In part one, I looked at why several of the traditional approaches to billing are stalling development at CSPs. Think of these approaches as, well, 'buckets' tied behind an imaginary speedboat that longs to accelerate towards profitability from Digital Services...if it were not for the 'buckets' slowing it down!
The next bucket from part one is the organization. The 'network' is arguably one of the most sophisticated computing machines ever built. Designed to extraordinary availability and resilience targets, its demands for specialist design and operational skills were unique, driving a commensurately specialized organizational structure. The side of the house responsible for billing, customer care, provisioning and financial management followed a more traditional IT route, that of general purpose batch-oriented computing systems. No less important, but fundamentally different in nature from the network. Connecting the two parts, the mediation glue passing provisioning and work order requests to the network and reporting customer usage via files of CDRs to billing and financial systems. This organizational structure remains evident in many CSPs today despite only faint echoes of the original technology and operational realities that drove this structural separation remaining.
Real-time has grown from the center and fundamentally challenges traditional organizational design. Mediation became real-time, evolving to charging, policy, analytics and dynamic promotion systems. The boundaries between historically distinct Networks and IT technologies blur further in the face of Software Defined Networks and Network Functions Virtualization trends. A unified technology strategy encompassing networks and IT is increasingly critical if the revenue and cost benefits of real-time are to be fully realized. This blogger argues that such a unified strategy will only be successful if developed and executed by a unified technology organization. Snip…eyes starting to water…
The final bucket is overflowing with data. Operator's IT and network systems generate mind boggling volumes of digital exhaust. Terabytes a day - each bit a dot offering insight into customers' usage, profile, segment, location and relationships. Why not join the dots to create a rich customer profile that can be used to drive more personalized and valuable offers? Joining the dots was traditionally the role of the data warehouse whose tools to slice and dice, extrapolate and correlate are without equal. But it's an ocean liner - packed with an infinity of entertainments but requiring something of a long voyage to realize the benefits.
The speed boat is still needed. Effectively targeting offer recommendations according to location, profile, relationship and other elements of rich immediate context require analytics running at the speed of thought. Increase the distance between the 'moment' and the enrichment of the moment through highly personal and contextual offers and the value falls and the opportunity to excite is lost. Real-time analytics and complex event processing technology must feature in the real-time technology plan. It's not an add-on. It's DNA. Snip…the spray stings…
MATRIXX's vision is to help operators leverage real-time charging, policy and analytics to transform business capability, efficiency and agility. To enable collaboration or competition with Internet disruptors as strategy dictates. Ultimately, to enable CSPs to build an Interactive Digital Ecosystem that delivers extraordinary and valuable customer experiences.
But the buckets have to go - drilling a few holes isn't enough!