How Telcos Can Benefit From Big Data Analytics

Posted: January 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on How Telcos Can Benefit From Big Data Analytics

Big Data has been, and continues to be, one of the buzziest terms in the tech world. Big Data analytics are essential for separating important customer and business information from the rest of the data. The contextual intelligence gleaned from Big Data analytics can, and should be, an important consideration for any business decision CSPs may make.

By examining customers’ social behaviours, such as call detail records (CDRs), how frequently they place calls outside of their networks, etc. CSPs can develop targeted, relevant marketing campaigns that simultaneously reduce the likelihood of churn and create new business opportunities. Of course, this is only one example of how Big Data is reshaping the way CSPs, and other companies for that matter, do business. Just take a look at what people in the Twittersphere are saying about Big Data’s future.

Comptel has pulled together some recent developments for Big Data analytics below. Enjoy!


Big Data and Analytics are on APAC Telcos’ Minds

Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World, Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CSPs in the APAC region are thinking hard about Big Data and analytics. Comptel recently hosted a focus group in Bangkok, Thailand, with attendees from fourteen communications service providers (CSPs) across ten different APAC countries. A multitude of topics were covered during the sessions, but the main thing on everyone’s mind seemed to be Big Data and analytics.

We surveyed attendees in the weeks leading up to our event—and the results seemed to reflect the same trends. With twenty-five respondents, 79 percent of which came from the Southeast Asia region, we got a sense of the issues facing CSPs today. We asked what IT, marketing and R&D leaders were currently focusing on, and one way or the other, it always seemed to come back to Big Data and analytics.

Here’s what our survey revealed:

1. Nearly three-quarters of CSPs say Big Data and analytics will have a big impact on their organizations

Whether CSPs are trying to better target customers or increase operational efficiency, it’s understood that they could benefit from Big Data. Although 71 percent agreed that Big Data and analytics will have a significant effect on their businesses going forward, only 58 percent said that Big Data was being used effectively.

Many CSPs could be in the same place as other businesses – data is being collected, but not being properly leveraged. New systems, processes and strategies need to be considered to truly turn all of that information into intelligence and the right actions. Only 16 percent of CSPs said that they had begun a Big Data initiative.

2. Almost nine out of ten CSPs believe integrating IT with marketing results in richer customer engagement

As we’ve said before, the future of marketing is networks, and the future of networks is marketing. Marketing campaigns at CSPs are becoming increasingly dependent on analytics and the technology that IT controls. At the same time, there’s more pressure on IT to become aligned with the broader goals of the business.

By breaking through the silos between those teams, CSPs can radically improve customer service, increase efficiency, ensure smart operations and realise many other business benefits.

3. 54 percent of CSPs say that their organization is undergoing changes

The landscape for CSPs is shifting, so it’s no surprise that more than half of survey respondents said that their businesses were undergoing some kind of change. A third said that their organizations had launched LTE services, many within the past six months, while 46 percent said that they were in the process of consolidating their OSS/BSS systems.

The ongoing changes may signal a search for more efficiency. Just 58 percent of respondents said that their networks and operations were efficient. A third said that the processes were “somewhat” efficient, and 8 percent said they were “inefficient.”

The Promise of Big Data and Analytics

One way or another, these three trends showcase the need for CSPs to find the right platforms to streamline their operations and bring marketing and IT together to reach the next level. Big Data and analytics are the key to this kind of success, but only if all of the pieces are in place and effectively working together.


Download the Full Survey


New Northstream White Paper Explores How CSPs Can Leverage Analytics to Reap Business Benefits

Posted: September 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on New Northstream White Paper Explores How CSPs Can Leverage Analytics to Reap Business Benefits

This week, management consulting firm Northstream released a whitepaper showcasing how advanced analytics can help communications service providers (CSPs) improve all areas of their businesses. “Analytics Beyond the Hype” offers readers an overview of analytics in the telco space, demonstrates case studies from analytics vendors (including Comptel) and explores strategies that CSPs can apply to their business models today.

Specifically, the whitepaper charts the evolution of analytics from silo-specific, disorganized data to more consolidated efforts, as CSPs attempt to derive value from their Big Data and achieve their business goals. While analytics are not new, Northstream writes, the application of analytics to cross-departmental data is ground-breaking for many operators. In the past, traditional reporting has been limited to hard statistics like the state of the network, customer count and finances.

But that’s all changing.

