Monthly Archives

December 2016

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    These are interestingly turbulent times for telecom operators. On one hand, the players have to contend with rapidly falling average revenue per user, wafer-thin profit margins, increased competition, the list is endless andon the other, Over-The-Top (OTT) players have stolen their customers under their very noses, with the lure of free voice and messaging applications.

    To illustrate, according to mobilesquared, in 2011-12, operators elected to either block OTT traffic, introduce an OTT-related data usage tariff, develop their own white-label OTT-based offering, or aim to provide an advanced range of messaging services, such as SMS forwarding, SMS signature, and SMS blacklist. Jumping ahead, in 2012-2013 the strategies included figuring out the most viable methods to capitalise on the OTT communications opportunity, including (but not limited to) OTT-to-SMS on-net termination and, (more surprisingly) partnering with OTT providers. Cut to 2014-a survey conducted by mobilesquared revealed that operators finally bit the bullet and chalked out an OTT communications strategy.

    At the end of the day, however, I can safely say that these efforts (though laudable) didn’t get them too far, quite the opposite, in fact. Since then, the telecom industry has grown by leaps and bounds, throwing new market conditions and players into the mix, tempered by even more cutting-edge competition than ever before. The result? A lot of chaos, of course!

    Here’s the catch, though. Operators have been so busy fighting multiple battles that they’ve failed to recognize an extremely lucrative potential revenue source waiting in the wings. I allude, of course, to Application-To-Person (A2P) messages. Now, we’ve all heard and read about debates that have cited A2P messaging as the “new face” of the messaging space (in terms of service monetization). Amidst gloomy reports of declining Person-To-Person (P2P) messaging revenue, it came as no surprise that enterprises were quick to adopt A2P messaging as an integral cog of their multi-pronged customer outreach strategy.

    However (and this is the tricky part), operators and enterprises are still failing to revive their moneys (to some degree, at least) from messaging services. The first (and arguably most interesting) reason is that the as per mobilesquared, though the A2P messaging space is booming (valued at $12.88 billion in 2015 and forecast to touch $58.75 billion by 2020), operators are able to monetize only a mere one-third (or even less) of this revenue. Why? Well, because there exists a fair amount of uncertainty around the volume of illegal A2P traffic. Here’s why- essentially, A2P SMS traffic is divided into three parts, namely; white, black and grey route traffic. Without delving too much into the nitty-gritty, it ought to be sufficient to say that apart from thoroughly examining white route traffic, it is impossible for telecom operators to generate bills for SMS traffic, without the obligatory pre-set termination agreements in place. Why? Because operators will be unable to get a clear picture of the SMS traffic being terminated on their network-thus enter grey and black route traffic.

    The threat of grey and black route traffic is very real, in fact. Juniper Research provides an interesting perspective on this. In an attempt to quantify the scale of the business operators lose to grey route traffic; they multiplied the annual grey route traffic with the price differential between P2P and directly connected A2P traffic. this translates into an annual revenue leakage of nearly $11.9 billion in 2016, falling to $8.6 billion by 2021. The cumulative revenue loss for this period will stand at $62.5 billion. That’s not all; mobilesquared has estimated that today, grey route traffic accounts for approximately 65 per cent of total A2P traffic.

    Clearly, operators need to think of foolproof ways to leverage the business potential of A2P messages to the fullest. In my opinion, the following measures are a good place to begin:

    Focus on Generating Revenues from Enterprise Engagement

    Keep in mind that today’s customer has become very demanding. They demand constant engagement with brands, the price of retention. This, naturally, gave rise to communication options with MMS, push messaging and newer channels like chat applications and other IP based forms of communication.

    So, to ensure optimum monetization of A2P messaging traffic, what is the need of the hour? Well, enterprises are looking for solutions that facilitate the creation and delivery of the messaging process by providing tools that allow personalised targeting, control and filtering of unwanted messages and strict adherence to existing contact policies across a range of messaging options. And crucially, by providing a range of messaging channels, usually SMS, USSD and MMS, enterprises and operators are able to offer their customers choice over their preferred channel of communication, determined by taking a customer centric view. Typically that breaks down as; SMS (75-85 per cent), USSD (10-15 per cent), MMS (5-10 per cent).

