Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
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Is IMS the Golden Goose?

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and recommendations. This personal data connects customers to other customers with similar product purchases, which allows Amazon.com to bundle and upsell complementary products. Another example is Dell, who empowers customers to build a custom PC on their website with easy-to-navigate screens and options. Customers don't have to buy a computer off the shelf that has been designed for the masses. The bottom line is that companies like Amazon.com and Dell put the customer in control.

These consumer demands have two major implications for service providers: (1) to provide the digital environment through expertise and resources; and (2) support the digital lifestyle through applications, content, e-commerce, and social networking.

Implications for Service Providers

What percentage of trouble calls are not service related, but actually computer related? Service providers have the unique opportunity to provide technical expertise because customers assume their issue is service-related and reach out to their service provider first. Customers trust that their service provider has the technical expertise to support their technical issues. In addition, service providers have the resources and often have the certifications to provide technical support.

The sum of anytime, anywhere access; instant gratification; individualized experience; and customized offerings equals the digital lifestyle that consumers are demanding. How can service providers respond and support this digital lifestyle while opening a new valve to a new revenue stream?

Service providers have the unique opportunity to provide technical expertise because customers assume their issue is service-related and reach out to their service provider first.


Online retail in the US continues to perform well despite macroeconomic events. When it comes to shopping, more and more consumers are letting their mice do the walking. With lower prices, research capabilities, increased selection, convenience, time savings, and environmental benefits, it's a no-brainer why eBay, Amazon.com, Dell, Macy's, Best Buy, and many other retailers are delivering products, services, and electronic media online. As the market inevitably matures, retailers will look abroad to find new sources of revenue and customers. Service providers uniquely hold a market of tech-savvy customers, which are potential online shoppers that retailers want to reach.

The likes of Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo have a combined user total of over 400 million people. That is an amazing number of users considering the possibility of someone having an account with each site. It is hard nowadays to find someone without at least one account with a social networking site as the popularity continues to grow. These sites help people connect with friends, exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world that opened to the public in 2003 and has grown explosively. Second Life is inhabited by millions from around the globe offering networking and commerce. The point is that networking has moved beyond lunch with friends, a phone call, email, or instant chat. Social networking

Service providers can provide applications like online bill pay and web self-care, making it possible for customers to make their own selections and decisions without having to call a customer service representative. Online customer relationship management (CRM) tools streamline processes and provides sales, marketing, and service personnel with better, more complete customer information, allowing service providers to build more profitable customer relationships while decreasing operating costs. Automated provisioning and activation results in immediate customer satisfaction.

Music downloads, movie downloads, and RSS feeds are all forms of very popular web content. As the provider of the pipe that delivers this content to the customer, service providers are seeing huge increases in bandwidth usage and will continue to grow (in some cases 300%). Will the increase of P2P, online video via PC, web, email, gaming, video communications, and VoIP paralyze the internet transmission backbone? Are service providers prepared and ready to handle the demand, availability, and cost?

sites, online communities, and online gaming have even attracted kids through sites like Webkinz. Service providers can partner with these social networking sites to offer local, topic-specific sites enabling community development online.

IMS Infrastructure Implications

Service providers want to be able to take advantage of new technologies and devices quickly and easily. They want the ability to combine traditional communications (ideally, to enhance them) to get value out of their investment to be more subscriber-focused, without requiring a major overhaul to their entire network and infrastructure. They want to combine traditional products and services with new content and e-commerce technologies and offerings. IMS is the answer. Until now, the feasibility of IMS was a challenge in terms of investment and maintenance for small-to-medium service providers.

With the right infrastructure, IMS is feasible for service providers of any size. Billing,

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