New Analytics, New Opportunities

Northstream found that CSPs that are exploring the most advanced analytics tools are using data to build predictive models and real-time engines for offers that can immediately meet customer needs. Additionally, there’s a noticeable trend moving from mass marketing to personalised, individual marketing.

These developments in the world of Big Data analytics are imperative for CSPs looking to grow their businesses. Northstream states that, among European CSPs, ARPU has decreased by 6.6 percent year over year. Telco services are getting commoditised, and the market saturated, so the solution is for operators to differentiate by using their data.

Some suggested analytics strategies from Northstream include:

  • Reducing churn via predictive analytics
  • Making customer acquisition more cost-effective with targeted marketing
  • Operating networks more efficiently by automatically monitoring asset and capacity management
  • Tailoring offers to customers to increase ARPU

We were honoured to be included among the experienced CSP analytics vendors Northstream worked with on this study and encourage everyone to read it!

Download the White Paper!


To Reverse Declining Revenues, the Telco Industry Has to Think Outside the Box

Posted: August 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A new report from independent global analyst firm Ovum showed that the telco industry may be experiencing declining revenues for the near future. Most of the decline will occur among telcos with significant exposure to Europe and other mature economies. The only significant growth is taking place within emerging markets, particularly China.

The findings come from a review of full-year KPIs of 23 of the world’s largest telcos, and the analyst firm expects revenues to slow down until at least 2018.

Ovum’s review may or may not come as a surprise to communications service providers (CSPs), which have already been in a constant dance to adapt to the latest technology and the latest competition. While Ovum’s findings seem grim, they should be embraced as an incentive to modernise and innovate their service offerings and customer focus.

The telco industry can look at two things in particular: finding the equilibrium that balances OTT contribution with their business models, and leveraging core competencies and rich data to operationally transform into a “customer company.”

1. Treat OTT players like inspiration, not competition.

The loss of revenues telcos are experiencing is, more often than not, blamed on OTT players. There’s no doubt that services like Apple, Google, Skype and WhatsApp are draining business from the industry, but that doesn’t mean that the answer is to aggressively defend market positions, or turn the other way and pretend they don’t exist.

Ovum’s telco operations analyst and report author Adaora Okeleke suggests using them as inspiration. “Telcos could feasibly play a role as service enablers, but they first need to adopt the leaner structures of OTT players such as Google,” she said in a statement. “By partnering with application developers and allowing them to use their secure platforms for service delivery, telcos will be able to drive innovation and reduce time-to-market.”

As my colleague, Steve Hateley, recently wrote, another option is to try new pricing structures that OTT players can’t give to customers. Some CSPs are experimenting with unlimited bundles, as opposed to reversed, limited bundles. There are also potential strategic alliances that could be built between CSPs and OTT providers that benefit everybody. After all, OTT players still depend on the network infrastructure that CSPs provide.

2. Create more efficient operations.

By invoking the “leaner structures” of Google, Okeleke acknowledges that there are inefficiencies in the current telco business model. But it doesn’t take too much digging to discover that this is a common sentiment.

As an example, many CSPs have more than one mediation and / or provisioning platform, which can end up producing redundancies and slow, error-filled service roll-outs. OSS consolidation may seem intimidating, but the rewards are worth it – by consolidating five systems into a single Comptel Convergent Mediation platform, for example, one CSP recently reduced operational costs by up to 30 percent.

Additionally, having a central solution for their increasing amount of network, service and other data allows CSPs to more effectively apply contextual intelligence to overcome their business challenges associated with better customer understanding.

The Future of Telco

There’s no doubt that things in the telecommunications industry are getting shaken up, but new technologies can offer a host of opportunities for CSPs just as old revenue and business models continue to decline. Comptel is working hard to provide those solutions to the telco industry, and we’re excited for the future, because those solutions mean a better experience for customers and better operations for CSPs.


Can Building Partnerships with OTT Players Actually Improve Telco Revenues?

Posted: July 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Voice and SMS revenues are declining dramatically for communications service providers (CSP). Telco 2.0 expects SMS revenues in Europe and the Middle East to drop 40 percent by 2015, while Strategy Analytics predicts that CSPs around the world will lose about $3 billion in revenue between 2012 and 2017.

And where’s all the money going? To over-the-top (OTT) providers that offer consumers third-party ways of messaging. Apple, Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp are just some of the players in the space. OTT messaging just keeps getting more popular, too. By the end of 2013, Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that OTT messages will be double the number of peer-to-peer SMS messages.

