The Rising Importance of Proof-of-Concepts

Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rising Importance of Proof-of-Concepts

Recently, outside of my working life at Comptel, two of my friends have been looking for new jobs after a considerable time in their current roles.

Separately, they both shared with me their remarkably similar job seeking experiences. They explained there appeared to be more candidates looking and immediately available, and stated that the interview process was longer, harder and had more steps than they had remembered. Significantly, my mates had to attend lengthy assessment centres, where they had to literally demonstrate their suitability for the prospective jobs.

I am pleased to announce they were both successful in their applications, but the steps, themes and parallels they encountered made me think of the current way telecoms software providers are selected by communications service providers (CSP).

From my position as project manager in Comptel’s Europe West services team, I acknowledge the rising importance of proof-of-concepts in the procurement process. Has this become the equivalent of the assessment centre in an interview process? Helping customers to assess and select the right vendor for them?

For a measured financial outlay, proof-of-concepts can be of enormous mutual benefit to both technology providers and CSP customers:

Suitability: Our customers can experience first-hand the suitability or relevance of Comptel’s products and solutions against their specified functional user scenarios. As the supplier, we can ensure that we properly understand the requirements and priorities that matter to our customers (and on occasions, gain ideas on how to improve our core products for all customers!). Furthermore, customers can assess the impact of a potential new solution on their businesses.

Technical Solution: Technically, both parties immediately understand how they can integrate a new solution with existing systems and interfaces. Through hands on knowledge of the requirements and technicalities, Comptel can accurately and confidently deliver fixed price quotes.

Commitment: A proof-of-concept is a real statement of intent from both parties; they are committed to reviewing and proving the solution is appropriate for the product and strategy.

Risk: Investing in a new solution is a substantial decision by CSPs. With an upfront proof-of-concept, the risk to the business is reduced through upfront working and engagement. Comptel ensures that it understands CSPs’ businesses, and that its solutions can really meet their requirements.

Head Start: By investing in a proof-of-concept, it allows both parties to make a head start when the full implementation project is approved. There is a common understanding and relationship in place from day one. Unlike a brand new customer, contracts and ways of working together are understood, reducing kick-off lead times.

Learning: Through a proof-of-concept, all participants learn, from subtle things such as understanding customers’ key business drivers, to actually meeting the Comptel personalities that will work on the main implementation!

From a Europe West services perspective, I enjoy being asked to manage proof-of-concepts. They are often fast-paced, focused and provide Comptel with an opportunity to show its strengths and values.

I also believe that going through an interview process does not have to be stressful—it’s a collaborative event to make sure that both parties understand each other and can work together to deliver success. Comptel believes in the value of understanding and working together with its customers!

Reflections on LTE Advanced – Part One

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When following the hot industry trends, I found a lot of excitement around LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and wanted to share my thoughts on this emerging technology.

So what is LTE-A?

Well, in the simplest of terms, it’s the latest advancement in radio technology that will put one Gigabits/s bandwidth (or 1000 megabits/s) to your mobile device of choice, whether it’s a laptop, dongle, tablet or smartphone (and eventually feature phone). Network rollouts will occur once the technology is proven in trials and compatible devices are available.

For comparison, you can get up to 100 megabits/s through LTE technology and up to 24 megabits/s with ADSL technology. The bandwidth that LTE-A enables is similar to the fastest speeds from Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) technology and about three times faster than that of cable. It is also approved by the International Telecommunications Union as the true 4G technology irrespective of what industry marketing and some communications service providers (CSPs) are saying about LTE and DC-HSPA. Globally, we are just deploying LTE infrastructure, and thus, LTE-A will have its first major deployments sometime in the future.

Some Perspective

While the maximum speed will most likely be very theoretical, at least in the beginning, the technology promises to provide all of the bandwidth we need without wiring everything together physically, allowing for true mobility. To put that bandwidth into perspective, one HD quality video stream can consume up to tens of megabits per second depending on the encoding/decoding technology used. This would then decide how much of the CPU and graphics chip on your device would be used and how much battery life they consume on decoding the video feed. The less bandwidth that is consumed (and hence tighter compression used in video encoding), the more work the CPU and graphics chip will have to do, and more battery will be consumed. In theory, you would not need much video compression with LTE-A, as there is plenty of capacity and hence less demand on battery, CPUs and other chip development needs. Think about several HD video channels being streamed to your device and having the ability to use other services in parallel. It would also enable higher upload speeds, so your multi-megapixel DSLR pictures could be streamed to your cloud storage or photostream of choice in near real time.

Is there really a need for this much bandwidth?

I’ve witnessed first-hand that once more bandwidth is available, it will get used. Remember the times of MS-DOS and the famous statement that 640 kB of memory is enough for everything? I’m feeling a bit old here, but seriously, we are masters of consuming 97% of our hard drives, for example, no matter what the capacity is—and the same applies to bandwidth. With recent advancements in HD displays in relatively small form factor (e.g. retina display in the new Apple iPad), it’s almost guaranteed we will consume available bandwidth. I’d think, however, that with such bandwidth, the need for large local storage on devices becomes less important, especially as cloud storage is becoming more affordable. Hence, we will see more video-enabled devices with minimal, built-in storage capacity.

LTE-A sounds promising, right? In my next post, I’ll discuss this technology further and highlight some areas where there’s room for improvement.

Comptel Comes to Egypt

Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Comptel Comes to Egypt

Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new office in Cairo, Egypt. This new venture reflects our continued commitment to get closer to our communications service provider (CSP) customers in the region.

