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In an interview with Telecom Review, Henrique Vale, Global Business Center MEA Leader, Applications & Analytics, Nokia talked about the company's ongoing assistance to CSPs in transforming towards digitalization, improving customer experience and increasing their profitability.

Digitalization is taking the center stage of whatever communications service providers (CSPs) plan and execute these days. How is Nokia helping them in their digital transformation efforts?
Today, consumers' and businesses' expectations for seamless, relevant and real-time digital experiences are increasingly high. They want intelligent, contextually aware and personalized services that are intuitive, easy to use, capable of reacting in real-time to any application issue that may arise, and provide insight when needed. 

At the same time, service providers must also work in internet time. With operational efficiencies being critical to success, optimizing resource usage, such as network capacity, network equipment and operational staff; and giving them tools that make service management easier, is imperative. But as networks become more complex due to the proliferation of wireless and IoT devices and the dramatic increase in amount of time users are connected to them, the chances of service issues increase significantly. Digital operations systems must evolve to manage the digital services lifecycle from start to finish and meet new network demands.

Nokia is helping CSPs elevate customer experience and improve operations as part of their transformation to become digital service providers (DSPs). Our applications & analytics (A&A) software enables them to effectively attract, retain and support subscribers by providing innovative, personalized services, dramatically improving the digital customer experience and maximizing network performance.

A&A software also helps service providers speed operations, reduce costs, and create new business models and revenue opportunities. We do so with the industry's broadest telecommunications software and services portfolio.

Can you tell us how does Nokia leverage new capabilities and advanced technologies to help service providers improve customer experience?
Nokia software delivers new levels of innovation, intelligence and automation to help customers digitize operations, develop new, personalized services and improve the customer experience. A great example is our new "Zero Touch" Nokia Autonomous Customer Care software.

Nokia Autonomous Customer Care helps service providers address some of today's major challenges, namely, how to cost-effectively satisfy the growing demand for personalized always-on, 24-7 responsive services while keeping up with subscribers' changing communication preferences. At the same time, it helps them address the problem of frustrated subscribers who face long hold times and outdated interactive voice response (IVR) systems, and have to call more than once for the same reason and repeat information to multiple agents.

Ninety-six percent of customers do not complain after a poor customer experience, but 91 percent of those will switch providers. As a result, service providers need another way to identify and diagnose issues, without requiring the customer to contact the help desk.

To address this, Nokia Autonomous Customer Care software offers interactive care bots with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities and Nokia Bell Labs machine learning algorithms. It provides automation and analysis of customer interactions, delivering proactive and fully automated customer care as well as efficient self- and agent-assisted care in real-time.

The software can predict and resolve service-impacting issues so that corrective actions happen before they impact customers. It also interfaces with consumer intelligent assistants and social media platforms, like Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Facebook Messenger, allowing subscribers to use natural language and the channel of their choice to troubleshoot and request services without ever having to pick up the phone.

Measuring performance in tier-one service provider network, Nokia found that the software's machine learning capabilities could predict and proactively resolve up to 70 percent of residential network issues that would lead to service disruptions before subscribers are ever aware of a problem.

The software also demonstrated the ability to handle up to 80 percent of care issues without customer support agent intervention when subscribers use interactive bots. These capabilities not only deliver better service and improve the customer experience, but also can significantly reduce the number of help desk calls, customer support requests and contact center workloads.

No doubt, it's important for an operator to ensure the best customer experience for its subscribers, but at the same time it's equally important to increase its profitability. How do you help service providers increase profitability?
Service providers have a tremendous amount of data available to them, and finding ways to monetize this data is key in today's market, especially with competition keeping margins very narrow in the consumer space. Nokia's new Cognitive Analytics for Crowd Insight software allows them to create new business models and generate revenue streams with vertical players.

Nokia Cognitive Analytics for Crowd Insight tracks and analyzes the aggregate movement of subscribers using real-time network data instead of GPS or application data, which provides more frequent updates and larger sample sizes, giving precise, timely movement information. The network data is anonymized and combined with other data, such as demographic information, so service providers can offer real-time, continuous flow of crowd movement information to verticals like retail, transportation and travel.

It allows service providers to operationalize their data, such as helping retailers identify the best high-traffic areas for new stores; allowing municipalities to pick the optimal location for a bus stop; or helping advertisers determine content for digital billboards. In fact, a local European shopping mall increased mall traffic from nearby neighborhoods by 40 percent over just a couple weeks using campaigns based on Crowd Insight data.

What is the interest level you see for Nokia's new technologies in Middle East and Africa?
We see great enthusiasm for our new technologies. Countries in the Gulf, such as The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and in some regions of Africa, strive to be at the forefront of technology and innovation. They are typically the first to implement new technologies and often drive implementation in nearby regions. We are seeing a strong interest from customers in these countries in adopting Nokia technologies due to the benefits they offer in helping them streamline operations, lower OPEX, monetize services and improve the customer experience - especially as they seek to differentiate themselves amidst fierce market competition. 

Can you also tell us what other types of solutions Nokia A&A offers?
The broad Nokia A&A portfolio extends into operations support systems (OSS) software, including a suite of customer care and service assurance products, and business support systems (BSS) software, including our revenue management suit. We also offer network management and service delivery platforms (SDP) software, as well as software solutions for the internet of things (IoT), analytics, self-organizing networks (SON), cloud management and orchestration, and security.