The Stress of Moving

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Moving home is consistently rated amongst the most stressful things in life (up there with divorce and bereavement). It’s no wonder really. Aside from all of the logistics involved, there are many emotional attachments associated with the old home—the happy memories, the neighbours, the favourite shops and restaurants… it’s so hard leaving all of those things behind.

In recent weeks, both the GSMA and TM Forum have announced plans to move their flagship events—Mobile World Congress (MWC) and Management World (still known in most circles as TMW), respectively. Admittedly, the GSMA have not actually announced they are moving, but for the 2013 event and onwards, they are considering six alternative cities, including Barcelona, the present home of the MWC. At least their customers (operators, press, exhibitors and sponsors) are given a chance to express their preferences rather than waiting to be presented with a fait-accompli.

As a prospective delegate and exhibitor, one can’t help feeling a little unsettled about the prospect of moving. One needs to get used to new exhibition layouts (where are the best spots?), new hotels (will we find a nice, affordable place?), new restaurants and bars (for those all important, post-event meetings) and even a new climate (TMW’s new home, Dublin, is not Nice, as Ray Le Maistre of Light Reading pointed out)… There is also the uncertainty of whether the show will attract the same level and quality of participation, and whether as a sponsor, one should invest at the same level as in past events.

That said, one has to feel some sympathy for the organizers—moving an event is not a simple decision or operation. Every year, Comptel organizes the Comptel User Group (CUG) in a different country, so we know first hand how fraught with difficulty choosing a venue can be (can delegates fly there cost effectively?, will they need visas?, will it coincide with some holiday?). And yes, we have made mistakes in the past, but as Oscar Wilde once said: ‘Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

Podcast: Potential of Cloud Services for CSPs

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: Greg Scullard | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

I recently had the pleasure to speak with industry analyst Teresa Cottam of Telesperience for her latest podcast episode—Telesperience 15—on cloud, managed services and outsourcing.  The focus of our conversation was the potential of cloud services: both to increase operational efficiency and as a new revenue stream for communications service providers (CSPs).  I was also able to share with her Comptel’s participation in three TM Forum Catalyst programs, which we have been showing at various TM Forum Management World events in Nice and Orlando.  The Catalysts involved were:

After four successful iterations of the Service Model Catalyst, we are happy to share that we’ve achieved all of the results we’ve set out to accomplish.  As for the other two Catalysts, we will continue to explore these further over the next few months—we’re really seeing the Cloud Service Broker Catalyst working as a potential business model for CSPs.

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Follow the conversation via Twitter: @TeresaCottam, @Telesperience, @ComptelCorp or #BSSOSS.

Around the World…

Posted: June 4th, 2010 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Light Reading
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes | Nice Show: Management World 2010
In this article, senior analyst, Ari Banerjee of Heavy Reading captures the key takeaways from Management World Nice. The common theme proved to be providing flexible and efficient software solutions and improving customer experience. Check out our recent posts from the show.

Data and Telecom | IT Business Edge…
4G Is Not the Only Game in Town
Blogger, Carl Weinschenk explores the wireless landscape and ponders the future of LTE and WiMax. While, these technologies are certainly the industry’s focus, Carl states that 4G is not everything and brings to our attention to High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) technology, which is informally called 3.5G technology. Do you agree with Carl’s views on HSPA+ and 4G? Do you think it’s comparable to 4G?

Broadband Expert…
World Cup Travelers Warned Over Mobile Bills
With the World Cup approaching, many experts are warning travelers to be careful about using their mobile devices to avoid costly and unexpected bills. Check out blogger William Harvey’s posts for recent industry commentary. This is particularly timely with the EU’s July 1 data roaming regulation approaching. This is a growing concern among operators globally, as they need to give their customers more control of their own experiences. How do you think this will unfold over the coming weeks?

A Dynamic Customer Experience: Going Beyond CRM

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Back in 2006, Comptel developed its vision of the Comptel Dynamic OSS. This wasn’t just a piece of marketing spin—there was real substance behind the concept. What we realized was that we were on the midst of a major shift in telecom software, and that Comptel was in quite a unique position.

