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Subscriber Data Management: Unlocking hidden data assets

While it’s still being defined, SDM promises to help service providers resolve problems with dirty or duplicate data, cutting down revenue leakage, reducing opex and speeding new services to market

To “own” the customer and compete with encroaching competitors better known for their analytics capabilities, service providers must be able to personalize services that build brand loyalty.

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Only by building and leveraging rich service usage and subscriber profile information can service providers improve the planning and decision-making capabilities that underlie such services. Achieving that has been difficult, despite data warehousing and other database initiatives, like the introduction of HSS, or home subscriber servers in IMS architectures. Despite some of those efforts, many service providers still have different versions of “the truth” about their subscribers, with critical data trapped in multiple databases and management systems across their organization.

In order to derive real value from data tucked away in different systems, a relatively new approach, dubbed Subscriber Data Management (SDM) has emerged as a path toward a more consistent view of customers and services so that user preferences, behaviors and patterns can be intelligently deciphered to build user profiles. From those profiles, service providers can then drive future services and build business cases for new opportunities, such as advertising-driven initiatives.

Today, some of the key players trying to get a foothold in the SDM space include an array of companies including: Bridgewater Systems, Xeround, and Blueslice, Nokia Siemens (which acquired Apertio), Ericsson, Oracle, IBM, Redknee, Bridgewater, Openet, Ventraq and others. Infonetics Research recently predicted the worldwide total SDM market would grow to $789 million in 2013, up from $128 million in 2008.

While many of these companies claim to “set free the value of subscriber data,” there is no standard definition today of what “SDM” actually is. At its most basic level, SDM means having a centralized database pulling information from other network subscriber databases, as well as from OSS, CRM and other systems for building a central view of subscribers and services. “We look at it as an abstraction layer above network databases for maybe migrating or virtualizing data,” says Shira Levine, directing analyst, next-gen OSS and policy for Infonetics.

According to Infonetics’ definition, the main components of SDM software include: the subscriber and device data aggregation engine, which collects and aggregates subscriber and device data across a range of network databases; data federation software, which creates a standard user profile across multiple services and policies; and identity management software, which manages user identity and access to resources.

“While the focus for SDM has been somewhat network-centric, it is expected it might move up the stack as marketers and other business users get interested in meeting real-time up-sell and cross-sell needs (e.g., pushing mobile ads to subscribers based on preferences, location, account information), and real-time revenue assurance and fraud management needs,” Levine said.

So while SDM from a network vendor point of view revolves around HLR, HSS and AAA, the SDM focus might be defined differently by suppliers of data warehouses or by policy management, OSS, or charging and rating suppliers.

“What’s missing is someone who can do it all -- policy control, SDM and charging -- because you really want to make real-time decisions and then bill for it,” says Levine.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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