Next Generation Communications Blog

Why E-Mail Sucks and How to Make it Smarter

Many of us live in email. I get hundreds per day and I need almost every message. I am also a source...

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The Contact Center's Seemingly Oxymoronic Play: How to Decrease Costs Yet Improve Customer Service

I was recently asked to talk to some of our many contact center customers about the new contact center trends.  It...

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The New Facet of Customer Experience Management - Field Service 2.0

By: Rhodo Odysseos, Product/Solution Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, and Jess Verbruggen, Motive Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent

Traditionally, communications service providers (CSPs) have treated the field service aspect of their organization as a cost center. Field technicians engaged in maintenance activities were simply a part of the cost of doing business.  More recently, the communications industry in general and the field service arena in particular, has been disrupted by immense changes in the customer profile, service expectations, and behaviors.

Field service is often the only face of the company that a customer will ever see, so it’s not a surprise that CSPs are striving to make a positive impact on customers in this realm. Achieving full potential in field service saves CSPs a lot of time and money. Productivity and efficiency reviews targeted at field service operations, done correctly, can reinforce other areas of the business by increasing customer satisfaction and improving safety and quality. 

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Amazon Fire Phone Should be a Laptop

I’ve written a lot of headlines in my life but this one is among the oddest. Why on earth does a phone...

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Apple Pay Vs. Google Wallet

Replacing credit cards can likely only be done if the new system is dead-easy to use and it moreover has to be...

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Signaling Offers Great Differentiation for Mobile Value-Added Service Offerings

We’ve all heard that some Value Added Services (VAS) revenue such as Short Message Service (SMS) are starting to decline in...

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Birdstep Improves Wireless User Experience, Reduces Churn

A smartphone user can get tripped up easily when in motion as today’s smartphones look for WiFi networks to connect to and...

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A Cost-Effective, Bluetooth-Focused Approach to Traffic Monitoring

By Beecher Tuttle

The exponential growth of the world's population – coupled with the ever-increasing reliance on automobiles and the deterioration of roads and highways – has turned traffic congestion into a major concern.

In fact, the Urban Mobility Report estimated in 2009 that the ramifications of traffic congestion cost Americans around $80 billion a year, not to mention the negative consequences for the environment. This number is expected to reach $150 billion by 2033, and the problem is even worse in more crowded countries like India and China.

Unfortunately, the sluggish economy has only worsened the issue, as many communities no longer have the resources to fix their infrastructure or modernize their public transit systems.

So what are communities to do?

Optimizing LTE Network Performance with SON and Extended SON

By Beecher Tuttle

The widespread use of smartphones, tablet computers and other Web-enabled mobile devices has caused wireless data services to explode. While this is good news for application developers and mobile device manufacturers, it presents several challenges for service providers whose networks see more bandwidth-hungry traffic each day.

This concern is compounded by the fact that the increase in traffic is surpassing the growth rate for wireless revenue. To survive, service providers need to decrease their cost per bit while simultaneously optimizing their LTE network to handle more traffic....

Bell Labs Helps Mobile Service Providers to Understand and Meet Video Calling Quality of Experience (QoE) Challenges

By Michelle Amodio

The explosive growth of smart mobile devices capable of making video calls is placing intense pressures on service providers to configure their networks to assure users have experiences that meet or exceed their expectations. However, providing a superior quality of experience (QoE) is a complex challenge.

As part of its support of mobile service providers around the world, Alcatel Lucent’s Bell Labs recently looked at the factors that influence QoE) to help service providers full understand all of the issues and what needs to be done to resolve them.

The questions the Bell Labs researchers explored were:

  • What are the key factors that influence QoE for mobile video calls?
  • Are residential broadband networks ready for them?

There was good news on both fronts. The challenges could be identified and categorized in terms of importance, and viable solutions can help operators meet consumer expectations in a timely and cost effective manner, as well as lay the foundation for new profitable services.

The main finding of the researchers was that service providers require not bigger (more bandwidth) networks but faster ones (in terms of response time). They validated that speed, combined with the proper provision of a consistent quality of service (QoS), are the critical determinants in mobile video calling QoE.

HP and Alcatel-Lucent Creating the Cloud-Ready Data Center

By Erin Harrison

Cloud computing has already transformed the way we live and do business. Consumers like the idea that they can access low-cost applications anywhere, anytime, on any device – and enterprises are moving applications to the cloud to reduce costs and streamline operations.

The movement toward to the cloud gives service providers an opportunity to deliver cloud services from their data centers as a natural extension of the network and hosting services they already offer. According to Alcatel-Lucent’s whitepaper, “Creating the Cloud-Ready Data Center,” with the right infrastructure, service providers can leverage their greatest assets: 

Small Cells Technology Fuels New Consumer Market Opportunities

By Erin Harrison

By now, you have probably heard about and read the hype about small cells technology – tiny indoor cellular base stations installed in a household that connect the fixed broadband network to mobile devices within the residence. By increasing service quality and connection speeds indoors, small cells can improve voice calls and provide faster, more reliable data connections and coverage.

