Chang­ing con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions push TSPs to trans­form into DSPs

Take the 5-Vowel Ap­proach to be­come a com­pe­tent DSP, says San­deep Arora re-fram­ing the busi­ness vi­sion to drive growth

Voice&Data - - FRONT PAGE - San­deep Arora (The au­thor San­deep Arora is Di­rec­tor-Ser­vice Pro at Cisco – In­dia & SAARC)

The launch of the In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive sig­naled an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the chang­ing wants and de­sires of the new-age In­dian con­sumer. Be it across the ur­ban or ru­ral land­scape, the dis­cern­ing In­dian con­sumer to­day has be­come ac­cus­tomed to ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion, retail, fi­nan­cial and en­ter­tain­ment ser­vices across de­vices, at any time and at any lo­ca­tion. Go­ing for­ward, this de­sire to stay con­nected will only grow but suc­cess­ful ful­fill­ment will de­pend heav­ily on the trans­for­ma­tional growth jour­ney of In­dian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice providers (TSPs)

The in­sa­tiable de­mand for smart­phones, tablets, and other con­nected de­vices is gen­er­at­ing stag­ger­ing amounts of mo­bile data. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Cisco re­port there will

be 990.2 Mil­lion (71% of In­dia’s pop­u­la­tion) mo­bile users in In­dia by 2020, up from 798.4 Mil­lion in 2015, a CAGR of 4.4%. Also as per the re­port, video will ac­count for 72% of In­dia’s mo­bile data traf­fic by 2020, com­pared to 40% at the end of 2015. At the same time, cloud ap­pli­ca­tions will ac­count for 90% of to­tal mo­bile data traf­fic by 2020, com­pared to 76% at the end of 2015.

By 2020, an ad­di­tional 318 mil­lion de­vices will be added to this fig­ure, mak­ing it ap­prox­i­mately one de­vice per capita in this coun­try, says the Cisco re­port. How­ever, there ex­ists an In­dian In­ter­net para­dox- with 400 mil­lion In­ter­net users, In­dia has a huge num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als us­ing the In­ter­net and a third of next bil­lion In­ter­net user are pre­dicted be from the coun­try. How­ever, the broad­band pen­e­tra­tion in the coun­try ranks 131st world­wide.

Th­ese num­bers are ev­i­dence of a con­stantly evolv­ing con­sumer de­sire to be­come a dig­i­tally em­pow­ered so­ci­ety and knowl­edge econ­omy, which is es­sen­tially what the Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive as­pires to en­able. It is pre­cisely this con­ver­gence of forces – like the gov­ern­ment’s Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive and chang­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions – that is com­pelling ex­ist­ing telecom/video ser­vice providers to trans­form them­selves into dig­i­tal ser­vice providers (DSPs). The fig­ure below de­picts a four-step ap­proach to tran­si­tion from be­ing a TSP into a DSP.

The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try has tra­di­tion­ally pro­vided the back­bone to dig­i­ti­za­tion for other in­dus­tries. How­ever, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice providers who are slow to dig­i­tize their own op­er­a­tions and of­fer­ings by lever­ag­ing cloud, mo­bile and video are now at risk of com­pet­ing solely on price, or be­com­ing com­pletely re­dun­dant. In or­der to move up the value curve, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice providers need to adopt a long-term view of this trans­for­ma­tion and ex­am­ine how they can ac­cel­er­ate and in­no­vate a more sus­tain­able growth path. TSPs need to aid in tak­ing ser­vices from the classes to the masses and this can be achieved by evolv­ing in DSPs.

Trans­for­ma­tion be­gins with an ‘Uber­ized’ net­work

The pri­mary con­struct of a DSP re­volves around de­liv­er­ing an in­te­grated, au­to­mated and in­tel­li­gent bou­quet of ser­vices to cus­tomers while en­sur­ing a fric­tion­less on­board­ing and ser­vice con­sump­tion ex­pe­ri­ence. The foun­da­tion for de­liv­er­ing dig­i­tal ser­vices via a va­ri­ety of busi­ness mod­els is a con­nected ecosys­tem of cus­tomers and part­ners – all of whom rely on the dig­i­tal ser­vice provider’s net­work.

