By Judi Gill, Director of Market Analysis and Strategy, Clarity.

Understanding the usage and profitability of the network has never been so crucial.

As data usage explodes, it may have been expected that operators would profit greatly from the increased capacity they were selling. However, as we know, this is not the case.

While operators bear the burden of the investment required to carry the data between the third party and the ultimate consumer, much of the premium revenue for data services is being diverted to third parties, the so-called OTT players.

Paradoxically, by upgrading their networks, operators are facilitating the deterioration of steady revenue streams like voice and SMS, as third-party, IP-based alternatives improve in service quality when delivered over the new higher bandwidth networks they are deploying.

This does not mean that it is in the operator’s best interest to not deploy new networks – customer satisfaction in service quality is essential to retention.

In the saturated European markets, operators need to hold on to their profitable customers; with the cost of customer acquisition so high, the implications of churn on the balance sheet are significant.

So how can operators optimise the balance between these potentially conflicting goals of maximising ROI and ensuring superior customer satisfaction?

The answer is in having the information on hand to analyse and make informed decisions about the network, and then being able to monitor the impacts and effects of change.

In particular, the vast amount of information from the network itself needs to be made readily available for analysis.

Network performance and service usage information provides true insights into real-time operations.

When the two are combined they provide a powerhouse of information that tallies back directly to key performance and quality indicators that are the barometer of business performance.

For example, a Mobile Customer Experience Indicator may comprise of multiple KPIs across voice, web browsing, video streaming, social networking and downloads.

These are comprised of more granular indicators such as PDP failures, throughput, response delays, and so on.

Here is the first way the OSS is evolving to improve business performance. Each individual metric is already available from the network through the OSS and other systems such as mediation systems and probes.

These can be collected, correlated, aggregated and weighted to provide a snapshot of the mobile service.

While dashboards of key indicators provide a high-level snapshot of business performance, when these metrics are further dimensioned to reflect the device, device operating system, service or application the customer is using, the big picture of service quality can be focused to pinpoint specific trends and issues.

Why is this important?

Many issues affecting customer experience are out of the direct control of the operator.

Handsets, their operating systems and the applications being used may be a source of service quality issues. However, even though the operators may not be responsible, they are often the contact point for queries.

So, following the example of the Mobile CEI, if the indicator is suddenly showing a drop in usage, and therefore revenue, a drill-down interrogation may show that it is prevalent in only one type of manufacturer’s handset.

The initial corrective actions should include a determination as to whether the manufacturer has issued a new device or operating system.

If this is found to be the case, the following corrective actions should include updates to customer service staff and social media sites to minimise costly customer contact.

This is the second way the OSS can be used to add incremental value.

As the telecoms value chain continues to extend further beyond the operator, the need to automate not only the collation of indicator information, but also the corrective actions will be important.

The assurance processes inherent in a comprehensive OSS solution include the functions to model, monitor and manage breaches in defined thresholds.

Any breaches should trigger configured workflows that include ticket management, notifications and escalations and work group remedial activities.

The automation of the management of corrective processes for any issue, whether it be internal or external to the operator, can greatly reduce the cost and time required to rectify issues, and also provides the foundation for best-practice process improvements.

Finally, there is the potential for the OSS itself to be offered as a value-added service to third parties – including those in the extended supply chain.

As networks support more and more everyday activities, the ability to assure the quality of these services by those that offer them becomes a competitive differentiator that customers will pay a premium for.

While operations, and the OSS, are not traditionally viewed as a revenue center, there is a nascent and potentially great opportunity for operators to take the initiative and offer these capabilities to the market.

Photo: © agsandrew -

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