    Control and Curb Revenue Leakage and Spam

    Just to re-emphasise on how real the issue of grey route is; as per industry estimates, operators are losing 90 per cent of their revenue from A2P messaging to entities which are using grey routes to terminate the traffic. A staggering 75 per cent of telecom companies do not have any control over these grey routes and are thus unable to leverage the potential of A2P messaging. So, in my opinion, a two-pronged solution in this case would be:

    • Ring-fencing the network to block grey routes and curb revenue losses
    • Identify a suitable partner which offers business consulting services to identify and analyse various patterns of fraud in the network, and to safeguard the network against new fraud mechanisms.

    Unearth Revenue lost on Grey Routes

    Currently, as per industry reports, SMS aggregators are capitalising on the A2P SMS opportunity, by purchasing the SMS traffic wholesale from operators. What’s worse, they’re monetising it via either white or grey routes. Mobilesquared has stated that Tier 1 aggregators often have direct connections to the SS7 network, enabling them to provide the assurance that only white route traffic will be generated. Naturally, then, aggregators who do not make such promises deploy grey routes to get the job done. In this case, the operator ought to appoint the best aggregators in the market-at least two or three at that! This is a win-win proposition, as they are all interconnected with each other so the operator will, in any case, get the traffic. That is, of course, if the player has managed to technically funnel the traffic via their appointed aggregator partners.

    In sum, the time, dear operators, is NOW! The more you let go of the A2P opportunity, the more at risk you are of becoming the fabled “dumb pipe” or, worse, letting the OTT players win. Which one will it be, then?

     

    December 29, 2016 0 comment
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    Is cash set to abdicate its throne in India? It wouldn’t be an understatement, especially given the recent furore over demonetization in the country!

    Without trying to sound too ironic, the government’s move to demonetize 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes has, without a doubt, had profound and far-reaching implications. It is a courageous move (in my opinion, at least) towards tracing and eradicating black money and counterfeit currency. Having said that, however, let’s not forget that it is merely the tip of the iceberg.

    How? Well, from our perspective, this development has had an interesting impact on the country’s digital payments space. Almost 86 per cent of India’s currency circulation was reduced to mere paper after November 8, 2016. Yet, digital wallets and financial technology companies laughed all the way to the bank. Naturally so, as customers turned their attention to digital payments almost immediately, thereby side-stepping the serpentine queues outside banks and automated teller machines. Here’s why this is significant-up until 2015, 78 per cent of all customer payments in the country were carried out via cash, as per a joint report by The Boston Consulting Group and Google India. Clearly, cash was the king in India!

    Things have, needless to say, changed rather dramatically since then. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to understand how. Shortly after the announcement, digital payments company, Paytm, registered over 7 million transactions worth Rs 1.20 billion a day. This propelled its gross merchandise value to over $5 billion. Of course, every digital payments company in the country left no stone unturned to leverage this opportunity to the fullest. And, they succeeded quite admirably, if the numbers are anything to go by. To cite another example, MobiKwik also witnessed a 200 per cent increase in downloads and added over 200,000 customers on a daily basis! That apart, the company is well on its way to on-boarding 1 million merchants in a span of 45 days. No small numbers, these!

    As a brief side-note, I feel that it is pertinent to highlight the example of Akodara, a village situated 60 miles from Ahmedabad. What makes this example so special is the fact that it is India’s first digital and cashless village. Most of the 1,200-strong population there execute daily transactions-value notwithstanding-through digital payments.

    Of course, the intent of this piece isn’t to wax eloquent on how these companies managed to set their cash registers ringing, in the aftermath of demonetization. Instead, the question is-is this a short-term surge or will the Indian consumer’s behaviour towards digital payments undergo a sea-change?

    In my opinion, the latter statement is most likely true. Here’s why-the aforementioned joint report by Google and The Boston Consulting Group states that by 2020, the size of the digital payments industry in India will be $500 billion; contributing 15 per cent to India’s gross domestic product. By 2020, non-cash contribution in the consumer payments segment will double to 40 per cent and Indian consumers, are 90 per cent as likely, to use digital payments for both online and offline transactions. The drive to demonetize is more than likely to fuel this growth.

