Insights Blog

The Four ‘Must-haves’ that Transform CSPs into DSPs

Posted by Chad Dunavant on February 27, 2015 Topics: Digital Services, Digital Service Providers

CSG International | DSP TransformationI know I’m getting (just a little!) older because I can clearly remember how cool I thought it’d be to have a camera on my mobile phone. Now there’s a generation that can hardly imagine taking pictures and videos any other way; and not only that, their phone holds a plethora of apps to help them edit, save, and share them too.   Features that just yesterday were “cool ideas” have turned into today’s “must-haves.”

The Internet has revolutionized how we all must do business and nowhere is that fact more evident than in the race to capture wallet share for digital services.

Ultimately, many of today’s content producers, communications service providers (CSPs), brick and mortar retailers, and OTT players are all on the path to becoming digital service providers (DSPs). Despite their different backgrounds, these businesses will all need to master four key areas if they want to evolve successfully.  These four capabilities were previously “nice to have’s,” but true mastery of these factors are today’s “must-haves” to complete the DSP transformation.

Must Have #1: A ubiquitous consumer experience

It sounds basic in concept, but presenting your content and services in the best way on every device is the critical lynchpin that holds the compelling customer experience together. “Best” is not only personalized, but ubiquitous across devices, which means when a consumer buys a piece of content, they can consume it across tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and the settop box.  Using the same content across devices is part of everyday life (think of starting a movie at home and then finishing it on the treadmill at the gym) – if you limit content to one platform, you’ve lost the consumer.  Pairing your portable content with the important attributes of each consumer like security profiles and credentials, preferences, entitlements, devices and preferred ways to pay, creates a smooth and easy experience that isn’t just cool, it will keep consumers coming back over time.  

Must Have #2: Efficiency and agility

I hear from many aspiring DSPs that they want to deliver a more compelling experience, but not at the risk of disrupting existing business with large-scale systems transformation, or spending months delivering the products and services consumers are demanding right now. 

Agility is the key must-have factor here - one of the characteristics of a ‘true’ DSP is the ability to quickly bring numerous offers to market and then either enhance them to maintain their success or let them die away having ‘failed fast.’ The more agile the organization, the better it can experiment to find that success. Agility is really the code word for the cloud. Operating in the cloud enables quick changes and rapid time to market for new offerings – a unified approach from concept, to launch, to quote, to cash, which can drive efficiencies, innovation, and growth without investment in new infrastructure.

Must Have #3: A way to minimize risk 

Being a DSP is a risky business. The pace of change is increasing all the time, and the other side of the ‘fail fast’ coin is that failure can be, well…fast. An organization needs to do all it can to reduce the risk while maintaining that all-important agility.

One way to reduce uncertainly is to minimize the amount of technology change and transformation that an organization undertakes. This might sound a little counter-intuitive, given the massive change inherent for many businesses in becoming a DSP, but it can be possible. Leave the existing technology in place, and overlay the must-have systems and platforms that are needed to enable change.

Must Have #4: Profitability

No matter how much an organization wants to become a DSP, the big catch is that they still need to make money.  Whether a consumer pays – via credit card, on a bill, from their e-wallet, using coupons or gift cards – or whether the digital service is subsidized in some way (by advertising for example), the business model has to stack up.

Yet, payment isn’t the only important, must-have facet of monetization.  Creating a repeatable experience to ensure that consumers come back to the DSP to purchase more is a critical piece of the monetization picture.  Creating loyalty programs, digital lockers, and personalized communication based on preferences helps differentiate the experience and keep customers engaged, even when on the go.

No matter where the journey starts, the path to becoming a digital service provider requires mastery of these four fundamentals. By using technology as the enabler, aspiring DSPs can leverage their imagination, innovation and inspiration, to best meet the needs of the always-on consumer.  


I recently talked with VanillaPlus about the evolution of the digital services market and the transformation of CSPs into DSPs.  To read the article and more of CSG's perspectives on how to successfully deliver digital services, read more resources here:

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Chad Dunavant

Chad Dunavant is Vice President of Product Management at CSG International.