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BSS (inc. billing, revenue assurance)

How to Fight the OTTs

Visitors to Light Reading's Big Telecom Event last week heard an awful lot about SDN and NFV, so they were probably relieved when one speaker decided to give them a breather from those ubiquitous acronyms.

Oracle keynoter Brian Pawlus told the audience that he would instead focus on how next-generation business support systems (BSS) can help service providers achieve what he called "connected lifestyle monetization."

Pawlus, who is director of product marketing for Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), pointed out that despite ever-increasing connectivity of people and devices, service provider profit margins are decreasing -- due in large part to the erosion caused by over-the-top providers. To fight off the OTT threat, service providers have to make themselves more relevant in the minds of customers.

"We've done a very good job of understanding our customers," Pawlus said. "But who do they think of when they pick up the device? It's not the operator -- it's one of these over-the-top providers."

The key to connected-lifestyle monetization, he said, is moving from the mindset of selling a me-too product to a mindset of the buyer, and providing a portfolio of lifestyle services that customers can personalize and control.

"Customers are willing to pay more if we offer that kind of value -- personalization, control and relevance to what they're doing," he said.

Network operators should focus on product innovation via quality rather and price, real-time customer engagement, and increased profitability via operational efficiency, he said. Systems that help operators with functions such as charging, billing policy, and analytics -- to monitor churn and customer segmentation, for example -- will help operators get there. Pawlus even encouraged more cooperation with OTTs, such as exposing charging policy to OTTs and billing for them through the service provider's bill.

"Attract, retain, influence," Pawlus said. "These are tried and true business concepts."

— Jason Meyers, Utility Communications Editor, Light Reading

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