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November 2016

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    Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is taking the telecommunications industry by storm. Historically, enterprises have been purchasing a host of devices to deliver the many tasks and activities that are a part of network services. This approach is rife with a number of problems, provisioning delay being a major one. This in turn leads to loss of productivity, which doesn’t augur well in today’s competitive world. To mitigate this and many other related problems the telecommunications industry has turned to virtualization.

    NFV is a major step forward in easing the burden of service providers as it allows them the flexibility to move network functions from appliances to generic servers. With the network functions hosted in the cloud, that it allows for scalability is a given. Even though NFV is still in its early phases, as per a recent research, SDN and NFV investments are slated to grow at a CAGR of 46 per cent between 2016 and 2020 and are projected to account for over $18 billion in revenue by 2020.

    The benefits gained from this technology include but aren’t limited to:

    Reduced operating expenditure and capital expenditure costs– With NFV offering an easy option to deploy and maintain services, it has an inverse correlation with operating expenditure costs, driving them down significantly. As per a report by ACG Research, adopting a virtualized evolved packet core can reduce operating expenditure by an average of 67 per cent and capital expenditure by 68 per cent.

    Reduced Time to Market-The timelines of deployment of virtualized network components are significantly lower than that of traditional network hardware.This is known to result in a quicker time to market, a factor whose importance cannot be over emphasized in today’s competitive market.

    Improved return on investment from new services– Virtualization takes away the need to make large capacity additions to infrastructure well in advance of demand, unlike in the traditional methodology. The agility of NFV has the potential to enhance capacity in a manner that it closely parallels demand.This ability in turn, leads to improved ROI from the new services introduced.

    • Greater flexibility to scale up, scale down or evolve services-With the delinking of network functions such as firewalls and routers from proprietary hardware, new services can be rolled out when needed. Scalability in fact, is one of the largest benefits of virtualization as it allows operators to deploy new services with ease as also to adjust the scale of the existing services basis the demand.
    • Opportunities to trial and deploy new innovative services at lower risk–Virtualization equips the operator with the ability to adapt to user needs with agility. The associated risks of introducing new services, therefore is far reduced than in the traditional methodology where any changes in capacity or new services involved a significant time lag.
    • Openness to the virtual appliance market and pure software entrants– Virtualization enables a wide variety of eco systems. By opening the market to pure software entrants it encourages innovation and the possibility of introducing new revenue streams.

    While the concept of NFV may be recent, it is all set to become a catalyst for major changes contributing to significant transformation in the telecommunications industry.

    November 28, 2016 0 comment
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    Enterprise messaging provides the technology backbone for all communications within and between organizations. Today, with the concept of ‘right here, right now’ taking precedence for companies, enterprise messaging provides a viable tool for businesses to communicate with stakeholders and other business professionals who support them.

    Present scenario

    From wearable technology to new technologies for customers to cloud-based messaging systems, the enterprise messaging solution industry has seen a sea change. Today, the data obtained through enterprise messaging systems is used for analytics and big data to develop newer innovations in the industry.

    Message-oriented middleware (MoM) technology, which consumes and publishes messages is the latest technology in this field. MoM integrates technology, interfaces, and enterprise messaging to enable real-time messaging.

    The scope of enterprise messaging is extending beyond the scope of MoM. Information has to be updated every millisecond today, especially for businesses operating in the finance and trade industries. Therefore, MoM is changing fast to include protocols and standards to enable transport and exchange of messages instantaneously.

    At present, the Microsoft Exchange Server is the leader of an enterprise messaging system. It is also interesting to note that the maximum number of businesses in the Asia Pacific region use enterprise messaging, whereas it has the lowest penetration is in North America.

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    Challenges

    The instant processing of messages is the biggest challenge for the industry. The requirement of faster processing of messages has placed extreme pressure on the message queue. As business becomes complicated, enterprises are generating greater volumes of data which are more complicated and sensitive in nature. Enterprise messaging solutions today have to handle high volumes of data which is being generated.

    Moreover, the new technologies in the industry pose a fresh set of challenges to enterprise architects who have to take into account the complexity of the environment and then develop simple, cost-effective and reliable messaging systems.

