Monthly Archives

June 2016

    iStock_000019968281_Full

    Over the past few years, the mobile payments industry has certainly made its presence felt on the global stage. As per data released by Statista, in 2011, the number of global mobile payment customers stood at 160.4 million. A mere four years later (in 2015), this number jumped to 384 million.

    However, while this growth is impressive, it varies across regions. In 2015, a majority of these customers hailed from the Asia-Pacific region (141.4 million), as per the firm. Meanwhile, a stark contrast was the Middle East, which had 4.7 million to its credit.

    Moving on, let’s zoom closer into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Sample this-according to a report released by the Arab Financial Services Company, the financial landscape in the region is characterized by variations in financial inclusion. On one hand, over 65 per cent of adults in the GCC region (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) have an account at a financial institution. On the other, however, this figure stands at less than 20 per cent in countries like Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and Yemen. Naturally, as a result, the development and uptake of mobile payment solutions in the region has been patchy at best. In fact, there is a wide gap between the kinds of solutions the customers are demanding as well. In this context, the report states that in the less developed countries, particularly North Africa, mobile money solutions have been the main growth vehicle for financial inclusion. Needless to say, the GCC region has a different story to tell. Here, developing mobile payment solutions such as mobile banking, mobile wallet, etc, is the norm.

    Now let’s put the GCC region under the microscope. First off, there is little doubt that the business case for mobile payments in this region is strong, to say the least. How? Well, for starters, the average mobile penetration is very high-190 per cent. No mean number, this!

    Needless to say, operators and third party providers didn’t let the grass grow under their feet before jumping onto the mobile payments bandwagon. As a result, the space saw a flurry of activity. Several examples can be cited in this regards but, for the sake of remaining crisp and concise, let’s cite a few.

    It all started in 2013. Boloro, in collaboration with Zain, launched the GCC region’s first ever mobile payments service on buses in Kuwait. Customers could securely and conveniently pay their fares by simply tapping their mobile phone when boarding the vehicle. In fact, all the bigwig operators in Kuwait and Qatar, Zain, Ooredoo and Viva currently offer this service.

    On the other hand, there are entities which have been a bit slow on the uptake. I allude to banks, which have preferred to adopt a “wait-and-watch” stance with regard to mobile payments. In my opinion, banks ought to flex their muscles on this stage. And why not? These players can easily leverage their already-established relationships with merchants, not to mention the treasure trove of customer data they’re sitting on.

    So, what’s stopping them? Well, the biggest barrier is the fact that these entities still consider the mobile handset and all applications concerned as a value added service. As a result, non-banking players have ventured far ahead of them in the mobile payments game. Allow me to add my two cents-it is time that these players straighten up and chalk out a strategy to at least finish neck-to-neck with the competition. The first step? Start considering the mobile channel as an integral part of the business!

    Of course, these entities must have a war chest in place before meeting the competition head-on. Enter the prepaid wallet. Now, the advantages of the prepaid wallet have been discussed ad nauseam, which is why I won’t wax eloquent on the same. I would like to point out, though, that the most important reason (arguably) why banks ought to take prepaid wallets seriously is two-fold. First, their merchants are empowered and second, this service reduces the high “card not present” rate during a transaction. A prepaid wallet is typically built around a stored value account. Customers can transfer the money from their bank account or card to the prepaid wallet. Since payments are not made directly through cards, the high “card not present” charges do not apply. As a brief side-note, permit me to point out that the very enthusiastic uptake of smartphones in the region can play a crucial role in the uptake of this service. After all, 68 per cent of all handsets in the region belong to this category! So, why shouldn’t such applications flourish?

    Now let’s turn our focus to another interesting trend that is rearing its head up in the region. Enabling seamless payments through contactless cards is the new kid on the block. In fact, a few banks have already launched their offerings in this regard. The revolution was sparked off in 2015 by Boubyan Bank, the first entity to launch Tap & Pay credit cards in Kuwait. Later that year, Riyad Bank and NCB (supported by AFS) followed to introduce Saudi Arabia’s first contactless credit card. Also, with mobile payments foraying into the game, expect the contactless card to be replaced by the mobile handset.

    Let’s take a quick look at the secret sauce behind mobile-based contactless payments-namely, the technology. Several can be used for this service, for instance, Near Field Communications (NFC), QR Codes and sound-based technologies. Of these, NFC is emerging as the forerunner in this race. The reason is simple-Host Card Emulation (an NFC variant) lets banks launch contactless payments rapidly without changing the existing SIM card and involving a trusted service manager (TSM). Little wonder, then, that NFC is the technology of choice for banks and financial institutions alike.

