to more effectively launch and assess new ventures as well as humanize their brand in this era where the personalization and the customer experience are relevant because we are living in the era of emotions.

Understanding customer preferences and behavior, using Big data and BI tools by leveraging the very data mobile technology has presented enables operators to identify which component of their business combines with a CRM strategy that can help to create an innovative company.

The potential benefits of digitization are by now well known, but the implementation of digital programs remains a vexing problem for most telecom companies. It meaning a real change of culture and there is a very small window of time in which to accomplish that. By focusing on a narrow set of high-impact digital practices, companies can speed their transformation where it will contribute most to customer satisfaction and business performance.

The key is to understand the customer not the technology, how to innovate with this knowledge and how to make the customer participate in creating her own services. Ultimately, how to become an emotionally intelligent company. The real success lies in transforming into an emotional company in the digital telecom industry.