By Bernhard Kraft, Director of Technical Product Management,
Optiva • September 28, 2022
Bernhard has more than 15 years of experience in the telecom industry. Previously, he served as developer, solution architect, and chief architect of Redknee’s BSS portfolio. He guided the evolution of Optiva’s BSS product to cloud-native, open architecture, and public cloud deployment. Bernhard helps CSPs journey to BSS on public cloud, designs transformation plans, and identifies requirements for SaaS migration solutions. Bernhard and the Optiva Product Management team help CSPs leverage cloud-native products, AI, and ML to grow revenue and deliver the best customer experience.
When we talk with our customers about 5G monetization, possible use cases, and their needs, the question is often asked:
Is real-time monetization in 5G really relevant and worth maintaining?
One possible answer is NO — that is, if telecom operators wish to follow the same route as fixed line networks and see how they evolve to become a pure connectivity pipe. That would mean that deployment of the current non-standalone (NSA) 5G networks is sufficient, and the focus is on subscriptions and monetization based on volume and speed. This approach, however, makes it hard to deliver ROI, justify 5G network investments, and be a digital partner to customers.
But, what can telecom operators do differently to stay competitive? How can they be a trusted digital partner for new services and technology? Real-time experience will be a key business driver in building collaborations and connections.
Immediacy is key. Therefore, real-time charging, triggering, notification, and interactions for 5G are crucial ecosystem elements. They will enable new use cases and experiences and monetise new services launched in the digital ecosystem, where operators provide the crucial connectivity backbone. In reality, communication service providers (CSPs) understand and believe these capabilities are essential to gain a greater share of the value chain. A strong indication of this is the investments and increasing pace of 5G standalone (SA) network rollouts.
So, what are the main pillars that make real-time processing relevant?
For global 5G enabled B2C, B2B, and B2B2X marketplaces to survive digital disruption, the industry must adopt an agile, real-time platform. It will help users make well-informed decisions at every stage of the process and drive meaningful monetization beyond connectivity. Real-time contextual insights are essential in a 5G network. Moreover, the digital ecosystem of 5G is constantly evolving, and enterprises need the ability to react and respond to business opportunities in real time.
1. Real-time business logic enhancement
In telecom networks, millions of transactions are handled every hour for different consumer and enterprise services. Most of these transactions are handled in real-time in the monetization system, where each transaction is handled separately. Monetization systems create business links to transactions such as products sold and business services and relationships.
The monetization system enables and adds a unique business context to the operational transaction. Adding a logical layer on top enhances the transaction with classifications, actions, contextual insights, and triggers. The logical contextual insight layer can expose different values to various parties, including the operator, customer, enterprise, partner, or service application delivering the service.
2. Customer experience beyond consumers
Often, customer experience is linked to the B2C/consumer segment, where the mass market is served. Consumers live in a digital world and expect services and elements to be available immediately and to reflect changes in real time. Deliverables, such as products, for example, are tracked online with same-day delivery, and expectations of telecom services are no different.
However, this is still not the case when it comes to the enterprise segment. CSPs are accustomed to slower and more manual processes in that market. But that changes when you combine 5G and B2B2X market opportunities with the need to serve multiple use cases, expand the enterprise base to ensure growth, and be a digital partner. It drives the need for the flexibility and agility of real-time elements — immediacy focus, real-time enablement, and automation beyond borders — to drive the experience:
Monetization systems are essential in this transition. They will enable real-time interaction of the services and insights into products and services, including on-the-spot analysis of revenue, discount applicability, customer satisfaction, network performance, etc.
3. Real-time 5G orchestration capabilities and network functions
5G introduces a service-based architecture by exposing real-time interfaces across all network functions that can be orchestrated between each other. Thus, real-time communication between network functions is essential to orchestrate real-time interworking, realize new use cases, and focus on the best service fulfillment for customer experience.
The bundling of real-time interworkings between the CHF (monetization system) and advanced network functions like AMF, PCF, NEF, NWDAF, NSMF, etc., are critical requirements for expansion into new enterprise segments. Here orchestration with the core network in real time is needed for enhanced analytics, location, quality, etc.
As a result, there is an emphasis on creating a business orchestration layer to expose APIs and enable the real-time capabilities of the 5G core network. Those functions will allow enterprises to orchestrate precisely what is needed and when it is needed. Operators may not feel comfortable exposing partners to those dynamics, but doing so will create differentiation and enable real-time automation beyond internal telecom processes. In this scenario, monetization systems will allow operators to build new business models together with their partners.
Transparency is a powerful tool for improving relationships between customers, enterprises, and telecom service providers. To differentiate between avoiding unexpected costs and cost control is to show all data related to the products and services being used. That empowers business decision-makers with insights into exactly what is going on, when it happens, and how much value it brings them. The points below explain how real time provides next-level transparency that allows power brands to propel their product and service usage and significantly improve customer experience.
1. Real-time transparency — it happens when it matters
Typically, transparency is linked to cost control or cycle changes. It is important to making business plannable and predictable to avoid unexpected costs. However, transparency needs to be considered beyond product and service usage.
Additional areas can include supervised QoS, change notifications immediately delivered to customers and partners, and participation in a discount, bonus, or revenue share program that provides real-time benefits and insights. Another important area is anticipated service usage and delivery, how volume or SLAs are trending against a service class, abnormal trends, user awareness of speed trends and SLAs, customer experience expectation and management, etc. For example, are allowances finished faster than expected but stopped in the middle? Real-time policy adjustments can be a key element in transparency with end customers and partners delivering services.
Such real-time capabilities enable superior insights for enterprises and partners. They provide them with experience when it matters most. For example, monetization systems with configurable real-time insight capabilities provide key assets without reinventing the wheel when transitioning to real-time in the B2B and B2B2X.
2. Trigger and actions — enable end-to-end automation
With business logic added to transactions, real-time contextual insights can generate end-to-end automation and connected systems with orchestration capabilities that enable the right data and end-to-end, total cost of ownership optimized communication. Additionally, end-to-end automation combined with customer experience KPIs can continuously improve through AI closed-loop feedbacks across the ecosystem.
In 5G, these also triggers functions of the monetization system and use product and service business insights to make decisions. Those decisions can be used to initiate dynamic slice creation, which is exposed as a trigger to an enterprise system. Additionally, it can be enriched with dynamic pricing, which is based on network statistics such as load level, usage, etc. This can lead to inflight adaptation on the service delivery, and it can be used to make real-time corrections on prices to mitigate customer complaints. These triggers are essential for enabling real-time reaction and automation together with your partner and enterprise system.
Again, let’s revisit the original question:
Is real-time monetization in 5G really relevant and worth maintaining?
On second thought, the answer is YES! Real-time processing for 5G is an essential attribute in the new architecture ecosystem. It enables growth and superior experience in the digital, end-to-end automated world, and will create new monetization opportunities for CSPs.
Optiva looks at the strategic evolution of the monetization platform. We analyze new use cases together with automation and AI opportunities, enabling telecom operators to remain competitive, facilitate innovation, drive automation through real-time capability, and bring superior experience to their customers and partners. Our strategic partnerships with Google, Jio, Microsoft, and more, allow us to expand and package our offerings to deliver more end-to-end solutions to the telecom industry, keeping telcos ahead of the curve.
Have feedback or questions for the author? Contact Bernhard Kraft, Director of Technical Product Management, Optiva
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