Digitally Engineering a Communications Service Provider

By combining in-depth research into consumer behaviors with agile development, organizations can create digital solutions that drive competitive advantage. Our observations of CSP customers, uncovered a disconnection between parents and children, even when families were together at home, because family members were paying more attention to their screens than to each other.

In reaching for digital, it’s a mistake to start with the latest, shiniest new technology. The first step should instead be to understand their customers, and businesses should turn to the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology and behavioral science) to perform on-site observations of how people work, live and play, to uncover their actual needs before writing a single line of code.

Identifying needs
One leading communications service provider (CSP) asked us to help identify new services that would increase brand loyalty and set it apart in an increasingly crowded marketplace. CSPs currently face stagnant customer satisfaction, high churn and an inordinate number of customers turning to costly human-based support rather than lower-cost digital channels.

To identify consumers’ human needs, ReD Associates, a Cognizant strategic partner, observed how families in California, Texas and Pennsylvania were using the Internet, smartphones and other devices in their daily activities. ReD discovered that customers:

  • Rely on the Internet for work, education and social interactions, but have little understanding of how it works and how to safeguard and manage their connections.
  • Abruptly abandon new devices such as smart watches, fitness monitors, smart appliances and virtual personal assistants, finding them too difficult to use or connect to one another or to cloud-based services.
  • Often feel isolated from family members who are distracted by their devices, and unable to agree on how much gaming, texting, browsing and e-mail checking is acceptable.

Based on this research, we developed three minimum viable products (MVP):

  • One that enables families to collaboratively agree on how much time each person may spend online and enforces those rules on the home Wi-Fi router.
  • A second that tells parents — based on their children’s smartphone location — when they fail to appear at an expected place and time, even if only to another room at home, while other family members are online.
  • A third that enables the CSP to remotely connect devices, such as virtual personal assistants, smart thermostats and appliances, to each other and to capabilities such as the Spotify music streaming service.

The CSP is now refining these MVPs for production rollout, and evaluating monetization options, including charging for the apps, selling location-based advertising or collecting revenue from the sale of products and services associated with the smart devices.

To learn more, read white paper Digital Engineering: Combining Computer Science with Social Science to Translate Human Insights into Precision Code“.

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