November 29 by Charles Cao
After Dreamforce 2017, one of my assumptions has turned into a conviction: the necessary operational upheaval within Communication, Media and Entertainment (CME) companies is well under way and is starting to transform core operations. With nearly 200 sessions on its Dreamforce agenda, Salesforce stated, once again, that CME remains a cornerstone of its customer base.
As the unpredictability around future distribution channels remains, the industry is starting to accept the need to constantly adapt its value chain. It has become critical to underpin sales and revenue operations with integrated blueprints, capable of blending traditional revenue models like volume pricing, and products like fixed wireline, with modern strategies across non-traditional solutions like integrated media and connectivity solutions, and subscription pricing.
Quote-to-Cash Innovation in Communications, Media & Entertainment
To drive this innovation, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) must also become the Chief Innovation Officer and focus on business outcomes as much as traditional, functional Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The customer facing processes of pricing, proposal/order configuration, quoting and contract to orchestration management can no longer operate in silos.
During Dreamforce, I met with executives of some of the largest and most exciting CME companies, software vendors and system integration specialists. Here are my five key CME industry takeaways:
• Transformation: Telecom companies’ haphazard cost-cutting efforts are giving way to operational steps towards redefining their strategic identity and offering. Transformation projects are focusing on optimizing product offerings, pricing mechanisms, technology stack and business processes. Redundant manual operations, data repositories, inefficient solution designs and costly in-house applications must be rationalized.
• Intelligent Systems: Content distributors are being challenged, more now than at any other time, to find new ways to rapidly deliver content to new channels to reach their audience. Integrated and intelligent systems to manage asset rights, licenses agreements and obligations are becoming a strategic investment.
• Simplification: Newspaper and Magazine publishers are actively up-scaling their efforts towards operational integration and offering simplification. Traditional and siloed ad based systems and processes are now limiting the flexibility and ability to develop new non-media revenue models, from proposal, to contract, to order orchestration, to revenue management. New non-media based Quote-to-Cash players like Apttus are now challenging the value of ad-sales specific features by offering a single point of order capture, powered by Machine Learning with tight integration to revenue management capabilities.
• Artificial Intelligence (AI): Catalyzed by its creative DNA, the CME industry is actively finding new interaction paths between content creators, workers and consumers through the use of AI. This not only applies to network and infrastructure optimization – Cognitive Network Management, self-defined networks, etc. – but also to B2B customer service and interactions. For example, deep neural networks for agreements clustering or customer churn predictive analysis can be integrated with proposal and contract management, by automating the renewal proposal creation including relevant new products, services, prices and discounts based on historical and transaction data. Identifying the primary keys in this explosion of data and leveraging those to power the most critical business processes has become the new holy grail. Harnessing insight through AI starting with machine learning is now a requirement for any CIO.
• Execution After Mergers and Acquisitions: Leaders in CME will differentiate through their ability to acquire the right companies and successfully create synergies. Expanding the offering and customer base through acquisition is an attractive concept and is common practice. However many CME companies are failing to overcome the challenges of merging organizations and processes: defining a new organizational structure, redesigning common business processes, configuring a single system of records and enforcing commercial policies from configuration, pricing, revenue management, etc. Either by entangling themselves in inadequate and costly in-house solutions or by selecting vendors on costs and features as opposed to assessing the total cost of ownership and addressing the overall corporate business outcomes. Post-M&A execution in the CME industry will be a key success factor.
New innovations are continually reshaping distribution models and consumer behaviors. In this ever-evolving environment, one focus seems to be common across the industry: the need for simplification and middle office flexibility. Leading enterprise solutions like Apttus provide a single data model, as well as, a comprehensive set of capabilities that supports CME companies’ entire quote-to-cash and quote-to-order processes.
Working with the largest communication service providers, news and content publishers, information companies or advertisers, Apttus transforms the entire middle office by unifying, simplifying and enhancing product catalogs, pricing engines, contract, order management, revenue management and customer portal engagements. Additionally, by leveraging its unique single data model and Max, its intelligent agent, Apttus offers an AI layer that can now allow CME companies to finally be as innovative on the inside, as they are on the outside.
For more details or to schedule a demo, please contact Charles Cao.
To learn more about how AI impacts revenue generation and Quote-to-Cash, download the Harvard Business Review report.