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Thursday, October 20, 2005

IMS ROI reality check

Lest we get too carried away by the IMS bandwagon, the article below based on a recent speech by BellSouth's Senior Architect, is a very useful 'reality check'.

Fundamentally, he is right on all counts. He is asking "what price IMS"? And the price is going to be much more than generally anticipated. However he did not go into the benefits: yes it costs a lot to get IMS, but that is countered by the benefits in multimedia services revenue, and in defending against commoditisation.

His points are a shot from the hip. What we need is a much more rigorous assessment of the ROI, that takes into account the top line as well as the technical costs. This is precisely what you can get this in October's IMS Insider Report (subscribe at www.ims-insider.com).

BellSouth’s Denny pours cold water on IMS (By Tim McElligott, Oct 6, 2005 4:48 PM, TelephonyOnline)

It was not by chance that a self-proclaimed IT guy, Mike Denny, senior architect in the Technology Group at
BellSouth, addressed today’s Fixed Mobile Convergence conference in Chicago on the implications of IMS on operations and business support systems. IT is the OSS/BSS of IMS.

“IT has been doing IP since the mid-‘80s, so welcome to our world,” Denny told attendees at the conference.

IMS sticker shock

As senior architect, it is Denny’s job do a cost analysis BellSouth’s vision of IMS. “I provide the sticker shock,” he said. Without giving hard numbers, Denny illustrated that IMS’ impact on the back office was even more significant than that on the core infrastructure. He left no doubt that IMS is being implemented on an industry-wide basis, saying that all telecom equipment manufacturers have IMS roadmaps, if not IMS solutions already in the market, but he threw cold water on any expectations that it would be easy. “There is going to be a lot of work on the OSS/BSS side of this,” Denny said.

Short-handed on expertise...
Echoing the thoughts of
Telcordia’s Grant Lenahan, executive director of wireless mobility and chief strategist, as well as Siemens network division’s Felipe Alvaraez Del Pino, Denny said there is a dearth of expertise when it come to getting all this work done.

Only 750 of BellSouth’s 63,000 employees are in its IT shop. However, the company used several thousand contract workers to work on issues ranging from the migration to IPv6, security management, rating and charging, security, subscriber data management and perhaps one of the most important areas: service creation and delivery.

...and on standards
The service creation environment is hot, hot, hot, Denny said. And every software vendor seems to be calling its product a service delivery platform. However, he said a lack of standards in this area is causing more problems that it is solving.

“It seems like you need someone to take the lead in defining a standards-based service delivery platform,” Denny said. “The service delivery platform will be key to your competitiveness.”
He added that both IT and telecom will need to start speaking each other’s tongues.

Another area of concern, Denny said, is billing. “How you coordinate session events and come up with a reasonable charge in real time will be a real interesting challenge.”
To understand how one’s organization will be impacted by IMS, Denny suggests the TeleManagement Forum’s eTOM (Telecom Operations Map) as a starting point.
“To know how IMS will impact you, you need a model. eTOM is a model that shows you how to think about IMS, to make sure [as you plan] that you cover all the touch points,” Denny said.

The promise of IMS
BellSouth will be well on its way in implementing IMS by next year on the wireless side of the business, but hasn’t established a timeline for the wireline side.
The primary reasons carrier, including BellSouth are interested in IMS is its promise of new services and services revenue as well the operational efficiencies associated with them and the fact that it is a standards-based architecture.
However, those efficiencies will come at a price. A big one, he said.

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