'Real time' is now key

Ari Banerjee/Yankee Group
25 Feb 2008

Market dynamics for carriers are changing rapidly as traditional voice revenue gradually dwindles and carriers are forced to focus more on value-added services to increase their profitability per user and reduce customer churn.

The focus on convergence has prompted carriers to undertake major business transformation and system rationalization projects, focusing on streamlining their BSS and OSS platforms. Most carriers' efforts center on operational efficiency and they understand that their biggest hurdle is their siloed and disparate BSS and OSS systems.

Carriers that can create a seamless order-to-cash-to-care process through technology integration will more easily achieve customer-centricity. However, the biggest demand from service providers is meeting the real-time billing and provisioning needs of subscribers. The success of BSS and OSS vendors, therefore, will depend on how effectively they can manage the real-time needs of service providers.

The following are some significant real-time needs that BOSS vendors need to effectively address to succeed.

First, next-generation network architectures force charging and rating to move closer to the network and in the call path. NGN architecture requirements and the need for prepaid and post-paid convergence are driving the need to provide a real-time charging and rating control mechanism for call detail records or charging data records.

Online charging has become critical for most carriers that seek to invest in new billing or rating systems. Providing dynamic offer management capability based on subscriber network usage and providing traffic-based promotion, loyalty points, and event- and rules-based promotion will become critical for BSS vendors.

For this, BSS vendors that provide online charging capability are partnering with deep packet inspection vendors. DPI-embedded rating solutions provide carriers awareness of subscribers and applications, through which operators can introduce a variety of tiered service plans, application-specific packages and content delivery structures.

Second, the rapid introduction of next-generation services and the launching of IP-based services are dramatically increasing transactional volumes. On-demand service provisioning, real-time service authorization and managing IP networks with a diverse range of network elements are some of the challenges for which carriers are investing in cutting-edge BSS and OSS platforms. Centralized product management and catalog federation need to become critical components of next-generation OSS offerings. BOSS vendors need to focus on providing process automation that encompasses work flow, task and order management.

Third, NGNs need to provide service velocity, and the goal of all next-generation services is to provide the right offer to the right customer at the right time. This is happening today but not in real time. Carriers must be aware of purchasing trends from the billing system as well as usage trends from the network layer. They must identify consumer behaviors such as daytime and nighttime patterns along with their preferences.

The customer self-service portal for account management, billing, balance inquiries or payment status can also capitalize on integrated information from the network. To create stickiness in the portal and ensure appropriate call deflections, the portal should have real-time information. Once the initial needs are met - like payment status or billing - the CSP can enable a real-time trigger to check the most recent content downloads or marketing offer for a discounted download on a new product.

Predictive analytics is an efficient way to present the right offer at the right price with the right features at the right time.

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