This year’s Digital Transformation World in Nice marked another high-profile event filled with great, inspiring talks and keynotes by renowned industry experts. At NTS Retail, we love events like these as they are an amazing opportunity for us to exchange ideas with telco operators and other vendors. In our recap, we’re taking a look back at the event and highlight a few trends to watch in our industry.
Customer centricity is key
In both, the retail sector as well as telco operations, the customers take on a crucial role. Not only are they an essential part of the business, in many ways, they shape the business and determine the path that industry leaders embark on.
Whether we’re talking about the digital or the physical customer, everyone seemed to agree that telcos need to put an emphasis on customers and their needs. But how do you cater to customers who are increasingly used to having individualized services available at their fingertips at any given time? From a customer service operator’s perspective, it’s an opportunity as well as a challenge. Putting the customer at the center of business and operative decisions is a great driver to bring forth advancements.
The cultural aspect is not to be overlooked when we’re talking customer centricity. That was another key point that could be heard time and time again. Solutions – whether digital or physical – need to be conceived of in a way that allows these solutions to align with existing cultural paradigms. This is a point where operators can learn a lot from each other and draw upon the experiences from vendors and analysts, such seemed to be the consensus throughout the discussions.
Digital transformation and the digital customer
While the eponymous phenomenon which lent its name to the event is not entirely new, the rate at which digital change has been progressing certainly has increased. Technology is entering our lives in new and exciting ways, altering how we interact with each other and how we conduct business. The reality of the digital customer is fundamentally different: targeted advertising, personalized offers, channel-agnostic and time-independent shopping and online self-service options are transforming the retail world.
“Serving the Digital Customer”, which was the title of one of the main panels this year, inevitably results in acknowledging the need to shift to more dynamic retail environments. This includes agile offer management, personalized promotions and self-service enabled solutions. The technological base for these measures lies in adopting platform-based solutions. Flexibility is key when it comes to tailoring services to the fluid reality of the digital customer and a platform-based approach is essential to achieve that.
AI and Analytics
No doubt telecoms around the world are acknowledging the potential that lies within the usage of AI for a variety of operator use cases. Chatbots and virtual assistants are among the most promising applications for AI and already see a lot of use with different operators. The benefit of shifting typical first level support use cases to a chatbot-based response system is immediately apparent and many operators are actively pursuing such solutions.
Another promising use case lies in applying AI and machine learning to the purpose of network optimization. Identifying bottlenecks, allocating resources and anticipating usage patterns – those and similar tasks can be performed by artificial intelligence systems just as well, if not better, than by human beings. The full potential remains yet to be seen as the technology still needs to be adapted more broadly and companies are still learning how to get most out of it.
The same holds true for use cases relying on analytics data. As we become more adept at collecting and allocating all sorts of data, the question emerges what to do with that data. New, complex use cases arise as we gain more information and the task of interpreting data to get to the right conclusions remains a job that cannot be passed on to machines so easily.
Whether it’s customer behavior, network loads or sales data – analytics can be beneficial in the process of optimizing just about any area of business. At Digital Transformation World, we got to catch a mere glimpse at the possibilities of applying AI in a lot of different business cases and the promise of it seems exciting.
The Phygital Store catalyst – customer insights and robotic assistants
Both, analytics and AI played a significant role in our submission to this year’s catalyst program named “The Phygital Store”. For our contribution, we explored the possibilities of using a robotic assistant (based on Sanbot Elf) in the process of welcoming and queuing in customers as they enter a store. The robot makes use of voice recognition to ascertain the purpose of the customer’s visit and calculates a projected waiting time. We also contributed by providing an analytics platform, demonstrating a showcase collecting valuable in-store analytics data (time spent in store, consulting duration etc.). Such data can then be used to optimized in-store workflows and ultimately achieve a better in-store customer experience.
Our contribution was a true success, as we were able to secure our third catalyst award, along with our partners from Orange, BearingPoint, qualycloud and Globetom. Read more in our news post!