A global survey of service providers in the wireless, wireline and cable markets found that rapid time to market for new services is critical to delivering a more competitive customer experience.
However, the study, which was sponsored by Amdocs, also revealed that service providers place even more emphasis on safeguarding service fulfilment and controlling the cost of service delivery to end-users.
Coleman Parkes Research, an independent firm based in London, conducted the survey in February. The study covers interviews with more than 120 CIOs, COOs, directors of operations support systems, and product managers of leading providers in Europe, Asia Pacific, North and South America and the Middle East.
Of those polled, 90% of said that getting the service right - in other words, ensuring a positive customer experience - is as important as delivering it quickly.
Two out of every three respondents expect to improve profit margins through faster time to market, and three out of every four confirm that faster time to market will reduce customer churn.
Even then, more than 90% recognize that decreasing time to market requires investment in OSS to address the challenges of legacy-based systems and processes. In particular, respondents cited automation (85%), common tools and processes (81%) and data integrity (79%) as critical areas for future investment.
'Time to market is important, but not at any cost and certainly not at any risk to the customer experience,' said Charles Born from Amdocs.
'To overcome the challenges, mitigate the risks and deliver the required customer experience, the survey demonstrates that service providers recognize the need to address operational challenges and constraints by investing in BSS/OSS integration, standardization and automation of key processes, and improved data integrity,' Born said.
The survey also found that the most important differentiators are those that impact customer experience: 98% of respondents said quality of service is a critical factor in determining customer satisfaction and retention.
Other critical factors include time to deliver service (91%) and cost of service (83%). While time to market is not the most critical differentiator, 93% of respondents recognize its importance in delivering a competitive customer experience.
Another interesting finding is that a gap exists between aspiration and reality - the target time to market for service providers is three to six months, but less than one-third of those polled can roll out new products in less than three months and only a third of respondents have seen a decrease in time to market for introducing new services.
While service providers aspire to bring services online quickly, they face challenges and constraints such as the complexity of the technology environment, time to develop systems and processes, OSS/BSS integration and lack of standardization.
Further, the study revealed that time to market impacts the bottom line. About one out of every three respondents said they launch new products late and more than half expect the number of new products to increase.
Delays result in missed revenue opportunities and sub-standard customer experiences, which negatively affect customer retention. This means that cost to market has to be contained, even as time to market is reduced.