Shared data is probably the most popular topic in the communications world at the moment. A&T, Verizon and many others across the world have launched shared data plans, and are increasing revenues as a result. The benefits are clear and well illustrated by this eBook from real-time specialist Openet.
As usual in our industry the hype of a new service is centred around consumers. Many of the use cases use families and friends as examples. This is not a bad thing, consumers are the biggest segment of society, but as we know, not the most profitable.
Shared data, supported by the real time and policy management functionalities that underpin it, is about supporting communities, and communities come in all shapes and sizes.
Communities can most certainly be families. They can also be small businesses, business clubs, sports clubs, social clubs, large businesses, even Government. And giving the power to manage where the data goes within those communities is a great idea on many levels.
It makes the data more approachable and flexible. Instead of being ‘allocated’ a block of data, Telecoms Managers can actively manage this monthly resource. Marketing, Sales, Engineering and Finance will all have different data needs. Sales might need sufficient bandwidth to present a promotional video without WiFi, while Finance might need to send large spreadsheets but not much else. Sponsored data can also come into play here, with enterprises themselves ‘sponsoring’ data for employees – perhaps for accessing educational or training sites, or for recommended reading. If this was abused, then the real time controls could take action.
It gives the community members more control and power. With real-time, fraud and revenue assurance can catch anomalies in an instant. Over usage by certain parts of the community can be caught and managed within seconds. And, if needed, more data can be funnelled to where it is needed, preferably out of another part of the community’s budget that has not be fully used. It also means that the phenomenon that created a panic two years’ ago – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – can also be actively managed.
It creates much more of a partnership type arrangement between customer and operator, devolving power to the community. And the community, feeling much more in control, will feel that their customer experience is better than before. Even though they have just helped the operator cut costs and create a feeling of loyalty.
Perhaps the most compelling idea around shared data is that it is one of the first stepping stones to a portfolio of personalised services that will be launched over the next two years. Watching the trend away from the term ‘data,’ the question becomes very focused on what is being shared. Instead of ‘data,’ operators will begin to offer their customers a range of products – from TV to books, from messaging to Facebook. Some of these will be their ‘own’ products, some will be other people’s. The difference will not matter in the near future. Soon to be published research points very clearly to the fact that real-time charging and policy management will mainly be used by operators to collaborate with Over the Top (OTT) players. Sponsored sites, dynamic pricing and special offers will be commonplace in the not too distant future.
As well as shared data opening the door to a dynamic portfolio of products and services for consumers, the same will happen with other communities such as companies, who might barter allocations of video ready bandwidth with services that need less Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees.
And, as the book by Openet points out, you will be able to add your car to your shared plan soon. And by thinking about adding cars, the M2M possibilities become apparent. Think fleet management, optimising engine performance and a range of applications across a multitude of industries.
It soon becomes clear that shared data is the first step in a thoroughly interesting and exciting journey, one that is underpinned by the now real real-time functionality.