AT&T May Ride Out Verizon iPhone Storm

AT&T collected US$31.5 billion in revenue and delivered $3.59 billion — 60 cents per share — in profit, according to Thursday’s second quarter earnings report. Profits were down 10 percent from last year’s second quarter profit of $4 billion. Revenue rose 2.2 percent over last year. The performance was in line with forecasts.

Total wireless subscribers were up 1.1 million for the quarter, reaching 98.6 million. The growth was down from last year’s second quarter subscriber growth of 1.56 million. Total wireless revenue, including equipment sales, rose 9.5 percent. Wireless service revenue grew 7.4 percent. Voice revenue fell 12 percent. Total churn — customers who cancel services — was 1.43 percent, up from last year’s 1.29 percent.

AT&T didn’t show any serious wounds from Verizon’s entry into iPhone sales. AT&T sold more iPhones in the second quarter of 2011 than it did in the second quarter of 2010. iPhone churn was down, and nearly a quarter of iPhone additions were new subscribers.

The company reported it has increased planned capital expenditures for 2011 from $19 billion to $20 billion in anticipation of bolstering its network. It also reiterated its expectation that its acquisition of T-Mobile is set for early 2012.

The Verizon Factor

Since AT&T continues to add iPhone subscribers, it seem the company has dodged the bullet of Verizon competition. Verizon started selling iPhone subscriptions in February, so it was in competition with AT&T for the entire second quarter. Yet not much happened to rock AT&T’s boat. Still, that could be a matter of timing.

“The migration of subscribers from one carrier to another is difficult for a user because of early termination fees. They can’t move quickly,” Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at the 451 Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “The potential move is going to be gradual. There were a portion of iPhone users on AT&T who were waiting, and many who were out of contract have moved.”

Many iPhone subscribers were motivated to switch to Verizon because of complaints about AT&T’s service. AT&T has recently taken steps to close its service gap with Verizon, however.

“AT&T invested a lot in the network, especially to support iPhone users,” noted Hazelton. “They’ve invested heavily over the past year in the hot spots like New York City and San Francisco — the large urban areas.”

Possibly due to those improvements, the customers eager to switch from AT&T to Verizon appears to be a dwindling population, according to ChangeWave, the research arm of the 451 Group.

“We show that in December of 2010, 15 percent of AT&T iPhone subscribers said they were likely to switch to Verizon in the next 90 days,” said Hazelton. “That has dropped to 13 percent in June of 2011. I attribute that to the investment AT&T has made in its network.”

Android Takes a Bite

Android is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is it challenging the iPhone in the open market, it is challenging the iPhone within AT&T.

“AT&T’s iPhone sales and subscriber base peaked with the iPhone 4 launch in Q3 2010. Since then, the iPhone’s sales at AT&T have been dipping,” Neil Shah, analyst for wireless devices strategies at Strategy Analytics, told the E-Commerce Times.

“In Q4 2010, the emergence of Android’s share at AT&T stunted Apple’s growth prospects slightly, and since the arrival of iPhone 4 at Verizon Wireless in Q1 2011, the overall sales contribution from iPhone at AT&T has been falling despite selling the iPhone 3GS at attractive price points.”

AT&T plans to continue pursue strategies for easing pressure on its network, Shah noted.

“Employing data caps on these data-hungry smartphones has helped,” he said. “So has upgrading the radio network to HSPA+ or LTE and improving the overall core network. That should provide some breathing space for AT&T.”

T-Mobile Deal in the Wings

There has been considerable noise about AT&T’s attempt to purchase T-Mobile. Those against the deal claim that it clearly violates market consolidation regulations.

“The results on the T-Mobile acquisition will be out early next year,” said Shah.

“Both, ‘for’ and ‘against’ parties have provided strong defenses to support their cases. However, technically speaking, this horizontal merger easily surpasses the Department of Justice market concentration threshold indices, which makes the chances for approval theoretically bleak,” he said. “Yet, practically anything is possible in Washington.”

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Knowledge Management: The Silent Star of Modern Service

Think back to March 2020; the arrival of the pandemic disrupted your home life and your work life, as public and private organizations struggled to implement virtual solutions to keep work, school, and the economy going as best it could. Daily life quickly became a transition to working over video connections, homeschooling our own children; ordering groceries online, and learning to cook became new mandates.

Even adjusting to virtual happy hours and navigating virtual-only IT help and office support were new challenges. Employees working in contact centers or service roles were suddenly sitting at home with only a computer, attempting assist customers with service issues — with no supervisor or colleagues to lean on for assistance.

Accomplishing these tasks back then was virtually impossible without the ability to find information and knowledge online. The pandemic’s impact on business operations rallied organizations to push for new and better KM solutions. Nothing like a pandemic to help us understand how knowledge underpins service operations!

Today, the start of the post-Covid business environment reveals knowledge management is making even stronger strides, strengthening hybrid approaches to working and supporting the ability to implement AI and machine learning application innovations at scale.

The Power of KM Tools

Knowledge management is a business process formalizing the creation, capture, management, governance, and use of an organization’s intellectual assets. It consumes the top of spend for AI apps for customer service organizations and it powers virtual assistant and smart bot utterances.