    Adding another dimension to this, banks may consider investing in developing their own HCE platform, as opposed to opting for OEM pays like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Here’s why – a bank-owned HCE platform works on any NFC-enabled device, unlike the Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, which function only on the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung S6 devices respectively. Moreover, with their own HCE platform, banks will have complete control over the tokenization platform as well as the token lifecycle. Banks will have the ability to monetize the token platform to enhance tokens for other use cases, like token based ATM cash out, P2P using tokens, etc.

    Net, net, it is only a question of time before prepaid wallets and contactless payments are in the spotlight in the GCC region. The revolution is well and truly underway. What remains to be seen is the direction it takes, in terms of uptake, technologies and services. After all, the Middle East market is an inherently contradictory one. A customised stance is thus needed to succeed. Remember, there is no “one size fits all” approach to mobile payments!

    June 29, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    shutterstock_125240699

    Data Monetization is the process of exchanging and trading various kinds of data, emerging from customer’s behavior and habits of using a product or service. It has huge potential to mine data for tracking customer’s habits and behavior, research, social good and discovery, and achievement of business objectives. Telecom companies are becoming increasingly aware about huge amounts of under-utilized data and looking for ways to use it for increasing their business profits and customer experiences. According to Cisco’s VNI Forecast 2014 -2019, the global traffic in data is going to exceed the one zettabyte (1000 Exabyte) threshold by the end of 2016. This growth is due to new and faster networks, a decrease in the price of 3G/4G smartphones and increase in the demand for new data-intensive services like mobile video.

    Yet, data monetization offers massive volumes of structure and unstructured data; falling storage costs; data-driven marketing advertisements and promotions that are customer centric. Moreover, business intelligence and processes are improved substantially by applying data analytics. However, there are some challenges in data monetization which is causing unparalleled growth in revenues for telecom operators who have invested their time and money in building the network pipes that are enabling data traffic today.

     Challenges with data monetization

    Telecom companies are racing to figure out how their business can be driven forward to create new avenues while increasing their revenue and growth by overcoming major challenges involved in data monetization:

    • Conceptual understanding of one’s enterprise data and analyzing it to increase its value
    • Structuring the data to highlight important information about market trends and customers’ perceptions
    • Developing and implementing the right strategy to source relevant and reliable data
    • User-friendly tools and techniques to collect and analyze the data

    challenges-of-monetization

    Why is data monetization important?

    Whether it’s a large or a small organization all have a reservoir of data. What they don’t is the wealth of this data i.e., its true potential value because technological challenges often stand in their way. Though, some organizations are leveraging their data for their own purposes, but chances are that the value of the data from an enterprise perspective may not yet be fully realized. The crux of importance of data monetization is that the big data could mean big business for all organizations. It serves the following purpose in an organization:

    1. Improvement in decision-making can result in action on services with speed and agility.
    2. Telecoms companies will be able to data to create new services by creating API’s that allow easy access, pressing on the need for developers to open up the data and create innovative new services and applications.
    3. With clever analysis the insights gleaned upon, have huge implications on everything from understanding traffic patterns to consumer buying habits. The decisions will be more impactful.
    4. As the data is dug up deeper and deeper, it gives more granular decisions- localized pricing, area-wise offering, individual plans and much more in high-value real-time service offering.
    5. Data monetization give way to product/ service bundling. The explosion in variations created by system limitations can be overcome. Services can be bundled-up together and a sub-allocation on cost basis, discount layering and pricing tiers is put in place.

    Future with Data Monetization

    A multi-tiered pricing regime will not only prevent data misuse and traffic congestion but also generate more revenues for the operator by providing uniform bandwidth after the cap. Similarly, by provisioning bandwidth on demand, like for example, a single flat fee, say $ 5 for increasing bandwidth for the next five hours for watching a movie, operators not only garner additional revenues but also improve customer experience significantly.

    Other monetization opportunities include providing access to social media applications for a flat fee per month. Operators must realize that every customer is different and there is no one size fit all marketing strategy for customers. In order to maximize data monetization opportunities, they will have to cater to every individual with highly differentiated offerings catering to video, gaming, social media, VoIP, individuals, groups etc. For example, with Gartner forecasting mobile video to account for 60 per cent of the data traffic in 2018, operators could improve Quality of Experience (QoE) with video optimization for saving bandwidth and costs.

