Home Asia-Pacific II 2005 KISS – keep it simple, stupid!

KISS – keep it simple, stupid!

by david.nunes
Paul CussIssue:Asia-Pacific II 2005
Article no.:6
Topic:KISS – keep it simple, stupid!
Author:Paul Cuss
PDF size:64KB

About author

Paul Cuss is the CEO of SmartTrust. Mr Cuss was previously Vice President of the CRM division of Amdocs in EMEA, a leading provider of customer care and billing solutions to the service provider industry. Mr Cuss joined Amdocs with the divestiture of the Clarify CRM business from Nortel Networks, where in a career spanning 14 years he rose to the position of President of eBusiness Solutions, EMEA. Before that, Mr Cuss held various international positions at Nortel, amongst others, as Vice President of Global Accounts. Mr Cuss’ extensive experience and knowledge have made him a sought after speaker at many international events and conferences, covering a wide range of issues regarding drivers and cultural aspects of the mobile industry.

Article abstract

If next generation mobile systems are to deliver on their potential, the telecommunications industry must first learn to deliver simplicity. Users want state of the art applications, but do not want to work hard to use them. Mobile handsets must be configured to use advanced functions such as MMS. Few users, though, manage this complex operation by reading the manual. Mobile Device Management systems can do this automatically, over-the-air, permitting the operator to deliver and bill the new technology.

