Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Canadian software firm Redknee (www.redknee.com) is one of IMS Insider’s favourite vendors. They know the telco business extremely well and are focused on supporting short-term revenue maximisation through real-time rating and personalisation. The case study below shows how end customers will pay for services if they are seen as ‘valuable’, which means: a.) convenient, b.) simple, c.) intuitive to use.
Redknee firmly believe that operators can be better retailers if they bill on a real-time transaction basis. We’re seeing too many telcos ‘throwing in the towel’ by offering flat rate subscription-based bundles. For some customers this creates an unnecessary barrier to service take up and, for others who do subscribe, it encourages over-consumption of the service.
Part of the problem is that many billing systems today are not open and flexible. As we describe in the Main section of the IMS Insider Monthly Report this month (subscribe at www.ims-insider.com), operators would be better served by opening up their API’s to deliver a suite of exciting services rather than looking for the ‘killer app’ and the stove-piped systems to support it.
So, the starting point is to get user profile information in order. Redknee’s software (their Unified Personalisation Server provides an intelligent abstraction layer) enables operators to distil, aggregate and federate data from multiple data warehouses (HLR, HSS etc) and support this activity with policy management tools that include internal SLAs and privacy controls.
O2 was the 4th entrant in Germany but saw an opportunity to penetrate the enterprise market by offering a multi-SIM service. Competitors could offer dual-SIMs (for handset and laptop data card, for example), but high end enterprise users found they had a need for up to 6 SIMs given the multiple home and work devices they used.
Research showed that users were interested in a service that allowed them to do the following:
- Easily personalise the routing profile of their calls and data (ie. If a call comes from X, deliver it to my Y device).
- Have a single bill (rather than the multiple per-SIM bills that most mobile users still get today).
- Have greater transparency of cost.
Redknee provided a simple solution that enabled these wishes. O2 Germany found significant demand for the service when it was launched. They also found that these multi-SIM customers bought more high end data services, delivered 50% more ARPU to O2 than normal business customers and – as you’d expect with so many devices linked by a single bill, intelligent routing and much better service availability – stayed much, much more loyal. As a result the ROI was significantly quicker than expected, partly due to the unexpected take up of the service by non-corporate customers (20% of the total in fact).
Now, the telling point is that this project started in 2003 – pre 3G, let alone IMS. By all key measures the service was a huge success. The service can be significantly enhanced by pervasive 3G - allowing the service to integrate with presence servers and link to SIP based devices – and O2 are now investigating streaming IP content using the same model.
As you can expect, telco marketing execs love this story. The challenge, though, is cultural and organisational. Technical people are often wary of stories like this. They’ve experimented with lots of ‘IN services’ and don’t believe it’s easy to implement. And enterprise sales teams have not traditionally been equipped to sell this type of ‘complex’ proposition to their customers.
But, with an increasing interest in the enterprise and SME markets and with ‘IN gateways’ becoming more popular with new SDP platform design, we can see this type of case study becoming more and more relevant.
What we think is interesting about this example is that the Multi-SIM product aligns with the consistent core winning "meta strategy" of telecom, namely distribution. It makes service available in more of the customer's "outlets" which, in this case, are devices. It's a complement to increased network coverage, for example.
The one bill and ease of use are "absence of barriers to adoption" and thus fall on the "total cost" side, rather than the "value creation side". Again, the winners are often not those with the fanciest product, but rather those with the greatest net benefit to the user, which means paying as much attention to how the product is adopted as what it does (cf. Skype).
Redknee will say that 85% of the benefits of IMS can be delivered Pre-(without?)-IMS. If this is correct, what does this mean for IMS investment strategy?
We'll be gathering more examples of 'pre-IMS' and 'alternaives to IMS' in the lead up to the IMS Services Forum on 4th and 5th October in London. Watch this space for more on this subject…
The Editor, IMS Insider
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Surely we all know this, and have heard it time and time again. The presentations were far to generalised and sweeping, saying:
- Most roll outs of IMS are happening today through to the end of 2007
- Wireline are seeing IMS as a means to enter Wireless marketplace
- Wireless are seeing IMS as a means to enter wireline marketplace
- Realisation is attributable to service and revenue generation, not investments in new technology
- Most realisations are focued on; Cost savings, Revenue Generating, internal capabilites to new strategy plans, (e.g. entering VoIP or IPTV markets)
- IMS will/can provide the enabling infrastructure for FMC
- Few applications defined today and correct business case checks need to be applied to any that are announced or considered
- Initial roll outs suggest focus on converged voice applications, with data services coming later
From webinars and conferences we need far greater focus on new learning, results of implementations or pilots, practical guides to IMS migrations or experiences of commercialising the promises.
That's why we're doing our own insiders 'industry brainstorm' on 4-5 Oct in London, focusing on creating a new (and practical) framework for defining IMS services and applications and dealing with key issues (devices, interoperability, etc). Details are 2 postings below. More on this to follow...
PS: The latest edition of IMS Insider Monthly report was shipped to subscribers last week. It clarifies the 'Telco 2.0' context for IMS and the weaknesses in the current IMS vision. See www.ims-insider.com.
