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3 Italia is a third-generation mobile telco in Italy, a division of Hutchison Whampoa who hold a number of 3G licenses worldwide. 3 is in the process of deploying Apama to achieve better real-time analysis of network and business systems.
The first area where 3 Italia has deployed Apama is in the monitoring of core network elements and business support systems, such as customer relationship and billing systems. By correlating events from both network and business systems, 3 can better understand issues that are occurring which might affect customer service or 3’s ability to charge correctly for services used.
So why do they need Complex Event Processing to do this?
Firstly, telcos are highly sophisticated technical environments. IT is, of course, entirely at the centre of how a telco operates. Even 3, a “modern”, wireless-only telco with none of the complexity demanded of legacy, wired environments, has many different operational and business systems. Many of these are monitored on a continual basis to ensure that the network and services are running correctly. However the operational monitoring solutions used to do this work in a restrictive way. Typically they only monitor a specific network or business system (billing or CRM for example). Some offerings are able to monitor multiple systems but the analysis and the presentation of information from these systems is not correlated. So, a holistic view of what is happening as network and business services execute is simply not possible.
Secondly, there’s the issue of scale. The amount of traffic in a telco is enormous. A typical telco with a few million subscribers will generate billions of events per day. Yes, some of these events can be interpreted, analyzed and aggregated, but only at low level within a telco’s architecture where limited value is gained. To be able to analyze this information in a flexible, general-purpose way in anything approaching real-time is impossible using conventional technologies such as databases or business intelligence systems.
So this is where CEP comes in at 3. It is only by being able to bring information from multiple different parts of the organisation together and to correlate and analyzed this in real-time that 3 can obtain a more complete, customer-centric view. 3 has built a large number of end user dashboards, built in Apama, to monitor various aspects of their billing and service delivery. In total, several hundred key performance indicators are being tracked which allow deviations from norms to be identified and predictions made when service level agreements would be exceeded. It is the operational business users which monitor these dashboards to give them the personalized, real-time view of 3’s business that they need. Apama provides 3 with the flexibility to introduce new monitoring scenarios and enhance existing ones straightforwardly, so ensuring that the operations department stays on top of, and influences, changes and enhancements to the services that 3 offers.
Looking beyond the monitoring of the operational business systems, CEP can provide other benefits. Telcos operate within a very competitive, innovative business environment which is rapidly changing because of trends such as ubiquitous wireless access, smartphones and Web 2.0. Telcos do not want to be simple utility providers – giving network access and nothing more. Delivering value-add services and improving customer loyalty are key aims. By understanding how customers are using network services now provides benefits. Customers may change the way they use services over time. Consider a user who may start sending significant numbers of international SMS messages. By being able to detect this trend and be aware that they might benefit from discounts from a different tariff means that a telco can, by being real-time aware of this usage, interact with the user once behavior patterns are detected to offer that user a better, more personalized tariff – perhaps to offer them a bundle of extra international SMS messaging for a small additional fee. By responding to their usage, not at the end of the month, or in some other arbitrary time period, but now, the telco can be seen to be responsive to their needs. The customer can receive immediately a benefit and so, customer loyalty is enhanced. This understanding of customers’ usage patterns is invaluable for a telco’s marketing department and makes them far more customer focused.
3 provides an excellent example of how a telco can deploy CEP to give them insights that they have never previously had. Not only are operations in 3 being optimized, but new models of real-time interaction with customers are in sight. CEP promises to be an invaluable aid in the telcos’ fight to deliver higher-value, personalized services and to be better placed to retain customers.
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