ZTE ZSmart Digital CRM: Does the Solution Offer Anything New or Different?

Ron Westfall - Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure
Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • ZTE recently unveiled its ZSmart Digital CRM solution, a cloud-based platform targeting operator digital transformation, including the exploration of new business models.
  • The ZSmart Digital CRM solution lacks new, compelling differentiators; as a result, ZTE missed the opportunity to convince operators that it can drive digital transformation and help operators profit from emerging vertical and IoT opportunities.

At its recent ZTEsoft User Summit event, ZTE detailed its new ZSmart Digital customer relationship management (CRM) solution. The solution consists of the following key components:

• Mobile-first self-care apps;
• Omni-channel unified contact center (UCC);
• Analytics-driven social and network insights;
• Catalog-driven sales;
• Operator-centric API ecosystem opportunities; and
• Cloud-based management.

ZTE touts that the ZSmart Digital CRM solution is purpose-designed to reinvigorate operator interactions with consumers and enterprises, including the dynamic investigation of new business models. This approach emulates the service and application testing practices of web-scale players such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. What competitive advantages can ZTE look to generate from the new solution?

  • Leveraging Cloud Scalability: With its cloud-based implementation, the ZSmart Digital CRM solution addresses burgeoning operator demand for the increased speed and elastic scaling required to quickly respond to shifting marketing opportunities. For example, the analytics engine component aims to spur operator support and distribution of open APIs which are designed to improve monetization of existing data assets. This extends to the dissemination of unique network marketing trends and insights to third parties. Through cloud-based API management, ZTE is positioning operators to play a more influential role within digital ecosystems.
  • Meeting Operator Pre-Integration Preferences: The ZSmart Digital CRM solution’s pre-integration of multiple CRM functions addresses growing operator demand to reduce integration complexity and operations costs in pursuing digital transformation objectives. While the solution can also be sold on a modular basis, part of the rationale for ZTE’s solution is the ability to take pre-integrated OSS/BSS transformation solutions.

While the ZSmart Digital CRM solution represents an upgrade to ZTE’s existing CRM proposition, the company has yet to prove it can effectively differentiate the new solution, leaving some key sales and marketing opportunities on the table:

  • Where Are the Differentiators? The range of components integrated onto the ZSmart Digital CRM solution represent “checklist” items – in other words, the bare bones needed to even qualify for consideration in operator first-round vetting of CRM platforms. In contrast, rivals such as Huawei, Ericsson, Netcracker, CSG, Amdocs and Oracle can tout the fixed and mobile access applicability of their self-care apps to counter ZTE’s mobile-first promotion of its self-care app. Moreover, the lack of accompanying customer endorsements and use cases undercuts the near-term marketing impact of the ZSmart Digital CRM solution launch. Likewise, the lack of metrics attesting to the solution’s scalability or capacity to accelerate time-to-market windows for new services also dilutes ZTE’s immediate potential to differentiate the solution.
  • Missed Sales and Marketing Opportunities: Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, Oracle and Netcracker have already linked their CRM solutions to driving operator targeting of vertical segments and the emerging IoT space. Curiously, the ZTE launch ignored IoT aspects altogether and only addressed the vertical market potential at a high level. ZTE’s main rivals have already developed specific vertical priorities to target, which ZTE needs to emulate to strengthen its ZSmart Digital CRM proposition.

Overall, the new ZSmart Digital CRM solution upgrades ZTE’s CRM proposition, especially in meeting the software pre-integration and cloud migration trends among many operators. But, during the second half of 2016, ZTE needs to produce a development roadmap and marketing strategy that directly links it CRM proposition to operator targeting of the IoT space and prioritized verticals.

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