Customer expectations are sky rocketing. Tech-savvy millennials are proving to be most elusive. The ephemeral customers of today demand digitally transformative changes as far as their engagement with businesses are concerned. Businesses are forced to adapt to the ever-changing customer behavior and preferences. In such a scenario, enterprises don’t have a choice but to pull up their socks and deliver. Thus, every enterprise and business worth its salt is all set to jump on to the digital transformation bandwagon and wants to make it a core part of their initiatives and activities. As far as the digital journey is concerned, CIOs play a crucial role in the scheme of things and are responsible for steering their organizations towards a digital future. Moreover, CIOs of today must be crystal clear with what they want from digital transformation and the objectives that they aspire to achieve. Leading telecom service provider, Vodafone has been at the forefront of spear heading this change as far as the telecom sector is concerned. dynamicCIO’s Executive Editor, Muqbil Ahmar (DC) interacted with Meenakshi Vajpayee (MV), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Vodafone on how the company is pursuing a digital strategy.
DC: How has technology re-defined customer experience?
MV: Customer experience aims towards and emphasizes on enhancing customer satisfaction and delight during their engagement with the organization. This engagement may be the entire customer journey, brand touch points of interaction or the environment provided during any engagement in their relationship tenure. New age technologies have completely re-defined customer experience over the recent years and are proliferating at an exponential pace. Today, the customer is more empowered and aware. The Internet, social media channels, online reviews and articles provide them with an option for anywhere, anytime access to information, services and products. Hence, the traditional channels of engaging customers have given way.
DC: Where does the telecom sector stand today vis-à-vis technology adoption? How has Vodafone taken to technology adoption?
MV: The Telecom sector has been at the forefront of technology adoption. Customer delight and convenience is the pivot for our processes and products’ design and development and that creates focus for the largest number of initiatives that we take up to be customer centric. Among the several projects that we have delivered and are continuously enhancing include re-defined and re-designed new customer app, easier SIM booking and doorstep delivery through online channels, query resolution at click of a button, tying up with Amazon, Google and other leading service providers for faster data caching technologies, empowering the sales force through mobile applications, harnessing benefits of big data analytics and cloud computing to provide personalized and customized offers to customers.
Initiatives are also underway for call center experience enhancement. This includes single 360 degree view of the customer, experimenting with BOTs and aligning with the online experiences. Special digital teams and tools analyze the voice of a customer, captured through multiple channels such as social media, web activity, call centers, ad response, sponsorships, etc. and seamlessly integrate our service, brand, marketing, and technology teams. Our Devops, Agile and Value added service teams strive to deliver customer and market aligned products rapidly.
DC: Give us examples of a few key digital innovations at work in Vodafone that have been initiated recently, particularly aimed at enhancing customer satisfaction and enriching the overall delivery of products and services?
MV: We have undertaken many initiatives to move towards a digital organization. While staying abreast with the ever-evolving landscape of the digital technologies we have leveraged our global footprint and implemented the relevant digital offerings, which are delighting customers every day. Our digital innovations pivot around enabling easier and ubiquitous access to self-service through “app for everyone” philosophy. We have provided the relevant digital interventions throughout the customer journey starting from digitally enabling the frontlines and the customers through an all-in-one app offering one-stop solution to entertainment, digital payments, self-service, issue resolution in a click, recharging and ordering new connections. The big data-enabled near real-time contextual campaign management system provides relevant one to one offers to customers across all digital touch points, basis their usage profile and needs. We have also taken major steps in digitizing the employee experience through providing self-service options through apps for easing their daily chores and increasing productivity.
One Telco cloud, Project Apollo – complete Digital Transformation, SDN, NFV, Open source technologies in Access, Transmission, Core, Micro services based DXL and Middleware, AI and ML in Network Planning, Chatbots, Sales team empowerment initiatives through technology and big data analytics are some of the initiatives we have been working on for quite some time now. The new DSA (Dynamic SIM Allocation) platform enables SIM provisioning at point of sale and supports varieties of subscriptions provided by VIL. Intelligence and predictive maintenance instead of manual monitoring in IT operations and service operations has drastically improved our operations’ resilience and efficiency.
DC: Are you doing any pioneering work as far as new age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data are concerned?
MV: Telecom has been pioneering the use cases and adoption of these digital technologies in a big way. These technologies are adopted with a business value focus. Vodafone is a world leader globally in M2M and IoT offerings. We have adopted Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies in domains such as network optimizations in a Centralized Self-Organizing Network (C-SON) for completing repetitive tasks. AI is also being planned /used/ experimented in customer service domains such as Virtual Agents, Chat Bots, Identity Analytics, Cognitive Robots, Personalization and Recommendation Systems, Speech Analytics and Data Visualization. Big Data is being used to economically handle a vast amount of data being generated through various media and channels and feeds from these channels have helped developing context delivery platforms, providing targeted and personalized offers. Big data is increasingly being adopted to support Network Analytics, Customer Analytics, and Campaigning systems and data archival needs. Also, with the introduction of micro services and readily available cloud platforms we are moving to continuous software delivery models by promoting API-First approach. We are also planning to conduct a few blockchain use-case PoCs in our Bangalore lab.