As a child, I remember watching Sci-Fi programs on TV - fascinated by galactic adventures and the characters’ use of futuristic technologies. Who doesn’t remember “beam me up Scotty,” from the TV show Star Trek? My sense of wonder combined with a fascination with futuristic technology and all the possibilities, spurred on by those days watching Sci-Fi television shows, has been the inspiration for me in my technology career.
The fifth generation of wireless communications, and the multitude of new products and services being delivered on top of connectivity, makes me think of those TV shows and Sci-Fi applications. However, those shows didn’t provide insight into how to monitor or control some of the business risks involved in these new technologies. These are important aspects that we must address in today’s real-life Sci-Fi world.
In the not too distant future, 5G and the innovations derived from these advancements promise to bring us new services such as autonomous cars, connected homes and smart cities. These services will depend on a new benchmark on network efficiency, connection density and on innovative applications such as network slicing. 5G network slicing will enable operators to ‘slice’ a single physical network into multiple segments, or multiple virtual networks, with each segment able to meet the requirements for differing services for an amplitude of partners coming from different verticals.
In order to present the full potential of IoT supported by 5G cellular data and the monetization possibilities for CSPs, as well as to identify the risks that CSPs will require continuous protection from during this new value chain, WeDo Technologies developed a product demo for a digital ecosystem.
The story goes a bit like this: imagine this not so futurist scenario - where John is excited that his favorite rock band is coming to town and purchases a ticket to the concert. On the night of the event, John uses an app on his phone to access the services of a peer-to-peer ridesharing (OTT) to reserve an autonomous car that will take him to the concert. John loves this new service and is thrilled that he can use his mobile wallet, which is enabled by his communications service provider (CSP). Using the mobile wallet, John reaps several attractive benefits: there is no need to enter his credit card information in the app due to partner agreements between the CSP and the OTT; a fixed fee to get to the stadium is provided in advance; and an estimated time of arrival (ETA) to the concert is provided due to all of the connected services that support the autonomous car on its journey.
However, the night doesn’t start out well as John is unable to unlock the autonomous car due to an error between the peer-to-peer ridesharing service and John’s account balance provided by the CSP’s OSS/BSS systems. Adding insult to injury, once John finally gets on his way, there are issues with the fleet of autonomous cars receiving the right traffic information from the various smart city applications, which results in John stuck in a traffic jam and late to the concert.
Eventually John gets to the concert, but not without frustration and dissatisfaction with the multiple service providers related to his autonomous car experience. Hopefully for John, the likelihood of a rock star starting a concert on time is improbable and he is able to see the concert from the beginning, not even missing the fireworks or the band’s entrance guitar solo.
In the growing 5G and IoT ecosystem of partners, platforms and services, CSPs will experience increased complexity with billing and transactional data spread across the value-chain. In the case of John not being able to access his autonomous car, provisioning data discrepancies have occurred - most likely due to a synchronization issue somewhere amongst the multiple platforms involved in the transaction. Additionally, these multiple platforms can wreak havoc when event records are misaligned, dropped or possibly not even generated into the revenue stream, creating a perfect scenario for billing and invoice errors, lost revenues and reduced margins.
Smart city and autonomous cars will utilize 5G network slices to provide multiple service levels and custom-made services that require diverse network demands. As in the case of John’s journey, the autonomous car provided by the peer-to-peer ridesharing service, would utilize 5G slices not only for real-time monitoring of traffic management allowing the service to run smoothly, but also to calculate an ETA to the concert. When these network slices are not closely monitored and deeply related to the services that they support, data errors are missed, and service levels are impacted, creating a negative impact from the partner network all the way through to the end customer.
To protect these new digital ecosystems from revenue and margin losses and ensure a satisfactory customer experience at the partner and end-customer levels, CSPs will need a risk management system in place that is capable of understanding all the variables of each partner contract, including monitoring real-time service usage, QoS, QoE, and provisioning of concurrent slice instances. This not only ensures that network capacity is delivered as agreed and that everyone pays for what they use, but also assures the value chain is protected from the bottom-up - from the CSP connectivity through to the end user that receives access to a service, such as a peer-to-peer ridesharing service (OTT) supported by autonomous cars (VNOs).
As demonstrated during this scenario, a virtualized environment will require BSS solutions that are both flexible and programmable, while also able to immediately capture any type of chargeable event or trigger. As modern business support systems (BSS) should be able to respond in real time and accommodate new types of billing events, so should the risk management and auditing tools. Billing validation with AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities to guarantee the correct monetization of demanding connectivity services, such as V2X (vehicle-to-everything), should fully understand service level agreement (SLA) breaches between partners as well as temporary slice allocation and provisioning in order to meet the accuracy of real-time billing. Auditing the policy-based charging will be central to billing functions in order to determine how quality of service (QoS) and SLAs will meet agreed upon charging contract terms.
Digital service providers must safeguard their new revenue streams and the customer experience from risks and losses in an emerging digital ecosystems of partner relationships. In this new environment, the partner ecosystem will be extensive and understanding where risks lie and how to address them will be critical to revenues, margins, quality of service and customer satisfaction.
As part of a 3-part series, next week we will join Alice, who is also interested in seeing this band. Alice’s service provider also experiences order management, quality of service and related risks to revenue realization, but in a different context.
If interested in seeing this demo or discussing these implications, please contact us to schedule time with one of our solution experts.