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Technology has put consumers are in the driver’s seat, demanding a seamless experience across all their devices.  The Internet of Things (connected living), Mobile Money, Video Streaming, Social Apps, VOIP and other OTT services are straining the network and operators’ ability to manage relationships with customers and partners in a profitable way.  With an increasingly convergent market as the background, Capgemini, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, has published its predictions of where the telecoms industry is heading by 2020.  Below is a summary of their top 5 predictions (in italics) with added insights from the industry:

Integration with content providers

The recent trend of telco’s acquiring or partnering with content providers (Comcast and NBC Universal, AT&T and Direct TV) may be overtaken by content providers predicted to be acquiring telecoms companies. Net Neutrality is increasingly at risk as content distribution and content providers join up and could control the content available to consumers.

Internet of Things: The next major trend that will impact is the explosion of connected devices

Also referred to as the rise of connected living, it’s predicted that IoT will drive data volumes into the realm of zetabytes per year. As Raj Talluri, a senior vice president of Qualcomm, has said

“I don’t think anyone really knows yet how big it’s going to get because the possibilities are really endless”

IoT is not just about connected devices, but about the analytics that makes sense of this tsunami of data. It is also the usefulness of the analytics that will drive the success of IoT devices.

IoT covers a range of different applications:

The Connected Home

For consumers IoT can help to save money by running homes more efficiently, improve security and provide entertainment. In an increasingly complex world IoT can help us to manage all the products and services we depend on by automating household administration and providing remote monitoring and control of devices.

Connected Health

Wearables are opening the door to great possibilities in health and fitness. While wearables have gained popularity amongst the health conscious, the potential of wearables is also being applied in assisting to provide essential monitoring and care for those in need.

The connected car

As cars are an extension of our homes so the connected car is, in part, an extension of our connected homes.  Cars now have entertainment systems that stream our favourite music, tracking systems so friends and relatives can know where we are and, of course, SatNav that knows current traffic and weather conditions. Connected cars can also provide automated diagnostics and reduce our insurance premiums through conscientious driving.

Gartner forecasts that 1 in 5 cars will be connected by 2020.

Mobility

While PC’s are still a popular choice for many tasks, the growth in mobility is being driven by the developing world, where mobile is often cheaper and more convenient than fixed line services.

Five big trends in mobility

  1. Wearables

According the Mashable 15 Mobile Trends to Watch the battleground for wearables has only just begun

  1. Mobile payments go big

Emarketer are predicting that in the US mobile payments will triple in 2016

  1. Security

Mobile and BYOD are major threats to enterprise security, so mobile apps need to ensure the highest levels of security are implemented.

  1. Mobilization of Enterprise Apps

As reported by 451 Research, 40% of companies are planning to prioritize development of business apps.  Many of these will be “companion apps” that augment, rather than replace, existing enterprise applications.

  1. Automotive and Transport will be a key vertical, according to Analysis Mason in the explosive IoT market for life automation

Market Saturation

A growing adoption of connected health and safety apps will ensure that even the latest of mobile adopters, the elderly, will eventually be getting connected, leaving that last remaining market saturated. This will drive the need for operators to differentiate themselves further through content.

Security

Beyond mobile device security, consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their data held by enterprises, which will drive a demand for more secure systems and better data management processes.

The challenges faced by telecoms operators are immense. With such diverse forces pushing the market forward, operators need to adopt an efficient, robust and highly elastic enterprise architecture more than ever.  Managing different lines of business and marketing efforts with different departments is no longer an option, as customers expect companies to provide a seamless experience across multiple services.  Subex have specialised capabilities in helping telcos improve organisational efficiency for years, and now the latest version of the ROC product suite is more highly integrated than ever before, allowing it to deliver the insights and efficiencies that are essential for a telco to compete in today’s rapidly evolving market.

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Subex User Conference
23rd and 24th Crowne Plaza, Blanchardstown, Dublin

It is that time of year again when we look forward to our annual User Conference. It has rapidly become one of the most sought after events in the BSS calendar. Not just for the range of speakers but also for the focus on our roadmap and plans. And, of course, for a little relaxation.

Last year we were in Vienna, a truly beautiful city. The sessions were excellent, with keynote speaker Daniel Rui Felicio, CEO, Siemens Communications, Media and Technology kicking off the proceedings. Alex Leslie, Publisher of industry blog BillingViews followed him with his ‘More Interesting Things’ in which he explored some of the more interesting trends and statistics in our industry, such as DNA that you can email and paper that is interactive. Speakers included Paul Fedarb from BT, Dan Baker from TRI in North America and our own John Brooks, who has just been named as the project leader for the TM Forum’s Asset Assurance program. To relax we were treated to a guided tour of some of the most famous buildings in Europe, followed by a traditional dinner under the city walls.