     Conclusion

    Many telecom companies have already started developing their partnership with third parties like software developers. By disclosing data to the software developers, they are enabling them to create new services for accessing and analyzing the data in a rationalized and relevant manner. The data showing how a customer is using company’s offered products and services; their analysis of habits and viewpoints can be a proven tool for a company to track events in real time and customize itself accordingly to the targeted customer segment. Thus, data monetization gives a company the ability to understand its business and customers while improving their decision making.

    June 21, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    iStock_000021066020_Double

    Value Added Services

    Last year, mobile value added services contributed as much as 31 per cent of the telecom sector’s total revenue. Barring SMS related services; the standalone contribution of VAS is nearly 11 per cent. Earlier VAS only meant MMS, SMS and services such as call waiting and call forwarding. Now that the market is flooded with improved handsets, revolutionary data services like- 3G, 4G and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), this percentage is expected to go up in the future.

    Currently VAS backs up services like ringtones, caller ring back tones, application such as gaming, audio streaming, stock quotes, participation in polls and contests, m-commerce, instant messaging, infotainment, services, content downloads, etc.

    What’s new with VAS firms?

    To begin with, VAS firms no longer play a transitory role to telecom providers. They have evolved to more of a consulting role and a strategic partner. They aim at providing services that alter the form, content, or nature of the information, thereby adding value to it. Exploring the dynamics of a device and what benefit can be exploited in this regard VAS firms now provide end to end solutions which are not just focused on voice but on the convergence of voice and data as well.

    Campaign planning, product management, road map planning, content operations and sourcing and imparting technical assistance and lucid monitoring are a few services new age VAS firms provide.

    Until a few years ago, conference calls, PBX, etc. were some of the most advanced communication solutions offered by operators. However creating visual drag-and-drop environments in which non-technical users can combine both telecom and web assets are now ruling the telecom services with the advent of new generation of value- added services.

    Trends in Value Added Services

    Telecom industry moguls believe that value-added services are a big source of revenue in an otherwise commoditized voice market. It is agreed upon that those operators who provide new value-added services will be able to balance out the declining incomes from the voice stream. Realizing the significance of value added services, operators are more than willing to invest in the trending value added services.

    A few significant trends in the value added services segment include:

    1. An increased emphasis on knowledge centric services.
    2. A shift towards content optimized for devices such as mobile and tablet.
    3. Availability of services for the smartphone generation- data services, gaming solutions, digital wallets and much more.
    4. Broadening the target audience to developing nations and more prominently rural areas.
    5. Value added services firms have become application creators for innovative solutions

    Conclusion

    Ideally, VAS is provided to increase the time spent on a device. This becomes especially important, keeping in mind that the demand for voice-based services has declined tremendously.

    Consequently, every telecom operator worldwide is now betting big on such services.

    June 20, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    shutterstock_98548040

    Fire-fighting on several fronts simultaneously is the norm for today’s telecom operators. On one hand, the traditional voice business has all but declined. On the other, data-centric services are in the spotlight. While operators have jumped onto the data bandwagon, a degree of caution still remains. Why? Well, analysts emphasise that revenue generated from data traffic could compensate for the monies voice-based services were supposed to bring in. The catch, however, is that the networks required to support such services are expensive to build and maintain. To make matters worse, the mobile broadband market is, doubtless, flourishing, but operators aren’t laughing all the way to the bank. Instead, they’re contending with strains on network capacity which ultimately adversely impact their bottomlines.

    Understandably, then, rooting out new revenue streams is at the top of every operator’s to-do list. After all, shutting shop isn’t an option, especially in a sector where the competition is cut-throat and the profit margins are razor-thin. This is why operators are turning their attention elsewhere.

    Shifting Focus

    The crux of the argument is this-telecom operators are beginning to wake up to the potential of enterprise information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to give their flailing profit a shot in the arm. To be more precise, operators are betting all their money on cloud computing. Of course, the degree and purpose of deployment differs vastly for tier one operators and their smaller counterparts. For the former, cloud computing provides a golden opportunity to tier one operators to monetize their existing network assets more efficiently. How? Simply by synergizing their resource and capacity utilizations across multiple enterprise and/or residential customers spread across different geographical locations. At the same time, the cloud helps tier 2 and 3 operators to scale their capex and opex spends, along with the growth of their business.

