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TECHNOLOGY: Collaborating With Telco's To Improve Service Delivery


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Cape Town telecom-IT firm Mobinomics has an unusual approach to contribute to improving South Africa’s telecommunications service delivery: it is working directly with telcos to improve the everyday systems and processes that support service delivery.

Africa’s fixed line telcos have challenges with service delivery to their customers,” says Mobinomics MD Mark Acton. “The telcos are not deaf to customer complaints, and there’s no lack of trying – but solving the problem is a lot more difficult than it looks from the outside.”

Ideally, says Acton, “telco service delivery systems would be so seamless that when you call in to report a problem, the customer service representatives would be in a position to automatically diagnose the cause of the fault, and if required make an appointment date and time for a service technician with the appropriate skills to fix the problem.  There would also be none of the communication breakdowns between departments that frustrate customers today.”

But in reality the relationship between telecoms networks and the software applications that allow operators to deliver services over those networks is very complex. They form a sophisticated eco-system or “system of systems” that must come together to support seamless business processes. Knowing exactly what problems to solve in the first place is very difficult.”

Simply plugging a new generic solution from a large software vendor into a complex environment of existing legacy and adapted off-the-shelf systems is rarely going to work,” says Acton. “Instead, what we do is collaborate with our clients to understand the problem, design a project solution, implement it and then refine it. This goes way beyond software development – that comes right at the very end. It’s about understanding the whole telco ecosystem.”

Acton believes small, independent companies like Mobinomics have agility that gives them a huge advantage. “We can engage with our clients at every level in their organisation, in any department: we’re outside of the hierarchies and can navigate the inevitable internal politics that often gets in the way. We’re like window washers, who wash windows at every level of the building and thus have line of sight into every part of the organisation: we can have a very different, far more holistic view of what’s going on. It gives us the ability to facilitate important conversations between various stakeholders.”

No outside vendor can ever understand your organization well enough to deliver a really effective solution,” adds Acton. “The inside knowledge is indispensable – and helping to unlock that  knowledge and integrating it with what we bring as an external service provider is a key contribution we make. Our goal is to work with our clients to liberate their own potential to solve complex service delivery problems. We consciously avoid looking at the challenge as an IT problem alone. Rather, we focus on the big picture and the underlying system dynamics that drive it.”

The stakes are high. “Reliable telecommunications service is an absolutely essential ingredient of economic development,” says Acton. “But it’s not just about building networks; it’s about taking orders efficiently, providing services fast and fixing faults promptly.  If you are a small business owner, for example, you should be able to make an installation appointment with a service technician, and be confident that the appointment will be kept. Then you need to know that your broadband will keep operating reliably, or be fixed quickly if there are problems. That’s the kind of service we are aiming for.”

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