IMS Services - Time to Get Practical
75% of respondents to our recent Telco 2.0 survey said that adopting a 'protectionist' strategy based on a 'walled garden' approach to services was not the most effective strategy for the future. One problem with IMS is that it was originally designed to support a walled garden approach.
The better commercial strategy was seen as a 'Platform' play. The operator acts as an added-value interface between end users and merchants, service providers and media companies. Operators should also continue selling their own services. While some (35%) operators were seen to be moving towards this sort of strategy, the qualitative feedback unsurprisingly showed that few have a clear and comprehensive view of what this should be like in practice.
As a result, however, technical architects are designing and building systems in a vacuum, without a well-defined view of the end goal -- i.e. what commercial business model they should be supporting. This is understandable because the market is changing fast. However, it is not acceptable for those who are trying to grow their businesses (particularly in saturated markets) and persuade the investment community they can do so.
Last October at the IMS Services Forum we tried to strip away the hype around IMS Services. We gathered a large group of IMS 'cognoscenti' to brainstorm for the first time (after all the normal 'death by Powerpoint' conferences) on what are the issues around exploiting the potential of IMS and what areas architects should really focus on (and what they should discard/ignore). We presented our high level summary here.
In spite of this we are astonished by the continuing (if, thankfully, lessening) hype in the press, perpetrated by some vendors.
There are some vendors who are much more pragmatic and sensible. Here's a very simple and clear piece by Jnetx describing 'The Service Platform Maze' . We particularly like the pragmatic approach of extending the life of existing services by upgrading existing Intelligent Network (IN) network elements to NGIN and focusing on simpler service extensions.
So, for the next Telco 2.0 industry brainstorm (27-29 March, London), we've decided to keep the 'Technology Insiders' stream (on Day 3) laser-focused on the really important practical IMS/SDP/NGN questions that architects should be creating answers to:
- What is the true commercial context for IMS/SDP/NGN architecture, and how should we respond to it?
- End-User Needs - What are the most pressing unfilled user needs that we can effectively respond to (and for which IMS is the right architectural answer)?
- Service Architecture - How to make it cheaper and more flexible?
- Payment & Identity - What practical opportunities exist to add value to and differentiate from Internet-based services?
- Handsets - What more can we do with ordinary pre-IMS SIP phones?
- Trialling - How to test new services on the market more efficiently?
So, we're currently scouring the planet for the best stimulus speakers on these topics -- bringing together commercial and technical people and a whole gamut of new start-up 'disruptors' to help to generate creative and practical answers to these questions.