Neutralising the Threat

One trend that has seen some adoption has been the shift to reversed, limited to unlimited bundles. International telco efficiency specialist, tefficient recognized that between 2010 and 2012 as data demand showed significant growth, the OTT monetization opportunity had increased.

At the same time, operators started to reverse their mobile bundle offerings in terms of voice and data. The studyrevealed that instead of packaging limited voice minutes and SMS with unlimited data, operators increasingly limited the amount of inclusive data while making voice and SMS unlimited. Of course this has the effect to neutralise the OTT threat and supporting the opportunity for operators and OTT’s to partner.

CSPs remain understandably worried about this new competition, but most aren’t sure how they can solve the problem. Yet one Australian operator, Telstra Global, has a solution: improve the customer experience and bundle services.

Competing Directly with OTT Services

A good number of CSPs have been trying to quietly ignore OTT providers, because they’re not quite sure where to start when it comes to developing a competing solution. Telstra Global has discovered that it’s just a matter of building the right service packages and the right partnerships.

Martijn Blanken, managing director, told Total Telecom that there is “a way to beat” OTT services like WhatsApp, and it comes down to packaging things differently. That’s how Telstra Global has been able to protect SMS revenues as the technology evolves. Blanken noted, too, that OTT providers need the connectivity and network power that CSPs can offer, which can pave the way for strategic alliances that can benefit everyone.

More than anything, however, Blanken emphasised customer service. “The true differentiation will be the customer experience,” he told the news outlet, and everyone from every department will have to be involved.

Packaging Services in a Way that Works

We’ve long believed the same thing – these days, customers are looking for the best possible experience from their CSPs. Research from Vanson Bourne shows that nine out of ten consumers want more personalised interactions with their mobile operators. The advantage that traditional mobile operators have over OTT services is that they know their customers already. It’s just a matter of leveraging big data analytics to create an individual experience for each customer.

If CSPs could use technology like predictive analytics to anticipate mobile habits, then it would be possible to create unique service packages that are superior to OTT models. Automatically sending a customer a relevant solution delivers a great experience that he or she is very likely to remember. As personalisation becomes the norm for customer service, big data analytics will allow CSPs to create new revenue streams and, best of all, work with OTT services to deliver next-generation customer experiences.


Comptel, Chess and Data Analytics in Italy

Posted: June 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This is a special guest post from Comptel Sales Manager Cristina Monacelli.

On June 13, Comptel hosted an event in Rome at the Finnish ambassador’s residence to introduce our solutions to the Italian telecommunications market. We really wanted to engage with the country’s communications service providers (CSPs) and this gathering gave us that opportunity.

CEO Juhani Hintikka shared the strategy behind Comptel’s slogan, ‘Making Data Beautiful,’ and illustrated the power of automating decision-making to drive business opportunities and build stronger customer relationships.

Luca Desiata, our keynote speaker of the evening, delivered a thought-provoking and powerful presentation on “Chess and Corporate Strategy.” He used the metaphor of chess as a guideline for a course of corporate strategy, leadership, decision-making and problem-solving.

In the latter part of the evening, the guests experienced exquisite Finnish delicacies, including fennel-salmon with horseradish and Rhubarb pie, as found in some of the country’s best traditional restaurants. And, of course, everyone enjoyed the taste of the fine Italian wines.

The Chess Game Behind Corporate Strategy

Desiata’s keynote speech began by outlining the game of chess itself – a game with deep historical roots and enduring cross-cultural fascination, and how it was influenced by strategic thinking, elegance, analytical skills, intuition and talent.

Chess has been used throughout history for a number of parallels but, strangely enough, never before for corporate strategy. It has contributed to the progress of information technology and artificial intelligence, and has been used to test war strategies and psychological theories, but businesses have been largely left out of the equation.

Since Desiata is a corporate strategy expert with a passion for this game, he decided to change that. His speech highlighted the powerful ideas in his new his book, which is appropriately titled  Chess and Corporate Strategy, and what business leaders can learn from this age-old game, including:

1. Advanced Strategic Thinking

Decades ago, experiments were conducted with some of the greatest chess champions. A team of psychologists asked the players to verbally explain the process of strategy elaboration behind a move, and discovered categories of thinking that are surprisingly similar to the ways of business strategy.

