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What's Innovation Without Tangible Benefits
A cut-throat competition prevails in the Telecom sector. Even a minor tweak in tariffs and products makes a huge change in the market. In such a scenario, we have to keep coming up with innovative offerings for our customers to create stickiness to our services. Most of our innovations revolve around revenue enhancement while supporting business analytics and business decision support processes.
Innovation does not necessarily mean something that has not been done before. It could be the same thing done differently. Innovation means simplifying the process to infuse efficiency into the system, bringing down costs, creating some level of attraction for customers or providing a certain degree of ease to them.
Innovation should have a direct impact either on customer ease, revenue generation or process enhancement. It should have tangible benefits attached to it, rather than qualitative.
Sometimes, innovation happens when you are pushed to the corner to come up with solutions in a short span of time. For example: Back in the year 2009, our management board decided to launch data services, which is much more complex than launching voice. It involves data billing, CRM, and revenue reconciliations. So within 90 days, we had to build the system in-house and come up with the entire platform that can support data services.
These included the best-of-the-class landing pages and revenue charging mechanism, wherein we could offer something new to the customers. So we offered the customer his favorite website at zero charge. The customer is charged normally for other sites but he can have free access to a couple of his chosen websites. That created a buzz for MBlaze, the datacard service from MTS.
For a CIO, having a pulse of the business is important. And so is to look at ways to simplify technology for business. If that is lacking, none of the solutions will match the needs of the business. So, innovation should be in line with business needs, otherwise it will not have any impact.
Similarly, developing of culture of innovation in the IT organization goes a long way in benefiting the business. To nurture innovation, one should not block new idea generation from team members. Instead, encourage them to think out-of-the-box and share their ideas.
At MTS, we have a lean team compared to the incumbents. They have a lot of independence to innovate. We pick up ideas from all members. A small unit amongst our strategy team gathers ideas from across IT, and then qualifies them whether it would get business nod or not.
So, every quarter, we take two innovative ideas to the marketing team and we get them qualified from them whether we can take it to the market or not. This is based on our entire study of the system internally, whether it is Billing or CRM or Analytics or Marketing Campaign Systems. Out of these, we pick up the solution that could work well in the market. Then it is consolidated at the corporate level and taken to the marketing and sales team for discussion about whether they qualify it as a solution that can go into the market or not.