    So, why is the cloud in the spotlight? First off, today’s digitally converged marketplace has ensured that the lines between telecom operators and IT have blurred. In this context, placing technologies like cloud computing at the centre of one’s strategy makes sense. Why? Well, because not only will it help improve bottomlines but will also ensure that operators move out of their comfort zone of providing simple connectivity solutions.

    Next, let’s take a look at the market itself. According to Gartner, the global public cloud services market is projected to grow by 16.5 per cent in 2016 to total $204 billion, up from $175 billion in 2015. The highest growth is expected to be attributed to cloud system infrastructure services (infrastructure as a service [IaaS]), which is projected to grow by 38.4 per cent in 2016. No small opportunity, this!

    Besides, as per industry analysts, this segment actually plays up a telecom operator’s key strengths. Here’s how-businesses like telecom and cloud IT typically deploy a highly-centralised delivery model. This implies the entire show requires scalable core infrastructure and wide-reaching networks to run. Luckily though, operating in asset-heavy and centralised delivery businesses is what these players have been doing since time immemorial. Thus, telecom operators are very well positioned to compete in the cloud space, as compared to other premise-based IT markets.

    So, what approach have telecom operators been adopting so far? In terms of services, the operator’s repertoire typically comprises of the basic flavours, i.e.-software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service. It isn’t confined to that, of course. Other offerings include unified communications, managed services for fixed and mobile networks, security services and business applications. These are usually offered as bundled services or in collaboration with a third party-i.e.-a managed service provider (MSP).

    How an MSP can Help

    Now, where does the MSP fit into this scenario? To start, permit me to state that the role played by an MSP is purely complimentary to any operator’s cloud strategy. How? Here’s a short laundry list of what an MSP can do to ensure cloud-based services work in favour of the operator:

    • Operators can retain control over the infrastructure and application services. The MSP permits operators to outsource a select few or all enterprise IT operations. On their part, the MSP brings to the table their best practices and processes. Of course, strict adherence to stringent service level agreements for applications hosted on the cloud is an added bonus.
    • MSPs offer a management layer between the operator and the public cloud. This creates a three-layer architecture (the operator, the MSP and the public cloud) which is easy to maintain. In addition, the MSP functions as a single point of contact to manage all these applications. Additional services like security and backup management are a part of the package as well.
    • Last but not the least, apart from technical operations, an MSP can also provide support for business operations. This entails offering premium services, such as examining the customer’s data for irregularities or inconsistencies. They then take appropriate action without getting the operator involved. The latter is thus free to focus on their core business.

    The Challenges and Benefits of Cloud Services

    There is very little doubt that the pro’s the cloud platform offers outweighs the cons substantially. Nevertheless, for the sake of presenting a balanced view, let’s quickly take a look at both:

    The Challenges

    • Operators ought to know where they stand in the value chain.
    • A clear go-to-market strategy needs to be implemented.
    • An optimal product portfolio mix needs to be identified.

    The Benefits

    • Greater cost agility, especially with IaaS
    • Reduced opportunity costs
    • Increased retained cash as cloud/on-demand services ensure that the operator doesn’t have to invest upfront in IT infrastructure.

    Net, net, challenges notwithstanding, cloud computing may finally have its moment in the spotlight. There is a catch, though-to leverage this technology to the fullest, operators require overcoming their fears about security or lack of cohesiveness with their current infrastructure. And this is where an MSP can help. After all, the role an MSP can play in this scenario isn’t an either/or, it’s for sure!

    June 14, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    shutterstock_152661074

    Worldwide, managed service providers (MSPs) face a common challenge of finding ways to maximize output and organize workflow in order to reduce costs and increase profitability. A successful IT system requires the usage of right tools and surprisingly, the IT processes are still one of the least automated business segments today. For managed services providers, all the right tools revolve around automated software as the concept of managed services itself revolves around eliminating the challenges of traditional methods and the functions of a break-fix model.

    By automating IT process and tasks, managed service providers can overcome the challenges of system organization, cost reduction and time management. Here’s how:

    What is IT process automation?

     IT process automation is the process of automating IT-related tasks in order to address an operational requirement or business situation. The purpose of process automation is to streamline workflow, reduce labor-intensive manual tasks, accelerate processes and eliminate costly delays.

    Service automation is an ideal solution for managed service providers facing the challenge of managing processes remotely across via various channels across multiple sites. MSPs are required to find ways to identify, analyze and resolve a number of incidents quickly as they arise as timely a manner as possible in order to meet service levels and profitability.