Small cells are low-powered radio access points that improve indoor and outdoor coverage to increase capacity and offload traffic – as much as 80 percent during peak times. Alcatel-Lucent, one of the leading femtocell companies, offers the 9360 portfolio of small cells.

According to Alcatel-Lucent research findings from five countries across North America, Europe and Asia, the small cells marketplace in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore and Taiwan will be worth €6.1 billion in total by 2014, with over 34 million subscribers predominantly using unlimited voice, video calling and SMS services.  The findings are highlighted in Alcatel-Lucent’s whitepaper titled, “Small Cells Technology Fuels New Consumer Market Opportunities.”

Alcatel-Lucent's 'Digital Life' Delivers on the Promise of a Truly Connected Home

By Beecher Tuttle

Recent technological innovations – like Web-enabled TVs, file sharing solutions and unified communication applications – have given consumers a feel for what integrated connectivity can bring, and they have developed a taste for it.

With this in mind, Alcatel-Lucent's research wing, Bell Labs, developed a concept called Digital Life Service, a home networking service that enables consumers to connect, share and control a home's appliances and infrastructure. Digital Life allows users to integrate heating, lighting, home monitoring and entertainment – and control these services remotely.

Alcatel-Lucent recently conducted a market research study in China to assess consumer appeal for the service. The survey included residents of eight Chinese cities and focused on identifying projected demand, key target segments as well as drivers and barriers to service adoption.

How Workforce Optimization Strategies Can Improve Quality Management, Scheduling and Employee Performance

By Beecher Tuttle

To succeed in the current economic climate, enterprises need to make customer service a top priority. This task is complicated by the myriad of new channels that today's customers use to contact companies, including social media, email, phone and corporate websites.

In addition, organizations today often maintain a dispersed workforce, making it even more difficult to track and assess communications between employees and customers. In this complicated environment, enterprises need to find ways to evaluate the performance of customer-facing employees, influence their engagement levels with clients and develop routing rules for accurate employee scheduling.

Maximizing employee potential can be aided by a workforce optimization (WFO) strategy that brings training, quality management, customer survey tools, job scheduling, job forecasting, quality assurance, career development and analytics all under one roof.

A WFO strategy, also known as an Employee Effectiveness Model, helps companies identify workforce needs before they become serious while also providing insight into employee gaps and profiles. WFO solutions can also recognize passively engaged employees, giving management the knowledge necessary to filter out lower-tier employees while motivating top-tier workers.

The Customer Experience Disconnect

By Jeremy Melville, Senior Analytics Manager, Market and Consumer Insight, Alcatel-Lucent

There is a big gap in customer experience perception between Service Provider Employees and Business Customers. “So rarely does a customer have to wait more than a minute or so”, said one Service Provider Employee. “My impression of them [the Service Providers] is of a long time sitting on hold”, said a business customer. One theme came up in our research time and again – we were getting almost polar-opposite messages.

Alcatel-Lucent Market and Consumer Insight conducted focus groups and telephone interviews in major cities in India and the United States with Service Provider Employees and Small/Medium Enterprise (SME) Customers in June 2011. Our objective was to better understand the key drivers that lead to delivering a great customer experience on both sides of the coin; from a front-line Service Provider Employee’s perspective and an SME Decision-Maker’s perspective. What we found is astonishing.

A few points of difference include…

Employees feel they deliver a good experience, and SME Customers feel Service Providers need great improvement. Employees believe they take ownership of problems and resolve issues, while SME Customers believe that Service Providers don’t take responsibility for problems and aren’t forthcoming about what’s really going on. Employees feel they answer calls quickly, while SME Customers find they sometimes have to wait a long time in calling queues. Employees believe they transfer customer calls efficiently, and SME Customers are frequently frustrated by having to repeat who they are and why they’re calling.

Alcatel-Lucent: Enabling the Customer Experience Transformation

By Susan J. Campbell 

As a customer service provider (CSP), you are in a considerably advantageous position to capture, mine and analyze data about your network and your subscribers. You have multiple touch points that provide valuable information and as you gather insights regarding your customers’ preferences, experiences and predicted behaviors, you’ll be in a much better position to transform the customer experience.

An Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Customer Experience Transformation via Analytics, explores this concept in depth, focusing on the fierce competitive environment that exists for CSPs in a dynamic market. Service providers today have to work harder than ever to keep customers happy.

Dynamic Communications Essential for Railway Transportation

By Susan J. Campbell 

The concept of innovative next generation communications does not always address the potential in railway telecoms infrastructure; but by ignoring the potential in this space, opportunities for unexploited synergies between the railway telecoms infrastructure and passenger communications are lost.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Dynamic Communications for Innovative Railway Transport, explores the business case for adopting new systems as it changes by the maturing of enabling technologies. The migration to an LTE-supported wireless backbone offering multiple services leverages key technologies that are already being tested and validated. Initially, this offering was used for innovative applications; soon it will be capable of acting as the data bearer for signaling systems in the future.

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