    Meanwhile, another joint report authored by The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India and RNCOS, substantiates this statement. According to them, the mobile payment transaction volume in India is set to witness an over 90 per cent increase each year, over the next five years. The transaction volume is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of more than 90 per cent to reach 153 billion by 2022. Here’s the interesting bit-it has been valued at 3 billion this year. Quite a jump, this!

    In short, the overall picture looks quite rosy, with a strong case for digital payments. Now, let’s break down the argument further. For India to become a “cashless economy” through and through, the argument must be examined from two aspects-the customer and the merchants, respectively.

    For the former, a plethora of digital payment mediums are available today, apart from digital wallets. Broadly, these include (but aren’t limited to) bank cards, the Aadhar-enabled payment system and the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). Another interesting initiative is the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan drive, which has boosted banking penetration in India. For a holistic picture, though, bank-backed wallets should be used to fill up the remaining gaps. These seem viable, given that they’re cost effective, easy to adopt and can be rolled-out rapidly for unbanked consumers.

    Of these, in my opinion, UPI is likely to emerge as a game-changer in these times. Why? Well, in a nutshell, UPI is a payment infrastructure that permits mobile banking or wallet customers to transfer money to customers of any other bank and pay merchants. It also permits customers to receive mobile payments without disclosing the details of their bank accounts. In fact, it even addresses a very critical aspect-customer experience. UPI essentially ensures a seamless transaction and reduces the time taken for the same. This is because the customer is required to only enter a single identifier, i.e. a virtual payment address.

    But, don’t take my word for it. In so far, 28 bank apps in the country have UPI facility. It garnered 175,000 active customers in just a week. Enough said.

    Now for the merchant’s perspective. Traditionally, India has never been deemed as a point-of-sale (POS) friendly country. As per data released by the Reserve Bank of India, the number of online POS machines, as of August 2016, stood at 1,461,672. Quite dismal, especially given the kind of customer numbers one usually considers! Now, though, the situation is expected to change. Interestingly, as per news reports, merchants are now approaching banks to obtain POS machines. Not surprising, considering the kind of impact the demonetization drive would have had on their business! Permit me to cite an example from our own business-we witnessed an increase in the adoption of mobile POS, where our customers have reported a 500 per cent increase in order for POS devices. A small step, no doubt, but a solid one, nonetheless!

    All in all, it looks likely that digital transactions will become the de-facto payment mode in India. Cashless times beckon, is India ready?

    December 22, 2016 0 comment
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    Mobile money is becoming increasingly popular all over the world and so are companion cards. Companion cards are basically a debit or prepaid card that is tied to a mobile money service, and which can be used for any purpose like merchant payments, eCommerce, and even ATM withdrawals. The convenience factor has led to a growing popularity of companion cards. Currently, around 24 mobile money deployments have a companion card product on the shelves.

    Companion cards currently have multiple uses, which include the following:

    Why are companion cards popular?

    Companion cards are a win-win both for the customers and the mobile operators. Let us look at why:

    • Extremely beneficial for mobile service providers: Companion cards let mobile companies gain revenue, especially the amount that they lose due to the advent of various free messaging apps. Moreover, companion cards reduces the dependency of agents in the system for cash-out, thus saving on agent commission.
    • Good branding opportunity: When customers carry cards issued by an operator with them round the clock, think about the brand recall they have. In most cases, such customers stick to the operator in the long run.
    • Easy distribution system: Mobile operators do not have to take the hassle of setting up a fresh distribution structure for companion cards. It is done through the existing mobile money distribution system.

    Opportunities ahead

    As discussed above, the opportunity for the companion card industry is enormous. Having covered why companion cards are popular, let us look at the opportunity that lies ahead for companion cards:

    • A great chance for mobile operators: Companion cards help mobile operators expand their bouquet of the offering. They are coming up with various mobile financial services like merchant payments, e-commerce, ATM withdrawals, etc. This will help them not only to increase the pocket share of existing customers but also onboarding of new customers.
    • Appeals to the youth: Today’s Millennials are ready to embrace new technology. They want to have new experiences and are open to new ideas. Virtual cards allow milleanls to shop from local and international online stores from convenience of their home
    • Add new segments of users: As companion cards can be used internationally, they can be easily used by expats, travellers, students going abroad to meet their financial needs.

