6 Applications of A Data Refinery: How Telcos Can Support Generation Cloud

Posted: January 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

By Katja Kurisjärvi, Marketing Manager, Comptel

In yesterday’s blog post, I highlighted Comptel EventLink 7.0’s key features and mentioned how they comprise the foundation of our Data Refinery solution. Communications service providers (CSPs) and global enterprises alike require a strong technology base to keep up with the standards of nexterday and the high expectations of “Generation Cloud.”

Building on the Comptel EventLink core, with rating and charging components and embedded intelligence, including reporting and monitoring, our Data Refinery solution can enable real-time decision-making and action- triggering. Here are six ways that it can be put to work to drive CSPs’ businesses forward.

1. Beyond traditional billing mediation

“Comptel EventLink can, as always, manage traditional billing mediation tasks, and many of our customers use it for full-blown mediation consolidations,” says Senior Product Manager Tero Lindholm. “The platform is typically used in the OSS/BSS layer, where a Tier 0 or 1 operator with IP, fixed and mobile networks has consolidated all of its services on it.”

However, recently, new and existing Comptel EventLink customers have started to use the software for purposes other than pure billing mediation, taking advantage of its ability to process intelligent data in real time and in any format.

Typically, such cases involve complex event processing (CEP) and refining value out of “Big Data in motion” – data that originates from multiple sources in a real-time environment. The Data Refinery adds intelligence to the data handling, and enables real-time analysis, decisions and actions based on the data going through the system streams. When more hierarchical customer profiling and propensity calculations are needed, the Comptel Social Links analytics add-on is included.

2. Automated campaigns

One of the new purposes for the Data Refinery is real-time analysis with decisions and actions to enable automated campaigning processes. This is something that Comptel has implemented for operators all over the world.

“We are helping operators better understand how their customers are using their services and which offers are most relevant to which individuals,” said Tero.

The Data Refinery combines real-time usage events with a real-time understanding of the subscription and the subscriber profile and location, for example, like whether the subscriber is roaming. The Data Refinery can accumulate different usages, and combine them with real-time analysis, make more relevant offers to the end customers with optimal timing.

Understanding real-time usage is made possible by combining usage events from network elements such as PCRF or OCS (mobile) or CMTS (for IP network), and the subscription information from the CRM. The summary of each customer’s usage, according to his/her subscription and services, is shown immediately in the CSP portal, where end customers can directly monitor their service usage.

Having real-time information about data usage increases customer satisfaction and helps CSPs’ provide more suitable offers based on the real-time understanding of service usage.

3. Economical ways to managing roaming agreements

Comptel is in a good position to help operators solve roaming challenges. The company was a pioneer in rolling out roaming cost control use cases when the EU roaming regulations came into force in 2007. These regulations were intended to regulate the roaming data and voice charges imposed by operators to their subscribers, thus preventing bill shock.

To regulate roaming charges, operators are looking for more economical ways to manage roaming data and agreement processing between different roaming partners. The Comptel EventLink extension, Roaming Management, is used by 20+ operators for managing roaming billing and fraud detection, and for automated processing of partner agreements. The extension supports the TAP/RAP/NRTRDE/RAEX processing in alignment with the GSMA standards and provides full visibility into the configuration of the agreements from test phase through production.

4. Monetising OTT offerings

The Data Refinery can help monetise over-the-top (OTT) offerings. For example, in Asia-Pacific, a Tier 1 customer is using the Data Refinery to collect information related to Google Play purchases. The customer has a revenue-sharing model with the Google Play market place, and the Comptel system provides usage information to revenue-sharing platforms and to the interconnect billing system.

5. Ready for IoT

The Data Refinery is highly suitable for connecting devices and applications, and expanding usability from pure billing mediation tasks to supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) business model.

For instance, since 2013, the Telefonica Group in Europe has used the Data Refinery for processing smart metre usage traffic from Telefonica’s machine-to-machine (M2M) network elements. Smart metres equipped with SIM cards communicate readings over GPRS links, which generate events that the Data Refinery can collect and separate from mobile device usage events, providing the aggregated data to the M2M platform and assurance.

6. LTE leading the data explosion

Increased data usage is clearly visible to the users and developers of Comptel EventLink—a Tier 1 operator’s system, for instance, can now process as much as 500 TB of data daily (comparable to the daily usage of Facebook data).

