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Sophisticated usage and quality data enables CSPs to monetise network investments creatively Michele Campriani is CEO of Accanto Systems, the specialist provider of Customer Service Assurance solutions to CSPs. With more than 15 years of experience in the service provider market, he was previously general manager of the Protocol Product Group at Sunrise Telecom and before that responsible for OSS business at HewlettPackard. Here, he tells VanillaPlus how CSPs are rising to the challenge of delivering high quality user experiences in the 4G world and, critically, using CSA to monetise their customer data, tap into new revenue streams and compete more effectively with the Over-The-Top providers. VanillaPlus: Accanto has provided Customer Service Assurance (CSA) systems for several years. What is CSA, and how does it help CSPs address their current challenges?

extract valuable information from the traffic to map the actual customer activity to service usage and quality information profiled by customer type, service, device and so on.

One of the greatest

Michele Campriani: One of the greatest challenges for CSPs in this new world of highbandwidth, multimedia mobile applications, especially if they are in the midst of migrating to LTE, is in creating an end-to-end visibility of the network and services, and presenting this information in a customer-centric view. This is critical as the old rule of ‘the network is performing well, so the customer must be experiencing good service’ is no longer true.

Accanto was built around the CSA concept from day one. We were one of the first to understand where the market was going and anticipate customer needs. As a consequence of that, in 2011 we experienced an incredible growth in our business as the market understands and is embracing our concept.

high-bandwidth,

in this new world of multimedia mobile applications is in creating end-to-end visibility

VP: The use of monitoring systems has evolved greatly over the past few years, moving from their classical role in operations, to utilising the rich data they provide for other revenue generation opportunities. What examples of this evolution have you seen?

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Accanto’s intelligent Customer Service Assurance (iCSA) platform provides just this type of capability. Overall, iCSA allows the operator to

challenges for CSPs

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Evolution of mobile MC: CSA is indeed expanding out of its data applications has created strong consumer demands, and has more or less forced operators to take a much more proactive stance on network monitoring.

traditional boundaries, finding its way into the larger operator ecosystem, whether as a complete service assurance solution, or as a feeder of valuable data into other systems. In this sense, Accanto’s newly launched Accanto iD platform when used as a middleware source, can feed customer behaviour, location and experience information to fraud management, billing verification, business intelligence and other value-added applications. On top of that, its general flexibility enables development of creative revenue generating services. For example, INRIX, in partnership with Telefónica O2 and Accanto, wanted to deliver effective automotive road congestion avoidance solutions, which at the time were slow and inaccurate. A possible solution, they realised, could be introduced by making use of inputs from the millions of mobile devices already on German roads. The resulting system, which was featured in selected BMW models from September 2011 on, provided, thanks to Accanto iCSA, a time from ‘road event to presentation’ of less than 60 seconds – a vast improvement over the existing market solutions. The system uses Telefónica’s existing mobile network and the individual users’ mobile devices as mobile probes to detect traffic jams or other incidents. Accanto’s CSA platform provides ultra-fast data collection and correlation capabilities. It gathers real-time location information of the subscriber, fully anonymised it to protect subscriber privacy and feed it into mediation and traffic information portions of the system. This is a great example of how service assurance is transforming from a ‘necessary evil’ into a key business enabler that is helping operators differentiate and create new revenue streams. In particular, CSA allows the operator to reuse and maximize value from their investment in probing infrastructure by getting enriched and valuable data that enables improved applications to be delivered. In addition, they can monetise the value of the data collected by ‘selling’ this data to other value added applications such as the INRIX example. That means they can improve the value of existing applications by obtaining richer and more accurate data sources.

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competitive as they face the threat of the new generation of over-the-top (OTT) operators? MC: A well-implemented CSA solution can be a key competitive differentiator against OTT service providers who do not own their own networks. The network and especially the end-toend visibility of the service traffic is the greatest asset for any service provider. By having sophisticated usage and quality data, the CSPs are in a much better position to understand how their customers are interacting with services, and how they are being affected by them (positively or negatively). It allows them to become creative in monetising their network investments by utilising the customer information they currently possess to deliver innovative new services. Taking advantage of in depth network data is something that OTT providers simply cannot do. VP: When we interviewed you in October 2010, you indicated that operators must migrate from being simple connectivity providers, to becoming service providers that can deliver data services and web applications. To what extent has this migration taken effect and what role has Customer Service Assurance had in that evolution? MC: Evolution of mobile data applications has created strong consumer demands, and has more or less forced operators to take a much more proactive stance on network monitoring. The problem is that monitoring this new class of application, increasingly over 4G networks, has put the current generation of monitoring and troubleshooting tools on the back foot. One of the major problems is that there is simply too much information to make sense of and the classic network monitoring approaches are struggling to deliver real business value. They are unable to analyse the volume of data collected sufficiently quickly to deliver meaningful business insight. To help meet these needs, last year Accanto came to market with an adaptive approach to Customer Service Assurance. That allows the operator to arbitrarily make use of the three monitoring dimensions – resource, service and customer – in order to provide the best point of view for the issue at hand. It enables the CSP to avoid being overloaded with useless information

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VP: How does CSA allow CSPs to be more

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– or false alarms, and to look at the most critical information and issues first to prioritise interventions. With the adaptive approach, it is possible to select a number of dashboards, structure them over different layers and display the most relevant information along different perspectives and axes in a timely and effective manner. VP: Since our last interview how has Accanto been doing as a company? MC: Accanto continues on a strong growth trajectory. Over the past year, we have grown more than 60% and have been adopted by eight new major operators. We currently serve five of the top 10 service providers in EMEA, which tend to be at the forefront of innovation and next-generation technology adoption. Our performance has been beyond our expectations. VP: Looking to the future, tell us your vision for LTE. How is the market maturing, and what are you seeing as key challenges for operators? What does it mean for CSA? MC: LTE is being deployed primarily as an overlay network, which means additional challenges to operators who must grapple with interworking issues between 3G, 3.5G and 4G. It requires a different sort of monitoring capability – for example data correlation, reduction and presentation in ways that are effective and meaningful – and a different mentality in the NOC, a more service-oriented approach. Once these challenges are met and the operator can monitor from a customer-centric perspective, LTE provides incredible capabilities for service differentiation. Accanto has a great amount of experience in helping both tier one and two CSPs deal with the complexities of LTE.

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Sophisticated usage and qualitydata enables CSPs to monetisenetwork investments creatively