Mei Lee: We are at a critical juncture for the global telecommunications industry. In your view, what needs to happen now and why is there no turning back?
Ari: External factors such as economic pressure, customer dissatisfaction, competition, and changing business demands are having such a significant impact on the global telecommunications industry that to survive telcos need to change rapidly and drastically. It is clear that the revenue streams and legacy technology that they have depended on in the past are no longer able to deliver the results that they need. For telcos, the only way to survive and thrive is to become more resilient against external factors. They need the put in place a sustainable monetization and cost model that can generate new growth opportunities, new revenue streams and new lines of business from a more efficient, quicker, and smarter mobile network. The telco to techco transition that is needed will require a major shift internally with culture, corporate organization, and technology areas like automation and co-creation.

Mei Lee: Vendors can help telcos achieve the change that is needed. However, I do think that change is as much a necessity for vendors as it is for telcos. From a vendor perspective, how can vendors become strong partners to telcos?
Ari: In my opinion, change is the only constant. As vendors, we need to be strategic allies of telcos and help them innovate their business and operating models. Vendors need to enable revenue generation at a lower total cost of ownership in the most efficient and sustainable way. Solutions need to cater to changing needs; be agile, automated, and energy efficient. It is no longer just about providing a solution. It is also about helping to unleash new possibilities, for example, with artificial intelligence (AI) and low code, no code, as new capabilities will play an important role and be business-driven going forward.

Working together with telcos, the approach needs to be win-win and benefit both parties. We are clear that what used to work 15 years ago, whether from an architecture, deployment, or engagement angle, no longer works. There would need to be new ways of working together productively, but also profitably. However, vendors first need to be able to perform and deliver consistently to build trust and become strong partners to telcos. That is the pre-requisite for joint success.

Mei Lee: We have touched on telcos and vendors. How do solutions need to evolve to meet the needs of telcos going forward?
Ari: The fact that telcos are aiming beyond connectivity in search of new revenue streams poses a few challenges. The wider scope encompasses multiple industries and diversified businesses. From here on, solutions need to be flexible enough from a data model standpoint for use in multiple industries. What is needed is an industry agnostic product catalog ordering, Configure Price Quote (CPQ), self-service, operations, and monetization that will help telcos provide converged services across different industries. With each additional industry, integration becomes more complex, especially when it involves working with third party systems. There needs to be a master catalog to synchronize with other catalogs that are already in place and open Application Programming Interface (API) to bring it all together. There also needs to be means to achieve automated provisioning across different platforms and systems in different industries. Solutions running on Open Digital Architecture (ODA) help with this.

Achieving a standardized interface, enhanced security, and customer care geared to serve the needs of multiple industries are some areas that will need development. Providing a seamless mobile first omni-channel experience is not only important for telcos, but also for the other industries that are being brought together by telcos when going beyond connectivity. At a high level, it is about enabling a co-creation environment that can facilitate collaboration between multiple partners to create converged offers that extend across multiple industries. Netcracker’s advanced analytics utilizes the company’s telco-specific knowledge bases and native integration with telco operations support system and business support system (OSS/BSS) to create comprehensive and personalized prompts for the Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) models with relevant data, instructions, and context. This approach creates the best response, which effectively improves interaction quality and performance.

Mei Lee: Netcracker technology (“Netcracker”) has been recognized by a string of regional and global awards, including awards by Frost & Sullivan. Most recent is recognition by at the Global Telecoms Awards for delivering innovative 5G monetization capabilities that is helping telcos become techcos. Can you please share with us more on how Netcracker is delivering the results that many telcos around the world are striving for?
Ari: To date, there are only a few telcos in the world that are taking aggressive steps to become a techco. One of them is e&, which was formerly known as the Etisalat Group. e& is in the midst of a major transformation from telco to techco that will enable beyond connectivity revenue opportunities including in the Fintech and entertainment sectors, and better enterprise segment penetration. Paired with a venture arm that invests in shortlisted visionary tech companies, e& aims to drive innovation, automation, and scale to strengthen the value proposition of its operating companies, for example, Careem, el Grocer, and Khazna. It also aims to expand its product portfolio and be equipped with IT capabilities necessary to tap the enterprise segment for better monetization.

To achieve their strategic objectives, e& needed a technology partner that has proven technical product superiority, successful transformation experience, and innovation capability. Meeting these key requirements, Netcracker had been chosen to undertake the task to support e&. Having been consistently selected for complex digital transformation programs globally is testament to our delivery capability. Customers trust us to make them successful and our delivery track record shows Netcracker is second to none in delivering complex digital transformation programs.

Recognition for Netcracker’s ability to deliver innovative 5G monetization capabilities stems from the fact that we have worked with multiple industries for many years, understand the pain points, and have ready models that work. Netcracker is active in the financial services, utilities, retail, smart cities, entertainment industries with many customers within these industries leveraging 5G for better efficiency, productivity, and profitability. For example, DHL is a key customer in the courier and logistics sector and is well known for its AI-based autonomous inventory management system that is powered by 5G. Netcracker also has hands-on experience in bringing together 75+ industries to be part of Rakuten’s loyalty program, which is one of the largest loyalty programs in Japan with over 12 million active users. We bring the lessons learnt from Rakuten, especially on how to create a seamless experience, to the telco beyond connectivity projects.

Mei Lee: What are some key success factors specific to Netcracker that are important for achieving customer success?
Ari: As a trusted partner to telcos making the telco to techco transition, our depth of knowledge, constant product portfolio evolution and approach to achieving success with projects are strong factors. Netcracker has been helping telcos around the world overcome pain points by giving them the tools and expertise to transform into self-sufficient technology companies.

We have people with enough knowledge to help telcos to start on joint development. Telcos can rely on us and feel comfortable knowing that we know what we are doing because we already have the necessary experience and references. We have an unbeatable track record of success in digital transformation projects. We take responsibility for our delivery and services and help with self-sufficiency efforts. As a result, we enjoy the trust and close relationships with customers.

A constant product portfolio evolution provides telcos with the necessary solid foundation upon which they can build out their B2B2X or Business-to-Business (B2B) to intermediaries and partners (2X)  business and move into new markets. With our Netcracker Digital Platform, telcos can gain access to a broad partner ecosystem that can equip them with the ability to move into new vertical segments. Framed within outcome-based contracts, customers know what they are getting. To avoid project failures, Netcracker staff are always on their toes ensuring that joint priorities are achieved.

Mei Lee: What is the outlook for 2024 for Netcracker Technology?
Ari: In 2024, Netcracker Technology will be busy delivering on new projects that have been announced. It is going to be another interesting year as we have signed up for some of the largest transformation programs in the world and we are expecting to see many of our existing customers investing a lot more in beyond connectivity type of initiatives where telcos will play an especially important role in the telecommunications industry and other industries. Projects will be challenging to deliver, but it will also be very fulfilling when they go live.

About Quah Mei Lee

Quah Mei Lee is a Director with Frost & Sullivan’s ICT practice. Working on Mobile & Wireless Research for Asia-Pacific, her area of expertise lies in telecoms strategy with a specific interest in 5G.

Quah Mei Lee

Quah Mei Lee is a Director with Frost & Sullivan’s ICT practice. Working on Mobile & Wireless Research for Asia-Pacific, her area of expertise lies in telecoms strategy with a specific interest in 5G.

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