Does your real-time program need therapy, or is it top of the class?

 From time to time our industry becomes obsessed about ‘where things fit.’ In an agile, modern telco, we ask, should revenue assurance and fraud prevention be part of the same team? How should Marketing interact best with Billing or Customer Service? How, on earth, do we make our business ‘social?’ Over the last two years, such questions are being increasingly asked of ‘real-time.’

It is an important question  – ‘where does real-time sit within your organization’ – and one we are considering asking. With the data we collect, we can provide valuable examples of innovation, best and worst practice.

This question, though, will provide a ‘physical’ answer. To me, there is a different question that sheds light on the apparent cul-de-sac down which real-time and its potential has been pushed.

If real-time was a child, he would be immensely shy, a little geeky, awkward, brilliant, and would find it very difficult to interact with his peers. He is, of course, quite a lot older than he first appears.

He was born in the 1970s to support the then ultimate sexy telecoms service, 0800 numbers, or Number Translation Services. He was mission critical from his earliest day and if he got sick, whole networks could catch the cold. The rule was very much ‘leave him alone and don’t ask too much of him.’

So left alone he was.

Even Marketing, who tried to make friends from time to time gave up asking him to tell them what was going on in that brilliant, odd mind of his. Once the relationship had become frosty, it never really healed.

Meanwhile those priests of Business Intelligence locked themselves in Ivory Towers and set out on the quest for Truth in Data. There was, for them, beauty in the terabytes of data that were stored and ignored by the rest of the business. Reports from the priests of Business Intelligence were things of beauty, bound in green and placed lovingly on shelves in Senior Managers’ offices.

Occasionally they were taken down and pored over. “Look,” one would say, “you see?” “A definite spike in usage on Friday afternoons between Dublin and Manchester.” Gasps, and then, lovingly, the tome would be placed again in the allotted space.

The world, though, has moved on. We need the real-time child. We need him to add insight and common sense to our business offerings. We have been saying that it makes no sense to talk of megabytes and gigabytes to our consumers and yet that is exactly what we do. Shared data plans are still ‘data’ plans. Instead, we should be offering family plans with add-ons such as parental control, social media integration and other policies. In the enterprise world we need to give the telecoms manager the tools to better manage his internal costs and his resources. To do this, we need the real-time child.

Our awkward, brilliant child needs help in integrating back into a society which genuinely needs him. Real-time capability, integrated with policy management enablers, needs to be put at the disposal of the CMO, CIO and CTO. He needs to be able to interact with the others in order to understand what our customers are doing – and serve them.

There is therapy available for our real-time child. The Telco 2.0 Initiative – which could have been called the ‘bi-direction UDP/TCP service paradigms integrating multi-business entities’ initiative,’ but thankfully wasn’t – is one program. There are others of course and of course we can help.

What is perhaps more important than the question of where our real-time child should sit in class is how well understood and assimilated he is and whether his class mates understand his potential for the whole school.

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About Nigel Back 4 Articles
Nigel is a seasoned senior BSS professional with an excellent international track record across start-ups, vendors and operators. He has deep knowledge and design experience around real-time charging, policy and BSS/Telco generally. and is currently Director of Product Strategy at Matrixx Software.

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