This year we turn to Dublin, a great city. Not only will be exploring the city (and a Guinness or two) we have a great line up of speakers and topics. Our keynote speaker is Dr. Peter Cochrane, former CTO at BT and acknowledged industry visionary. We have also asked Alex Leslie back, for some ‘Even More Interesting Things’ and have added a couple of extra industry experts in the shape of Tony Poulos, Market Strategist with the TM Forum and Eric Priezkalns, Editor of revenue assurance blog, TalkRA.

With such a line up, we can look forward to some lively debate between these often controversial figures, some excellent insights into where our industry is going and an in-depth look at what we have been busy with in the last year.

And, as you have possibly heard, we have been very busy.

We have, for instance, launched our Asset Assurance platform, which has been getting some attention in the media, “Take the Stranded Assets Tests! How to Maximize Time to Revenue?”. With financial control and agility being the critical requirements for CTOs and CFOs our solution gives them the tools they need (and their priorities tend to be different) to better manage their OSS assets, reducing time to revenue and allowing them to make better decisions about when to retire others.

We have not been neglecting our other core strengths, and our ROC platform is stronger than ever. It needs to be to help our customers fight ever greater threats from fraud, whether it be at the Point of Sale or on the Wholesale front. Both are threats that stretch into the billions of dollars and need a partner that can remain up to date and as agile as ever to combat these threats.

Our outlook is robust too. With some significant changes since we saw you in Vienna, our revenues are up, our customers and partners are happy and we have been winning some industry awards, such as the Pipeline Innovation Award for our Asset Assurance solution.

All in all, it is has been an interesting, exciting and challenging year. We are all looking forward to seeing you in Dublin to bring you up to date, share some stories and a glass or two of wine – or Guinness – and to provide some insights which will help your teams stay ahead of the game. Our team is working hard behind the scenes to make sure it goes ahead smoothly and provides great value and benefit. We look forward to seeing you there.

If you have not registered please click here. Or if you need more information, then please contact us.

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During one of my business travels recently, I met the Revenue Assurance & Fraud Management heads of few telco’s. There was one meeting in particular that struck me – let me call him Jack, the AVP of FM. Jack has been using a Fraud Management System(FMS) for close to 4 years & has certain business challenges to address. Jack was exploring the option of upgrading the FMS to tackle the challenges and needs.

Jacks’ primary challenge was to build a business case justification for FM upgrade to show the elusive RoI. Apparently, there have been challenges of his team detecting fraud, and he was of the belief that an upgrade will help address the fraud in new generation of services (which the current system is not capable of) and thus contribute to the RoI.

On probing further it was clear that he’s been under tremendous pressure from the higher-ups to showcase RoI, especially in the recent past due to tough macro-economic conditions. Some more questioning and discussions with his team members revealed that there have been (and are) many hurdles in performing their tasks –

a)      IT issues pertaining to system availability, performance, processing & tuning

b)      Knowledge issues in fine-tuning the rules and thresholds periodically

c)      People issues in understanding the domain and carrying out effective and smart investigations

While the operator is on a drive to introduce Next Generation services, more than 88% of the revenue still comes from traditional services – Voice, SMS/MMS, Roaming, Interconnect and GPRS. The top frauds also happen in these areas – http://www.cfca.org/fraudlosssurvey/

It was a revelation for Jack when the data was put up for discussion. It was also evident that an upgrade alone is not going to solve his problem. The need of the hour was an overhaul of the entire eco-system (address the 88%), along with the upgrade (to address the remaining 12%).

During the course of the discussion, I suggested a few best practices based on prior experience through the Managed Services engagements.

a)      Conduct an assessment to baseline the performance of the current function, including a SWOT analysis and detailing a roadmap for growth

b)      Basis assessment, build a business case for justification for skills/efficiency improvement and required technological upgrades

c)      As next step, strengthen the foundation of fraud prevention by improving on people, process by leveraging on best practices and experience from vendors and partners if needed

d)     Once the basics are addressed, mature to the next level by incorporating technological, process, procedures & skill upgrades

I also quoted one such Subex Managed Services engagement in India, where the operator was on an older version of the Fraud Management when the engagement started and has seen more than 2 times RoI within a year, followed by an upgrade to latest version. This helped them in the following ways:

a)      Optimize the resources as a first step and improve on fraud operations through skilled workforce, leveraging on existing technology and automation of repeatable tasks

b)      This resulted in significant financial savings, lowered operational and workforce risks, improved knowledge and enhanced business agility

c)      The highly scalable model for future growth also meant they were able to choose specific fraud related services and technological upgrades depending on its strategic objectives and business priorities

Jack, being the positive person, was able to appreciate a new perspective on his challenges and is looking forward to a detailed assessment to build a case for strengthening the FM team.

