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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
editor@ims-insider.com
To subscribe to the Monthly Report, go to: www.ims-insider.com


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Maybe 'AmaGooHooBay' isn't such a threat

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". www.ims-insider.com

A great piece today by Andrew Orlowski of The Register, reviewing "Yahoo! Go".

He says: "If this is the future of mobile data - mobile data doesn't have a future...For now, if "Yahoo! Go" is the best that the internet services cartel - let's call it "AmaGoohooBay" - can offer, the carriers won't be breaking any sweat"

See here for full review: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/22/yahoo_go_review/

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Market Study - Best Practices in Optimisation and Migration

(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.)

Over the last few weeks we've been conducting in depth interviews with senior people at - Bell Canada, BT Retail, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, KPN, Mobilkom, Swisscom, Orange, O2, Rogers, Telecom Italia, Telenor and Vodafone - as part of the major Market Study we're doing with STL's Converged Services Practice and Moriana Group.

Combine that with discussions with and analysis of the key IT vendors - IBM, HP, Intel, Sun, Microsoft, Logica, T-Systems, Appium, Cap Gemini, Apertio, Jnetx, High Deal, First Hop, Personeta, Redknee, Tekvision - the NEPs - Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia, Nortel, Lucent, Siemens, Motorola - and some interesting 'others' - Google, Yahoo, Motricity, Verisign, SK Telecom, DoCoMo - and we're starting to get a clear picture of the challenges that operators in mature markets are facing in terms of a.) Optimising existing networks, services and customer relationships and b.) Migrating to a new converged IP-based world. More importantly, what needs to be done to move forward and how to prioritise this is getting clearer.

In the last few editions of IMS Insider report (www.ims-insider.com) we've been looking generically at how to think about a fast approaching converged world, in terms of next gen networks and next gen services. Now we well we need to get specific and help operators define more clearly what sort of company, precisely, they want to be in the future.

Our interviews and online survey show considerable uncertainty today. Lots of talk of 'Triple and Quad Play', but these have many different definitions and interpretations by different groups within even the same company.

We are seeing far too much inward looking navel-gazing and not enough focus on 'next gen services' and how to create them.

So, we're delighted by the response to the special workshop we're running - for a few 'insiders' - on 6th April at Heathrow Airport looking at "Best Practice Strategies and Tactics for Delivering IP-based converged services". At this we'll be presenting the results of our Market Study, a framework for decision-making and, stimulated by special presentations, brainstorming how, practically, can operators move forward to create sustainable competitive advantage.

Details are at www.ims-insider.com, or on request from me at editor@ims-insider.com.

The Editor, IMS Insider
www.ims-insider.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Future IP-based Services - nightmare scenario...!

(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, and participants - only - will get a FREE copy of summary results.)

We are currently processing the best stuff from 3GSM relevant to IMS and future converged services. In the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy this video by the American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org/pizza/

It gives us a glimpse of a terrifying future world of highly sophisticated customer management based on consumer identities federated across multiple service providers. Enjoy!

One of the key migration strategies towards IMS involves creating much richer subscriber management capabilities (the HSS being a key starting point). Maybe we should be careful where this can all lead!!

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

IMS Migration Strategies - Workshop, 6th April, London

(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, and participants - only - will get a FREE copy of summary results.)

The Editor is current at 3GSM gathering information on and testing ideas about IMS migration strategies. In parallel, our colleagues at STL's Converged Services Practice (www.stlpartners.com) are interviewing 25 key players from across the TMT value chain as input into their major market study on Converged Services implementation strategies. News and views on what's been hot and what's not re IMS from 3GSM will follow later!

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a special WORKSHOP based around our research and market study on 6th April in London, in partnership with the Moriana Group. Details below:

MARKET STUDY WORKSHOP, 6th April, Central London

Based on the results of our online surveys and in-depth Market Study on IMS and future converged service planning, and on Moriana's latest 'Operator Guidebook to IMS 2.0', we are planning on running a workshop for selected participants.

- Title: How to successfully plan for delivering IP-based converged services?
- Duration: 1 day
- Date: 6th April
- Venue: Central London
- Method: Presentations + facilitated collaborative brainstorming, using STL's 'Mindshare' process*
- Price: 400 GBP per participant

Focus/agenda:
> Clarifying the key opportunities/threats of Convergence on telcos
> New revenue generating models for operators
> What approaches to service creation will be most successful
> Best practice in service creation from around the world
> Technical & Organisational migration strategies
> What we can practically learn from Google, Skype, Yahoo and others

Session inputs: IMS Insider Surveys x 2 (Global Attitudes, IMS-based Converged Service Creation), IMS Insider/STL Market Study (interviews with 25 senior practitioners from across the value chain, market forecast analysis), Moriana Group 'Operator Guidebook to IMS v 2.0'.