To cite an example from Tero, the amount of usage events has tripled for an Indonesian customer over the past two years, and is currently hitting 12-13 billion records with each passing day.

“Indonesia is just about to adopt 4G services, and we can expect the number of usage events to multiply as 4G is introduced to tablets, smartphones and other handhelds being used in that region,” noted Tero.

In Italy, a similar explosion was seen earlier this year, where the mobile data packet usage increased by 84 percent in just five months. Not only has LTE created an enormous impact on the volume of network events, it has also increased network complexity. This is because VoLTE based on IMS technology introduces new types of network elements that require high capabilities to collect and correlate different events from different sources, in order to have properly chargeable items for billing and other applications.

It’s no wonder that operators are finding it difficult to handle customers’ appetites for ‘all-you-can-eat’ packages and are consequently moving to capped data plans. Such data plans take advantage of policy control solutions, which restrict available capacity for each customer. Customers who demand the highest bandwidth without limitations must be prepared to pay for it, bringing welcome income for operators still suffering from voice revenue losses.

Want to discuss how else Comptel EventLink 7.0 and our Data Refinery solution can support your business?

Download the presentation below, or email comptel.marketing@comptel.com for a demo.

Download

This is based on an interview with Senior Product Manager Tero Lindholm.


Compelling Cases: Comptel Convergent Mediation in Action

Posted: September 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Compelling Cases | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Compelling Cases: Comptel Convergent Mediation in Action

Last week, we introduced our new blog post series, Compelling Cases, where we showcased a Southern European operator looking to stimulate growth and accelerate revenue generation. With the help of Comptel Fulfillment, the operator was able to implement a more productive service delivery process. Continuing on with our series showcasing Comptel in action, today we look at another major European operator that drastically simplified its network complexity and gained significant cost savings with Comptel Convergent Mediation

Context
As is the case with many communications service providers (CSPs), while experiencing mobile subscriber growth this leading European CSP was also faced with more network transactions that needed to be gathered and converted into billable records. In particular, the CSP was seeking a solution that would allow it to more easily manage the collection and transformation of network billing transactions from its five operating companies with various network types. To accomplish this, the CSP turned to Comptel Convergent Mediation.  

Conversion
With Comptel’s Convergent Mediation, the CSP was able to harness its multiple networks into one unified platform where billing records from more than 40 million subscribers is now being efficiently processed – making for the largest single subscribers’ billing records processing system in Europe. Running on Linux-based hardware, Comptel’s solution is highly scalable so that the CSP can manage billions of events per day. And, the CSP now has the processing power to enable future growth with LTE transactions.

Completion
This complex mediation consolidation project was delivered in phases: The first phase was finalised in Q4 2011, within the same year that the contract was closed (Q1 2011). The completion of the second phase of the delivery project occurred in Q1 2012 and set the precedent for handling several billions of billing records generated by millions of subscribers in a single mediation system on daily basis.

Visit our website to view this announcement, or see more third-party validated case studies, visit TechValidate-Comptel Solutions


Management World 2012: The Importance of Dynamicity for Innovation

Posted: May 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

While the weather remained unexpectedly warm here in Dublin, the conversations at Management World 2012 also heated up this week. Like Keith Willetts discussed in his keynote session, dealing with competition from over-the-top (OTT) players, combating churn and managing revenue growth were big areas of focus at TM Forum’s annual flagship conference. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a session that touched upon these industry challenges and really reinforced the overall theme of innovation.

Henk Ensing, technical consultant for TNO Information & Communication Technology, a Dutch institute for applied science that specialises in helping companies innovate, covered the potential for dynamic billing and why communications service providers (CSPs) need to inject some new thinking into their charging concepts and business processes. He highlighted that the key elements to dynamicity were analysing transaction-based usage, applying intelligent business rules and considering the contextual status of individual customers. Coincidentally, these were the main attributes for Comptel’s own Contextual Intelligence for Telco (CIQ4T) perspective.

Henk went on to state that dynamic billing brings the element of customer trust to a new level and illustrated this with an analogy comparing CSPs to fresh produce market merchants. Many people have a regular routine of going to the market on the weekend, generally stopping by their favorite vendors for particular foods. The vendors, in turn, are familiarised with their customers’ preferences and can tailor the products they sell accordingly or make recommendations on complimentary additional products based on their extensive experience with the produce—further strengthening their interactions. The vendors, however, don’t always have fixed prices on their produce, which may vary depending on factors like the season and supply. Yet, what keeps the customers coming back? It’s the relationships the vendors are building and nurturing.

