Service providers in the telecom industry know all too well that oftentimes the ability to compete hinges on successfully deploying what are known as “value-added services.” The trick is to figure out what type of value can be added that will be truly useful and enticing to customers.
The necessity of value-added services spills over into the newer realm of VoIP, where technology exists to offer more at a competitive price, but providers don’t always know just what to add or how. This dilemma is the topic of a session later this month at ITEXPO (News - Alert), “Applications as a Competitive Differentiator,” presented in part by Barry Sher (News - Alert), vice president of business development at IVR Technologies.
Sher told TMCnet that succeeding with value-added services starts with focusing on market stats — where opportunities exist, and what’s currently going on in the industry. That’s where he plans to begin his part of the session. He said this means taking a hard look at just how competitive the market is, and the contributing factors.
Perhaps the biggest trend driving growth of value-added services is the declining value of a phone call, and of a phone conversation.
“Per minute rates continue to drop, and the value of a phone call continues to drop as well,” Sher told TMCnet.
The question then, remains: How can providers reach today’s consumers, and how can they continue doing so in the future? Or, to put it another way, how can a provider create more revenue and reduce customer churn?
It might sound obvious, but the key lies in focusing on what consumer actually want and need, Sher said. When a provider does that in an effective way, the result is increased margins, growing subscriber bases, and the ability to retain customers.
During the session, Sher and his co-presenters — Thomase Howe from Thomas Howe (News - Alert) Consulting, Ali Kafel from Stratus Technologies, Gavin Ellzey from EMC Corp, and Jose Deras from AppTrigger — will discuss where revenue opportunities exist. He said the key to capturing market share means investing in the right technologies, being able to manage network costs, and improving customer service.
So what do subscribers want? Sher said today’s telecom service customer is seeking a single Web store where they can manage all their communications in a centralized way. That means one site where they can set find me/follow me options, manage voicemail, and connect with low calling rates.
“We're seeing different applications coming about to converge all these services into one centralized Web service,” Sher told TMCnet.
Creating compelling, bundled service packages with standardized rates for different kinds of calls is a recipe for success, he added. One area that providers should look, he advised, is ways to integrate telephony with online services and applications — like social networks. This can be achieved by embedding click-to-call services on different types of Web sites.
“There are click-to-call applications and integrated communication opportunities directly through social networking sites,” Sher told TMCnet. “It's all about reaching across different device lines, and different Web presences — whether it's a click-to-call application on a social networking site, on a smartphone or through Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook on the desktop.”
The session, scheduled for September 17 from 11:00-11:45 a.m. in L.A., will include a summary of how to capitalize on broadband networks and voice and video over IP services. This means augmenting existing offerings with new apps and services, leveraging existing infrastructure, and investing in new technologies, Sher said.
To learn more about how service providers are succeeding with value-added services, please visit the Billing, PBX and SIP Server channels on TMCnet.com, brought to you by IVR Technologies (News - Alert).
Mark your calendars for INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year. ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Register now!
Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae's articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Mae Kowalke