    Future Opportunities

    It has been estimated that the global enterprise messaging market will reach $1.9 billion by 2019. Going forward, the workforce, as we know it today, will change and enterprises will need to communicate effectively and most importantly immediately. Moreover, today’s workforce is dispersed. The traditional concept of working in an office has moved to working from home, hence, workforce meetings happen in the virtual office. This presents a huge opportunity for enterprise messaging to grow manifold in the coming years. As the penetration of mobile devices increases and connectivity will become easier, the enterprise messaging solution industry will continue to see greater heights.

    November 25, 2016 0 comment
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    From times immemorial women have been fighting against various prejudices and repressions in society to get their voice heard and better their lives. In the last century many women have distinguished themselves in science, business, politics and popular arts. Indeed the world would’ve been a much poorer place to live without the contributions of these pioneering women.

    While the developed world witnessed major advancements in women’s rights, the third world and underdeveloped countries lagged behind. In the absence of top down implementation of socio-economic policies and initiatives, the women in these countries have to take the lead in society’s transformation and break out of the vicious cycle of gender inequality and poverty.

    But lack of access to capital and deeply entrenched socio-economical prejudices have created a barrier to their progress. From a historical point of view, women, especially in developing and third world countries have always found it difficult to access capital vis-à-vis men creating a gender barrier in their socio-economic-political development. This gender financial access gap between developed and underdeveloped countries is apparent from World Bank Global Findex data. Globally, 58 percent of adult women have an account compared to 65 percent men – a 7 percent gender gap in account ownership. In developing countries, the gap widens to 9 percentage points, and in some regions such as South Asia this gap is a huge 18 percentage points1.faoggSource: World Bank Global Findex

    It should hardly come as a surprise that the countries with the largest financial access gender gap are also the countries where the socio-economic conditions of women are the worst. Without any recourse to banking or any other mode of financial access, the women fail to exercise any degree of control over family budget. And without any control over household spending, these women are not in a position to take care of themselves or their families.

    On the other hand, a child whose mother controls the family budget is 20% more likely to survive – according to an estimate provided by FAO. With more control over the budget, there is more food on the table, more priority on health and education, which all leads to healthier and happier and more prosperous families in the long run. Moreover, with quick and easy access to capital, women can start their own business and thus take full ownership of their destinies and not leaving it to the fickle nature of the government or nature. Thus the single most important thread running through all women’s poverty alleviation as well as socio- economical-political empowerment initiatives is the closing of the financial access gender gap. This not only enables women to take control of their lives but also the lives of their children and families.

    In this context, Mobile money has massive potential especially when it comes to closing the financial access gender gap. Already, we are witnessing the financial access gender gap narrowing significantly in countries where mobile money has made inroads into the financial system. For example, in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where mobile money has overtaken formal banking system, financial access gender gap is lower than the regional average. In fact, for EcoCash, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile money service, women constitute 52% of the customer base2. From tailored mobile money services for women and family-oriented marketing to deploying female agents, mobile money providers have played a huge role in creating gender parity. This article shows how the mobile money operators are transforming the lives of women in the developing world.

    As per a GSMA Report, achieving gender parity in account ownership can unlock an estimated $20 billion market opportunity for the African mobile industry in the period 2015-2020. Mobile money providers recognize this opportunity and are working to leverage it3.

    Mobilizing Savings

    Multiple researches have proved that women are better at saving than men. Owing to their penchant for savings and financial management, women are able to bear multiple financial burdens for their family including paying for school fees, food, emergencies, celebrations, births, funerals and much more. However, due to cultural norms, low literacy and restriction on movement, women mostly save at home (and stay away from formal banking). Without access to traditional financial instruments of savings these women invest in low yield investments, like livestock which is prone to diseases and depletion in value. Some cash is always kept handy under the mattress to meet day to day needs, but this only puts them in a great deal of physical danger since crime rates are so high.

