Verizon Wireless rolls out data monitoring widget for mobile users
CIO says customer-focus is basis of IT innovations
Computerworld - ORLANDO -- Verizon Wireless has developed innovative IT tools that it has recently put to use in its online customer account management systems and in upgraded Verizon store kiosks, said Ajay Waghray, the carrier's CIO.
In an interview at the International CTIA Wireless conference here, Waghray said his 3,000-person IT team also helped streamline pre-orders for the iPhone 4, which generated a record number of orders in the first two hours it went on sale in February. The volume of pre-sale orders and subsequent in-store sales later made it necessary to create open interfaces for iPhone orders (and eventual activations) across thousands of Apple, Best Buy and Verizon stores, he noted.
"The iPhone launch was a big deal for us, and we wanted to make sure customers had a great experience," Waghray said. "We were extremely pleased with what we did there, and it makes you feel good for all the preparation involved."
Verizon's IT team also recently developed a patent-pending data usage widget for customers who register on My Verizon Mobile. The widget, which gives users a running tally of their monthly data usage, works only on BlackBerry and Android smartphones; support for devices that use other mobile operating systems is due later.
Verizon has held off setting a usage cap on data plans for smartphones such as the new HTC ThunderBolt, which has an unlimited data plan that costs $29.99 per month, but the monitoring tool still could be valuable for smartphone users who have subscriptions for lower-priced limited-usage data plans, or for tablet users, who have a choice of four different data service plans.
In a brief demonstration of usage tools on an iPad, Waghray showed a chart that's green when usage is less than 75% of the monthly allotment but then turns yellow when usage reaches 75% and red when usage goes above 90%.
Federal regulators and industry groups have urged wireless carriers to offer customers easy ways to monitor their data usage, which can increase dramatically with online video and media files.
Waghray said other IT innovations include a backup assistant tool that helps users load contact lists from older phones onto a Verizon cloud, where the files are available for easy downloads onto new phones. That approach could eventually be expanded, leading to the creation of a large scale cloud-based storage system that would hold all of the text and media files that people have on their phones, although Verizon has no specific plans for such a system, Waghray said.
"That's something being worked through at Verizon," he said.
Verizon retail stores have added new kiosks that include touchscreen displays where customers can manage their accounts and devices. "We've focused on customer interests, asking what are the top transactions they make, and we made those almost one-click ... on the Web site as well as at stores," Waghray said. "Part of the purpose is to allow customer engagement and detangle store reps from busy work so they can focus on the customer."
Waghray, who has worked in IT for 20 years, has led the IT organization at Verizon since its inception in 2000. "It's been fun at Verizon, and we have an extreme amount of collaboration across the company, which has been our theme," he said. "IT is a competitive differentiation for the company and adds value at all levels, from sales to self-service to customer engagement, which is anything and everything. If something doesn't help the customer, we won't do it."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- CTIA 2011 video: Up close with Sprint's EVO 3D smartphone
- Verizon Wireless rolls out data monitoring widget for mobile users
- CTIA 2011 video: Up close with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- CTIA 2011 video: Up close with Kyocera Echo dual-screen smartphone
- CTIA 2011 video: Endomondo fitness app combines GPS, music, social support
- AT&T, Sprint 3D smartphones may sell well
- Sprint, HTC announce 3D smartphone, 7-in. tablet
- Samsung unveils 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab
- CTIA 2011 video: Tunebug vibration-enhanced speakerphone
- CTIA 2011 video: Snapkeys demos 'invisible' tablet typing
Read more about IT Leadership in Computerworld's IT Leadership Topic Center.
The Future of IT: From Chaos to Service Automation
Learn how innovative CIOs are automating IT services and:
* Delivering business solutions, including cloud services and app development on one SaaS platform...
What Does Friction Between Business and IT Cost your Organization?
See what 900 business and IT professionals had to say and get recommendations for change.
- Making the Move to a Cloud-Based IT Service Management (ITSM) Platform Today's mature cloud-based ITSM solutions can give you the flexibility and agility you need-without sacrificing security, stability or performance.
- A Practical Guide to Understand and Benefit from the Consumerization of IT This guide explores the realities of IT Consumerization to define challenges and opportunities. Learn best practices and get actionable recommendations.
- Live Webcast 5 Steps to Assuring Quality of Experience In order to align monitoring and management practices with the true demands of the business, IT professionals must expand beyond traditional comfort zones...
- 5 Steps to Assuring Quality of Experience In order to align monitoring and management practices with the true demands of the business, IT professionals must expand beyond traditional comfort zones...
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success! All IT Leadership White Papers | Webcasts