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Friday, February 24, 2006

Commercial & Technical Strategy for Converged Services

(NEW: IMS Insider online survey - "Key Issues in developing IMS-based Converged Services". To participate go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=680211758609 It takes 15 minutes. Participants - only - will get a FREE copy of summary results.

NEW: IMS Insiders' workshop, 6th April, Heathrow Airport: "Best Practice Strategies and Tactics for Delivering IP-based converged services". For more details, do to www.ims-insider.com)

In this month’s IMS Insider Report (subscribe at www.ims-insider.com) we look at two big and hairy issues:

1.) What commercial strategy should operators take towards Converged Services.
2.) What approach should they take towards building their IMS application layer.

1.) What commercial strategy should operators take towards Converged Services?

Many operators have just started to deploy next-generation networks (NGN’s), of which IMS will play a critical part. To date, this has largely been driven by the technical functions and justified on grounds of cost-saving. What is still missing at most operators is a compelling rationale based on revenue growth.

The research in our current Market Study project confirms that most operators do not yet have a clear vision of:

a.) Where they want to be in 3 years time, as businesses
b.) The detailed product and service strategy required to deliver the vision
c.) Precisely what capabilities they require from a NGN infrastructure
d.) The organisation structure, skills and processes needed to execute effectively

Most companies – understandably perhaps – have jumped straight to building NGNs without considering these 4 questions. BT has probably done most to think about these questions and is just starting out thinking about the 4th, and most challenging, issue. It is currently head-hunting like mad from other operators to fill the skills gaps.

Many of these issues are dependent on an operator’s existing business model, of course: Fixed-Mobile Converged (FMC) versus Mobile-only being the most important operator segments. FMC players can justify widespread deployment of NGN technologies on an operating cost reduction basis alone, and can therefore strive for a more aggressive deployment of IP-based Converged Services.

Mobile-only operators can only justify vertical deployment of NGN’s around specific services. This is likely to result in a different Converged Services strategy, a distinct organisation structure and different skills and processes to an FMC player.

In this month’s edition of IMS insider Report (subscribe at
www.ims-insider.com) Chris Barraclough, Director of STL’s Converged Services Practice, explores these issues in more detail, focusing on:

· A segmentation for NGN and Converged Services strategies
· Implications for NGN and Service deployment
· Specific next steps for each operator segment
· What this means for NEP’s and IT vendors

2.) What approach should Operators take towards building their IMS application layer?

We’re delighted to have Christophe Gourraud, Architecture Strategy Manager at Swisscom Mobile, provide an in-depth analysis of the current state of IMS application layer development and his views of the best strategy for moving forward.

He describes the challenges around the 3GPP and OMA standards efforts and describes two dangers for operators in building out their IMS application layer:

Make it too telco-centric and operators risk staying in the old world of stove-pipe development, vendor black-boxes and voice-centricity. This breeds more complexity, greater cost and reduces agility to respond to new competitors and opportunities.

Make the application layer too internet-centric and operators stand to lose their differentiation and not take full advantage of the 3GPP specification.

The best route is to create a hybrid telco/internet ‘IMS-centric application layer’, taking the best of both worlds and optimising the current IMS standards. He describes the benefits of building the application layer around user profiles, to put the customer at the centre of service creation. And describes how this might be done.

A number of golden opportunities for vendors become evident from this best practice thinking...

The Editor, IMS Insider
To subscribe to the Monthly Report, go to: www.ims-insider.com

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