In 2014, the mobile industry passed an amazing milestone – the number of mobile subscriptions (SIM cards) surpassed the human population. While these connected devices represent a smaller subset of the global consumer base, mobile has had a significant positive impact on literally every aspect of our lives, the supply-chain of trillion-dollar industries and national GDPs. At the heart of this transformation is the digitization of information, processes and democratization of opportunity. The three dynamic forces of network evolution, smartphones and applications brought the fundamental change in the industry. Faster networks meant quick access to content and applications. Smaller yet powerful computers in smartphones translated into billions are coming into the digital fold. The new applications and services have empowered consumers to discover ways to enrich their lives and entrepreneurs to reimagine the world.
The changes have also meant that the traditional ways of doing business and thinking about revenue streams is largely over in most parts of the world. Many mobile operators who dominated the industry for the first 30 years recognize this and are transitioning to become a digital telco, but a vast majority are caught in the cycle of inaction.
For mobile operators to stay relevant and participate in the digital economy, they have to drastically change their processes and how they manage their services, launch new products, enable the ecosystem and think about digital services. At the heart of this transformation is the ability to launch and nurture new services whether it is one of their own or that from the larger ecosystem. The flexibility needed to launch at the speed of thought is essential to competing in the digital world.
Additionally, as the network becomes complex with millions of network nodes and billions of end points, we need a good framework for policy management to help manage the flow of data and thus manage the network.
Changing market dynamics due to economy and competition is also forcing service providers to consider a multi-play strategy, which helps protect the subscriber base whilst increasing revenue. As various services are integrated across different access means, one still has to maintain a single view of the customer to both lower the operational cost as well as better understand consumer’s interests and preferences. Without a tight integration on the back-end, this won’t be possible.
Finally, the communications and the IT industries are merging. Digital is changing the expectations of both the consumers as well as the enterprises. The digital economy is providing an opportunity to service providers to transform the business processes and become a digital platform where new applications and services can blossom. The massive growth in connected devices and applications means we need a more robust framework for policy and charging. One of the core strengths that service providers have is their billing relationship with the customer. The architecture required to support evolving use cases needs a rethink.
In this paper, we will explore the emerging trends that necessitate the urgency for a more agile infrastructure. We will discuss how new revenue opportunities in communication, commerce, health and retail need a more robust framework to manage growth and keep service providers relevant in the value chain.
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