    In the absence of formal banking infrastructure, a number of traditional savings club have taken deep roots in Sub-Saharan Africa. Savings club is steeped in the rich tradition of informal savings groups in Africa which explains its popularity. It is a popular group savings and lending mechanism with each member contributing regularly to a cash pool that they borrow from on a rotating basis. The pool is patronized by women as it allows them to form groups with other local women or with fellow local church-goers. In a traditional Savings Club, the members deposit cash on a daily/weekly basis in a box with three locks (keys of these locks are with three different members). Due to use of cash, traditional Savings Club have multiple operational challenges related to handling cash, ensuring security, maintain transparency and keeping records.

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    Mobile money providers such as EcoCash Zimbabwe, Tigo Chad and Airtel Money Uganda have introduced mobile money-based Savings Clubs to overcome these challenges. Any registered mobile-money customer can set-up and participate in a Saving Club. The group chairman initiates account opening via mobile and invites members to join in. The chairman also selects members (usually three) who approve of funds being withdrawn via multiple SMS sign-offs. All members receive SMS for any activity on group and can also check club’s account balance anytime. To earn interest, the money in Savings Club is moved to a linked bank account using mobile-phone. Mobile savings club thus provides a more secure, transparent, rewarding and convenient experience for women. It empowers them to take decisions that are beneficial for themselves and their families.

    EcoCash Savings Club in Zimbabwe is one of the most successful mobile money-based Savings Club with Women constituting 60% of the customer base4. With EcoCash Savings Club the Mbereko Women’s Groups at the Border Church Clinic, in rural Marondera District of Zimbabwe provides access to emergency finances to pregnant women and new mothers. With group savings and access to pooled funds, pregnant women or new mothers now have money to take care of themselves and their babies. Additionally, EcoCash has set up a Green Kiosk booth to help various women’s group to operate EcoCash agency business, providing liquidity to community savers.5

    Tigo Cash in Chad has introduced a Savings Club service dubbed Tigo Paare. Sales Women in Chad (involved in importing, transformation and resale of products from Lake Chad) contribute daily to Tigo Paare group account. The collected money is used to fund a member’s shop or project each month6 

    Putting health first

    There is a stark difference in the health conditions of women across the globe. While in high income countries woman’s life expectancy at birth is 83 years, in low and mid income countries it drops to 72. The situation is worse in Sub-Saharan Africa where life expectancy at birth is just 60 years7. There are a number of reasons for these low numbers such as maternal deaths, poor nutrition amongst girls and high prevalence of HIV amongst females. Maternal death is the primary reason for low life expectancy rate in developing countries. In fact, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. More than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and almost one third occur in South Asia8. Lack of funds is one of the prominent reasons for high numbers of female deaths in developing world.

    By providing quick and easy access to funds, mobile money can help in improving women’s health in more than one ways. Governments and NGO use mobile money platform to distribute funds directly to the unbanked and the economically backward women which helps in reducing maternal deaths and eradicating malnutrition. Since the money is transferred directly the aid money reaches the intended recipients without any leakages.

    Insurance companies are enrolling women for health insurance policies via mobile phones enabling them to pay premium and receive claims via mobile money. Mobile money is also being used by individuals and NGOs to crowd source funds for ailments like cancer which require huge medical expenditure. In Uganda Justine Nyachwo collected funds via mobile money for cancer treatment of her friend Carol Atuhirwe, a Uganda Christian University student9.

    Mali has a maternal mortality rate of 587 per 100,000 live births, one of the highest in the world. In order to make pregnancy and delivery safer Orange Money in Mali partnered with the NGO Population Service International (PSI) and NSIA, an insurance company, to launch a linked savings and insurance product targeted at pregnant women. Orange Money users can open a mobile savings account with a minimum initial deposit of XOF 3,000 ( ̴ USD 5). Once the account has been opened users can save money anytime with a minimum deposit of XOF 100 ( ̴ 16 Cents), by moving money from Orange Money account to Savings account via mobile phone. When savings balance reaches XOF 40,000 ( ̴ USD 44), the user automatically gets enrolled for a 12 month life/disability and maternal health insurance. Orange Money pays XOF 100,000 ( ̴ USD 165) for child delivery complications including haemorrhage, eclampsia and dystocia, XOF 50,000 ( ̴ USD 82) for the C-sction and XOF 150,000 ( ̴ USD 260) in case of death or permanent disability. Patients who do not attend prenatal consultations only gets 75% benefit. This encourages women to seek prenatal care. Additional Orange money used female actresses to market this insurance product effectively and relate with women.10

