Subscriber Data Management (SDM) has gone from being the technology that would be a “nice to have” to an essential tool that operators are looking to adopt. Infonetics Research reported that the worldwide SDM market grew 29 percent in 2014 over 2013, to $1.4 billion. This was fueled by operator demand for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and subscriber analytics. The next wave of demand will be driven by virtualization and consolidation of various platforms in the mobile network. Along with this, the very definition of a subscriber is changing as we usher in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices become “subscribers” themselves.
While most operators do have some sort of system in place to manage their subscriber data, they need to take it one step further. It is important to go beyond the basic storage of subscriber data to a more advanced solution that enables them to manage subscriber data at scale, with high availability and low latency, and to monetize that data effectively.
Many operators have already deployed more advanced SDM solutions and are using them in innovative ways to deliver more value to subscribers and to reduce the operational cost associated with it. For those operators that are not on board with scalable Subscriber Data Management solutions quite yet, here are some of the top reasons why they should be considering the next generation of SDM solutions.
Manage and Monetize Data
Data is floating around everywhere – in applications, in subscribers’ billing information, in various networks and in their profiles. The problem is, the data is split across many different silos and is therefore duplicated, fragmented and difficult to manage. This also leads to higher costs associated with managing this data, as it has to be provisioned in multiple systems requiring different interfaces, and all in a consistent fashion. Operators are not able to look at all of the subscribers’ data in one place, so they are paralyzed when it comes to making holistic decisions about their subscribers.
A new generation of contemporary and innovative SDM solutions addresses these problems. They seek to provide a unified view of subscriber data (centralized or federated) in a system that can be deployed across data centers in a distributed fashion and can provide low latency access to the information. This will allow operators to launch innovative services more effectively, utilizing common subscriber information. The federation layer can also be used to implement a unified security access policy across all the repositories. This means that operators can secure and manage all their data repositories through SDM products. By deploying SDM products, applications that need continuous access to data – which is particularly useful if data is stored offsite by a third-party cloud service provider – get the benefits of federation. Other applications can continue to use their data repositories directly as required.
The benefit of all this is clear: allowing operators to view subscriber data in a unified fashion (centralized or federated) gives them the ability to understand subscriber behavior better. Understanding subscriber behavior can help operators provide innovative, highly personalized services such as push notifications about mobile roaming charges, and targeted offers based on geolocation. Essentially, by using SDM, operators can more effectively monetize their subscribers’ data.
According to Infonetics, the cost savings and operational efficiencies associated with reducing the number of subscriber data repositories remains a major factor behind SDM spending, particularly in emerging markets facing rapid subscriber growth. Operators in emerging markets need to scale their networks as quickly as possible, and do not have the time or resources to access subscriber data in multiple different repositories. They can become more efficient and ultimately reduce costs by deploying SDM solutions.
Get Ready for the Internet of Things
Deploying SDM is absolutely necessary as we rapidly approach the era of IoT. Almost anything and everything will turn into a connected device – our refrigerators, coffee makers, clothing, watches, toothbrushes, you name it – and with all of these new connections will come a huge wave of additional subscriber information. Soon the “things” within the Internet of Things will be considered “subscribers,” and data will flood the network at an astonishing rate. Operators need to be ready for the additional strain on their networks, and using SDM to view and manage subscriber data will prepare them for the oncoming influx of massive amounts of data being uploaded from every kind of device.
It’s Easy to Get a Right-Now Solution
Consolidating multiple data repositories into one repository is not a current option for most operators, because of legacy and technical issues. What is immediately needed is a means to provide a single federated view of all subscriber data, no matter where or how it is actually stored. This is where a subscriber data federation solution is useful. A subscriber data federator allows access to different types of database servers and files with various formats, and it is able to integrate data from all those data sources. It allows interfacing applications and tools to access the data through their native APIs and languages.
Operators need a solution that features a flexible interface to data silos that will read and write data to existing systems, allowing for a consolidated view of all subscriber data that can be accessed by all authorized applications. A solution such as this offers operators the agility they need today to add new services by federating data across different silos. Operators are able to make the connection between the data and the repository, regardless of structure and storage type.
Get On Board with SDM
As we have seen, there are compelling reasons to deploy SDM, and it’s clear why operators need to get on board with today’s efficient and highly scalable SDM solutions as soon as they can. Some of the biggest and most innovative operators are already adopting these SDM solutions. Operators who choose not to will inevitably find that managing their subscriber information is extremely more complex.