At that time, customer experience management was becoming a key differentiator, but much of the focus of communication service providers (CSPs) until then was on bringing in self-care and a better CRM. What we recognized was that one of the key aspects of the customer experience was happening below that glossy surface. With customers, consumers or businesses, increasingly wanting things “now!, it was essential for CSPs to be able to create and tailor both services and charging plans to suit their needs. And, that called for dynamic, real-time fulfillment and charging capabilities closely linked with customer-centric data repositories. (Hey, that is exactly the area of business that Comptel specializes in!)

Fast forward to 2010—now customer experience is at the centre stage.

At Management World 2010 in Nice, there was much talk about policy management, for example.  What is policy management when you think about it? At its core, it’s about being able to deliver personalized services and charging plans dynamically to customers. And, that requires dynamic policy control and charging solutions coupled with customer-centric information—like Comptel Control and Charge.

Another example of the need for customer-centric, dynamic OSS is SIM management. Although you’d think the issues around dynamic resource management would have been solved ages ago, they’re not. We launched Comptel Dynamic SIM Management in February 2010 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to address the issue created by the pre-provisioning model. The idea is to completely transform the process into a just-in-time one. This enables CSPs principally to unbundle their prepaid (or postpaid) commercial proposition from the SIM card and all related assets, until the service is actually acquired and activated by the subscriber. This way, we lower the cost to acquire a customer substantially, and we also provide the ability to launch new services or campaigns to market much faster, as the ‘product package’ is dynamically allocated at the time of activation. Think of it as a means to run campaigns per any and every day, as SIM card packages no longer define the campaign offering! Also think of the “first use experience and personalization” you are able to offer with this new type of activation process!  Once again, it’s about dynamic OSS components working closely with customer-centric information.

Solutions like Comptel Control and Charge and Comptel Dynamic SIM Management are key ingredients and very vital parts of CSPs’ strategies in being able to ensure the best, differentiated customer experience, while lowering costs and increasing revenues.

With Management World Americas 2010 on the horizon and the future ahead of us, it will be interesting to see what will be the next ‘dynamic’ solution that will enable CSPs to reach the next level and offer an improved customer experience! We’d like to hear your thoughts on what it could or should be…

Management World 2010 Wrap-Up

Posted: May 26th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Another Management World has come and gone. Over the course of the three days and Comptel’s 80+ meetings, we had some really interesting discussions about the current state and future of the telecom market.

Some interesting snippets from the show floor:

  • Barbara Lancaster and Trevor Hayes of LTC International commented that, in many cases, service providers still seem to be buying and deploying software to solve short-term problems rather than to prepare for future subscriber or service-usage growth and service innovation.  Are operators digging deeper holes for themselves?
  • Cloud computing certainly took centre stage at Management World 2010, but the issue of 4G and OSS began to creep up in conversations.  Ari Banerjee of Heavy Reading noted policy control and convergent charging as important for ensuring the customer experience with the migration to LTE.

It was nice catching up with those customers, partners, media and analysts that were able to make it to Management World 2010.  We welcome you to share any points you found interesting while at the conference.

What’s on at Management World 2010: Inter-Cloud Service Management Catalyst

Posted: May 21st, 2010 | Author: Greg Scullard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Over the past three days at Management World 2010, a lot of time has been spent in Forumville, where Catalyst participants gave demos of their collaborative projects.  Comptel took part in three of the four integrated cloud management scenarios, namely the Cloud Service Broker, Service Model and Inter-Cloud Service Management Catalysts.

As briefly mentioned in Olivier Suard’s Wednesday post, the latter initiative, championed by BT, aimed to demonstrate a unified service delivery framework for managing distributed inter-cloud services (specifically unified communications voice).  Comptel contributed service fulfillment solutions and a customer order portal to the project.

To give credit where credit’s due, Qwest acted as the cloud service broker exposing the product and service catalog into the cloud, while Cisco Systems brought the domain managers for infrastructure and voice applications as well as a service management portal.  Progress Software was responsible for the data interoperability with standardization and mapping, and managed services provider T-Systems integrated the customer self-care portal.

Management World 2010 attendees, if you had time to walk through Forumville, what did you think of the Inter-Cloud Service Management Catalyst and the others on display?  How might you like to see this particular initiative evolve (e.g. the addition of service assurance or billing components)?  Or, what other types of Catalysts should be considered for Management World Americas in Orlando in November?