A DSP ap­plies the prin­ci­ples of In­ter­net ser­vice de­liv­ery, mean­ing its de­liv­ery ar­chi­tec­ture is in­te­grated, seam­less, in­tel­li­gent, au­to­mated, sim­ple and in real time. A DSP pro­vides dig­i­tal ser­vices through a va­ri­ety of busi­ness mod­els built on a net­worked ecosys­tem of con­sumers and other ser­vice providers with a laser fo­cus on driv­ing al­most all in­ter­ac­tions on­line and across de­vices. The sim­plest way of defin­ing the pa­ram­e­ters of a com­pe­tent dig­i­tal ser­vice provider net­work is the 5-Vowel Ap­proach:

A for Aware­ness of cus­tomer re­quire­ments and the net­works abil­ity to adapt to changes in cus­tomer de­mands.

E for Elas­tic­ity of net­work to ac­com­mo­date new un­ex­plored ver­ti­cals

I for IP-fi­ca­tion of net­works to pro­vide 4K video, cloud, mo­bile, M2M on de­mand

O for Op­ti­miza­tion of net­work to cater to var­i­ous medi­ums of wire­line and wire­less net­works

U for Ubiq­uity to cre­ate ever-present net­works This re­quires DSPs to trans­form their mo­bile and wire­line broad­band net­works by mov­ing to IP for in­creased speed and load ad­van­tages. This ‘IP­fi­ca­tion’ across the phys­i­cal and in­fra­struc­ture lay­ers en­ables DSPs to meet cus­tomer ser­vice and user de­mands for 4K video, cloud, mo­bile, and M2M tech­nolo­gies, thereby en­abling an on-de­mand and seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence any­time, any­where. This ‘Uber­iza­tion’ cre­ates an elas­tic and con­verged net­work fab­ric across core, edge and op­ti­cal net­work el­e­ments, which also ex­tends to the data cen­ter.

The key at­tributes of this in­te­grated net­work fab­ric is that it is open, pro­gram­mable, vir­tu­al­ized, au­to­mated and sup­ported by real time an­a­lyt­ics. As the net­work evolves to con­nect more cloud-based ser­vice of­fer­ings and mo­bile users, the net­work in­fra­struc­ture must be in­tel­li­gently con­verged all the way to the ap­pli­ca­tions layer and across the cloud to a grow­ing num­ber of data cen­ters. This ‘Uber­ized’ net­work must: Span vir­tu­al­ized and dis­trib­uted data cen­ters Be IP-based ser­vice aware De­liver wire­line and wire­less broad­band ac­cess En­able dy­namic ser­vice cre­ation and net­work man­age­ment

Vir­tu­al­ized and dis­trib­uted data cen­tres are a key com­po­nent of an “Uber­ized” net­work that en­sure busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity by us­ing cloud com­put­ing. Also, IP should be used as the nerve cen­tre for ser­vice aware­ness. This helps TSPs get rid of a jumble of legacy sys­tems, net­works and user in­ter­faces (UI)

that are near­ing end of life. TSP net­works should be backed by soft­ware and ser­vices that re­sult in dy­namic ser­vice cre­ation and net­work man­age­ment.

Plat­forms are the epi­cen­ter of dig­i­tal ser­vice provider strate­gies

Dig­i­tal ser­vice plat­forms are in­no­va­tion en­vi­ron­ments that fa­cil­i­tate the cre­ation and de­ploy­ment of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion ser­vices for DSPs be­yond tra­di­tional core telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fer­ings. This is the key layer, which will help a reg­u­lar telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice provider trans­form a de­cen­tral­ized lay­ered net­work to a uni­fied and cen­tral­ized ar­chi­tec­ture.

Flex­i­bil­ity and agility are im­por­tant as­pects: th­ese plat­forms must en­able easy cre­ation, read­ing and dele­tion of ser­vices on the go. This is a crit­i­cal suc­cess fac­tor for DSPs who can no longer re­tain cus­tomer loy­alty and trust with ex­tended time­lines that con­trib­ute to a dis­sat­is­fac­tory ex­pe­ri­ence. The plat­form needs to be highly pro­gram­mable to cre­ate rel­e­vant and us­able ser­vice stacks, and should en­able ser­vice con­ver­gence through au­to­mated ser­vice de­liv­ery via cross or­ches­tra­tion tools. This re­quires the pres­ence of a highly au­to­mated and at­trac­tive set of vir­tu­al­ized net­work ser­vices. The key com­po­nents of this DSP plat­form in­clude:

IP mul­ti­me­dia sub­sys­tem (IMS) based ser­vice cre­ation, which sep­a­rates fixed-line, mo­bile and con­verged ser­vices.

Rich media ser­vices and mul­ti­me­dia content en­ablers such as rec­om­men­da­tion en­gines, content de­liv­ery net­works (CDN) and video-on-de­mand (VOD) sys­tems.