Full Article

Metaphorically speaking, next generation mobile is on the starting grid, waiting for the green light. In pole position, the advanced handsets are in the shops. Alongside on the front row, the supporting network infrastructure sits in place. Tucked in behind them on the second row, there’s enhanced functionality now built into the majority of devices. There, on the outside, are all the flashy new services…well, does the industry ever stop talking about them? However, what is the point of the race if nobody cares who wins or, even worse, if the winner’s trophy turns out to be a booby prize? The risk of failure for next generation telecoms remains real, and we see the omens, first hand, everyday. Think of camera phones, for instance. These days, just about everybody has one. In global terms though, other than a very small handful of users, few people actually send the pictures they take via MMS. Without this final stage in the technology cycle, the operator, who has often subsidised the cost of the device, may actually be losing money, not generating it. The opportunities presented by more advanced mobile devices, and SIM cards, have arrived with their own unique set of challenges. Listening to mobile content and service providers it is easy to forget that although the advances in technology have opened up the market for rich-media data services, such as games, music and video, problems still exist. It is not simple to ensure that customers can not only find and use new services, but that their devices are correctly configured. Before mobile operators can even hope to see a return on investment from their data strategies, they must ensure, for example, that the devices in the hands of their customers will properly connect to the services, that GPRS is activated, the messaging settings configured and that roaming networks – if users are connecting from overseas – are correctly defined. The mobile world has changed significantly in the last two years. The mobile phone is no longer a simple voice-only tool. It has become a mini-multimedia centre that allows users to download video, music, games, surf the Internet and communicate over several channels. However, until a mobile device is correctly configured and fully enabled, advanced telecoms services are of little benefit to subscriber and operator alike. In telecoms, the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy does not always work. Early implementations of WAP services demonstrated the usability barrier. The technology was in place, services available and the handsets in the pockets of users. However, the mobile operators expected customers to proactively manage their own devices, setting IP address, WAP gateways and a whole host of configurations that dizzied the average consumer. In the modern world, nobody wants to read the instructions! Ours is a society where immediacy is the basic currency. If you cannot work out a service without needing to resort to the manufacturer’s handbook, then its chance of mass-market adoption are severely hampered. So the point is, to profit in the new world, everybody had better KISS – keep it simple, stupid! The problem of delivering user simplicity is becoming worse in the face of ever greater numbers of subscribers, a constant stream of new devices and the delivery of the sort of sophisticated and profitable new services for which these devices are equipped. For today’s operators there is a need to manage the complete lifecycle of the mobile subscriber within the network. Gone are the days when, after selling a mobile subscription, the consumer was left to get on with it. Today, operators realise that, to generate maximum revenue and ensure the handset is as profitable as it can be, subscribers and their devices need continuous management. Services may need to be activated, roaming lists updated, new features or even new software installed. The problem is compounded by the fact that mobile phone ownership is changing. We swap devices more than ever and many people have more than one handset. This has an immediate impact on many existing methods of device configuration, such as pre-configuration of handsets by operators. A growing percentage of devices coming onto operator networks are not purchased from operator-owned retail outlets and not pre-configured, often being taken by a churning customer between networks. Because users change or upgrade their handsets more frequently than ever, and as mobile devices become increasingly commodified, passed between friends and family and purchased from a variety of retail outlets, operators face an increasing challenge in understanding the exact types of device being used with their network. Without this knowledge, it becomes difficult to ensure phones are able to access the value-added services offered by the operator. If these devices are not preconfigured, the operator can do little but hope the user contacts customer care and requests the relevant settings to be able to take advantage of services such as MMS or the operator’s own mobile portal. With the absence of a real mobile ‘killer-application’, the chance of such customer pro-activity is slim. Unless configured, a substantial proportion of the devices on an operator’s network will be unable to access the very same revenue-generating services that operators are hoping will raise their data revenues. So how will the operators enable their subscribers to quickly access the full range of innovative, value-added services that are increasingly available to them? Then too, how will they manage both subscribers and their devices throughout the life cycle when they are scattered across countries by the millions? Already, due to lost or stolen handsets, to churn between networks or to simple handset upgrades, more than 50 per cent of all mobile users around the world, according to some estimates, require changes to device settings each year. Asia-Pacific region In the Asia-Pacific region, this number may exceed 60 per cent. With more than 100 handset manufacturers, a wide variety of different capabilities, and support for different device management protocols, means device configuration is becoming more and more complex, creating increased strain on network infrastructures. One answer is a group of technologies collectively known as Mobile Device Management (MDM). Such solutions, which have generated significant interest throughout the world’s telecoms markets, pull the pieces of the complex new mobile world together, so that device potential and subscriber expectations fuse to deliver an operator’s revenue goals. MDM promises to increase the percentage of correctly configured devices within a network. MDM also reduces the costs associated with call centre support for customers trying to manually configure their device. MDM takes on the task of simultaneously managing increasingly large numbers of subscribers and device types. The support and management of each aspect of the subscriber lifecycle, from initial service activation to diagnostics, and then, continually, to new device and service updates, is one that has captured the imagination of mobile operators globally. This is particularly true in the Asia-Pacific region, where the market is categorised by high churn between networks, rapidly decreasing handset costs and a population known for its appetite for the latest technologies. MDM opens up a communication channel between the operator and the device, allowing the operator to deliver settings and services Over-the-Air (OTA), and to reconfigure devices without any need for user interaction. Combining sophisticated network triggers to detect the presence of a new device on an operator’s network, these MDM technologies are able to remotely assess the capabilities of a device and automatically ‘push out’ the relevant settings. The operator can be sure that the handset is always configured to access the full portfolio of value-added services, such as MMS, WAP and multimedia downloads, whilst the consumer benefits from having a device that works first time, every time. Over time, we will apply MDM technologies in many ways. Virus protection is, for example, an area of interest for both operators and consumers looking to protect the increasingly valuable content that we store on handsets. Several anti-virus vendors and MDM specialists are already talking to mobile operators to deliver mobile anti-virus software to the handset. New anti-virus patches and software can, quickly, efficiently and cheaply, be pushed to the device over the air and installed without user intervention. For computer users, we have grown familiar with a seamless desktop experience. Fast Internet connections allow our operating systems and applications to be remotely serviced and upgraded when necessary. The same principle can be applied to the mobile world through MDM. In short, it is products and approaches that, as the headline proclaims, ‘keep it simple, stupid’ will likely lay at the heart of the second phase of the next generation telecoms services. As with all progress, complexity comes first after which simplicity must arrive to ensure that ‘progress’ actually delivers on its promises. In telecoms, the time of the easy life, for subscribers, at least, has arrived! Provided they can get off the starting grid.

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