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Content

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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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I’m sitting in the Spring sunshine (it’s the UK so it’s cold) preparing my talk for the GSC conference in Windsor which starts tomorrow. This is a great venue as it gets representation from major carriers globally mostly concerned  with Trading international traffic and the subsequent business processes that support that seemingly simple activity. Few thoughts are paramount, one of them is that I’m presenting on Thursday so there will be a lot of information sharing by then so I hope I would manage to glue the audience to their seats.

The theme of my presentation is Evolution of Partner Settlement.   I think that the apparatus, systems, structures and know how which allows carriers to trade voice minutes will soon be in demand to negotiate, set prices and monitor a whole range of services and not just voice.

One particular area I’m interested in is content settlement. How does the carrier (or a cable company) set a fair price with a content creator?  How does the content owner verify the final payment?   If it’s all about supply and demand, how do providers gauge demand and look at product performance? Who could have predicted that a Danish sub-titled crime thriller, The Killer series, would take the world by storm? ( I guess the writer!)

What strikes me is that what Telcos sell changes, but not how successful business runs.  I once worked in a toy shop in a particularly posh part of London. Our buyer made the company a fortune from buying Japanese pencils ( a bit like Hello Kitty) – everyone thought she was nuts. She also ceremoniously dumped the then unfashionable Kermit the frog.  This released floor space, which she crammed with pencils  and she watched point of sales like a hawk. Nowadays we have sophisticated systems such as  ours to do this. But the core things that buyer spoke about, attractive stock, great presentation, customer experience are all key elements of product management and content distribution.  Managing the content catalogue and getting value for the content creative and the CSP are critical.

So I’m hoping to have a great discussion about Partner Settlement with people this week about all the hot topics  IPX, Content, M2M, Mobile Money – don’t ever let anyone tell you billing is boring.

Blog more later. Have a good week.

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As I interact with more and more service providers about their network capacity issues, I’ve become sure about one thing – what worked before, isn’t really working anymore.  The CapEx requirement for network equipment just to keep up with the exponential growth in data traffic (i.e., Data Tsunami) is still not getting them ahead of significant congestion issues and customer impacting events.  Why? Traditional capacity management paradigms are not working.

Essentially, feedback from carriers of all sizes and types has exposed one of the most significant shifts in thinking regarding how to go about managing and planning for network capacity.  They know that the rules are all changing and today’s content demands are outpacing the CSPs ability to keep pace.  The first key question is how to get back in front of the capacity demand (we’ll talk about monetization next…stay tuned).  So, why aren’t today’s processes scaling?

  • CSPs use a multitude of human resources and manual processes to manage network capacity.   This may have scaled under slower and more predictable capacity growth curves, but thanks to services like You-Tube & Netflix, entire network capacity is shifting in quantum leaps.
  • Solutions provided by equipment vendors are often platform specific, and reinforce a silo approach to Capacity Management when a holistic view is needed.  Service demand congestion is a network phenomenon which doesn’t care about individual equipment vendors or devices.
  • CSP planning groups leverage data and make decisions based on systems which have 20 – 40% inaccuracy in comparison to the actual capacity availability in the network.
  • Today’s CSP solution approach is often homegrown where 90% of the time is spent on acquiring and understanding raw data.  As a whole, everyone is trying to answer the question of how to proactively eliminate the possibility of congestion, but most are still focused on addressing the symptoms and not preventing the problem

It is surprising to note that even top tier/technology leaders cannot accurately predict where and when capacity issues will impact their networks.  This lack of visibility hurts CSPs considerably because as per our own studies, network events are behind can account for up to 50% of customer churn in high value mobile data services.

Flattening the CapEx curve

And the Capacity Management problem doesn’t really end there; in many ways it’s like a supply chain process. Marketing owns the function of forecasting where service uptake will drive capacity needs across the network. When Marketing underestimates service uptake, there is a real and significant impact to potential revenue: On average, it can take about 3 months from when capacity is fully tapped in a Central Office (CO) to when new capacity can be added to your network.  During that time, customers expecting service availability become hugely frustrated and begin to churn.  Engineering groups are pushed into panic-mode, trying to react as fast as possible – often putting capacity in the wrong places due to inaccurate data – resulting in further congestion, service degradation, an inefficient use of capital.

The message from CXO’s is crystal clear – there is an urgent and dire need to find new ways of monetizing the data crossing their networks. This need is exacerbated with OTT content and net-neutrality. SLA and authentication based revenue models are absolutely dependent on knowing what types of content/services are traversing your network, how much capacity they consume, and how utilization is driven by your consumer’s interests and activities.  This type of analysis requires a critical and intelligent binding of network and services data with business data to truly assess the financial impact to the CSP. Many Business Intelligence (BI) solution leaders will lay claim to abilities here, but actually fall very short of the mark.  Instead, real experience suggests that solutions in the marketplace today either:

  • Can handle the financial aspects of your business but have no understanding of today’s network dynamics in terms of capacity issues and services;
  • Can handle parts of your network very deeply, but do not correlate or provide a holistic view at the service level; or,
  • Can collect some network and service level information, but have no ability to incorporate business data to understand the impact to the business – i.e,. cost, subscriber behavior, propensities

All the above challenges bring us to the inevitable question – what kind of approach does one take in order to tackle capacity management issues? How does one stop chasing traffic and focus on flattening the CapEx curve instead? In order to attain ‘Capacity Management Nirvana‘, a proactive and scalable approach needs to be adopted by CSPs. An approach which not only intelligently binds network and business strategies based on the Data Tsunami realities but also brings proactive and predictive capacity management to the table. At the end of the day, a CSP should have access to all their capacity, the ability to leverage real and immediate feedback on the change in capacity as service uptake increases, and finally, the right tools and intelligence to get in front of what’s coming.

To know more about how a Capacity Management solution can help you address the above issues, download the whitepaper “Energizing Smart Growth with Network Intelligence

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