There is something incredibly interesting about researching and writing a report on a topic that is ‘front and centre’ of people’s minds. It is like taking a snap shot of an industry, of collecting all the fluffy conversations and debates and solidifying them. Such was the work on the real time convergent charging and policy management report that is now available.
Everyone says, in those conversations, that operators need to move to a real time environment in order to remain competitive. Do the survey and you find out that an overwhelming 95 percent of operators agree or strongly agree with this. Ask some of them for a little more detail and they will tell you that “now we need to think like the internet, otherwise we will lose.” Fact one – we need to manage a business model that supports the ‘now’ generation.
We have always presumed, rightly in many cases, that the conversations that vendors have at conferences and other gatherings will become a fact – if fact they become – in a couple of years’ time. But if there was one ‘aha’ moment above several others that came out of the research, it was that, on this topic, operators and vendors are neck and neck in their thinking.
That ‘aha’ moment was the level of collaboration that is already happening between operators and a host of other players. We are seeing sponsored data announcements, zero rated Facebook being offered and the emergence of a truly inspiring ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – which is actually bigger than a market and better described as a connectivity slice through our entire world. The potential is huge – and the challenges are daunting.
In two years’ time, according to the survey, there is almost no application that will not be supported by a real time charging and policy management model. Voice over LTE is the application that increases most in use over the next two years, but across the board there are surprises – ‘OTT collaboration’ is the most popular ‘innovation application’ that will be supported, while revenue assurance, fraud control, advise of charge and bill shock management are still close to the top of the heap.
What is both comforting and encouraging is that not only are operators and vendors talking the same language at the same speed, but that the journey that real time responsiveness demands has changed shape, and become longer.
We are, as you will see from the report, somewhere between control and context and heading for very exciting times.