After this incident, I wonder are there more Jack’s out there with the right intention but not necessarily armed with the right tools?

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Now, referring to the title, you may be thinking: That’s a rather cheeky thing to say given the high direct and indirect costs of errant data incurred by virtually all operators.   You might cite the significant Opex penalty related to reworking designs and to service activation fallout.   I get that.  What about the millions of USD in stranded Capex most operators have in their networks?  Check.  My personal favorite comes from Larry English, a leading expert on information quality, who has ranked poor quality information as the second biggest threat to mankind after global warming.  And here I was worried about a looming global economic collapse!

My point is actually that the discrepancies themselves have no business value.   They are simply an indicator of things gone bad.  The canary in the coal mine.    These “things” are likely some combination of people, processes and system transactions, of course.  Yet many operators make finding and reporting discrepancies the primary focus of their data quality efforts.  Let’s face it, anyone with modest Excel skills can bash two data sets together with MATCH and VLOOKUP functions  and bask in the glow of everything that doesn’t line up.  Sound familiar?

For context, I am mostly referring to mismatches between the network and how the network is represented in back-office systems like Inventory—but the observations I will share can be applied to other domains.   Data anomalies, for example, are all too common when attempting to align subscriber orders and billing records in the Revenue Assurance domain.

Too often, Data Integrity Management (DIM) programs start with gusto and end with a fizzle, placed on a shelf so that shinier (and easier!) objects can be chased.  Why is this?  Understanding that I am now on the spot to answer my own rhetorical question, let me give it a go.

  • The scourge of false positives: There are few things as frustrating as chasing one’s tail.  Yet that is the feeling when you find that a high percentage of your “discrepancies” are not material discrepancies (i.e. an object in the Network but not in Inventory) but simply mismatches in naming conventions.   A DIM solution must profile and normalize the data that are compared so as not to spew out a lot of noise.
  •  The allure of objects in the mirror that are closer than they appear:  OK, not sure this aphorism works but I trust you to hang with me.   I am referring to misplaced priorities— paying attention to one (closer, easier) set of discrepancies while ignoring another set that might yield a bigger business impact once corrected.    Data quality issues must be prioritized, with priorities established based upon clear and measurable KPI targets.  If you wish to move the needle on service activation fallout rates, for example, you need to understand the underlying root causes and be deliberate about going after those for correction.  Clearly, you should not place as much value on finding ‘stranded” common equipment cards as on recovering high-value optics that can be provisioned for new services.
  • The tyranny of haphazard correction: I’m alluding here to the process and discipline of DIM.  Filtered and prioritized discrepancies should be wrapped with workflow and case management in a repeatable and efficient manner.  The goals are to reduce the cost and time related to correction of data quality issues.  If data cleanse activities are unstructured and not monitored by rigorous reporting, the business targets for your DIM program are unlikely to be met.
  • The failure to toot one’s own horn: Let’s say that your data integrity efforts have met with some success.  Do you have precise measurements of that success?  What is the value of recovered assets?  How many hours have been saved in reduced truck rolls related to on-demand audits?  Have order cycle times improved?  By how much?   Ideally, can you show how your DIM program has improved metrics that appear on the enterprise scorecard?   It is critical that the business stakeholders and the executive team have visibility to the value returned by the DIM program.  Not only does this enable continued funding but it could set the stage for “self-funding” using a portion of the cost savings.
  • The bane of “one and done”:  For a DIM program to succeed in the long run, I suggest drawing from forensic science and tracing bad data to underlying pathologies… i.e. people, process and/or system breakdowns.   A formal data governance program that harnesses analytics to spotlight these breakdowns and foster preventive measures is highly recommended. The true power of DIM is in prevention of future data issues so that the current efforts to cleanse data will not simply be erased by the passage of time.

Identifying data discrepancies is a good first step.  Correcting and preventing them is even better.    Institutionalizing DIM via continuously measuring and reporting your successes… well, you get the idea.

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