Eurocomms.com: In what way have operators' data services strategies evolved in the last year?

Guy Hilton: Our recent global survey carried out with Heavy Reading has shown that service providers’ strategies are clearly evolving along with their recognition that it is essential to incorporate charging and policy management capabilities to fully enable these strategies.

Those who recognised the importance of charging and policy integration last year have since launched tiered and family plans, for example, and are now looking to enable even more advanced services with real-time user visibility and control capabilities.

Those who weren’t convinced last year about the need for policy and charging integration are much more convinced today, and therefore they are now looking to enable tiered and family plans.

What can operators do to generate more revenues from data in 2013?

As 4G LTE becomes the standard network technology, service providers want to launch more advanced services and price plans.

In order to better monetise 4G investments operators want to offer personalised data plans and real-time visibility and control over data spending.

This furthermore has a residual benefit of improving the customer experience.

What IT capabilities do they need in order to fully monetise their 4G LTE network investments?

The survey found some interesting results when it comes to organisations’ IT capabilities in terms of data monetisation.

According to 92 percent of survey respondents, their marketing department is asking their IT organisation to enable innovative data price plans, while 70 percent said their companies cannot enable innovative data price plans because of IT limitations.

But in order to enable the above capabilities policy management and charging must be unified.

Forty percent of respondents to the survey said they have either tried, or are currently trying, to integrate charging and policy management systems with unsatisfactory results.

This is a significant increase compared to 10 percent last year who admitted to such attempts.

What are the best solutions for service providers wanting to implement more advanced services and price plans?

The overwhelming consensus among service providers indicates that policy management and charging integration is key to enabling more advanced services and price plans.

The data has shown that the best solutions for service providers feature both pre-integrated charging and policy systems and also include a single product catalogue across both systems.

In fact, the vast majority of respondents from Europe, North America and Asia Pacific (100, 90, and 80 percent respectively) said their companies see a need to integrate charging and policy management capabilities.

Integration between charging and policy management helps to solve broken product management processes that cause time to market delays.

In particular, it allows providers to introduce personalised services that relate to the device type, service type, network status, customer location and other customer information, across all lines of business, and with real-time user visibility and control over data plans and spending.

What are the changing customer habits operators can expect in 2013 and how should they respond?

The last few years have seen a steady growth in the use of tablet and smartphone devices.

This growth has brought with it an increase in customer demand, with customers expecting seamless integration across all of these platforms and a consistent, continuous customer experience.

With 4G becoming commonplace in 2013 and Gartner predicting 1.2 billion devices will be sold in the next year, this demand is only set to increase further.

Operators need to have the strategies in place to deal with changing customer expectations, by leveraging their core assets they can stay ahead of their competitors in delivering innovative services.

Furthermore operators need to provide customers with simplified experiences that are personalised and deliver clear value across all communication channels.

They can do this by harnessing customer data and making use of analytics to offer proactive and contextual experiences via enhanced services and improved customer care.

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