Some of the most poignant parallels were around decision-making biases and pitfalls in the process of strategy elaboration. Just like chess masters, executives have to reconsider all of the options on the table again and again, and make sure their decisions aren’t being weighed by pre-existing beliefs.

2. Negotiations

A game of chess is all about careful negotiations. Players trade pieces and spaces and hope they’re getting the better part of the deal.

Negotiations tournaments can mimic this process by dividing people into pairs to negotiate on a business case. These negotiations are repeated by changing pairs until, after a certain number of runs, the winner of the “tournament” emerges. The tournament dynamics highlight the transactional, prize-forming process, which in the last rounds tend to converge towards an equilibrium value determined by different elements such as technique, motivation and preparation.

3. Approach to Risk and Uncertainty Management

Risk-return matrices – like losing a Queen to take out a well-positioned Rook on the chessboard – are constantly applied to the financial and industrial portfolios. Desiata explained that the risk attitude of a chess player for choosing a variation is similar to the risk attitude of an investor. This establishes a quantitative parallel between chess and finance.

Chess and Corporate Strategy” by Luca Desiata has been offered at MIP – Politechnique of Milan Business School and at Bocconi University’s Executive MBA. Customized executive courses have been given for managers of major Italian companies.


Voice is a Concern, Data Brings Promise to CSPs

Posted: June 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Voice has turned into a voice of concern for CPS, since the voice & text messaging businesses don’t grow anymore: On the contrary, the revenues are declining.  The telecom industry is undergoing a thorough transformation, and as a result, Data is becoming more important day by day. The word on the street (or in space) is that he’s getting BIG.

Those who are most willing to accept the shifting landscape and try to figure out completely new business and revenue models are most likely to come out strong. Our guy Data really likes to crunch numbers and analyze information to arrive at the right conclusion. In a similar fashion, CSPs need automated predictive analytics to enrich information about the customer to provide attractive and accurate offers quickly, allow personalization, predict/prevent churn and identify fraud, create enhanced customer profiling and superior quality of experience.

It’s no longer news to anyone that customers pay a lot of attention to the price of their plans and quality of service when choosing the CSP, but it’s really important to realize how much the social circle influences a customer’s purchasing decision. A Vanson Bourne study indicated that globally more than 40% choose their CSP based on the experiences and influence from their friends and family. Understanding this playing field and social network sure sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

The processing, enriching and analyzing of big data to make it valuable and actionable requires a considerable amount of automisation, otherwise tackling such an immense amount of information becomes a daunting proposition.  An example of such automisation is the realtime decision-making process that defines, when and how to react to poor quality of service by identifying customers who are the most affected by it, to be able to launch a proactive retention or marketing campaign.

However, Data had to learn something else in addition to ‘mathematics’. If you want to connect with people on an emotional level, pure ‘mathematics, statistics and analytics’ aren’t simply going to cut it. You need creative ways to win the hearts and minds of people, and to do that, you have to understand them as individuals. Knowing your customers enables CSP to act proactively with the best possible personalized offering and contextually at the right time. An example of such offering is the proactive identification of those customers who need an upgrade for the data package because their usage pattern has changed. Or the proactive identification of those customers who are using multiple SIM cards from different CSPs. To prevent them from churning and making them to prioritize your offering, it’s relevant to know what their personal preferences are.

In addition to the ‘usual suspects‘ in the telecom ecosystem like customers, CSPs, vendors, OTTs (Internet Service Providers), additionally there are the newcomers from the ‘Internet of Things’ (such as energy, retailers, health, education, automobile, …) who can together with telecoms build unique value propositions where both parties can win. The struggle against the OTTs is transforming into a co-operative approach which allows value-adding joint propositions letting CSPs tap into the OTT’s revenue.