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    Challenges for companion cards

    While it is true that the opportunities for companion cards are enormous, there are a lot of things that mobile operators need to take into account as they might pose a challenge in future as companion cards gain popularity and penetration increases. As the companion card penetration grows, the IT infrastructure will have to be kept updated and robust so that higher volumes don’t affect performance. Today, one of the major advantages of companion cards is that it is convenient and fast – a thing which should not become a disadvantage due to an outdated IT system.

    To conclude, we can stay, companion cards are here to stay. The opportunities far outnumber the challenges to writing off companion cards just yet. The concept of virtual cash and the convenience of payment would ensure that the penetration grows in the coming here. How mobile operators adapt themselves to the changing volumes and what technological innovation, they bring to the table will be something to see in the coming years.

    December 14, 2016 0 comment
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    NFC technology already supports huge amounts of mobile payments around the world.  Ovum forecasts that the number of consumers using it will hit 939 million by 2019 (in 2015 it was 11 million)  and the value of transactions is expected to reach $115 billion, from $0.7 billion for the same period.

    No surprise then that in Africa (in many ways the cradle of mobile money) it’s also beginning to take hold.

    Yet whilst many experts have touted NFC as the next big thing, its appeal as a payment technology in growth markets is subject to a different set of barriers and enablers. Here Srinivas Nidugondi, Head of Mobile Financial Solutions at Mahindra Comviva takes a detailed look at the NFC trajectory in Africa.

    This article originally appeared in MEF’s most recent  Africa eBulletin which can be downloaded here for free.

    Already considered the biggest success story of the global mobile payments space (critics notwithstanding, of course), Africa just added another feather to its cap. It has, like the rest of its peers on the global stage, made room for Near Field Communication (NFC) in its cluttered mobile payments market.

    To understand how and why, let’s step back a bit. The fact that analysts are unanimous in their opinion that NFC is the technology of the future is an understatement. To be fair, the technology has certainly managed to garner a lot of attention, not to mention takers!

    According to Ovum, globally, the number of customers using NFC-based proximity payments is slated to touch 939 million by 2019, up from a mere 11 million in 2015. That’s not all, the value of NFC-based transactions is expected to reach $115 billion, from $0.7 billion for the same period. No small numbers, these!

     NFC has beaten other contactless payment technologies (like QR Codes, Bluetooth Low Energy, et al) to the punch.

    In fact, NFC has beaten other contactless payment technologies (like QR Codes, Bluetooth Low Energy, et all) to the punch. Moreover, the entire payment ecosystem has jumped onto the NFC bandwagon – from original equipment manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Google to banks to operators like Vodafone and Orange.

    In short, NFC is (currently, at least) in the payments spotlight. Now, the next obvious question – where is Africa positioned in this significant development?

    Not too far behind actually. With numerous success stories pertaining to mobile payments, adding NFC to the mix was the next obvious step.

    To set the context, let’s look at a few facts. As per the GSMA’s The Mobile Economy-Africa 2016 report, the continent accounts for 52 per cent of the 271 live mobile money services launched in 93 countries and 64 per cent of all active mobile money accounts. Mobile money is, needless to say, big.

    Here’s the catch though. A majority of such transactions are executed via a USSD code, which isn’t a short process, to say the least. The lesson here is simple: for any payments technology to catch on in Africa, it ought to ideally leverage the popularity of mobile money, while offering the customer a convenient and easy payment option.

    Enter NFC. While it is true that NFC hasn’t exactly taken the African payments space by storm, it wouldn’t be fair to merely dismiss it, either.

    To this end, telecom operators in the region are currently customizing the technology to suit the African customer. Take, for instance, Airtel Money, Tanzania’s Tap Tap NFC Merchant Payment service. The service was launched in Tanzania in 2015 and was Africa’s first closed-loop payments service. It is, essentially, a one-stop shop that leverages NFC technology to simplify mobile money merchant payments.