* 'Mindshare': Participants will have access to wireless laptops linked together by special brainstorming software. This allows simultaneous and anonymous processing of ideas stimulated by the event presentations and provides a structured record of the debates. All output will be made available to participants after the event. STL uses this process with its consulting clients to great effect: everyone has their say, but the best ideas come forward in a structured way.

If you'd like to reserve a place or would like more information, please email me: editor@ims-insider.com

The Editor, IMS Insider

www.ims-insider.com

www.stlpartners.com


Friday, February 10, 2006

New Online Survey on 'Future Converged Services'

Last night we sent out copies of the Global IMS Attitude Survey Report to the 300+ people who participated in the survey.

The survey shows that there is strong consensus that the most important challenge to IMS success is "defining future service propositions". This also rated the lowest in terms of current performance within telcos. (Email me if you want to see the chart showing that: editor@ims-insider.com.)

So, to help explore the issues aroung this, we've set up another online survey looking at the issues around "Creating IMS-based Services". This survey is being supported by Informa (who run 3GSM, IMS World Forum and www.imsvision.com), Moriana Group again, and the TeleManagement Forum.

Here's the link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=680211758609. Please participate!

As before, participants (only) will receive a free summary analysis of the results.

The survey looks at:
- The opportunities/threats of various aspect of 'Convergence' on telcos
- What services approaches will be most successful
- Issues around creating IP-based Converged Services
- Technical & Organisational Challenges
- Who best to learn from about IP-based service development
- Next step priorities

We will publish the results at the end of March.

In the meantime, we have 2 parallel activities going on:

1. In-depth Market Study: As a follow up to the survey just completed, IMS Insider is conducting a major market study looking at "How telecoms operators can develop winning IP-based converged services". Based on in-depth interviews with players across the TMT (Telco, Media and Technology) sector and additional market analysis, this study will be published in March 2006. I will drip feed some of the results on the blog over the next few weeks.

2.Company Briefings and Planning Workshops: Working with our consulting partners, STL, from March we will offer special briefings and planning workshops for operators and vendors to process the output from this work and enhance current strategies. The diagram below shows how this work supports each other.

For more details on all of these, please email
editor@ims-insider.com.

The Editor, IMS Insider
www.ims-insider.com


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sword of Damocles hanging over telcos?

An excellent summary below of the Google, Skype, VC link up with Wifi Entrepreneur from BWCS (www.bwcs.com).

This is yet another example of the strategy of the internet players to get around the operators and, in so doing, gain greater leverage in future negotiations about cooperation. Essentially it's about creating a 'bacterial network' using unlicensed wifi to piggy-back on everyone else's broadband costs.

The telcos will start to complain to the authorities about unfair competition, but will get further by highlighting "security concerns". The former may make the German, French and UK authorities take action, the latter will engage the US homeland security people. Nevertheless, we will see more of these sorts of developments. The need for the telcos to respond effectively will be felt more keenly over the next 12 months...

"Foneros to Offer 'Free' WiFi Access
(06/02/2006, BWCS Staff)

Madrid-based wireless software company Fon is set to announce US$30 million (euros 18 million) in funding for its ambitious scheme to launch a global network of shared WiFi connections. The backers include such luminaries of the technology world as search engine giant Google and VoIP pioneer Skype (now part of e-Bay), as well as a smattering of venture capitalists.

The company claims that it will build a "block-by-block" network of "Foneros", people who are willing to share their WiFi connection with other, fellow "Foneros". According to Fon, anyone with a built-in WiFi link, on any device, can participate.

The Spanish company’s website argues that the success of the movement, like the success of all online communities, such as e-Bay, Skype, ICQ and IM, will depends on how many people join. To begin with, the company accepts that the attraction of becoming a Fonero will be limited, but as word spreads – helped on by this latest round of funding – the attractions will become more obvious. At that point Fon’s site declares "The dream of a unified global broadband wireless signal will becomes a reality. The Fon movement, as we call it, can achieve what 3G or EVDO has not - a truly broadband wireless Internet everywhere." According to the company, it only takes two to four WiFi users/donators per city block to provide a decent level of WiFi coverage for all.

The service was launched three months ago and has so far attracted some 3,000 Foneros. This relatively paltry number is brushed aside by the company, "3,000 registered Foneros puts us at 10% of our 2006 objective in only 3 months: to become the largest hotspot network in the world by the end of the year. Currently, the largest global hotspot networks have around 30,000 hotspots." However, the company is aware that it could face legal challenges from established broadband providers who forbid users from sharing access.

The new movement was started by Martin Varsavsky, an entrepreneur from Argentina who has already founded two major Spanish communications companies: Jazztel and Ya.com. Far from upsetting ISPs Varsavsky claims his movement will aid them by increasing their audience, to that end he hopes to work with established ISPs such as Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and Time Warner in the future." (www.bwcs.com).