    In India, the State Government of Madhya Pradesh, with partner Vodafone M-Pesa, disburses financial aid to mothers, who receive the payment directly on their mobile phone. The beneficiary is informed with an SMS mentioning the amount of the health subsidy, the withdrawal code & procedure, facilitating cash-out at any Vodafone M-Pesa agent. Direct disbursement to the mothers has resulted in reduction of the money being collected by the fathers and therefore never reaching the intended beneficiary in some cases.11

    Vodacom Lesotho in collaboration with Lesotho Ministry of Health issues Transport Vouchers to HIV infected women and children using M-Pesa mobile money service. HIV care and treatment is free of cost in Lesotho. By providing funds to the women and children to travel to the clinic the government is eliminating one more barrier in getting cost-effective treatment.12 

    Educating the future

    “If you educate a woman, you educate a family, if you educate a girl, you educate the future.” – Queen Rania of Jordan.

    The female literacy rate in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is as low as 57% and 52%. The local governments in these regions are aware that educating females is necessary for creating an egalitarian society. Hence, to enhance female literacy rate, governments have started various initiative like giving stipends and providing mid day meals to girls who attend school13.

    Mobile money can catalyze various government initiatives to improve female literacy. Mobile money can be used in disbursing government stipends which is a big motivation for parents to send their daughters to school. NGOs can now disburse funds directly to parent’s mobile money account which allows them to buy school uniform, stationary and books for their daughters. Parents or students can use the platform to pay for school fee, university fee or examination fee without having to travel to the educational institution. Similarly, university students can access lectures and books from international faculty and authors online and pay via mobile money. Students can also crowd source fund for their projects using mobile money. The possibilities are endless.

    Telenor Pakistan under the Sindh Education Reform Program (SERP) is disbursing education stipends to female student via EasyPaisa mobile money service. The aim of SERP program is to improve literacy rate amongst girls belonging to BOP families in rural area. The program was started in June 2014 in 23 remote districts of the Sindh province, with 425,000 students receiving stipends.14

    Fostering entrepreneurship

    The agent network has an important role to play in the mobile money ecosystem. Mostly, it is the men who run the mobile money agent business but operators have slowly recognized the benefit of hiring female agents. Female agents are able to bond with female customers in a better manner which helps to increase the uptake of mobile money amongst female customers. This is an important point of consideration as the operator may operate in a country where social norms may restrain interaction between men and women. With more female agents handling new registrations these concerns are quickly taken care of which helps to increase the female customer base.

    Besides increasing the female customer base, the agent business model is fueling the entrepreneurial ambitions of many women in the third world and developing countries. These empowered female agents stand tall in the society as they run independent businesses and earn enough to support themselves as well as their families. In many countries where women are unable to move outside their homes freely due cultural and social norms, mobile money helps them to run a business from their home. Home-based mobile money business helps women to fulfill their financial needs and entrepreneurial goals, while adhering to the cultural norms of the society.

    In Somaliland mobile money agents have to take photo of their customers at the time of registration. With a significant Muslim population, most females in the country wear niqāb and do not remove their veil in front of male agents. This hindered uptake of mobile money amongst women. To overcome this barrier Telesom ZAAD hired female staff to register new ZAAD female customers. This proactive step, helped ZAAD to increase number of registered women subscribers from 17% of the customer base in 2009 to 24% in 2010.15

    Hafasa Aubi, an Afghan economics graduate is a private mobile money agent in Afghanistan. She operates from home and offers mobile money services such customer registration, cash-in, cash-out, top-up and bill payments to neighbors and local business people. She earns a 7% commission per transaction. Aubi, who is just 23 years, is able to earn enough to fund her higher education as well as support her brothers and sisters. Mobile money has enabled Aubi to run a business independently, while following cultural norms. Aubi is one of the 1500 Afghan women who have taken mobile money agent training.16

    hafasa-aubi-doing-a-mobile-money-transactionHafasa Aubi doing a mobile money transaction

