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Monday, September 11, 2006

IMS - real sources of comparative advantage for operators

'QoS' is seen by many as the key differentiating benefit of IMS vs internet-based services.

We have strong reservations about this phrase. QoS gives users predicatability, but it denies them flexibility and functionality. QoS is very static. Preferences are set in stone each time they are set or re-set and cannot be dynamically discovered via user behaviour.
More important benefits that IMS brings are around 'Security' and 'Billing Simplicity'. These values have far greater resonance with customers, and should be the things that IMS plans and propositions focus around (they aren't currently!).

The IMS Insider team held an internal brainstorm over lunch the other day. Building on our analysis of
PSTN 2.0 - ie. what are the real defensible assets that telcos have vs internet players - we drew up a list of the real potential user benefits of IMS which offer comparative advantage vs internet services. Here's the list:

IMS offers user benefits in these areas, which the internet world cannot match as effectively:

- End-user authentication (Single/Reduced Sign On)
- Payment Discovery (the network automatically knows what I can/can't pay for)
- Fine-Grain Provisioning (automatically negotiates access)
- Interoperability (across many networks and technologies)
- Security (managing denial of service attacks, auditability of usage, avoiding social abuse)
- Integrating Device Identity (SIM) into service deployment.

- Access Cost Transfer (getting 3rd parties, eg. advertisers, to pay for access, rather than the user).

This is a great list of benefits to create propositions around.

However, we are just not convinced that complexities of roaming that are inherent and implicit today in multimedia/combinational service plans will be effectively resolved (commercially or technically). We also believe that a reliance on SIP will inhibit innovation on the device, where we believe resides greatest value for the user.

Question: So, in the meantime, while we debate the 'real time' (synchronous) objectives of IMS, which customer groups will be most interested in the unique benefits that IMS brings listed above?

Answer: It's not consumers (directly). They will work round the telcos' network, they will not adopt complex service propositions (see previous posting), they may take up generic IMS services types, but operators will make no money from these tablestakes offerings.

Question: Who has a problem that IMS solves and who are willing to pay a premium for it?

Answer: 1.) Enterprises (to support their internal users), 2.) Small & Medium Sized Businesses (to support their internal users), and 3.) Upstream business partners (advertisers, community websites and others).

The latter is an area that is currently entirely untapped today as a market segment. More on this at the IMS Services Industry Brainstorm on 4-5 October...

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