Similarly, dynamic billing is based on strong customer relationships where each transaction is a unique opportunity to create a positive end-user experience. Taking into account the context of and appropriately targeting each individual customer interaction is key though. For example, CSPs should consider where the customer is in his or her lifecycle and what products will fit his or her specific needs and wants, at an appropriate time that adds true value.

Policies that govern charging and the network have an important role to play in understanding and implementing this dynamic ability. According to Henk, the beauty of dynamicity is that these policies can be changed in real time based on customers’ evolving requirements. Say, if someone gets paid every two weeks, he or she can opt to make a payment during that time and customise it depending on his or her personal preferences.

Henk’s thoughts on dynamic billing and charging concepts fit in nicely with the discussions at Management World 2012 and reflected Comptel’s own thinking on how CSP innovation needs to evolve. Analysing customer behaviour is just one step of the process, but intelligently determining their contexts to make interactions more relevant and personalised will significantly result in a high quality of experience and improve CSPs’ bottom lines. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening loyalty through a focus on relationship enhancement.


Mobile World Congress Recap: Informa Telecoms & Media Webinar Highlights

Posted: March 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

There’s been much buzz around last week’s Mobile World Congress, and Comptel can attest to the thought-provoking discussions and ideas that were generated at the show. Analyst firm Informa Telecoms & Media recently held a webinar recapping the main themes and hot topics from Barcelona.

One key takeaway was the emergence of global players including over-the-top (OTT) providers, card networks and device manufacturers. According to Informa, these players stole the headlines and are now dominating the agenda for the telecom industry, as operators are becoming their local partners and distributors. They went on to say that with OTT players, operators must strike a balance and find a way to work together, but just how they will effectively do so is still in the works. An example of this balance coming to fruition is Facebook’s decision to work collaboratively with operators in the billing process; however, the keynote sessions indicated that there is still some friction in the operator/OTT player relationship. For instance, OTT providers are generating revenue by using traffic from operators’ networks, which is a sore source of contention.

Further, Informa noted that operators were focusing less on technology and more on the role of pricing to appeal to consumers. Some of the interesting discussions were around the concept of moving away from unlimited pricing models toward those that are much more value-centric. At the show and over the past year in fact, there’s been much talk about this change, but some operators are struggling with implementing it largely because of challengers still pushing the unlimited model. However, other operators have revealed that a successful tiered plan is possible if the pricing is structured correctly and the value proposition is effectively communicated to consumers.

In all, Mobile World Congress was a great meeting of the minds, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing how these developments unfold in the coming year. Which trends did you find most interesting at the show?


Around the World

Posted: October 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Connected Planet…
Analysis: Is Bill Shock Pressure Creating a Tipping Point for ‘Great’ Customer Service?
Alex Leslie predicts that customer experience will improve as a result of regulators’ efforts to lower bills for mobile usage. His article was published on the heels of new FCC and CTIA guidelines dictating that network operators send voice or text alerts to users as they approach data limits. Regulators in Australia, Asia and Europe are already following suit.

Even though regulations are often met with resistance, history shows that they can be beneficial in giving rise to improved solutions and services—and customer experiences. For example, previous rules about data usage and billing accuracy led to revenue assurance with communications service providers (CSPs) improving their billing strategies. Do you think history will repeat itself, with the new bill shock regulations opening opportunities for CSPs to differentiate themselves in the customer service department?

Light Reading…
Policy Is Still Strategic, But Changing
A survey by Heavy Reading shows that network operator executives expect policy management to gain importance, and predicts that a new generation of policy gear will be deployed to handle increased functionality. The survey results also reveal interest in using policy control to enable business models with third-party content, and mirror Comptel CEO Juhani Hintikka’s predictions that the next phase in policy control will take advantage of third-party applications with content prioritisation.

What these new business models require is more scalable policy technology that can integrate with charging and billing systems, so that operators have a wider range of triggers to drive policy, both in creating new services and in managing congestion.

