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November 2013

Migrating systems or launching LTE next year?  Don‘t forget transformation assurance & optimisation

Migrating systems or launching LTE next year?  Don‘t forget transformation assurance & optimisation

Transformation is a regular, on-going activity in any CSP’s life.  It’s not only the big bang transformations that impact entire organisations, it’s a series of mini-transformations that put CSPs in a constant state of change.

At any point in time about 25% of CSPs are involved in some form of system transformation or another, be it a billing migration, CRM replacement, new network roll out, or a major NMS upgrade.  Here Efrat Nissimov introduces the concept of transformation assurance.

A t cVidya, we know these system transformations and network migrations are a big deal: they are major revenue impacting events.  So to highlight their importance we have proposed a new revenue assurance buzzword: transformation assurance.

Data Integrity

From a revenue assurance point of view, whenever a transformation occurs, it should raise a big red flag.  Why?  Because data integrity issues are bound to crop up as CSPs move vital information from a legacy system to something new.

So what needs to be checked?  Many things.  For instance, if it’s a billing system migration, CSPs want to be sure that all price plans and the many attributes of those price plans were copied successfully to the new system.  Did all the tariff tables get converted?  Did all the business rules move over?

Likewise, in a CRM replacement, CSPs want to be sure all subscribers and their profiles were moved over properly — and that subscribers are aligned with the right pricing plans, the product catalogue and services.  The same sorts of integrity checks apply to any BSS, OSS or NMS (Network Management System) system being transformed.  There can be many sources of error: anything from complex technical glitches to simple human mistakes.  The scale of telecoms operations also contributes to problems.

Challenges of LTE launch

When a CSP is launching a new LTE network, the data integrity challenge is huge because an entirely new network is being introduced.  One key area to double check is the information being moved from the HLR (Home Location Register) to the HSS (Home Subscriber Server).  The data must be aligned correctly, otherwise subscribers will not receive services or they will receive services they are not being billed for.  CSPs also need to ensure that the integrity of porting and mirroring to new network elements is solid.

The process is even trickier because LTE brings with it new QoS-based and consumption based rating schemes, so those need to be checked as well.  Whenever a variety of network elements come into play like that, not only must the integrity be there, CSPs also need to check for revenue leaks and conduct a margin analysis.  Otherwise they could end up provisioning services in unprofitable ways.

Now performing such vital transformation integrity checks is a pretty straightforward task for a company like cVidya.  For us, it’s a matter of adding new KPIs and revenue leakage controls.  We conduct such assurance checks for clients on a managed services basis.  Usually we bring in a small team of our own experts to overlook the process and run the analysis on cVidya’s own backend systems.

A Perfect Time for Pricing Plan Optimisation

Many CSPs recognise that transformation is the perfect time to do some system house cleaning.  And one particular area that cVidya sees a lot of value in is streamlining price plans.

To give an example: one mobile operator customer of ours has 52,000 price plans — they haven‘t cleaned their price plans for 14 years.  Maintaining such a high number of price plans is very costly.  The most obvious cost is the time and effort required to maintain those price lists and make routine rating plan changes to them.  Plus, there are many hidden costs such as CSR training, invoice template maintenance, revenue leakage and others.  Another big item is hardware and associated technology costs.

Keeping old price plans — especially the ones with a minimal amount of customers related to them — on costly servers and storage prevents CSPs from moving them to economical blade servers and disk farms.  But what if you could reduce your number of price lists significantly?  From our experience CSPs can save millions a year in this process.

So what can be done to reduce the number of price lists and optimise the migration of customers in the most optimal way?  Figuring that out is a fairly complex undertaking.  The 10,000 subscribers who sit on a legacy plan should probably be moved to an array of modern rating plans, but randomly moving subscribers doesn‘t work because the CSP needs to figure out how that movement will impact ARPU and subscriber usage.

In short, CSPs need to gain a marketing or price view of their price plan migration. cVidya offers this analysis as a managed service where we bring in our dedicated pricing experts and backend systems.

How Price Plan Migration Works

As you well know, billing migration is a huge project that often takes two or three years to complete.  In that time, the billing staff usually has their heads down working with the billing vendor or systems integrator to get the job done.  For this reason, I think, an outsourcing arrangement makes sense.  The pricing plan migration is very straightforward:  no need to implement a software product or get trained on it.  It’s a service.

At cVidya, our process of paring down price plans starts by analysing the current situation.  For instance, how many subscribers are on each price plan, and what does each price plan includes in terms of products, tariffs, services and so on?  Only when the CSP knows that can it move on to group price plans into families or the categories discovered during the analysis phase.  Ideally the CSP wants to group together price plans with similar tariffs and services.

Another goal is get rid of unprofitable price plans and price plans that have few subscribers.

The next phase is to perform deeper analyses on the groups-to-migrate so the CSP can determine what the target pricing plans should be.  All these proposed pricing changes are then simulated in the systems so the CSP can measure the impact they will have on its ARPU and network.

In most cases, customers won‘t even notice they’ve been moved to the new price plans.  In other cases, the CSP will entice customers to move to the new plans, perhaps developing a marketing campaign or two for that very purpose so the CSP can begin the gradual process of migrating customers to plans that support their customer experience and profit objectives.  Done right, the system or outsource team the CSP hires will be able to calculate next best action recommendations for individual subscribers.

Conclusion

Checking for data integrity issues is critical during any transformation activity, but performing data validation checks is easy when there’s a managed services team for the CSP to turn to.  Likewise, maintaining a huge number of price plans drags the efficiency of the CSP’s billing shop down.  So transformation is the perfect time to tackle that issue too.

Copyright 2013 Black Swan Telecom Journal

 

About the Expert

Efrat Nissimov

Efrat Nissimov

Efrat is the Director of Product Management in the Marketing department in cVidya, responsible for the Revenue Assurance, Fraud Management and Risk Management products and solutions.  Efrat has 17 years of experience in the communications and telecom industry.  Prior to joining cVidya, Efrat worked 10 years in TTI Telecom (now part of TEOCO) as a Product Manager and Solution Engineer of the CDRs products.  Prior to this position, Efrat worked in the Engineering and Operations Departments in two leading Communication Service Providers in Israel.   Contact Efrat via

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