Iden­tity man­age­ment, in­clud­ing pro­vi­sions for uni­fied data man­age­ment and sin­gle sign-on.

Ser­vice ex­po­sure, com­po­si­tion and or­ches­tra­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Col­lab­o­ra­tion with part­ners can build a stronger ex­pe­ri­ence ecosys­tem

While in the past TSPs have found them­selves at odds with OTT providers, there are now dis­tinct ad­van­tages to mak­ing ser­vices such as data an­a­lyt­ics, pay­ments, and billing ac­ces­si­ble to third par­ties. The suc­cess of a DSP de­pends on its part­ner net­work, and the abil­ity to pro­vide a con­sol­i­dated plat­form that can ag­gre­gate ca­pa­bil­i­ties in one place, and al­low de­vel­op­ers to make use of their ser­vice reach. For in­stance, a Next Gen­er­a­tion SP en­abled sub­scriber should be able to con­nect to a pre­mium ser­vice from a part­ner such as VOD X. VOD X uses a sim­ple API to re­quest a high QoS Ses­sion for the sub­scriber. The API or­ches­tra­tion plat­form will take this sim­ple API re­quest and re­con­sti­tute it into the ap­pro­pri­ate south­bound Di­am­e­ter calls to the billing sys­tems for charg­ing and pay­ment and to the PCRF. The PCRF will then in­form the PGW to cre­ate a new high QoS bearer for the sub­scriber. The rest of the down­stream net­work will re­spond to the changes in the PGW to treat this traf­fic flow as pre­mium traf­fic.

Another in­stance of an ef­fec­tive part­ner­ship to build a stronger ex­pe­ri­ence ecosys­tem by TSPs is that of a con­nected trav­eler app. The con­nected trav­eller app proac­tively of­fers con­ve­nient in­for­ma­tion and pro­mo­tions to trav­ellers. Air­lines and other en­ter­prises merge their cus­tomer data with ser­vice provider data and gain the op­por­tu­nity of cross mar­ket­ing, im­proved CRM, im­proved loy­alty and in­cre­men­tal rev­enue. A sce­nario of the ap­pli­ca­tion be­gins with the trav­eller land­ing at the air­port. The trav­eller checks gate in­for­ma­tion, de­cides to “rate” the flight just com­pleted. He/she re­ceives 500 miles for com­plet­ing the sur­vey. The app shows on­line friends (and com­mu­ni­ca­tion via voice or in­stant mes­sage) on a map. Nearby mer­chants who have re­quested that fre­quent fly­ers re­ceive their coupon, show up on the map too. Trav­eller re­ceives coupon (2D bar code) for mer­chant ser­vice (Din­ner + Drink). There­fore, this ap­pli­ca­tion pro­vides valu­able cross mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the air­lines, mer­chants and the SP. In this sce­nario, the air­line pro­vides: Fre­quent flyer ac­counts Trav­eller pro­file Itineraries CRM Part­ner apps Em­ployee apps While the SP en­ables on his plat­form: Lo­ca­tion Ge­ofenc­ing Ad­dress book Sub­scriber con­text And the end user ben­e­fits from: Of­fers Val­i­da­tion Re­demp­tion This leads to “mas­sif­ca­tion” ser­vice ver­ti­cals while cre­at­ing a new stream of mon­e­ti­za­tion for the DSPs. Sec­tors like en­ter­tain­ment, health­care, retail and more can be ex­plored by DSPs. They can lever­age their ex­ist­ing tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise to cre­ate ser­vices for spe­cific ver­ti­cals.

Re­fram­ing the busi­ness vi­sion to drive growth

Many In­dian ser­vice providers, both large and small, have al­ready iden­ti­fied the need to go down this path of trans­for­ma­tion and are al­ready try­ing to re-ar­chi­tect and en­hance ex­ist­ing ser­vice of­fer­ings to meet cus­tomer de­mands. While not all SPs are at the same stage of the trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney, the lit­mus test of suc­cess for each will de­pend on the vi­sion at the top of the chain. The man­age­ment or leader of the ser­vice op­er­a­tor com­pany must clearly and ef­fi­ciently re­de­fine and re-in­no­vate the work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for this or­ga­ni­za­tion-wide change to oc­cur suc­cess­fully. This en­hanced vi­sion and com­mit­ment to en­hanc­ing the over­all cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and fos­ter­ing deeper re­la­tion­ships with part­ners and cus­tomers will lead the way to change and higher prof­itabil­ity.

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