Microsperience…
The Four Main Pillars of the Telecoms Customer Experience
Telecoms analyst Teresa Cottam writes that many CSPs are focusing on their own needs rather than looking at customer experience from the customer’s point of view. She says that there are four main pillars to the telecoms customer experience:

1)      Network Experience
2)      Commercial Experience
3)      Product Experience
4)      Service Experience

The pillars need to simultaneously work together while also being individually optimised in order to support the overall customer experience.  Even though customers should be the focus of the business, Teresa stresses that operators still need to be profitable. The key challenge is finding the right tools that will help CSPs improve customer engagement and at the same time, help them increase their revenue.


Mobile Broadband Billing or Charging: Where’s the Market Headed?

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Mobile Broadband Billing or Charging: Where’s the Market Headed?

By: Dan Baker, Research Director, Technology Research Institute

Call it the big payments divide.  Depending on what country of the world an operator is in, it will favor one or two mobile broadband payment models—either a prepaid / charging or a postpaid billing / contract.

But what’s the trend?  Will the saturated mobile markets, like the U.S. that favor the post-paid billing model, adopt more on-line charging for smartphones?  Likewise, when operators in developing telecom markets like India adopt smartphones in a big way, will they launch mobile broadband services using a prepaid, postpaid or hybrid payment approach?

Since this is a big strategic issue for folks in the billing department, it’s worth laying out the advantages of the approaches.

The Advantages of Billing

Market success – A billing contract for all-you-can-eat data has been a winning formula for AT&T with the iPhone.

Contract-based sales – A subscription contract locks your customer into a long-term relationship that you can cultivate, renew and upsell against.

The magic of the word “free”– Customers instinctively feel that they are getting a better deal when network usage can be sold as essentially free (even though there are certain restrictions written in fine print).

Actual charges are out of sight and often out of mind – If you’re trying to promote mobile broadband as an addicting habit, having a billed plan is convenient because the user worries less about the ultimate charges.

An annuity the customer budgets for – Paying a certain fixed rate per month is something a customer budgets for, and it becomes an annuity for the operator.

Simplicity – Batch billing is technologically simpler than setting up network-based charging.

The Advantages of Charging

It’s how we buy things – Charging matches the way we live. If you want to buy content, it’s a simple matter of ordering it and paying down an on-line balance.  There’s no mystery over what the actual cost will be.  With charging, you always get a “receipt” for your purchase.

Convenience and impulse buys – We live in a world of convenience purchases.  If you, as an operator, don’t make it easy for subscribers to charge things on the spot, you may be losing wallet share to over-the-top providers.

Bill shock – With a charging platform, bill shock becomes a mute issue because your customers can constantly track their purchases. This, of course, is further enhanced with policy control, which enables operators to inform the customer when certain limits are reached as required by the EU’s roaming cost control legislation).

Expense control – Charging becomes a convenient way to control your expenses, especially if your teenager is addicted to buying music.

Broadens the market – Not everybody qualifies to get a bill.  Plus, a user’s low usage may make billing an impractical option from the operator’s point of view.   In addition, you can offer service to teenagers and other high-risk user groups that the billing model can’t support at all.

Avoid bad debts – Charging eliminates one of the biggest operator headaches—collections, the losses and big expense required to chase down subscribers who don’t pay and outright fraudsters who had no intention of paying in the first place.

* * *

So which way are we headed?  Toward more charging or more billing?

I think mobile operators will mix these strategies quite a bit in the year ahead.

Business customers will certainly favor billing because it’s what they’re accustomed to.  Yet every business customer sees the value of being able to charge for something out of the ordinary.  Maybe the business traveler wants to upgrade his airline seat on-the-spot or buy a meal on the plane.  Charging that by swiping a handset becomes an attractive choice.

And we’ve yet to see all of the innovative apps that real-time charging and network policy control will give birth to.  Ordering high QoS to see a television show in HD is a simple example.  Thousands of other apps are on the drawing boards until LTE comes and charging/policy control technology matures in the network.

I predict that the countries with saturated mobile markets will move slowly but steadily towards more real-time charging—or billing and charging running in parallel.  The fuss over “network neutrality” will get neutralized as people realize you can’t operate a first-class mobile network without controlling the five percent or so of bandwidth hogs who are spoiling the QoS for everybody else.

Billing or charging?  You need both in your payments portfolio.

Dan Baker is the research director of analyst firm Technology Research Institute, or TRI, which has recently launched a new community website, the Revenue Assurance Roundtable.  Since 1994, Baker has authored dozens of research studies in the BSS/OSS market.  He contributes articles to VanillaPlus and writes a regular column for Billing & OSS World called Dan Baker Blog.