Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
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Milestones on the Way to IMS
IMS Isn't Necessary...Yet

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By Brian Cappellani

The communications industry's excitement about IMS peaked nearly three years ago, but the technology hasn't become irrelevant. IMS has a future purpose yet to serve, but that purpose hasn't quite arrived yet. IMS, in one form or another, will be a critical enabler for the kind of seamless and ubiquitous service environment found only in futuristic movies today. That ubiquitous service environment is the communications industry's Apollo mission.

We're all working towards the moon landing, but we have a lot to learn and more to fix in order to get there. IMS isn't necessary to enable fundamental service integration in the near term. The Internet, the iPhone, and Skype have already done that. We will need a real-time signaling system that crosses service domains to achieve ubiquity, and IMS is the first attempt at its design. But before we light off the rocket that will shoot us into lunar orbit, there's much to be accomplished back at mission control to make sure the whole thing doesn't explode on the pad.

Product and Customer Integration

If service ubiquity is the communications industry's Apollo mission, then at best we're in the early stages of the mission. Think about what a ubiquitous environment entails. It means that subscribers have access to any service from any device at any time. The way things are headed, this set of services will go far beyond communications to span payments, personal preferences, tailored

We will need a real-time signaling system that crosses service domains to achieve ubiquity, and IMS is the first attempt at its design.


The industry has been working on this problem for nearly a decade, but silos continue to proliferate and examples of successful consolidations are few and most often limited in scope. If service ubiquity is the Apollo mission, then overcoming this specific challenge is akin to developing the Saturn 5 rocket. We're not getting anywhere near the moon without it.

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advertisements, rewards program relationships, and all of the privacy and security that will be mandated to go with it.

That's a tall order for an industry that's still struggling to present a single view of customers and product offerings to a contact center agent, to bundle multiple services together, and to present everything on one accurate bill. Most communications providers are still struggling with product and customer information silos that are difficult to integrate and reconcile.

Real-Time Service Fulfillment

Another critical step toward service ubiquity is to achieve real-time service fulfillment. Today we can deliver very specific instances of real-time services. Google can deliver search results and tailored ads in real time to any Internet-capable device. Cable operators can deliver movies and TV episodes on demand from massive content libraries. But IMS promises to give us access to any service connected to any network any time we want it. The problem is IMS only deals with signaling

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