According to Oracle’s KM platform developers, knowledge management has shone a spotlight on the need to access what organizations know, regardless of where their employees are located, whether in home offices or regional work centers. It provides organizations with the know-how needed to support agent work processes. This includes fluidly mixing home and work lives, sharing internet connections and home space among working parents and kids in virtual classrooms.

In essence, KM helps to bring the wisdom of the office environment to the desktop. Since 2020 people have been meeting by video calls 50 percent more than pre-Covid. During that interim, close to 70 percent of full-time employees have worked from home.

Knowledge management helped make this possible in four critical ways:

  • In today’s virtual world where we cannot just ask the person sitting next to us for support, KM becomes the new foundation for service. “What we know” is available to employees regardless of “where they may sit.”
  • KM provides a single source of truth helping employees determine good information from bad. The increase of information means more data to go through to determine what is good and what is bad. The explosion of data creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, making it hard to determine the veracity of the information being shared.
  • When contact centers and support services were either offline or completely overwhelmed, knowledge management came to the rescue, allowing customers the ability to solve their own issues on their own.
  • Knowledge provided the backbone for organizations to quickly spin up virtual assistants, chatbots, and AI to fill in the gaps of employee shortages.

It’s safe to say that knowledge management really is the brainpower of the organization. Oracle’s Knowledge Management platform enables the organization to “know what it knows” and enables employees and agents to flag gaps in know-how and problem-solving information knowledge underpins every customer touch point. In this new future of service, KM is the fuel to power smarter, faster, and virtually accessible information management.

New World, New Challenges

Today’s deluge of data so swamps businesses that they fail to meet their customers’ expectations and drown in $75 billion in lost revenue yearly.

To find that buried data takes some 3.5 billion searches per day. On average, Google now processes more than 40,000 searches every second.

More remote employees means more dispersed information, and more need for organizations to harness data to provide their customers and employees with a unified, cohesive experience.

Time is money. Employees spend an average of 36 percent of their time each workday searching for information. That is a tremendous impact on their workloads considering that 88 percent of the organizations worldwide made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

Given this sea of information floating around, think of the KM platform as a both rescue and a transportation vessel for billions of business bits and bytes. Oracle’s tools do more than preserve knowledge. They allow workers to quickly preview content with accurate formatting and embedded assets.

The Future

It’s become evident that virtual or hybrid work environments are likely to become standard fixtures for organizations. Knowledge management will continue to play and imperative role, as the need for collaboration and the ability to share and find organizational information virtually at any time only increases.

The growing need for other technologies such as content management, enterprise search, CRM, and IoT devices and support is increasing demand for a single source of truth which can only be offered by enterprise knowledge management.

Oracle’s knowledge is a powerful solution, which in integrates seamlessly with other technologies, allowing organizations to easily meet the demand of both employees and customers in this new workforce reality.

The future of everything is data. Oracle — as a data company — does data better than anyone; and our differentiated service automation tools — including knowledge management — empower businesses to run as efficiently as possible while creating competitive differentiations which enables organizations to drive efficiency and facilitate org growth with agility, precision, and speed:

  • Articles are tagged with essential meta data to make know-how findable by product, category, and content collection type.
  • Knowledge Search enables agents to ask a natural language question and get precise, helpful results back, easily scannable in a search results page.
  • The Article History function shows all the article versions and their respective meta data.
  • The Side-by-Side option lets authors quickly identify what has changed between versions.
  • Editing articles is proficient with the included WYSIWYG Editor that provides rich text authoring with HTML support. Comments let authors collaborate and track suggestions and edits.
  • Hierarchical Products and Categories tool helps users organize the knowledge base, while the Control Visibility option lets content creators disperse the article to ensure the information gets to the correct audience.
  • Search and Browse Knowledge provides a free-form search that agents can use to augment their product understanding and training.
  • Recommended Knowledge leverages machine learning to find articles that match the service request. Its search parameters allow agents to find more articles that help resolve the service request.

How Organizations Benefit

Now, more than ever, the ability to have a central repository of organizational know-how, assets, guidance, and learning is critical as employees must work together while physically apart. Oracle has a broad portfolio of cloud-based knowledge, content, and learning products to compose employee and customer-centric experiences that address the needs of hybrid and at-home workers.

Oracle Content Management offers comprehensive digital asset management, including video indexing and storage, while Oracle Knowledge helps manage answers to frequently asked questions, and Oracle Intelligent Advisor enables coaching, guidance, and policy orchestration that can automate a variety of organizational process flows.

Oracle Learning products (Guided Learning and Learning Management) can onboard and coach employees from day one through their exit interview. Oracle Digital Assistant offers intelligent conversational UI capability to help employees navigate their digital workspaces and Oracle Virtual Builder Cloud Service provides a low-code application development framework to deliver knowledge, content, and advice to employees when they need it, to get their work done no matter where they are working — at home, or in the office.

Bottom Line

Few organizations have been able to carry on business as usual. The pandemic’s impact on business operations rallied organizations to push for new and better knowledge management solutions. Oracle’s service solutions now provide a way to sustain momentum and accelerate growth.

Trust Oracle for a contextual knowledge and content offering that enables employees to know what they know, capture what they learn, and share that learning and knowhow and content when needed to achieve their goals.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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