    Image Source: https://www.usaid.gov/results-data/success-stories/mhawala-golden-business-opportunity-afghan-women

    References:

    1 http://datatopics.worldbank.org/financialinclusion/indv-characteristics/gender

    2 http://cassavaconnect.com/index.php/mobile-money#1461686817194-15bfde88-e87f

    3 http://allafrica.com/stories/201607120034.html

    4 http://cassavaconnect.com/index.php/mobile-money#1461686817194-15bfde88-e87f

    5 https://www.econet.co.zw/media-centre/general-news/ecocash-savings-club-launched

    6 http://www.millicom.com/media/millicom-blogs/blog-tigo-paare/

    7 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.FE.IN

    8 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/

    9 http://allafrica.com/stories/201604160019.html

    10 http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Connected-Women-Orange-Mali-Case-Study-FINAL.pdf

    11 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/vodafone-india-ties-up-with-madhya-pradesh-for-mobile-based-disbursements-under-government-program/articleshow/48269519.cms

    12 http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=151328

    13 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.FE.ZS

    14 http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programme/connected-women/unravelling-the-shortlist-for-the-global-mobile-awards-2016-best-mobile-service-for-women-in-emerging-markets

    15 http://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014_DI_Reaching-half-of-the-market-Women-and-mobile-money.pdf

    16 https://www.usaid.gov/results-data/success-stories/mhawala-golden-business-opportunity-afghan-women

    November 25, 2016 0 comment
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    It would be a bit of an understatement to say that we live in a data-rich age. To illustrate, sample the following data released by Cisco, in a whitepaper titled, Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast and Methodology, 2015-2020,

    • Annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabyte (ZB) threshold in 2016, to reach 2.3 ZB by 2020.
    • Global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next five years, and will have increased nearly 100-fold between 2005 and 2020.
    • Smartphone-based traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2020, to account for 30 per cent of total IP traffic. (PC traffic will account for 29 per cent).
    • Globally, mobile data traffic will increase eight-fold between 2015 and 2020.
    • The number of devices connected to IP networks will be three times as high as the global population in 2020.There will be 3.4 networked devices per capita by 2020, up from 2.2 networked devices per capita in 2015.

    Net, net, it would be safe to assume that the flow of data-based traffic isn’t going to abate (anytime soon, in any case). But, what’s an operator to do with this barrage of facts and figures? These numbers will, of course, come in handy, especially given the fact that operators are fire-fighting on several fronts simultaneously. (I allude to the threat of over-the top players, razor-sharp competition and wafer-thin margins). Here’s the catch, though-these numbers will remain mere massive repositories of unstructured data, unless the operator deploys tools that would help them sift through the pile to uncover actionable insights about the customer’s behaviour.

    Here’s where big data analytics steps in. Very briefly, today’s customer demands constant engagement with any brand. Things become even more complex, as we live in a multi-channel world. Companies thus need to think on their feet to provide an optimum level of customer experience management. Why? Well, to ensure that the customer is constantly engaged and is able to interact with them across multiple screens. Big data analytics thus helps companies to constantly innovate and make fast and streamlined business decisions, in real-time, of course!

    So, isn’t the decision to deploy big data analytics in one’s business a no-brainer? Interestingly, no. Here’s why-most companies are extremely agreeable to deploying analytics to give an edge to their business. What trips them up is the debate on whether to build an in-house team for the same (too complex and time consuming) or to outsource the entire gamut of activities.

    In fact, analytics as a service can help in a multitude of areas, which are not only limited to the team of experts who manage a set of tasks for an operator. There is a lot more-such as tools, security, storage, system integration capabilities to integrate new and old nodes and solutions to make this entire methodology more holistic. All these requirements can be bundled under the managed services providers’ scope of work. Apart from this, the managed services provider can also help to identify the appropriate action required (through tools or otherwise), after analysing the huge pile of data flowing through the network.