Some have suggested a premium charging model for LTE but many operators are distancing from this approach as it makes LTE generally unaffordable and unattractive for many customers, causing many to stay with their current 3G/HSPA+ plans. The essence of the discussion is to find other ways and means to generate revenue which places the emphasis on developing the co-operation between OTTs and CSPs. Identifying new revenue sources is essential, but we should not forget to keep an eye on the cost base. What’s interesting is that there seems to be a direct relation between subsidized LTE handsets and the CSP’s EBITDA margin: the subsidized handsets have a negative impact on the CSP’s margin which makes it important to know who’s really going to use the CSP’s LTE services (Source: www.tefficient.com ). The solution is to pinpoint those LTE users who really consume LTE services with the help of predictive analytics, instead of choosing the expensive strategy to subsidize LTE handsets for everyone. Please refer to the white paper written by Tefficient: ‘Why mass marketing is inefficient when launching LTE’,

On top of these above mentioned, there’s quite a lot of dynamics around identifying Quad Play opportunities in the CSPs’ business plans at the moment. Bundling broadband, TV, mobile, and fixed creates sticky services and customers, improves the revenue flow and reduces churn significantly, compared to the single or triple play. CSPs are seeking ways to provide these types of offering models by acquiring them or through co-operation. Tackling this kind of complex, multi-service and multi-technology order process requires a common platform with a fully integrated, catalog-driven approach to service order orchestration if you would like to fight the costly order fallouts. And when you add a robust Fulfillment environment enriched with analytics-driven smart order validation that closely monitors the end-to-end process of service-order capture to service delivery, you’re really good to go.

At the same time, shared accounts or multi-device/multi-user accounts are gaining more importance as an offering model, attracting not only users with several gadgets but also families and small business users utilising the same shared account for their data usage. These models are offered with no limit for voice & text usage but with limits on the data plans.  The new era clearly concentrates monetisation on data services. Some CSPs are even bold enough to talk about replicating the same model to their WiFi users, meaning that data usage limits would be imposed on home broadband users as well.

All in all, a lot of interesting topics circling around the market, and many CSPs have sent out ‘trial balloons’ to test the market response.  The known common denominator is that Data will be the future monetisation engine for CSPs, and BIG Data is the way to gain relevant information on customer’s preferences, personalisation and predictions for their ‘next move’. A horizontal and high-performant mediation layer contributes to the collection and processing of BIG data; and enriching the customer and network data with predictive analytics, human expertise and machine learning to automate decision-making. This is a viable way to go forward when combatting churn, generating new revenue and offering bespoke data service packages to customers.


What Technologies Are Impacting Policy Management?

Posted: February 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What Technologies Are Impacting Policy Management?

I was recently talking about policy management with my colleague, Ulla Koivukoski, and started thinking about how far we’ve come and how it will continue to evolve. All of the new and advanced technologies that have been introduced in the past couple of years are having a big influence on this, and will continue to shape how communications service providers (CSPs) utilise policy management capabilities.

One of the most prominent of these technologies is 4G/LTE. Because LTE enables faster data speeds, customers will inevitably want to consume more and more data. CSPs who can gain deeper insight into such data usage will have a clear advantage. For policy management specifically, this means the ability to provide different packages with different rating models that are unique to customers’ behaviours. It also means implementing bandwidth or data caps in certain instances– otherwise, we’d use all of our network capacity!

Adding to this, it’s crucial for CSPs to identify the impact of down throttling on individual customers who are likely to churn and/or cause a revenue loss. For example, if customers experience poor quality of service (QoS), CSPs need to be able to proactively offer them a higher bandwidth or data package. In this way, the risk for revenue loss and customer churn can be mitigated while simultaneously improving QoS for the right customers. Further, a predictive analytics engine can suggest which customers will be most valuable for CSPs based on pre-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and which customers desire a corrective action to keep them on-board (e.g. a dedicated bandwidth prioritisation).

CSPs also can benefit by tightly coupling policy control with real-time charging. Like our recent consumer research demonstrated, financial considerations like personalised product/service promotions can influence customer behaviour. So, if CSPs can not only dynamically control the packages that are being delivered to customers and how, but also competitively price their offerings, they can increase the amount customers are willing to spend and maximise their revenue.

Linked closely with this is big data, which is giving CSPs a huge opportunity to add value. To tap into the power of big data, CSPs must first sift through and analyse the immense data volumes, both structured and unstructured, to get complete views of their customers. With this, CSPs can offer new services and bundles to customers with both efficiency and rapid time-to-market. Adding to this, a combination of advanced analytics and mediation enables CSPs to begin use cases like proactive broadband upsell for customers based on the prediction of their changed usage pattern, premium user identification, and automatically approaching customers with the right offer, in the right context.