What’s on at Management World 2010: Day 2 Highlights

Posted: May 20th, 2010 | Author: Arnhild Schia | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

After a nice evening on the rooftop at the Le Meridien Hotel on the Nice seafront on Tuesday, the team on-site at Management World 2010 got started on another very busy day.

One highlight from the second day was a Revenue Management & Profitability Summit case study presentation from Telecom Personal, the mobile branch of Telecom Argentina with 14 million subscribers.

Among the market challenges the operator faced—Argentina is a saturated market with a 120% penetration rate, number portability and MVNOs are coming up in Latin America, and the region has seen high churn with the economic slowdown.

IT manager Leticia San Juan explained the service provider’s goal of delivering a multi-channel, self-service activation solution for pre-paid subscribers in seven months, with the hope of enhancing customer satisfaction.  She then described the pre-activation, validation and provisioning (where Comptel comes in) processes to meet this objective.

There were some positive results in the end.  Telecom Personal has improved customer satisfaction by reducing the time it takes between initial contact and all of the validations—all down to two or three minutes.  The operator was also able to reduce activation costs and better collect subscribers’ contact details with identity assurance.

Some important lessons learned as noted by Leticia—a pilot implementation is critical before launching innovative services, and don’t forget to continue focus on telco product innovation while undertaking such projects.

What’s on at Management World 2010: OSS and Managed Services

Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday evening, Comptel’s very own CTO, Gareth Senior, and Ralf Jaeger of Cisco Systems gave a talk on leveraging OSS for managed services as part of Management World 2010’s Successful Business Transformation Summit.  They focused on virtualized unified communications services and how the cloud environment is becoming a critical differentiator for service providers—especially in terms of guaranteed quality of service and combining assets in the network.  (If interested in seeing a copy of the presentation, contact [email protected]).

Some of the key OSS points made: it’s critical to have a full-service suite that offers a high degree of functionality out of the box.  The solutions should encompass not only the traditional elements, such as activation, order management, provisioning and inventory management, but also newer components like catalog that are important for next-generation business models, for example, Telco 2.0.

Wrapping up, Gareth and Ralf gave the Inter-Cloud Service Management Catalyst as an example of traditional OSS (service fulfillment) being applied to a brand new space.  The initiative involves the ability to run services between multiple clouds, partition networks into slices and provide end-customers with the tools they need to manage their use of on-demand cloud services.  But, more on the Inter-Cloud Service Management Catalyst coming up!

Leveraging OSS for managed services—and providing end-customers with the ability to make changes as they like—can certainly give service providers an edge (including time- and cost-savings as a result of automation and integration) over those that don’t know how to do it.

What’s on at Management World 2010: Day 1 Highlights

Posted: May 18th, 2010 | Author: Olivier Suard | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

TM Forum’s Management World 2010 has kicked off, and luckily, we made it to Nice without much delay from the ash cloud.  After walking into the Acropolis Convention Center, it certainly became clear that cloud is the hottest topic on the conference agenda.

The keynote session also called out transformation and the customer experience as two key issues that would be largely discussed this week. Noted speaker, Liu Aili, executive vice president and board director at China Mobile, touched upon the former with a discussion about the operator’s move to an all IP network.  The world’s largest operator with 540 million subscribers and adding something in the region of seven million customers per month, China Mobile embarked on the move to 3G about six years ago, with the hope of dealing with the pressure from increasing CAPEX and OPEX.

Mr. Liu explained that there were many different opinions on how to manage China Mobile’s all IP journey.  His advice?  Address the easy stuff first—as such, the operator has almost completed the transformation of its voice network.  Mr. Liu also advised operators to take early action when it comes to IP transformation, as the process is far from being over for China Mobile.

We agree with Mr. Liu’s closing points—operators must invest more in their OSS and network technologies in order to get the most out of IP transformation and continue to ensure a high quality of service for customers.

Later on in the keynote session was an interesting talk on the importance of customer experience.  Panelists Akil Bashir, chairman of Telecom Egypt, Jan Vorstermans, executive vice president of technology and solutions at Telenet, and Steffen Roehn, CIO of Deutsche Telekom, elaborated on the impact of corporate incentivization, segmentation, social networking and more on the customer experience.

