As Published In
Oracle Magazine
March/April 2008

COMMENT: Analyst's Corner

Wireless Providers Tackle Challenges

By Alan Joch

Telecommunications companies use SOA to attack information silos and inefficiencies.

Michele Pelino, senior analyst with Forrester Research, spoke with Oracle Magazine about the challenges and benefits of new types of business applications coming for wireless devices in the telecommunications industry.

Oracle Magazine: What business challenges do wireless telecom providers face today?

Pelino: First, they need to generate new revenue streams. Eventually the number of wireless customers will cease to increase, and these companies will have to find new ways to generate revenues from the subscribers they already have. To do that, they'll need to deploy new kinds of services and applications over the network. Second, the competitive landscape is getting more intense. Telecoms face competition from cable companies and the traditional wire-line providers. So keeping customers happy —as well as generating more revenue from each one—is pretty critical. Last are the issues related to the network and technology—what's the best way to support these services, how can they leverage their existing networks and then expand, and then how can they ultimately deploy these new services.

Oracle Magazine: What new kinds of wireless services and applications might we see in the near future?

Pelino: As enterprises expand their wireless capabilities, there will be vertical applications that are focused on particular types of users within an organization, such as the sales force. These applications will allow folks who are on the road to interact more efficiently with the internal systems that they need for their daily activities. People who are doing customer-facing jobs can also use CRM [customer relationship management] to interact with customers more efficiently whenever, wherever, and however customers want. And depending on the vertical, there will be applications to track inventory and the location of service repair people or delivery trucks, as well as other applications appropriate to that vertical.

Oracle Magazine: What technologies have telecom companies used to create these vertical applications? 

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Pelino: In the past, many telecommunications providers developed in-house service delivery platforms to create new applications and services. A service delivery platform consists of a variety of components that enable application developers and content providers to efficiently create and deploy new types of services for customers in a secure environment, while still maintaining the integrity of the network. The platform also makes it easier to link applications into the billing and operational support systems in a more standardized manner. Traditionally, these platforms created "silos," so that each time a company deployed a new type of service—whether e-mail, instant messaging, or SMS [short message service]—each of those applications had its own billing system and links into provisioning and CRM applications. That's not very efficient.

Oracle Magazine: How is the service delivery platform approach changing?

Pelino: As telecoms think outside of what they've done in-house, they're coming up with a service delivery platform approach that will allow them to open the silo doors. Telecoms are moving toward more of a standards-based interface environment that will allow them to pick and choose any vendor to help them with the capabilities they need, rather than developing proprietary systems internally.

Oracle Magazine: As companies evaluate service delivery platforms, what should they look for to ensure interoperability?

Pelino: Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is certainly one area that many of the service delivery platforms take advantage of. The SOA environment allows the pieces of the application to be separated into distinct services, including ones that recognize an end user's location, so applications can be put together in new ways. And that SOA environment would allow for standard interfaces, so ultimately companies don't have to build proprietary environments that are inefficient and costly to create.

The bottom line is that you can get these new applications and services out much more quickly and effectively without putting as much time or monetary resources into developing them. So you can get applications out there potentially in a matter of weeks, compared to many months or even years, which was common in the past.


Alan Joch
( is a technology writer who specializes in enterprise, Web, and high-performance-computing applications.

Forrester Research is an independent research company focusing on technology's impact on business and consumers.

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