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com



Monday, February 06, 2006

Ericsson and BT leading world in IMS, says IMS Insider survey

We are putting finishing touches to the analysis of the global online IMS Attitude Survey we ran from December to end Jan in partnership with Moriana Group. The report will be sent later this week to all those who participated.

(NB: We will be launching another online survey later this week, in partnership with Informa, who run 3GSM and the IMS World Forum; and an in-depth market study in early March, based on interviews with leading practitioners. Email me for more information: editor@ims-insider.com).

Preview of Survey results

We had over 330 respondents with a geographical spread that broadly reflects the maturity of IMS development today: 55% from EMEA, 35% Americas, 10% APAC. Of these roughly 25% represented Operators (mobile, fixed and FMC), 25% NEPs, 25% IT Vendors, and 25% 'others' (consultants, analysts, etc). About 60% of the sample described themselves as from 'technical' functions, and 40% from 'commercial'. Again, this reflects the current levels of interest today in the industry.

Main Drivers of IMS

Early on in the survey we asked people to describe what are the main drivers of IMS development today. The chart below shows that, maybe surprisingly, the vast majority of people cited revenue and services-oriented reasons. This augurs well for our follow up market study which looks in detail at how to plan future services.



"We live in an ever-changing converging Telecoms and IT environment, with pressures to get new products and services to market quickly, with minimal OPEX and CAPEX. It is critical to invest in a next generation service architecture platform." (FMC operator respondent)

"IMS enables a new world of service design and delivery in which new services can be defined and introduced without making changes to the underlying network. Operators will need to ensure that the technical people work to empower the marketing function and encourage it to introduce new services." (Mobile Operator respondent)

Leading IMS Players

We asked respondents to name the companies that were leading the field in IMS, and say why. These were there unprompted responses:

- Leading Fixed Operators: BT 48% (of unprompted responses); FT, Telefonica, KPN and SBC 5-10% each.

- Leading Mobile Operators: Vodafone 41%, Orange 11%, Cingular 8%

- Leading FMC Operators: FT 42%, BT 20% (even though BT doesn't have a mobile operation!)

- Leading NEP vendors: Ericsson 48% (!!), Lucent 20%, Siemens 10%, Nokia and Alcatel 5-10% each. Very little mention of Nortel or Motorola.

- Leading IT vendors: IBM 20%, HP 16%, Ericsson , Cisco, BEA 5-10% each. No clear leader here and weak rationale for choices.

Comments on these players included:

France Telecom: "Best roadmap and vision", "Setting the direction for European Tier 1 converged operators", although a more thorough respondent said: "I think they do have a vision of Convergence but they are only just starting to demonstrate any movement in this area. To date the only things they have done are a few pricing deals for broadband and fixed and mobile telephony. However, the recent creation of a Convergent Services department in FT bodes well for the future."

BT: "Not the fastest mover, but is setting industry direction."

Vodafone: "Vodafone ARE deploying IMS but I do not see this being driven from the marketing function. IMS, and IMS-enabled services, are not really on the Marketing roadmap – IMS deployment is all about cost reduction for Vodafone. This seems to miss the point of IMS to my mind…"

Ericsson: "Most IMS trials in place", "Has the right story on importance of services compared with vendors that are pushing technology."

Lucent: "Has the best story for integration with the business and applications outside of traditional network space."
IBM: "Well positioned as both technology and integration supplier."
HP: "Have several 'IMS application components' "

The Editor, IMS Insider

editor@ims-insider.com

www.ims-insider.com





Thursday, February 02, 2006

Everyone's afraid of Google

Interesting article below from Fierce IPTV (www.fierceiptv.com) showing that it's not just telcos who are worrying about Google. The link to the story in Cable Digital News is very good.

(NB: we've slightly improved the design of our website and published the editorial schedule for IMS Insider Monthly report. Do take a look - www.ims-insider.com)

Cable MSOs afraid of IPTV, fear Google even more

Cable industry leaders aired their grievances at the recent Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers' Emerging Technologies conference (or the SCTE ET, for short). Much of the talk reportedly rehashed ongoing concerns of telcos winning the triple-play war by using IPTV to lure existing cable customers away. However, many speakers argued that telcos are no longer their biggest threat--it's now video over IP enablers Google, Yahoo!, AOL and Apple. The good people behind the SCTE ET even treated attendees to a "chilling" and "humorous" video that depicted Google taking over the entire media business in the years ahead.

Cable MSOs are used to competing with the likes of DirecTV and EchoStar, but the SCTE ET saw the cable industry's first public displays of openly "fretting" about new lines of competition. In fact, the writer of the Cable Digital News article linked to below seems to have gone out of his way for fear-mongering word choices, among them: "worry," "fret," "concern," "threaten," "battle," "hurt," and, yes, even "kill" is in there. The story ends with some comfort: "We're definitely not toast."

For more on the cable industry's latest fears:- check out this
article from Cable Digital News

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

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