Another technology making an impact on policy management—and one that goes hand in hand with big data—is the cloud. More and more, the cloud is one of the best options for storing and processing data. It allows for offline processing and the ability to trigger information online, to achieve real-time, personalised campaigns. Latency and security threats remain a concern, but if these can be managed properly, then I see policy making a big shift to the cloud.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many more advancements being made every day. As our world and the technologies in it continue to evolve, I look forward to seeing how policy management will grow and change to drive a better, more efficient customer experience.


Survey: Customers Yearn for the Personal Touch from Mobile Operators

Posted: February 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s no secret that customer experience is a crucial element to communications service providers’ (CSPs) business growth strategies. Last year, I talked about the necessity to anticipate customer needs to help accomplish this, as highlighted by a survey conducted with research firm Vanson Bourne. This year, we worked with the company again to gain a global understanding of subscribers’ feelings toward their CSPs and found that they indeed welcome, and in fact desire, this personalised communication at every touch point. This includes from the first interaction when joining the service (35%), to when they are experiencing issues with the service (61%), to when their needs are changing (40%).

When would you like to have more personalised help/contact from your operator?

The good news for CSPs is that these interactions can help recoup the 20% of revenue that is currently being spent on churn compensation and retention, according to telecommunications industry consultant tefficient. While this number is staggering, it also means there is a huge cost-savings opportunity – if CSPs can earn customer loyalty. For one, churn prevention can be significantly reduced as, currently, more than one-third of consumers indicated that they might consider changing their mobile operators now if they could.

Would you like to change your operator now if you could?

Adding to this, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be had if CSPs personally interacted more often with customers.  For instance, almost two-thirds of consumers said that they would like to download large files to their devices more often if they had a better rate plan for their mobile data, better bandwidth or a better device, and nearly half (49%) would pay for a temporary upgrade to download those files more quickly and improve their viewing experience, if offered.  On average, consumers are willing to spend $3.80 for a temporary service upgrade—accounting for an increase in ARPU of 12 percent.

If your mobile operator offered you a temporary bandwidth boost / data consumption upgrade for a small charge, how much would you pay?

As I mentioned in today’s press release, the key to making this a reality and, ultimately, to earn customer loyalty, is through contextual intelligence at every touch point. As the survey results show, consistent, personalised interaction puts CSPs one step closer to winning consumers’ hearts, more efficiently utilising assets and profitably monetising their offerings.

Data for this survey was gathered from consumers in Brasil, Chile, France, Germany, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. A full copy of the research report will be available at Mobile World Congress (25-28 February 2013 in Barcelona) in Hall 6 at Stand 6C30, or by contacting comptel.marketing@comptel.com. You can visit our show microsite as well, for further examples of intelligence at every touch point.


More on the Catalog Conundrum

Posted: October 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on More on the Catalog Conundrum

While some are still a bit hesitant to adopt a service-layer catalog, we’re seeing communications service providers (CSPs) use it more and more as a driver for their overall business operations. This is especially true as service portfolios become broader, and as CSPs realise that simple commercial product catalogs can’t deliver the agility and rapid deployment needed to help them effectively compete. I recently wrote about this and the various benefits catalog can bring to CSPs, especially in terms of making product lifecycle management more efficient. Now, I’d like to dive a bit deeper into why catalog initiatives are a must for service provider IT (SPIT).

Catalog has traditionally played a role in many proof-of-concept exercises, as it can make product development and deployment easier, faster and less expensive. However, most CSPs haven’t followed these ideas through to operational adoption. This is starting to change as emerging technologies are fuelling the need for new tools to manage product lifecycles, and increasing organisational complexity only adds to this need. Meaning, CSPs must manage converging technologies and dispersed capabilities across departmental and service boundaries, which demand that formal management of the service lifecycle be a key part of the OSS/BSS architecture – cue catalog.

While CSPs realise the need for progress, one of the biggest obstacles they face in shifting to a catalog-driven approach is fear of transformation and the subsequent impact on existing processes. Alleviating these fears may be as simple as introducing catalog in phases to various departments rather than to the entire organisation at once. It’s important to think about the longer term benefits, too. CSPs can realise substantial architecture paybacks by integrating a system that wraps and re-uses its legacy infrastructure with new catalog-driven models.

When considering the investments being made in various technologies like 4G, coupled with the demand for personalised product delivery, catalog initiatives seem essential for management and have the potential to ensure true differentiation in the market. There is a very real possibility that the traditional OSS/BSS boundaries and architectures of the past will be completely redrawn, with service catalogs at the centre of the new SPIT platform.  Do you agree?