FOR telecommunications operators in Nigeria and other parts of Africa to overcome the increasing challenges in voice market growth and others, KPMG has recommended customer-centricity service and convergence for improved service offerings.KPMG noted that strong adjacent industry competition from over-the-top brands, device companies and social media has demonstrated adequate signals to limit telecoms operators' role in the entire sector.Rising from a recent Customer Retention and Profitability Summit in Johannesbourg, South Africa, it noted that revenue growth from voice-based services was tapering down, with more and more customers demanding data services, adding that margins are under threat.The professional Audit and Tax firm, said it observed that while in most African states voice is, and will continue to be, the dominant business for telecoms service providers, average revenue per user (ARPU) was declining because of these challenges and enhanced competition.It will be recalled that the Business Monitor International (BMI), a UK based research and consultancy firm had stressed that Nigeria's ARPU has experienced downward trend from N1,100 in 2011 to N941 in 2012.KPMG, which claimed to have built a significant practice in the telecoms industry in Africa, said Its Africa Telecom Group (ATG) is a joint venture between key KPMG member firms from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and India. It added that each brings specific knowledge and expertise in the telecommunications industry to the table, creating a centre of excellence that can help clients succeed in Africa.In response to the sector's challenges, KPMG believed customer focus is essential. 'Increasingly, global organisations from services sectors such as telecoms are incorporating customer-centricity in their core business strategy,' Director and Head of KPMG ATG, Johan Smith stated.According to him it was imperative for telecoms operators in Africa, and elsewhere, to focus on the customer to sustain and grow business, adding that they also needed to leverage innovation, and introduce new products and value-added services to manage the ARPU decline and retain a prominent position in the value-chain.At the forum, the fourth in the series, KPMG experts presented their thoughts on customer-centricity, innovation and enhancing profitability.A panel discussion with African telecom service providers, led by KPMG's Partner in Business Effectiveness & Strategy, India, Jaideep Ghosh, focused on innovation and value-added services to enhance ARPUs.The panellists agreed that value-added services are now practically part of the core proposition. Further discussion led to an agreement that telecom operators need to collaborate significantly more with ecosystem players over and above usage-based and bolt-on value-added services.The panel also recognised the impact of social media and over-the-top contenders, and the need for telecom operators to innovate continuously to retain value. Ghosh emphasised, 'innovation needs to be institutionalised in the telecom service provider's DNA, and has to be centred on the customer, taking into account the importance of social media. Click here to read full news..