    The key functions of managed service automation

     The automation of managed services features some key functions. The major ingredients for the success of MSPs include:

    Remote monitoring and Management –RMM enables the tracking of important IT functions like diagnostic alerts and performance reviews in order to ensure they are aware of the issues with the IT infrastructure they are monitoring. This reduces the future occurrences and the number of on-site visits required.

    Professional Service automation – Alongside remote monitoring and management to boost the managed service offering, professional service automation is something to be considered. PSA is used to automate administrative tasks, monitor billing and customer account management so that the managed service provider can focus on the service offering.

    Integration of RMM and PSS–It becomes quite important to check how well remote monitoring and management and professional service automation perform alongside simultaneously. Sure, they operate well separately but, when you integrate them, they complement each other. The workflow of PSS can be leveraged with the visibility of RMM in order to get a true end-to-end managed service solution. Also, this creates more efficiency for your services.

    Benefits of automation

    The main advantages of managed service automation include:

    • Increased productivity
    • Improved quality
    • Faster service with fewer people
    • Improved consistency and robustness of processes and product.
    • Increased output consistency
    • Scalable service foundation
    • Reduced human labor costs and thus, expenses

     

    role-of-automation-in-managed-services

    How does automation reduce managed services costs?

     With process automation, the managed service providers can continue to improve their service offerings and impress their customers with attention in-detail. Automating managed services can help them streamline service delivery, stay lean, reduce costs and grow profits in multiple ways:

    Save operations time – Managed services automation allows the MSPs to maximize their productivity. Automating the labour-intensive processes reduces the waste of time as well as resources and helps the MSPs in a better allocation of resources.

    Optimize resources – The remote nature of incident management demands inherently. Thus, the development and implementation of a process workflow that optimizes all available resources becomes a challenge. IT process automation (ITPA) allows the MSPs to centrally manage, automate and support a large number of data centers from a common network operation center.

    Reduce risk of error – ITPA leverages bi-directional communication process to remotely control the execution or advancement of any step within a particular IT process like re-starting a server.

    Improve system recovery time–After solving an IT critical issue, sooner you get the critical systems running, the better.  Implementing managed service automation procedures improves this recovery time. And, less downtime implies improved service levels for the operator and lower risk of loss of subscriber.

    Managed Service Automation- a future outlook

     The managed services are accelerating demands for automation. Running processes across diverse infrastructures requires multiple resources and in virtual as well as cloud environment, resource allocation is the key for execution of workloads.

    In the coming time, bringing the services into the automation portfolio will automatically evolve as a great way to allocate resources to workload processing when and where required and, to return those resources for use elsewhere following the completion of the workload. In the near future, it can be anticipated that:

    Self-service automation will serve the entire organization – The service processes are interlinked and they rely on IT technologies. The self-service concept implies that the end user of a service process can choose from a service catalog within an automation framework and then initiate the process themselves without involving manual efforts from IT operations.

    A common automation framework will emerge as a complete automation solution –Service automation is made up of multiple automation solutions that their trace their roots back decades. The idea of managed service automation is to bring all the foundation pillars of automation into a centralized and unified automation solution accounting for all these in addition to a number of contemporary technologies like running IT processes, infrastructure monitoring etc.  This concept of a single automation engine will soon arrive to full maturation.

    Reduce the cost of IT operations with Automation – The number of complex technologies comprising managed services is increasing, but the cost and manual manpower need to remain the same. IT automation will serve as the catalyst driving efficiency and reducing the cost of operations with the automation of time consuming and resource-intensive processes and also through the reduction of errors that arise from manual intervention.

    Managed service automation will automate big data and data integration – Service providers are increasingly relying on data in order to make critical decisions for planning their customer acquisition and retention framework. As the data volume increases, so does the amount of disparate data sources feeding business intelligence solutions. Over the come time, service automation will become a foundation automating the integration and movement of data between these contrasting sources in order to improve the quality of data and reporting

     Conclusion

    Strategically implementing automation in managed services can deliver significant business value by exponentially improving the quality of service and time to market, increasing the response rate to changing business requirements and reducing security and compliance risks radically.

     

    June 13, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    iStock_000020828018_XXXLarge

    Introduction

    Service assurance is the systematic process of maintaining and improving the quality of service provided to customers. It ensures that services offered over networks adhere to a pre-defined service quality level for an optimal subscriber experience. It is of paramount importance to conduct an impact analysis, before prioritizing and responding to faults encountered in a quick and effective manner.