     And now, the term “merchant” is further narrowed down to small-and-medium players (local grocery sellers), on-the-go entities (taxi services), roadside vendors and home-delivery specialists who previously didn’t accept digital payments.

    Tap Tap equips merchants with an affordable and portable NFC point-of-sale (POS), a mini-calculator sized GSM device, which is linked to a merchant’s Airtel money account. It also provides consumers with an NFC card linked to their Airtel Money account. The merchant selects a payment option and enters the amount in the NFC POS. Meanwhile, the customer simply taps his NFC card on the POS to pay.

    Interestingly, Tap Tap is one of the most economical NFC POS and card combinations globally. The affordable, portable and easy-to-use POS primarily ensures that Tap Tap is used by various businesses including large retailers (supermarkets), small and medium sized merchants (local grocery sellers), home delivery businesses (pizza delivery) and on-the-go merchants (taxi drivers). In doing so, Tap Tap digitises micro-payments and brings them into the formal economy.

    It also resolves various challenges such as long, drawn-out transaction times (from a minute to a mere ten seconds), previously unaffordable payment methods and arguably the most important issue, small change, as it offers a convenient payment method.

    An increasing number of African vendors are using the Tap Tap NFC Merchant Payment service.

    Now, let’s move on to open loop NFC payments, which facilitate transactions at all merchants supporting POS’ verified by MasterCard/Visa. An interesting example of this is the EcoCash Express Debit Card or the Tap-and-Go card. It is a MasterCard companion card, which can be used by a whopping 30 million merchants, both within Zimbabwe and globally.

    Customers are required to merely tap the card against the MasterCard licensed POS machine, after which the payment is recognised. For transactions valued under $5 and up to a daily limit of $100, a cardholder no longer has to enter a PIN number on a POS terminal. And speaking of transaction values, customers can purchase goods for as little as 10 cents using the card and the Tap and Pay service. Another instance of the convenience I mentioned earlier.

    In fact, the Airtel Money Tap Tap and EcoCash Express Debit Card aren’t one-off instances. Other mobile money providers operating in the region have thrown their hats into the ring as well.

    Last but certainly not the least, let’s talk about who stands to benefit from using such facilities. In a nutshell, it is a win-win proposition for two factions – mobile money users (to make payments) and merchants (who accept the payments). And now, the term “merchant” is further narrowed down to small-and-medium players (local grocery sellers), on-the-go entities (taxi services), roadside vendors and home-delivery specialists who previously didn’t accept digital payments.

     Now, at this juncture, it becomes prudent to mention that NFC payments aren’t meant to simplify the lives of merchants alone. These payment instruments can in fact be deployed in multiple ways – at vending machines, to pay for transport services and at various events and amusement parks, the list goes on and on.

    An interesting use-case in this context is Orange, which intends to deploy NFC-enabled stickers and POS devices for cash-in and cash-out in multiple African countries.

    There is little doubt that NFC payments have piqued the interest of the African consumer. Before we get too optimistic however, we need to remember that a convenient payment method can get you only so far. Sooner or later, operators will have to throw in frills such as loyalty programmes and offers to keep the customer hooked. For now, though, let’s wait and watch.

    December 8, 2016 0 comment
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    Mobile POS is the next in thing in the mobile payment solution market in India. The number of choices is increasing and are expected to rise manifold in the next five years. Research reveals that mobile POS devices will increase at a compound rate of 32% per year till 2019.

    POS evolved to make life easier for retailers. A product database is stored in the register which is attached to a computer and an on-site server. More often than not, a barcode reader is also attached, removing the requirement of a manual entry. The computer and the server store transaction details electronically. Well, as with all other types of technology, POS system also evolved rapidly. Soon, information was stored in cloud servers for accessing anywhere anytime.

    People today want convenience on the go, and so do businesses. Today, everything is location agnostic. So why should payment be confined to one place? Mobile POS makes it easy for businesses to accept payments where-ever you want and whenever you want. All you need is a mobile or a tablet and a good internet connection.

    How does a Mobile POS work?

