SERVICE PROVIDER STRATEGY

VENDOR OMNI-CHANNEL E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS MUST HAVE FAST TIME-TO-MARKET AND INTEGRATED WCMS CAPABILITY

As part of our strategy research into the carrier-grade
e-commerce solutions space, we interviewed ten leading CSPs across Europe, North America, and APAC on their experiences in the e-commerce platforms space. Here are some of our findings.




CSPs ARE OPTING FOR MODULAR AND OPEN E-COMMERCE ARCHITECTURES 

Our research shows that CSPs are picking platforms that have a modular and open architecture that provides them with flexibility. The main reason behind choosing an
e-commerce platform by CSPs is an architecture that is sufficiently modular and open to allow access to the underlying capabilities of the platform via web services across all key LoBs.

 

Our research shows that architecture that are Java-based allow internal development teams at carriers to customize the e-commerce platform to meet their own specific needs. E-commerce platforms that do not replace the underlying provisioning and activation systems at CSPs and that continue to operate external to the E-commerce platform are also essential to CSP requirements.


E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS MUST EXTEND ACROSS ALL LINES OF BUSINESS AND CHANNELS


Our research shows that CSPs value e-commerce platforms that can extend beyond consumer wireless (prepaid and postpaid) to corporate accounts. Our research shows that consumer wireless (prepaid and postpaid) and mobile broadband are standard implementations across all CSPs we have interviewed. However, even some of the leading vendors'
e-commerce platforms are having trouble being implemented both in B2B and fixed-line environments.

Our research also shows that CSPs are demanding
e-commerce platforms be implemented across Customer-facing Websites, Call Center, Retail Stores, Online Stores and Smart Device Apps as key channels.

SHORTENED TIME-TO-MARKET IS A KEY CSP REQUIREMENT 

Our research shows that Total Time to Market (TTM) is in the 9 – 12 month range, on average, for the 10 CSPs we interviewed. According to one CSP we interviewed, a former Lead Project Manager for Online Projects at Three UK, the “speed to market” advantages that vendors promote is usually related only to their core offering and not to all the integration required with other systems in place at Telcos. At the same time, all interviewees we spoke with said that between project start and “go live” took about 9 – 12 months across most platforms studied.

ORDER FALLOUTS AVERAGE LESS THAN 1%

Our research shows that CSPs are generally satisfied with the Order Fallout ratios they are experiencing with their e-commerce platforms. 80% of the executives we interviewed, who had specific knowledge about order fallout rates, said that the order fall-out ratio was less than 1% on their e-commerce platforms, and that they were generally satisfied with this rate.

FEARS, UNCERTAINTIES AND DOUBTS

Our research shows some key reasons cited by CSPs that created doubts about specific vendors:

TELCO-SPECIFIC CAPABILITIES: Most e-commerce platforms in the market place are “all things to all people”. In this context, CSPs are looking for telc-specific implementations with specific vendor experiences integrating with both north-bound CRM and south-bound provisioning and product catalog and order management systems. 

WCMS LIMITATIONS: Almost all CSPs we spoke with said that most e-commerce platforms have limitations in how they can be integrated with their existing web-based contact management systems. Internal telco implementation teams are spending a lot of time debating whether the e-commerce engines offered by leading vendors should be integrated with platforms such as Adobe CQ5 or other enterprise-grade WCMSes, when in fact, this should be a pre-configured feature of any e-commerce engine.

About 50% of our CSP interviewees also said that integrating with the contact management systems they had in place was also not easy for their e-commerce solutions. The amount of modifications that need to be done to e-commerce platforms for integration with the contact management system was quite significant. In our view, in carriers where contact management systems are different from a vendor's e-commerce systems (i.e., the vast majority telecommunications carriers), these integration issues with customer management solutions will result in project implementation delays.

TIME-TO-MARKET IS A MAJOR PAIN FOR CSPs: In the opinion of many of the interviewees we spoke with, the “speed to market” advantages that vendors promoted was usually related only to their core offering and not to all the integration required with other systems in place at Telcos. In their opinion a 9-12 month time-to-market is simply unacceptable.

 

EXPERIENCED INTEGRATION SPECIALISTS ANOTHER KEY PAIN POINT FOR CSPs: Finally, in the opinion of five of the ten interviewees we spoke with, when integrating e-commerce platforms, there was a definite shortage in experienced integrators and e-commerce experts to manage the telco transformations. These projects required more skilled professionals than vendors were able to provide themselves as consultants, and according to our interviews even vendor-partnered Systems Integrators had some difficulties providing staff that had expert-level knowledge of the vendors' e-commerce platforms.

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