The priorities that the speakers believe operators need to focus on for improving the customer experience include simplifying the way they do business with their subscribers, executing service delivery as promised, and communicating what is best for their subscribers in a truthful and straightforward manner.

Like Mr. Bashir, Mr. Vorstermans and Mr. Roehn said, don’t forget to keep the five, critical “A’s”—anybody, anytime, anywhere, authentified and authorized—in mind for enabling the best customer experience.

Stay tuned for more Management World 2010 updates!

Q&A: BT's Gary Bruce on the Cloud Service Broker Catalyst

Posted: May 13th, 2010 | Author: Greg Scullard | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Got your head in the cloud?  There will certainly be a lot of discussion around the challenges and opportunities cloud services present next week at Management World 2010 in Nice.  For conference attendees wanting to experience key cloud management concepts, and forward-looking collaborations among communications service providers (CSPs), technology suppliers and enterprise customers, Forumville is a must!

Gary Bruce, Catalyst lead and project champion at BT Innovate & Design, answers a couple of questions about the Cloud Service Broker Catalyst (CSB), which will demonstrate a trusted, governed cloud management platform, to simplify the delivery of complex, cloud services to enterprise customers.

Q: How is the CSB Catalyst addressing the barriers to cloud adoption for enterprise customers?

A: Although cloud services offer many attractive benefits, enterprises are naturally concerned about losing control over IT governance.  Issues, such as maintaining application performance, delivering adequate security, preventing runaway costs and complying with regional or sector regulations, create significant barriers for cloud adoption.

The CSB Catalyst project starts to address these issues by developing a trusted interface between the enterprise and cloud service environments. This facilitates a secure, highly performing cloud-based environment for enterprise activity that operates in accordance with each organization’s own governance rules.

Using the CSB Catalyst, enterprises can benefit from cloud models, like pay-as-you-go, ‘OPEX not CAPEX’, and automatic scaling on demand, while retaining control and avoiding lock-in with any single underlying cloud platform.  The CSB also benefits cloud service providers by enabling them to offer services with transparent governance, and providing levels of control and assurance which would otherwise be difficult and costly to achieve.

Q: What will the demonstration scenario on display in Forumville entail?

A: The CSB Catalyst is acting on some of the primary requirements from TM Forum’s Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council, and explores the use of TM Forum standards to facilitate the cloud service broker function.  In particular, the CSB Catalyst employs the Product and Service Assembly (PSA) standard to facilitate automated interworking between each of the catalyst’s collaborators with respect to cloud service assembly and deployment.

The CSB Catalyst demonstration in Forumville will highlight:

  • Bringing a cloud product, including customer service level agreements, quickly and easily to market through the use of PSA catalogs to manage the service components and product lifecycle;
  • Fulfilling a customer order to meet both functionality requirements, and those for application performance, security, cost control and compliance, to the point of billing for the enabled product;
  • Responding to service quality challenges, for example, the dynamic creation of new capacity as a result of dips in application performance due to increased demand; and
  • Making status, activities, events and responses within the cloud service environment transparent and evident to both cloud service brokers and enterprise customers.

Q: How will the project takeaways help BT in the real world as a buyer and seller of complex cloud services?

A: Through the CSB Catalyst, BT hopes to make the provisioning of cloud services more easily accessible and viable for enterprises, and enable buyers to capitalize on the benefits of complex cloud services, while having the control they need over IT governance.

The initiative can also help cloud service brokers improve their customers’ experiences, by providing the best available resources at any given time, reducing service delivery bottlenecks and minimizing the effects of resource contention.

We hope that the Catalyst will encourage the adoption of cloud services, and open up new revenue opportunities for operators and cloud service providers.

To learn more about the CSB Catalyst, which also involves Comptel, Infonova, OpenNMS Group and Square Hoop, head over to Level 3 in the Agora 3 Mezzanine during the following hours:

Tuesday, May 18 from 12:30 – 19:00

Wednesday, May 19 from 10:00 – 19:00

Thursday, May 20 from 10:00 – 14:30