    Service assurance tools in the spotlight

    The service assurance procedure intends to optimize the performance and provide management guidance in communications networks. It includes the following tools and solutions:

    • Fault and event management
    • Performance management
    • Probe monitoring
    • Quality of service(QoS) management
    • Network and service testing
    • Network traffic management
    • Customer experience management
    • Service level agreement(SLA) monitoring
    • Trouble ticket management

     Why are they in the spotlight?

    The concept of service assurance is an all-encompassing paradigm. It addresses the issue of maximize customer satisfaction, which in turn maximizes the long-term profitability.

    The need to differentiate from other players and the introduction of value added services like VoIP, IPTV and mobile video- has increased the reliability on service assurance tools. Hence, the escalating demand by communication service providers and enterprises for providing value-added service over the Internet is increasing, thereby surging the requirement of telecom assurance services.

    Assured quality service has no doubt, become a critical success factor in the telecom sector. Incidentally, other factors in achieving the business goals such as lowering down the operational and capital expenditure, enhancing revenue and retaining customers gets affected too in this process.

    What Service Assurance means to a customer:

    Telecom service assurance helps to enhance the customer’s experience by maintaining and improving the quality of service. Service assurance is assessed on the following parameters:

    • Strong accessibility and reach
    • Smooth network coverage
    • Geographical reach
    • 24X7 availability
    • Resource availability- service assistance
    • Multilingual approach
    • Reliability and consistency in service
    • Ability to make and receive calls whenever he wants
    • No call drop
    • Sound clarity

    importance-of-service-assurance-tools-in-managed-services

    What do these help to achieve?

    Service assurance involves components such as quality assurance (QA), quality control (QC) and service level management (SLM). Quality assurance ascertains that a product or service under development meets specified requirements at all stages in the process. Quality control ensures that a completed and performed service sticks to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the customer. Service level management takes care of the monitoring and management of the quality of the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the product or the service.

    Service assurance equips telecom operators with tools to identify and communicate with customers affected by network faults and planned maintenance. The benefits offered include:

    • Service Assurance Intelligence

    Trouble-shooting and root cause analysis are fundamentals of service assurance. Service providers put in place these service assurance systems to achieve automation and get real-time visibility in ensuring the health of their services. Also to provide agreater transparency and customer support, operators need to improve the productivity and functionality that is leveraged by service assurance systems.

    • Real-time Service Analytics

    Traditional alarm and performance monitoring systems were delaying the process of assurance. Hence, service assurance systems of today are robust and provide real-time analytics capabilities. This, in turn helps to sift through the data and interpret hierarchical performance trends, enabling operators to identify potential service impacts or capacity issues before they hit the market and improve customer experience.

    • Deployment of New Networks and Differentiated Services

    Service assurance tools provide valuable input for making key network decisions.They assist in determining where to invest by providing service providers an accurate and real-time performance data and capacity analytics, with which they optimize the network spending. A modern service assurance system provides real-time actionable intelligence that helps in making wise decisions, based on network usage, traffic, capacity, and performance by location. As new differentiated services or new networks are deployed, service assurance tools enable the service provider to monitor them quickly without any delay.

    • Impact Analysis for unplanned and planned service disruption

    It becomes an intense pressure situation for network operation centers as and when large numbers of faults are reported. The situation needs a root cause analysis that can refine those thousands of alarms only to identify the underlying problems. After that is taken care of, the next step is to prioritize the faults that need immediate attention and thereon and what workarounds exist regarding each of them. Impact analysis is based on a thorough and accurate knowledge of network topology. Whereas planned maintenance insists upon minimizing the downtime and take account of standby servers and redundant routes. It is based on sound understanding of the network capabilities and careful consideration of fault tolerance that even allow some of the maintenance activities to be automated.

    • Detecting correlation between customer issues and network faults

    Correlation between internal network faults and customers who are affected helps in identifying those ‘high- priority’ clients and customers that need immediate attention. Often, it is difficult to link customer complaints with the underlying network faults. But since the arrival of service assurance tools and implementation of laws like commercial SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are in place, prioritization and tracking of faults can be achieved. It helps from a competitive advantage point of view too, when the service provider keeps customers well informed and prioritizes dealing their faults. Additionally, it reduces the loss suffered in commercial outage.

    How will their scope increase in the future?