    Of course, the argument isn’t that stark. According to Syntelli Solutions, a few key factors driving the argument in favour of the latter include:

    High demand for a precious few data science practitioners– Typically, companies would rather turn their attention to solutions like managed analytics, than comb the markets for this scarce resource.

    Exorbitant prices and equally exorbitant risks-Companies usually deployed analytics services through fixed-price or testing and measurement consulting models. As a result, the prices and risks associated with that project rose significantly. The solution? Begin relying on third-party analytics via the subscription model, of course!

    Enter the Cloud. Today, cloud-based services are becoming increasingly reliable and secure. And this is just the beginning. It goes without saying that any future improvements in cloud-based processes will drive managers to a less expensive, more reliable managed service model.

    It is little wonder, then, that operators are increasingly opting to outsource their managed analytics-centric activities to a managed services provider. Shall we take a closer look at the benefits this shift will accrue?

    • Managed analytics services provide the necessary push for an organization to move from a capital expenditure to a predictable operating expenditure cost model. Why predictable? Well, isn’t a set of easily definable results an excellent business case to put before the higher-ups in the organization?
    • Advanced tools and coherent and tested processes are deployed by the managed service provider. This, naturally, not only makes the service itself more outcome-driven, but price can be tied to quantifiable business value-extracting meaningful insights into the customer’s mind!
    • Organizations can achieve faster time-to-market. This is because managed analytics services cuts the internal process of building an analytics team by half (no hires, no systems to implement).

    This, in a nutshell, is why a company ought to gravitate towards managed analytics services. On a parting note, I would like to add a brief caveat-operators would do well to remember not to get carried away and outsource all their analytics-related requirements. This is because the type of value this tool can provide varies from company to company. In all probability, each company already has a certain level of managed services implementation. The trick is to simply integrate and enhance the existing set-up. So, what’s your managed analytics services strategy?

    November 24, 2016 0 comment
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    With millions of consumers connected to a network and the mammoth amount of data crossing the network, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) promises to ease the burden faced by service providers. It allows them to move network functions from appliances to generic servers, thereby making networks far more agile. With the network functions hosted in the cloud and allowing for scalability little surprise then that there is an industry wide shift towards NFV. It augurs well for enterprises since it offers deploy-on-demand network power.Some of the other major advantages of virtualization in the long run include:

    Significant reduction in operating expenditure (OPEX) costs- With an open software, the first obvious saving is towards operating expenditure. OPEX savings result from a number of areas including but not limited to:

    • Savings from reduced power consumption
    • Efficient network planning
    • Improved rate of fixing service problems and more.

    Also with the NFV model, where the hardware forms a pool of resources shared by all the applications, advantages pertaining to capital expendirure (CAPEX) also come into play.

    • Ease of service upgrades:With NFV, service upgrades do not mean purchasing new hardware each time. Instead installation of new services can be done through user-friendly software updates. This operational ease also lends itself to ease of scalability of operations while also significantly reducing the time to market, when it comes to new services and applications.
    • Secure systems- With any update of software-based systems, security measures are quicker and robust. While new technologies do bring in new threats, however virtualization has the ability to allay some of these threats through mechanisms, such as its centralized security management.
    • Ability to move from being a network led to a data led organization– With the ease and scale of software based operations, networks can redesign themselves to become data led businesses and remain relevant. Once the operator is equipped with tools that enable him to have a real time view of the environment, the operator has access to meaningful subscriber information. Among other things, the data allows operators to predict peak usage and ensure that customers enjoy quality services. Overall, as long as the operator can effectively collate and assess data, it can present many advantages including new revenue streams.

    Despite its obvious advantages, the switch over does not come without its obvious challenges for operators:

    Monitoring the environment- While NFV will help operators acquire scale, it will be imperative that network performance be monitored effectively. As NFV becomes widespread and uses different hardware and systems, the system integration role becomes even more crucial. Not only will operators have to monitor performance they will need to work at optimizing it even as data demands escalate.

