“NFV, enabled by SDN, can increase the rate of innovation for operators”


At a time when telcos are facing the challenge of remaining relevant in a smartphone, internet-driven world – tomorrow’s telcos must utilise NFV and SDN capabilities and reinvent themselves in order to utilise the goldmine of data in their system to deliver innovative B2C services – this is exactly where Lumata can help the telco ecosystem in terms of doing more with data monetization.

Adhish Kulkarni, CMO Lumata, speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s core focus and its future plans for key geographies.

What are the key priorities for Lumata today?

We want to help Telcos leverage their data to maximise performance across content, marketing and advertising opportunities, working together with the brands ecosystem. We work with our telco partners to build sustainable revenue streams from core services as well as innovative new services. 

How does the company look at the whole space of content / data monetization for the telcos? Where can Lumata help in this regard?

We believe the time for data monetisation has arrived. Faced with declining revenues and increased churn across both developed and developing markets, mobile operators are turning to customer data for new sources of revenue.

There are several opportunities across multiple verticals such as mobile advertising, mobile money, and banking. Telcos hold credible information about explicit demographic profile of their customers and, with some additional work, implicit behavioural information such as interests and brand preferences. This is goldmine for an advertiser.

Telco behaviour can also be an indicator of credit worthiness which can be used internally to offer credit to selected customers. Telcos in some geographies are turning into banks where such data can be the difference between a subscriber getting a loan or not. Barriers such as privacy and technology to handle large volumes of varied data have prevented telcos from exploiting this opportunity in the past. While no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is shared with any third party, telcos are now proactively getting explicit consent from subscribers. As these two barriers are being lowered, we are witnessing an increase in data monetisation opportunities.

We also see a lot of operators embracing digital enablement solutions in order to become experience providers. How do you look at this trend as an opportunity?

We see this not only as an opportunity but expect it to become a core part of the telco value proposition. Some operators have been quick to recognise this trend and have even partnered with the OTT players to offer “lifestyle” bundles for social networking, messaging, photos etc.

However, telcos should go one step further and build their own digital service ecosystem for various reasons. By building digital experiences, telcos can extend their engagement beyond telcos services and transactions.

An engaged subscriber is more likely to buy more products and services and stay longer as a valued customer. It’s also an opportunity to show that you understand and care for your customers by offering digital services that enhance their everyday lives. In the process, telcos can generate valuable data about customer preferences towards specific brands or categories, music and video interests etc. to infer their interests and intent which can then be monetized.

Today there are many operators which are looking at various technologies – 2G/3G/4G in order to create market differentiations. How can your solutions help them achieve greater profitability on the long run?

There are two ways our solutions can help operators make the best out of the 2G/3G/4G revolution.

  • Firstly, in markets that are in early days of adoption (e.g. 3G in Africa, 3G/4G in India), our solutions can help in taking targeted customers through a personalised data upsell journey. Based on the profile, predicted usage and real-time context, we can help operators present the best data offer to the right customer at the right time. For instance, a customer with high data usage whose bundle is about to expire can be targeted with a special offer on a bigger data pack.
  • Secondly, data is an enabler for digital services and this brings us back to the digital services opportunity. Here, our solutions can help operators in building and enriching subscriber profiles, adapting the digital service to match individual subscriber profiles, incentivising subscribers to actively use and promote the digital services, and last but not least, monetise the digital services to generate new revenue streams.

How does the company look at India today? Please share your level of engagement with operators here?

India is a key market for us from a premium content perspective, helping Telcos extends their value-added services revenue streams. At the same time, we bring new, innovative content, which helps keep the Telco content portfolio fresh. We work with most of the Telcos on a variety of programmes

How does the company look at the emerging opportunities in the NFV and SDN space? How can operators embrace themselves for a better tomorrow with the help of NFV and SDN?

NFV, enabled by SDN, increases the rate of innovation for operators. With the virtualisation of OSS/BSS and network functions, operators can prototype and deploy new services in weeks, not months. We already support deploying our applications as a “virtual appliance” (pre-installed, preconfigured, ready to run) without requiring dedicated hardware, enabling operators to move our solutions to the cloud.

As operators also begin moving network functions to the cloud, we look forward to supporting them by adapting our interfaces and enabling faster time to market for their customer lifecycle management programmes.

What are some of the key geographies for the company today?

The company is global, and so is our client base. We have a number of products targeted to the emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latam, but we are also market leaders in Loyalty marketing in Europe, running more Telco loyalty programs than any other company. We work with the likes of Vodafone, EE, and O2 in Europe, while Orange, Idea, and MTN are customers in emerging markets. 

What kind of challenges do you think lie ahead in front of the industry today? How can we overcome these challenges?

The Telco industry is facing the challenge of remaining relevant in a smartphone, internet-driven world or being relegated to the role of a dumb pipe. Core services of data, content and voice are available through disruptive players at little to no cost. Telcos must intelligently (and respectfully) use the goldmine of data in their system to create innovative B2C services, but equally if not more importantly, B2B services.

Telcos need to work with brand partners to differentiate their offerings (because their core offering is commoditised). They need to get more intelligent about using every opportunity to interact with subscribers to deliver an engaging and meaningful communication. They need to leverage social to reduce customer servicing costs. They need to embrace digital to lower customer management costs, etc. The list is long and the time to act is short…