The Editor, IMS Insider
Thursday, May 18, 2006
"...I’m listening to IMS architect Colin Pons from KPN. Wow. An operator that gets it.
He sees IMS as a technology that (in his words) makes the Internet more important for customers. No walled garden, preserve the end-to-end principle. Deploy it as a big application-layer intelligent router that ties together value-adding services. (What he means is intelligent find-me/follow-me, next gen voicemail etc. — not trivial mapping of logical identifiers to network addresses in a desperate attempt to generate billable events). And IMS is a transitional technology to a P2P world.
Most notable is that he sees identity as being front and central to their effort. I know that he knows this is a deep and complex area, and not something that can be easily articulated in one busy slide on a panel session.
Tied with KPN’s “scorched earth” strategy for deploying fiber connectivity across the Netherlands, this proposes a radically different culture and outlook to the average operator. They have seen the light that they will only survive by delivering super-abundance to the users, and by attracting users into their world by offering compelling value, not by trying to hold them to ransom by erecting barriers to achieving their goals.
My only bone would be whether KPN is making the most efficient use of capital in evading the Dutch municipal network trend. If they follow their own logic to its conclusion, owning the network isn’t much of an advantage any more.
For US readers, this is a description of a telecom world from another planet, with races to deploy fiber and empower users.
Hopefully I can find an excuse to visit Amsterdam again, one of my favourite cities. Not that it needs an excuse. And I know a few readers who may have a more skeptical view of KPN..."
The Editor, IMS Insider
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I'll certainly be inviting Dean to support our next event:
IMS Services Forum - 4-5 October, Tower Bridge Hilton, London
We're planning a meeting on 4th and 5th October in London for a group of 'IMS insiders' from around the world to drill down in a lot more detail on the thorny topic of 'IMS Services' - how to define them, how to build them, how to migrate commercial and technical architectures to support them effectively.
The research we did in Feb/March showed that the industry is still struggling with this issue. This was borne out in discussions at the IMS World Forum in Barcelona a few week's ago. A lot of people asked me if we could arrange a much more in-depth 'brainstorm' on this topic for 'insiders' (leading practitioners).
So, I'm inviting a few key people to participate in a special group brainstorming process and present updates of their experiences, using our facilitated 'Mindshare' approach. This is very different from the normal conferences around.
We aim to achieve the following OUTPUTS from the meeting:
- A much clearer vision for IMS (which fits more tightly with changing operator business models)
- A way to work around the gaps in the current standards initiatives
- A new IMS Services classification method (covering FMC, VOIP, Enterprise, IPTV)
- New practical ways of dealing with: Device deficiencies; User Data; 3rd Party integration; SDP integration; Security
- A more robust specification for the Application Layer
We will be preparing the following INPUTS for the meeting:
- New analysis of end customer requirements/trends (consumer, enterprise, SME)
- New analysis of competitive services (from internet players)
- New analysis of 'Telco 2.0' commercial and service development strategies
- New market research on IMS best practices
- New market research on SIP/IMS devices
- New analysis of vendor propositions and new technologies
A few of the important vendors (big and small) will also be invited to participate, and we'll set up some demo's of solutions that we think are most interesting.
The meeting will be over 2 days in London and will be at the same venue as our 'Telco 2.0' Summit (which is a big event for the European telco investment and commercial strategy community - watch this space). We will be inviting a few of the senior commercial people from this summit to input to the IMS Services meeting (and vice versa).
Do get in touch if you'd like to be involved.
The Editor, IMS Insider
Sunday, May 07, 2006
We'll be reviewing that in a few weeks in the IMS Insider Report, but for those not 'au fait' I'd strongly recommend going along to one of the IMS Application Delivery Seminars they're running with BEA in June (another increasingly interesting company since they took most of Sun's JAIN and SDP experts).
- The first seminar is at the Paris Golf & Country Club on 8th June (Register here: http://w2.nationalmailing.com/intel/paris/). But hurry, as the golfing slots are going fast.
- The second is at The Brewery in London on 29th June (Register here: http://w2.nationalmailing.com/intel/london/).
Below are the details of the seminars (for more specific information I suggest you contact directly David Zaoui, Intel's extremely nice and knowledgeable EMEA market development manager - firstname.lastname@example.org).
IMS Application Delivery Seminars
Spend a day with Intel and BEA, leaders in IMS Modular Communications Platforms and Service-Oriented Architecture.
- How to deploy IMS applications rapidly on open standards platforms
- IMS and SDP convergence strategies
- IMS benchmarks and lab trials
- Live demos of IMS applications deployed over full IMS networks
0830 Registration and Breakfast
0900 Intel – Overview of Intel IMS programme
0930 BEA – IMS and SDP convergence
1030 ISV: NetCentrex – Video & Media with demo
1215 Business Lunch
1330 Cap Gemini – Integrating End-to-End IMS Platforms
1415 Lab Integration (Solution/Business Case/ROI/etc)
1500 Q&A and Close (end of session and Golf invitation)
The Editor, IMS Insider
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
I'm sure (I hope!) they were never broadcast. Example of very un-compelling advertising...
If anyone knows the background to them, please let me know.
The Editor, IMS Insider