    While the time is right for NFV to take center stage, for it to become a reality operators need to adopt robust service assurance tools. Also right partnerships with dynamic solution providers who can offer end-to-end assurance solutions will be crucial. To ensure smooth NFV implementation operators will need to choose network optimized platforms as also implement a cloud-hosted model. An agile data and process architecture will also go a long way in its seamless integration.

    While still in its initial phases, as per a recent research, SDN and NFV investments are slated to grow at a CAGR of 46 per cent between 2016 and 2020 and accounting for over $18 billion revenue by 2020.

    November 24, 2016 0 comment
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    With the ever-growing demand for data, operators are under pressure to expand next generation networks as also to introduce complex services to keep up with the demand. Business Support Systems and Operations Support Systems (BSS/OSS) solutions were therefore designed to enable network, service and customer agility during different phases of the customer lifecycle. While operating support systems deal with the many processes such as maintaining network inventory, provisioning services, managing faults, business support systems help in support processes such as processing bills, collecting payments and the like.

    However, legacy OSS and BSS platforms come with challenges of their own as they aren’t equipped to support multiple programmes. They were designed to work either in a point-to-point or at best a point-to-multipoint fashion. Ensuring uniform service delivery across mobility devices through the OSS/BSS platforms remains an issue. Below are some of the major constraints being faced by OSS and BSS providers, in a hugely content driven environment:

    • Service velocity: With users using multiple mobility devices, OSS and BSS providers struggle with the ability to seamlessly deploy services to customers over different networks and interfaces.
    • Automated service fulfillment: Legacy OSS and BSS platforms are unable to provide user self-service features that go a long way in reducing both operating expenditure and capital expenditure costs. The inability of eliminating human intervention means that the scope of day-to-day errors remains a potent issue to contend with.
    • Competitive differentiation: The above challenges imply that the platforms have hardly any competitive differentiation that makes the provider stand out in the eyes of the consumer. The differentiation can only occur if the provider can allow users to control the services that are of relevance to them.

    The above challenges are a clear case for investing in and deploying new-gen OSS & BSS Platforms that can provide connectivity to the ever-growing consumer base as well as the growing line up of business devices. Not just this, OSS and BSS providers must allow for users to bundle services as per their own unique requirements. These requirements may include services such as voice, video, data, hosting, messaging and many other sand may need to be delivered in multiple locations spanning the consumer’s home, workplace or even while they are in transit.

    November 23, 2016 0 comment
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    With big data proliferation alongside the fast-evolving digital landscape, the pressure lies on the service providers to become more agile in customizing their strategies with an omni-channel experience for the customers. Creating the best omni-channel strategy and design can open valuable opportunities to enhance the overall customer experience. And thus, an Omni channel strategy can certainly be a game changer for the telecom operators.

    Using this approach, the service providers can:

    • Deliver consistent, good quality service regardless of the interaction channel
    • Offer support to differentiated service for varying customer segment and usage patterns
    • Gain a significantly effective tool to support customer experience, customer centricity, satisfaction, retention and overall, loyalty.

    How an omni channel solution supports customer segmentation?

    Service providers segment their customer base in order to better understand their customers. The overall objective of customer segmentation is customer usage analysis to find niche opportunities to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Customer segmentation in an omni channel environment allows the operators to increase profitability by understanding the customer requirements better and providing the best solution then to meet those requirements. Customized treatments are required to be offered to different segments of customers classified on the basis of lifetime value, class of customer, geography, usage interests and RFM (recency, frequency and monetary value).

    With an omni channel setup, we can identify customers on the basis of their segment classification across all channels including voice calls, SMSs, IVR, chat, social media usage and VAS usage.

    How can omni-channel solution enhance the overall customer experience?

    Omni channel solutions reimagine and redesign the way people, process, enterprises and technologies work together in a business environment in order to deliver strategic business outcomes. It is anticipated that by the year 2017, 89 per cent of the leading service providers expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. The customer experience while interacting with the service provider significantly impacts their views and perceptions for the brand.

