Pipeline Publishing, Volume 4, Issue 12
This Month's Issue:
Consolidation is Key
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Ensuring Customer Loyalty
During Network Consolidation
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By Michael Palackdharry

Mergers are premised on combining the resources of two companies to create greater value than either entity can alone. However, communications service providers (CSPs) often encounter a major obstacle: The challenge of integrating diverse product catalogs inherited during the M&A process.

Recent research by the Yankee Group illustrates the problem:

  • The timeline to launch new products ranges from 3 – 12 months.
  • CSPs launch between 5 and 25 new product initiatives each year, not including feature enhancements and upgrades to existing portfolios.
  • Product portfolios in a single CSP often exceed 1,000 different products, of which only 30 – 40 percent are actively sold.

Adding to the challenge is that the terminology and language of each product catalog may vary not only within a company, but also between locales and even among a company’s own marketing, product development, operations and billing departments.

As a result, marketing and product development teams often confront a confused product environment where there is no clear definition, ownership or documentation of products, and an uncontrolled proliferation of product information. Product maintenance may be handled across multiple systems, without uniform visibility. Introducing a new product may require manual intervention, introducing errors that further slow the launch process.

Equally troublesome is that today’s product catalog quagmire undercuts revenue assurance. Inadequate or conflicting data across multiple catalogs inevitably fuels order fallout and revenue leakage.

At a time when CSPs need to move quickly to launch new products and retain customers, they are hitting a product data management wall that leads to the opposite outcome: slow response times, reduced customer satisfaction, increased churn and lost revenue.

Relationship Management and the Customer Experience

In addressing product catalog issues, CSPs need to look beyond the immediate challenge to the long-term opportunity: Using network consolidation as an opening to align BSS/OSS with the core business objective of delivering the superior service experience to customers.

Introducing a new product may require manual intervention, introducing errors that further slow the launch process.

A new approach called relationship management points the way. The premise of relationship management is simple: By delivering value to the customer, the company boosts satisfaction and loyalty, and opens the door to new cross-sell/up-sell opportunities that will drive greater value from the relationship over the life of the account.

Relationship management spans strategies, operations, new technologies and solutions to ensure a loyal, profitable customer base. Two developments that aid in this process during and after network consolidation are Enterprise Product Management (EPM) and Predictive Analytics.

Enterprise Product Management: From Many to One

EPM is a strategic business solution that supports the creation, management, dissemination and use of product definition data across the enterprise. The goal of EPM is to support product lifecycle management – an end-to-end approach from conception through design, development and bundling, service and disposal.

EPM integrates with and manages existing product catalogs on a single integrated platform that, in turn, provides a consistent, unified approach to new product development across the enterprise. EPM supports the creation, management, and use of product definition data to help ensure that orders are accurately captured in real time, thus supporting rapid, spot-on service fulfillment.

The single platform approach to product catalog management improves operational efficiency to deliver lower costs, higher margins, and greater customer satisfaction. Customers are the immediate beneficiaries. By creating a consistent approach to product definition, EPM eliminates the delays typical of fragmented legacy systems, thus significantly

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