The storied IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) is here. More than half of the 140 operators surveyed by Heavy Reading said they expected mass deployment of IMS to take place by the end of 2007.
Surprisingly, wireline and cable operators seem to be leading the charge this time, with data from Ovum indicating that as of October, the number of fixed-line IMS contracts and deployments (47%) exceeds the number of mobile IMS deployments, which stands at 44%.
What strikes me, though, is how easily we equate the increasing adoption of a new and open architecture standard to convergence as a fait accompli.
IMS sets down the foundation toward the ultimate destination of convergence, however, it does not take us there on its own. Are we at the destination already‾ Or is the really hard stuff still ahead‾ Does implementing an IMS architecture alone ensure convergence‾
How will we rapidly create a new class of service-enabling applications and fuse them with the HSS and the network‾ Isn't the bridging of product silos, the creation of combinational services still part of the journey‾ Could it require new, agile processes‾ Has the re-invention of customer service and network operations as we know them simply not of consequence‾
Could it take a convergence-ready organization‾ Further, have we considered the integration of third parties into our global supply chain‾
It seems that the road ahead will require us to answer questions about the business of convergence, building common ground across services, departments and organizations, while we continue on the path to a convergent architecture provided by IMS.
While many of us are building service oriented architectures, might I suggest that perhaps we need to design a service oriented company‾ This would mean the business would need to be more modular, malleable, intelligent and responsive to customers. It may be time to organize globally around the process rather than around location.
By converging processes and knowledge assets between customer care and network operations, we can start to realize the promise that IMS holds. We will also need to look across products in our portfolio, and across fixed and mobile, wireless and IPTV to create agreement on a converged cross-divisional product roadmap and a shared execution model across network, IT and marketing stakeholders.
Without question, integrated multi-play convergence is the future. Getting there, however, will require us to expand our preliminary definition of convergence and take a fresh look at combining products, organizations and processes.
Deepak Swamy is AVP and head of CSP Solutions Consulting at Infosys Technologies - ([email protected])