    With an effective omni channel design, the customers don’t require to necessarily look into multiple channels in order to get satisfactory service experience. Rather, the service provider offers a seamless customer experience within the ecosystem in which its customer operates. Offering consistent and continuous experiences, omnichannel solutions for the enterprises allow the consumers to have immediate access to a wide range of products and services.

    Conclusion

    The omni channel approach reduces customer effort, in turn encouraging acquisition and loyalty. Ultimately, the effect placed on the customers is all about fast speed and the need of use, which is now rated alongside value for money and quality by the customers. Building competitive advantage, the omni-channel approach is bound to reduce customer churn by increasing customer advocacy leading to maximum business agility.

    November 18, 2016 0 comment
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    Big data is basically a large volume of data that an organization can use to take useful business decisions. Now, the next question that comes to someone’s mind is how this data can be processed so that organizations can get meaningful insights from it.

    Herein lies the importance of big data technologies, which help businesses make meaning out of the gigabytes of data available to them. The top 10 big data technologies available in the market today include:

    Predictive analytics

    Predictive analytics is a part of advanced analytics, which intends to make predictions of what will happen in future through various techniques like statistics, modeling, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining and others. This can be done through technology, which uses all these methods to predict the uncertainties of the business. This helps organizations to improve business performance and mitigate risk.

    NoSQL Databases

    Often known as non-SQL, non-relational or not, only SQL database, NoSQL database provides a platform for businesses to store and retrieve data by finding relationships between various data groups. NoSQL is used increasingly for analyzing big data mostly due to the simplicity of their design and provides better control over available solutions.

    Search and Knowledge Discovery

    This technology collects information and knowledge from various sources like databases, file systems, streams, APIs and various other platforms and delivers useful insights based on a specific context or requirement. The information is collected through extensive search in these platforms and then intelligent search results are delivered. The simplicity and usability of this technology have made this technology very popular among organizations.

    Stream Analytics

    Stream Analytics is an event processing engine where the event can be fed in real-time from a single stream of data or multiple streams. The data is then filtered and analyzed to get multiple outputs which can be used in business. The data can be fed from multiple sources also like applications, devices, sensors, operation system, websites and a number of other sources.

    In-memory data fabric

    In memory, data fabric is basically infrastructure software that that slides between applications and data sources. It processes enormous amounts of data very fast to deliver real time results. In memory data fabrics are extremely good for high-performance transactions, real-time streaming, comprehensive data processing and a variety of other tasks. In most cases, in-memory data fabric distributes data between dynamic random access memory, flash and SSD of a computer system.

    big-data-technologies

    Distributed file stores

    This is where data is stored in various layers which are often similar in structure to ensure higher performance and lower redundancy. In most cases, they are location agnostic and hence help to improve reliability and reduce the complexity of different layers of data.

    Data Virtualization

    Data virtualization is a technique by which data is retrieved and manipulated without accounting for the technical detail about the data like where is it located or how was it found. In data virtualization, the data is processed in real time or near real time basis.

    Data Integration

    In this technology, data are combined using technical and business processed from different sources to bring out meaningful information. The information output is often termed as ‘trusted’ because of the way the same is processed. This method uses solutions like Amazon Elastic Map Reduce (EMR), Apache Hive, Apache Spark, Couchbase, Hadoop etc.

    Data Preparation

    This technology manipulates data and makes it suitable for further processing and analysis. The manipulation is done through various tasks which are both manual and automated. Most of the preparation work is tedious, time-consuming and routine. The main intention of this technology is to reduce the burden of shaping and cleaning a diverse set of high volume data for the analysts.

    Data Quality

    The last and final technology in our list of top 10 is data quality. Data quality refers to cleansing a large volume of data to ensure the output is of high quality. The high-quality data can then be used for operations, decision making, and planning.

    Big data is here to stay and is growing faster than ever. It has been predicted that by the end of 2020, 1.7 m3egabytes of new information will be created every second of every human on earth. And by then, the total accumulated data will grow ten times from today to 44 zettabytes. Every second, 40,000 search queries are made on Google alone, which amounts to 3.5 searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year.

    November 17, 2016 0 comment
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