When you review a booklet that has a big number in its title, there is, surely, a little bit of you that starts humming familiar songs. In this case, “75 Ways Policy and Charging Can Boost Your Business” became “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – followed, slightly alarmingly, by “Nine Million Bicycles“. (What, no “99 Problems“? – Ed.) Then, of course, you think, “Really? Seventy-five? Policy and charging use cases? Proper ones?”
It turns out the answer is: yes, 75.
Real-time specialist Openet has collected, collated and brain stormed 75 practical examples that can boost an operator’s business. What is impressive is that almost without exception, they are in use, somewhere around the world. As such, it is an extremely interesting and useful collection.
What many of the examples demonstrate is that IT – as we know and love it – is almost irrelevant. They are based – primarily – on common sense.
What many of them also show is that some operators have managed to turn data, which has become a commodity in simple pricing terms, to a valuable tool in managing customers’ loyalty, expectations and lifetime value. For example, why not give a customer a present on his contract anniversary. On his first, you could give him and extra GB, his second two and so on. You could also do this on his birthday.
The concept of using data as a gift or a reward is a strong theme in the early use cases. If a customer pays on time, reward him with data. If a customer has been with you a certain amount of time, say “thank you” with some extra data.
One thing that is particularly interesting at the moment is how many operators keep the unused data at the end of the month. This is, of course, psychological, but Virgin Media did a survey in Australia that showed overwhelmingly that customers think it is unfair to pay for something and then have it taken away. Almost all the respondents said it would be great to be able to hold onto, or roll over their data allowances. Again, good old common sense. In Korea, customers can even borrow data from their next month’s allowance, and even though this will probably lead to them buying more (as they borrow more and more), it is a very interesting offering
It would impossible to mention all the policy use cases in this article – and anyway, it is well worth downloading, and keeping for future reference/marketing meetings. It is available here, for a quick registration.
The examples in the booklet range from roaming solutions, mobile TV opportunities, to upselling, cross selling and bundling advantages. Without doubt, policy and charging is one of the most powerful tools available to operators today. From managing network usage, to boosting subscriber growth, these tools can be invaluable.
A misconception that is erased by the booklet is that policy and charging are only useful in the realm of mobile networks. Fixed networks can also use these tools, to manage similar services for their customers. The Vodafone and Netflix partnership is a case in point.
No booklet on how to deploy policy and charging functionality (especially one from Openet) would be complete without a glimpse into the future.
First, the launch of a soft SIM from Apple in 2014 could have far-reaching consequences for operators, and we are expecting the roll out of this feature in 2017. What operators are doing to address this threat we will find out soon enough but there are already some ideas out there.
We are also seeing some operators experimenting with ways of switching customers from one physical network to another to provide a better service and to mitigate the cost of rolling out fiber to the home, which the ITU puts as high as $4,000 each.
This brings us to channel bonding, which is, well, potentially very interesting indeed…..
You can download the booklet here.