Redefining customer engagement in the virtualized world

The rapid move toward virtualization impacts customer engagement. Wim Haverhals, Senior Director of Worldwide Industry Solutions at Apttus, looks at how in this article. At TM Forum Live! (May 15-18 in Nice, France), Haverhals and Nils Lehner, Product Manager at TDC, will present a case study on ‘Enabling faster service time-to-value with cloud BSS’.

The radical transformation of the global telecommunications industry is a well-recognized fact and something that is taking place in front of our eyes. Some of the aspects of this transformation are virtualization and the move to the cloud. According to recent surveys, a vast majority of operators have in-progress network functions virtualization (NFV) transformation projects. Similarly, a majority of global telecom CIOs say that they are ready to deploy cloud-based business support systems (BSS). In addition, content and over-the-top (OTT) services are altering the fundamental business models in the industry, driving the need for digital transformation. All of this impacts customer engagement.

The consolidation wave in the industry is showing no signs of abating, with both horizontal integration to new business and geographies, and vertical integration up and down the value chain. This is partly driven by the disruption that new entrants with OTT offerings, like LinkedIn and Facebook, are causing in the marketplace. Traditional telecom services are taken as a given and are insufficient to attract and retain customers. This will mean that the core business of large, traditional telecoms will disappear – the core networking capabilities will just be the building blocks, with revenue moving to OTT.

The shifting dynamics is putting more power in the hands of the customer, which is in turn is accelerating the shift to the brave new world. Customers demand personalized offerings and intuitive self-service options, and they want to the ability to access and control their services wherever they are, using whatever device they choose. They are willing to pay a price premium for a superior experience, but not for traditional connectivity.

On the B2B side, the software-defined networking (SDN) and NFV revolution is opening new areas of demand such as NFV security. Are operators equipped to make this transition to the virtualized world, and if so what are the toolkits they need to help them get there?

Adapting to the new world: redefining customer engagement

Along with the challenges come opportunities. The hyper-connected world we are moving into will offer huge monetization opportunities, provided operators shake up their traditional ways of doing business.

  • Move to the cloud: Operators need to start by looking at their internal systems. They need to move away from heavy, on-premise operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS). Moving systems to the cloud will give operators the agility to react to changing customer demands, the ability to scale and the speed to be first to market with new offerings.
  • Virtualize complexity: The complexity inherent in the tightly coupled, siloed legacy OSS/BSS needs to move up into the virtual layers. This will provide operators the flexibility to focus their energies and resources on what really matters – their customers. Operators should also gain from the plug-and-play interoperability that cloud platforms and TM Forum frameworks provide.
  • Rethink telecom sales: Telecom sales execs must be empowered with tools that give them complete visibility into the breadth of fast-changing product and service catalogs. New distribution channels like online self-service must be prioritized. Intelligent recommendations based on prior purchase and active usage data must be provided to ensure customers are presented with a solutions that are just right for them.

Unless communications service providers act quickly and decisively, the winds of change threaten to blow them into the history books. On the other hand, if they embrace the cloud, leverage plug-and-play, reduce complexity and revamp self-service, these winds can propel them to an energized, customer-centric, highly profitable future.

TM Forum Live! takes place May 15-18 in Nice, France.  Find out more at


    About The Author

    Director of Product Management - Industry Solutions

    Wim Haverhals is thought leader with 20 years of visionary operational leadership in the telecommunications industry. He has been at the forefront of the digital transformation wave in telecommunications and has driven the CRM and ERP agenda for CenturyLink, IBM and Avaya, among others. Wim has led more than 20 successful full-lifecycle implementations involving web-based CRM, ERP and portals. He currently spearheads Apttus’ worldwide industry solution vision and architecture, driving cloud-based transformation and revenue success for communications customers across the globe.

    1 Comment

    1. Wesley Alves Machado on

      Hi, Wim, congratulations for your article. I’d like to put some observation about your first paragraph’s last phrase: “All of this impacts the customer engagement.”. Latest publications about techno-human condition bring some suggestions that neither is clear this direction (techno -> human) nor direction (human -> techno). I think that if we take the human’s necessity perspective first is probably that we’re going to enrich the vision brought by your article.


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