    So how does it work? It’s very simple, and just a matter of three steps:

    Step 1: Businesses have to choose a mobile POS solution which can empower the business to accept sales. The payment location can be online or at a retail store.

    Step 2: Simply download the app from the app store and set up an account with the service provider. Alternatively, you can also create an account with the mobile POS provider on their website and download their app.

    Step 3: Connect a mobile POS reader to your device through Bluetooth or the audio jack. You then need to sync the reader to downloaded apps and you are then ready to accept cards.

    You can do business where-ever you want. Just tap, swipe or dip a customer’s card on your mobile. The app will then authorize the secure transaction and the transaction will flow. The receipt is given to the customer through mobile SMS or email id.

    payPlus is one of the leading mobile POS providers in India currently. It has empowered businesses across the country to provide the convenience of card payment to customers, win back lost sales opportunities and win loyal customers. If you have been looking for the right payment partner for your business, look no further. Take the advantage of the most efficient mobile POS provider in India – payPLUS.

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    Benefits for Businesses

    If as a business, you are still contemplating whether you should install mobile POS for your business or not, we can give you a lot of reasons why you should:

    Customer Focussed:

    Needless to say, the first and the most important benefit of mobile POS is that it is customer friendly. By accepting payments anytime, anywhere, you are providing a convenience to your customers. And happy customers are the backbone of a successful business. Enhancing customer experience has resulted in increased sales for millions of businesses across the globe.

    Easier crowd management

    Mobile POS systems have made crowd management extremely easy. Say bye bye to long queues at the cash counter because mPOS is easy to use and the turnaround time is very fast. The wait for the server to respond after swiping cards is over.

    Sell Anywhere

    Mobile POS has made selling products anywhere is easy. If there is fair in a target locality, you don’t need to think twice before setting up a shop. No need for moving the traditional hardware of POS, all you need is a mobile or a tablet and an internet connection.

    Price and Inventory Lookup

    Mobile POS systems not only accept payment, they have a whole set of bundled services that a business can take advantage of. For example, payPLUS has inbuilt CRM to help businesses access important customer data like shopping pattern, payment pattern, frequently bought articles etc. This helps businesses plan their inventory successfully. It also helps businesses modify their prices to conveniently price the frequently bought articles and benefit from them.

    Value Added Services

    Most mobile POS providers provide a number of value-added services for subscribers and customers. For example, payPLUS runs various campaigns and loyalty programs to retain customers. payPLUS also ties up with different service providers to present customers with coupons and discounts.

    The Mobile POS market in India is growing at a 10% rate every year. The number of mobile terminals has grown by 50% in the last one year. Pretty soon, most businesses will be moving on to mobile POS and it is high time you do so too. Take advantage of the new technology now before your competitors surge ahead of you.

    December 7, 2016 0 comment
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    The communications industry has seen a massive data explosion over the years. Growth in mobile data, social media buzz, video led services have all played their part in this data upsurge. A research by Telefonica O2 states that data traffic is increasing by as much as 2X every six to eight months. With this huge increase in data consumption, it is the operators’ ability to leverage this data that becomes a source of competitive advantage. While service providers do not have dearth of data, what is required is the ability to extract actionable insights from this data. Bringing together data from diverse sources and normalizing and correlating them is a mammoth challenge. However, if operators are able to achieve this objective, they stand to gain in terms of increase in revenue, reduction of churn and an overall enhancing of customer experience. The key areas of application of big data analytics include:

