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BSS (inc. billing, revenue assurance)

SDM Finds Its Customer Face

It doesn't seem like almost two and a half years since I wrote an initial article addressing the role and future of subscriber data management (SDM). (See The Rise of Subscriber Data Management?)

At that time, interest in utilizing SDM was clearly gaining momentum. However, I added the question mark in the title to reflect that there were still unanswered questions about how SDM techniques could be applied. My concern was that SDM would remain only network facing, be used by carriers to replace legacy home location registers (HLRs), and be inattentive to customer personalization requirements.

But while next-generation SDM-enabled HLRs are still being deployed to reduce opex and increase capacity, the good news is that SDM has also found its customer face. There are several reasons for this. First, while smartphones are driving some network signaling angst among carriers, they have been embraced by subscribers for leveraging mobile broadband for both carrier and third-party social network services. (See Operators Fight Back on Smartphone Signaling.) While smartphone forecasts even in 2008 were bullish, smartphones (unlike a number of technologies) have actually met lofty sales expectations.

Secondly, in order to maximize the intelligence of these devices, a greater number of operators globally are shifting away from the strategy to simply meet growth demands exclusively through adding additional network capacity. Instead, many have come to the realization that they must utilize SDM to ensure high-value users receive personalized experiences from their app stores, thereby avoiding becoming a simple data pipe for third-party app stores. (See Apple App Store Hits 10B Downloads and Bharti Boasts App Store Success.)

A secondary, but also positive outcome of this trend is that telcos are also more focused on addressing the challenges associated with supporting applications across a diverse number of platforms. (See Sprint Tackles Browser-Based Apps.) Telcos are also more actively considering how to use this technology to support additional services, such as parental controls and bill shock to generate new revenue and meet emerging regulation requirements. (See FCC's Bill Shock Starting Pistol.)

And while there's no question that these new approaches complicate life for carriers, managed services vendors have also expanded hosted application portfolios to simplify the process and provide turnkey deployments. (See Telus Turns to AlcaLu for Digital Store.)

In addition, in conducting research for an upcoming SDM report and multi-client survey that will capture key business drivers and adoption timeline, it's also apparent that the commercialization of cloud computing by telcos and deployment of M2M devices such as smart meters for smart grids – which are by nature profile- and usage-centric – are also two powerful enablers.

Therefore, even though implementation challenges – including managing subscriber privacy – await carriers that adopt SDM, there's no longer any question that it represents a vital and strategic advance for helping them adapt to the reality of the two-sided business model.

— Jim Hodges, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading


For more information about Heavy Reading's "Subscriber Data Management: The Future of Personalized Services" multi-client study, please contact:




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