Telecom executives responsible for planning new services, and their co-workers responsible for planning network rollouts, agree on the need to change their operational models to respond to the growing adoption of next-generation services.
Service providers are already preparing for the "connected world," which will see trillions of devices interconnected by 2017, and are testing new business models in anticipation. A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan on behalf of Amdocs has identified the technology challenges, business models and partnerships that service providers are considering to meet emerging demands.
The Connected World survey found that service providers see an opportunity to take the lead by adopting new flexible business models to match growing demand. Most providers are already testing short-term experimental models.
More than 80% of respondents cited investment in the network and network planning as the No 1 area of focus in terms of preparation for the connected world. Service providers also recognize the need for change - two-thirds stated that outsourcing part of their operations will be critical to succeeding in the connected world.
And more than 90% recognized the need for flexible business models to support new partnership opportunities. The same percentage stated that wholesale services and partnering with internet companies such as Facebook and Google were growing areas of opportunity.
Service providers also see the chance to expand their areas of focus into new industries. The most promising new areas - healthcare, consumer electronics, government and utilities - were favored for their high degrees of new device adoption, infrastructure support and potential end-user demand.
The respondents also recognized the need to upgrade their operations to prepare for next-generation services. Device activation, billing, charging, settlement and customer-directed self-service were seen as among the most important areas. Seamless activation, self-healing devices, and "do-it-yourself" support were ranked as critical.
"In addition to the growing device and network demand, service providers are actively considering better, faster and more productive approaches to succeed in the connected world," Frost & Sullivan senior consultant James Brehm added. "Nearly all of the [respondents] recognize that they must quickly evolve, and have identified partners that can help them meet new levels of demand."
A separate survey, conducted for Amdocs by Analysys Mason, has indicated that the adoption of these next-generation services will present a similar sea change among network planners. They are already feeling the strain that results from the gap between the increasing uptake for next-generation services and the network's ability to deliver at an optimized speed.
Survey respondents ranked "managing change" as their No 1 challenge. With no mechanism in place allowing them to respond quickly to changes in budget allocations, equipment specifications and technical or operational problems, planned changes are taking far too long to implement.
Network planners also complained that there was no consistent methodology in place that would allow them to easily compare marketing forecast data and network capacity consumption trend figures while planning network expansions. And nearly 70% stated that their legacy systems were unable to deliver clear network usage visibility over specific time periods, making it impossible to effectively manage and deliver network capacity as needed.
"Service providers need planning and analysis tools that will help them to communicate with each other - and more effectively match supply to demand," Analysys Mason senior analyst Mark Mortensen said.