    The telecom service assurance market is estimated to be $4.59 Billion by 2019. It is true that opportunities exist across a diverse spectrum of assurance and test solutions. The following ways in which service assurance will be most handy to service providers are:

    • the rise of application performance management
    • Deep packet inspection and complex network services
    • Device management is will skyrocket.

    Conclusion

    The main purpose of service assurance tools is to enhance the pro-activeness capabilities of customer service. The tools allow an early detection of network problems and ensure service providers are able to predict and calculate service impact, even on complex network topologies. Aggressiveness and quick resolution of faults in fault management systems are in particular, the need of the hour of the telecom industry.

    June 10, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    iStock_000028923862_XXXLarge

    What is a QR Code?

    QR Code refers to a quick-response code. It is a trademark name for the 2-dimentional barcode system containing information and is an example of information matrix barcode. QR codes are often considered similar to barcodes however; a significant difference between the two is that while the barcodes hold information only in the horizontal direction, QR codes can store information vertically as well. Recently QR codes are being used in multiple arenas and the recent trends in the payment system have led to the growth of the use of QR codes.

    QR codes in the payment system

    The growth of mobile payments has become inevitable. According to the World Payment Report 2015, the number of global mobile payment transactions is anticipated to grow by 61 per cent annually till 2016. Thus, in order to capitalize this anticipated growth, operators are exploring options beyond net banking, credit cards and e-payments. Mobile payments are the need of the hour to enhance a customer’s in-store experience. The in-store payments experience has already been given a boost with the evolution of mobile payments, which can be enabled in two ways – NFC and QR codes.

    QR Code-based payments

    QR-code based payment is technologically the most advanced type of contactless payment. It require consumers to use a smartphone application which enables them to scan, store and share their code scans in order to allow individuals and business to make and accept payments respectively via QR codes on their smart devices.

    What this implies is that now, even an average person can de-code a QR code, without any special equipment. One can walk into a place of business, find a QR code on an item, scan it with his smartphone and can have immediate access to all information stored in that barcode.

    In comparison to NFC, QR codes are a much cost-effective and feasible option for the payments system today. Enabling QR-code based mobile payments primarily requires software updates no separate hardware:

    • Update to QR code scanning app and QR code generation features.

    Update to the merchants POS to facilitate acceptance of payments processed by your service. While most of the merchants have barcode scanning hardware integrated with their point-of-sale for product billing, the consumers can still make payments via QR codes.

    qr-code-payments-infographic

    The benefits of using QR codes for payments

    • Ease of use- QR codes can be used for payments anywhere. This versatility makes it useful for the service providers as well as consumers.
    • Security- QR codes eliminate the need of physical wallets helping the customers to complete payments just with the help of their smart devices and digital wallets.
    • Instantly informative – QR codes require the consumers to scan them to find an information destination
    • Cost-effective- Creating the QR code doesn’t have to cost anything.
    • Trackable- By using unique codes and web analytics, the retailers can gain some valuable information about consumer behavior- what works and what doesn’t.
    • They appeal to the customer’s curiosity- This may change following the novelty wears-off and QR codes become ubiquitous but in today’s time a consumer has an urge to scan a QR code on seeing it, just to find out where it leads.

    How does QR code-based payment work?

    On the basis of entities, mobile payment transactions can be classified into three categories:

    1. Transactions from individual-to large business– This type of transaction is applicable to large-scale businesses such as retailers, food chains etc. who have typically installed scanners. At the point-of-sale the merchant enters the payable amount. The consumer then opens the QR code scanning app and displays the QR code in order to let the merchant’s scanner extract the data from the QR code, authenticates the customers and deducts the amount to be paid from the customer’s mobile wallet. This contactless payment process has been successfully integrated by many retailers and every week, approximately 6 million transactions are processed.
    2. Transactions from individual-to-small business- This type of transactions is applicable to small businesses, not having scanners. At the time of payment, the consumer pens the mobile app and scans the QR code displayed by the merchant at the point-of-sale. This allows the app to identify the merchant to let the customer add the payable amount and complete the payment.
    3. Transactions from individual-to-individual (peer-to-peer) – These are similar to any peer-to-peer transaction and are used by self-employed professionals. In order to initiate the transaction, both individuals access the mobile applications, the customer scans in the unique QR code from the recipient’s application and punches in the payable amount to process the transaction.

    Presently, mobile wallets allow consumers to transfer money between accounts but with the use of QR codes for payments, it becomes easier in case the recipient is unknown.