    • Real-time decision making- With opportunity windows being short, availability of real-time intelligence enables the service provider to maximize revenue. A significant advantage of analytics is the ability to provide location based data, which in turn allows providers to target users by way of location based advertising. Big data and analytics can also be extremely helpful in congestion control and can help give priority to customers basis their usage patterns, when they are moving across cells suffering from congestion. At the other end, big data can also come in handy when it comes to detecting abnormal consumer consumptions, fraud etc that can significantly reduce cases of bad debt.
    • Precise Marketing- With big data, operators are able to significantly improve campaign management, as they are able to use customer consumption data to upsell and cross sell products. It arms operators not just with the ability to target promotions to relevant consumers but also to study the effectiveness of these offers and promotions. Big data also provides intelligence to predict triggers that lead to churn and effectively address them. A customer complaint, for example can lead to specific offers that reduce the possibility of churn.
    • Operational Efficiency- With opex being a high constituent of operator costs, big data can come in handy in increasing operational efficiencies and reducing costs. By monitoring subscriber activities, operators can identify and rectify issues leading to pre- emptive customer care. Big data and analytics also come in handy when it comes to intelligent network planning based on service forecast demands. Systems can work towards capacity optimization based on past utilization trends, sales forecasts and more.
    • Innovative Business models- Effective use of big data and analytics can lead to a whole lot of new and innovative revenue streams on account of its ability to add value added services as also to personalize offerings. API Management, for example is becoming a big data initiative as it can provide information on which applications are being used and how. There is also opportunity for providers to study a customer’s payment history and offer targeted promotions to further enhance revenue. Another application of big data can be in matching customer demands with merchant offerings and thereby creating a robust marketplace.
    • Customer Experience Enhancement- Big data offers the significant opportunity to make personalized offerings to customers basis their preferences. Predictive analytics can profile and segment users basis a number of parameters such as location, socio economic class, interests, influence and more. This in turn will help the provider offer targeted offerings. Aspects such as click stream analysis can also give incisive insights on user behavior.

    As per a study by Heavy Reading, the big data technology and services market is slated to grow to $9.83 Billion by 2020, a CAGR of 26%. The Customer experience enhancement application is predicted to grow at the highest pace, at a CAGR of 30.8 percent. With big data and advanced analytics slated to become a fundamental growth strategy, it is only imperative that operators start to plan for its implementation.

    December 5, 2016 0 comment
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    In order to run a wide-spread network and to make the business scalable, a number of functionalities need to be automated. Some of these includes:

    • Customer relationship management
    • Order management and service fulfillment
    • Billing
    • Customer support
    • Service assurance, etc

    The above functions necessitate having an OSS/BSS system at the heart of a network management system. They comprise of a variety of software systems, which form a bridge between business services and network operations. While OSS systems deal with fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security and BSS deals with operations such as order entry, order fulfillment and the like, the two systems need to be integrated for maximum efficiency. Below are some of the important applications of these systems:

    Order Management- This function is facilitated by the BSS System. This involves steps such as customer credit check, checking the capacity availability, entering the selected plan, scheduling installation and the like. The BSS system will acquire the necessary information required for the above tasks from the OSS as well as the BSS systems. 

    Service Fulfillment– Once the order is placed, it involves a series of steps to ensure that the order is suitably executed. For this the system needs to:

    • Break down the order into relevant parts for suitable order management
    • Define the equipment required
    • Provision for the same
    • Ensure installation as well as activation
    • Ensure quality assurance

    Billing– Once the order is fulfilled and service assured, the billing process is automated through the BSS system. The BSS system may, however, rely on data from the OSS system to complete this task.

    Customer SupportOSS and BSS systems have an important role to play in end user support. Whenever a customer calls a support helpline, the support personnel dig into the OSS/BSS system for a whole lot of troubleshooting. There could however be issues that customers can resolve themselves through a self-care portal. In this case too, the information is presented through the OSS/BSS systems. OSS/BSS systems also come in handy in scheduling of field support as also tracing their on-call status.

    Other than the above, OSS/BSS systems also find application in the following activities:

    Analytics– OSS/BSS system warehouses data and converts it into meaningful reports that are used at various levels of decision-making. Analytics provide an insight into a number of areas including but not limited to break up of revenue, customer churn, the performance of marketing activities and the like.

    Security compliance–  Data and reports produced by the OSS/BSS systems go a long way in ensuring compliance and that no breaches occur especially in an online transaction driven economy.

    API- OSS/BSS systems provide API interfaces to allow software programmers to design software that interacts with the OSS/BSS systems.

    With superior customer experience at the heart of every business’ success, it is no surprise that OSS/BSS systems have become a key focus area for every communication service provider. OSS/BSS systems have brought about a massive transformation and impacted the evolution of the telecommunications industry.

    December 1, 2016 0 comment
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