While Comptel is already well-established in the Middle East and has played a significant role in developing its telecom industry, the Egypt office will also enable us to fulfil our larger vision of expanding our reach within the region, especially strengthening our presence within Egypt’s burgeoning telecom market. We also have plans to add to our network of partners, including local system integration companies, that specialise in the telecom industry within the Middle East.

In addition, we consider this expansion to be an opportunity for us to highlight just how Comptel’s Customer Engagement solutions enable CSPs to respond quickly to network events and transform them automatically into relevant and timely actions that improve subscriber satisfaction. We’re looking forward to further enabling regional CSPs to better engage with their customers, so they can benefit from increased loyalty and drive new revenue opportunities.

The new office will be located at Smart Village in Cairo and headed by Ahmed Hamza, head of cluster, Egypt & Saudi Arabia. Complementing Comptel’s Middle East & Africa headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it will include both sales and service teams deployed to ensure rapid and effective customer and business service support.

We hope to see you in Cairo!

Informa’s Policy Control & Real-Time Charging Conference: A Sneak Peek

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Here at Comptel, integrated policy control and real-time charging is one of our core areas of expertise. I couldn’t be more excited to explore this topic further at an Informa conference next week in Amsterdam. It’s always great to network and share ideas with communications service providers (CSPs), analysts and others across the industry. Plus, this time, I have the opportunity to give both a presentation and participate in a panel discussion at the show.

To give you a brief preview, I’ll first be leading a session titled “Exploring End-User Appetite for Buying Bandwidth Boosts and the Real-Time Charging Mechanisms Required to Support These Policies” on Tuesday, 24 April at 16:10. In this presentation, I’ll show how CSPs can use policy control to offer customers more personalised service packages and create upsell opportunities. I’ll provide an in-depth look at why CSPs should focus on interacting with customers in real time upon the point of usage rather than concentrating on the point of purchase or point of complaint.

A bit later in the day, at 16:35, I’ll join Zain Kuwait’s Monther Alomani and Tekelec’s Joanne Steinberg for a panel discussion on “What Policy 2.0 Enabled Services Are Delivering Incremental Revenues for Operators Today? Success Stories and Future Possibilities”. Moderated by Analysys Mason’s Glen Ragoonanan, we’ll debate how CSPs can effectively use traffic management technology to increase ARPU, and share what innovative services we are seeing generate interest and revenue from subscribers today.

Will I be seeing you at the upcoming conference? What policy control and real-time charging issues are you looking forward to discussing?

If you cannot make it to my presentation or panel session, I hope that we can connect at Comptel’s booth in the exhibition hall.

Around the World

Posted: April 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

New York Times…
A Ballooning Megabyte Budget
Limited data plans are pushing customers to carefully budget their megabytes and more closely track their mobile usage. Confusion abounds, however, as many consumers aren’t sure how to quantify megabytes, and upgrades to faster devices and networks speeds are encouraging people to use more data-intensive applications but are leaving them to deal with unexpected charges .

To avoid data plan confusion and bill shock, mobile operators are offering tiered data plans and promoting transparent billing by giving customers options for monitoring their data. Some operators, for instance, are sending text messages to update consumers on their allotted and remaining data usage.

According to the article, many customers aren’t aware that data monitoring tools exist or have not used them to budget their data use. Therefore, operators need to improve their customer interactions and demonstrate the value of these resources to help customers take the right steps towards budgeting their megabytes.

Total Telecom…
Leakage Could Cost Mobile Operators $296bn in 2016
According to Juniper Research, if mobile operators fail to update their revenue assurance systems, their revenue losses from leakage could balloon to $296 billion in 2016, up from $58.4 billion. To minimize the risk of fraud, the firm recommends installing a real-time system to monitor and react to criminal activity, in addition to processing and validating all billable transactions.

Supporting this, research from KPMG shows that 50 percent of operators in Africa and the Middle East lose more than one percent of revenue through leakage. Losses can often be linked to improper billing operations, placing additional impetus for operators to ensure their billing systems are properly integrated into the operations support system (OSS) and business processes. As the head of KPMG says, the hope is that these figures act as a “wake up call” for the industry and encourage operators to invest in revenue assurance and fraud management systems to prevent increasing revenue losses.

Light Reading…
Ready or Not, Here Comes LTE-Advanced
Even though Long Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) networks won’t be a mainstream technology until 2015, some operators are making their commercial debut with the technology and claiming to be “LTE-A ready”. This is spurring a debate over what is and isn’t 4G—and even 5G.

As marketplace confusion with network labels grows, savvy customers are increasingly asking, is a network truly LTE-A only when it uses multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) orders of 4×4 or higher? At 8×8, does it become worthy of a 5G marketing moniker? The answers to these questions could dictate how operators are able to differentiate their services and respond to customer needs.

According to a Heavy Reading report, despite the debate surrounding LTE-A, the emerging network is worth paying attention to because its ultimate impact will be widespread. Do you agree with the report’s prediction that LTE-A will dominate the global market? And what do you think is the value of knowing an operator is “LTE-A ready”?

Poll: When Are You Most Likely to Engage with Your Customers?

Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Over the years, we have surveyed communications service providers (CSPs) and consumers alike to provide deeper insight into the telecoms world. For instance, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, we revealed that a whopping two-thirds of subscribers feel neglected by their mobile operators—and that they are really looking for their CSPs to interact and engage with them.

Today, we are bringing this polling tradition to our blog, Compelling Conversations on OSS, and invite you to share your thoughts on pressing industry issues with us. We hope you will vote in our inaugural survey related to customer engagement, and welcome you to share any thoughts in the “Comments” section below, especially if you select “Other”.