    Conclusion

    QR code-based payments make it easier for the consumers to pay with their mobile wallets. With no requirement of any additional infrastructure and backed by the deals and offers, regularly provided by the payment service providers, paying with QR codes has definitely overtaken NFC payments and has become a great means for in-store contactless payments. With 12 million users every week, QR codes can prove themselves to be a great payment and response mechanism for mobile users and at the same time, they have many potential uses for retailers and service providers.

    June 3, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
    iStock_000052782078_XXXLarge

    Of late, blockchain technology has been in the spotlight. A recent report from the World Economic Forum has predicted that 10 percent of the GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain related technologies by 2025.

    A blockchain is a public ledger for all executed Bitcoin transactions.  It witnesses constant growth with the addition of ‘completed blocks’ in the form of a new set of recordings to it. These new completed blocks are added in linear, chronological order. The Bitcoin network is connected to computers (called nodes) using a client that performs the tasks of validating and relaying the transaction and each node gets a copy of the blockchain, downloaded automatically upon joining the network. The blockchain network has complete address and balance details starting from the genesis block till the last block.

    Breaking down the ‘Blockchain Architecture’

    Blockchain stands as proof of all transactions that have occurred on the Bitcoin network and thus, is considered as its main technological innovation. The current part of the block chain records the recent transactions and once completed, goes to the blockchain as permanent database once completed. A new block is generated each time a block gets completion.

    So, are the blocks placed randomly in blockchain? No, they are linked properly in a linear, chronological order containing a connection of the previous block. Taking conventional banking as a consideration, the blockchain is like a complete history of banking transactions. In a blockchain, the Bitcoin transactions are entered in chronological manner just the way the banks transactions are entered. Meanwhile, the blocks are like individual bank statements.

    On the basis of the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes of a particular system.  Thus, it can provide details about insights such as how much value belonged to a particular address at any point of time. However, the ever-growing size of the blockchain is also considered as a problem by some people.

    Why Blockchain?

    The Blockchain technology has multiple benefits for the payments industry. It allows the exchange of digital assets like Bitcoin, but it isn’t dependent technologically on Bitcoin. The elegance of Blockchain lies in the fact that it obviates the requirement of a central authority for transfer of trust verifying trust. It transfers control and power from large entities to the many, enabling fast, cheaper and safe transactions despite the fact that the entities may remain unknown.

    The blockchain mechanics are highly disruptive and novel. As people transact in the Blockchain ecosystem, a transactions record is created automatically. The computers (nodes) verify each transaction with sophisticated algorithms to confirm the value transfer alongside creating a historical ledger of all transactions. The computers that process the transactions forming the blockchain network are located throughout the world and it becomes important to be noted that these computers are not owned or controlled by any single entity. Thus, the blockchain technology makes the payment process comparatively more secure than relying on a central authority for the verification of transaction.

    blockchain-infographic

     

    Challenges associated with the implementation Blockchain

    New technologies arrive with new challenges and blockchain too has several challenges to overcome:

    • The first and foremost Blockchain challenge is its widespread enterprise adoption in order to get the network of participants to agree on a common network protocol as well as technology stack.
    • Clear standards to govern the implementation of blockchain across the enterprise are still required. While some enterprises may chose to use Bitcoin network; others may opt for semi-private or permissioned blockchains.
    • The development of the blockchain technology may also bring along its own set of regulatory hurdles and cyber-security threats.
    • Also, many questions around transactional privacy and security still linger.

    The lack of technical understanding is making Blockchain more difficult to be implemented in a proper way. Additionally, another hurdle in implementing Blockchain is the conceptual understanding of maximum potential, it is encompassing.  On the other hand, this financial technology will give challenges to many third party companies like Paytm, ebay and flipkart by providing decentralized platform to the buyers and sellers; avoiding the cost of a platform to interact safely.

    Thus, despite the associated challenges, many companies are showing their interest in this emerging blockchain technology due its long-term benefits.

    Conclusion

    Technologies continue to transfer control and power from a central authority and distribute them to masses. For example, WhatAspp – the popular cross-platform messaging application- cut the message sending transaction cost globally in turn, cutting profits for the telecom operators. The phone carriers lost to the messaging application built on a decentralized network- the Internet.

    In the same way, the Blockchain disintermediates the third-party verifiers for transactions including payment processors, legal services, auditors, brokerages and similar organizations.  Thus, the central authorities that presently verify transactions stand to lose against Blockchain.

     

    June 3, 2016 0 comment
    0 Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest
Newer Posts