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Innovative Industry Insights to Help Accelerate Digital Transformation in a Communications-driven World

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Digital Transformation

Cloud Native and Microservices: Hallmarks of Next-Gen Applications

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming a differentiator in enterprise applications. At the recent Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, industry analysts and customers were assessing whether the software that will power 5G monetization and other functions is cloud-native and employing a microservices architecture. So what are they really asking? The software of yesteryear is monolithic in nature, meaning that all parts of the system are treated as a single object. This structure, or architecture, can be adequate for simple situations, but leads to many of the problems we all associate with enterprise-grade software development and deployment: long lead times to release new features, disconnects between the people doing the coding and those running it in data centers, security lapses, and difficulty in identifying and fixing bugs. In recent years, leading software providers moved away from this monolithic architecture and instead embraced the idea of building applications as a set of services, called microservices — each with its own job and defined way of interacting with other services. Let’s take monetization software as an example. One microservice might handle creating price plans while another handles invoice formatting and yet another handles payments. Each of these microservices are discrete parts that can be managed individually and orchestrated by technologies like Kubernetes to work together. This architecture yields significant benefits in enterprise-grade software, including: Speed and Agility. Customers can get software at a speed that can be orders of magnitude faster than traditional release schedules in a DevOps environment that enables continuous integration and continuous delivery; Innovation. Automation-driven faster release cycles of new software mean that customers quickly get the latest features and innovations in monetization, machine learning, adaptive intelligence and more; Scalability. Pay for only what you need and use. Suppose a customer has an especially high volume of transactions and needs to scale with charging capabilities, but not necessarily with taxation. Capacity can be added to deal with only the extra requirements, with the user charged only for whatever is increased. And even better, this can be handled dynamically with no human intervention; Availability. Unlike with monolithic software, microservices are designed to be easily and automatically replaced. If one component goes down, a new one is swapped in to do the same job without crashing the system. Walking the Walk Is Not Easy With all these benefits, it is no wonder everyone is looking for cloud-native applications. But it is actually a very significant undertaking for a software provider to shift from a monolithic to a microservices-based architecture. Industry analyst firm IDC projects that by 2022, 35 percent of all production apps will be cloud-native. That means that even three years from now, a majority will not yet have successfully made the shift to microservices. In the monetization and digital experience space, very few companies have successfully deployed fully cloud-native solutions. Fortunately, Oracle is ahead of this curve. Oracle Monetization Cloud is already architected to fully employ cloud-native principles. Deployed in a microservices architecture on Oracle’s Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure, it is delivering to communications and digital service providers around the world all the benefits of agility, innovation, scalability and availability. Read this position paper to learn more, including how Larry Ellison describes Oracle’s robots fighting cyber threats to deliver world-class security. Also read "Innovating Beyond Subscription" to see how you can implement creative pricing models through combinations of recurring, consumption-based, a la carte, bundled, discounted and tiered service options.

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming...

5G

Going Cloud Native: Building ‘True’ Cloud Models That Blend Process & People

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications industry. CSPs want to successfully deploy services in the cloud to answer to the challenge of webscale companies. They are exploring how to make the most of 5G, IOT, autonomous, smart cities, AR/VR and other use cases. A key requirement will be cloud-native applications that improve the agility of network functions. As a first step, many CSPs are migrating applications to containers and Kubernetes to optimize operations and implement stronger security during migrations to public cloud. For these reasons, Oracle is heavily vested in open source-, community-based, container-native themes. As a Platinum member with Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and champion of open source serverless platforms via its Fn Project, Oracle is building platforms that can be run anywhere–on any cloud or any on-prem environment. Because CSPs have different challenges around security, legacy, regulatory and other challenges, the freedom to choose is paramount. Additionally, Oracle is extending cloud-native approaches to new communities, like WebLogic and Java, using Kubernetes clusters to connect applications to microservices platforms, not to mention all that is being done around autonomous, self-driving/repairing databases. These investments by Oracle are now finding their way into the global business units that serve verticals looking for ways to fast track transformations. Reality Check The elephant in the room, however, is how to orchestrate such large quantities of containers and how to manage containers on multiple clouds. Oracle Communications is exploring how CNCF based open source software along with the principles of successful cloud-native operations can make cloud native computing pervasive for telecom. The future of cloud native in telecom revolves around four cloud characteristics: Each of the above is complex, and necessitates a rich ecosystem of services and technology to orchestrate, schedule, network, deploy, and maintain the cloud native software. Also required is a change in mindset about how services are built, and function. Oracle Communications’ cloud native environment Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) captures all four of the above rudiments. Built upon bare- metal-as-a-service infrastructure, it boasts a robust Kubernetes container management environment, complemented by key CNCF based backing services. It also provides a pipeline for developers designing, testing and building code all the way through to delivery, on a continuous basis. To learn more, go to our recent white paper, “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications,” which explores how microservices architecture and the concept of how a 12-factor application will empower developers to create software that is considered truly native to the cloud.  

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications...

5G

‘5G Realised’ Reveals What 5G Pioneers Have in Common with Black-Hole Scientists

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led to the discovery last week of the supermassive M87 black hole—its existence known because of the shadow it cast, not for any light that could escape its gravitational pull or any understanding of the power held within. Its newly ascribed name, Pōwehi, means embellished dark source of unending creation. The parallel struck me as I thought about my time at 5G Realised last week in London, where key stakeholders explored the enormous theoretical and practical obstacles they must overcome to make 5G truly revolutionary and valuable to customers, organizations, and societies as a whole. We sought to reveal the practical side of 5G without the business-case distortions that have in the past made some telecom executives and investors balk at the capital requirements and, frankly, the “unknown” that comes with 5G. Most impressive was the manner in which “competitors” collaborated for a common goal, much like the scientists that created the Event Horizon “virtual” telescope that pooled the capacity of telescopes around the world to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. At the event, four of the United Kingdom’s most prominent operators—Telefonica, Three UK, BT Group and Vodafone UK—worked to make sense of 5G from an urban planning, environmental and capital cost point-of-view in the fireside chat “Realising 5G Services,” which I was privileged to moderate. During the discussion, Andrea Dona, head of Vodafone UK Networks, described how enhanced mobile broadband would make fixed wireless access a substitute for fixed broadband connectivity—the likely monetization model that will get things rolling and set the stage for the B2B2C and B2B models that will eventually emerge around 5G hot spots with an EMBB boost, not to mention the IoT and mission-critical control use cases that will have far-reaching B2B consequences. Three UK’s COO Graham Baxter offered insight into what the average Three UK customer’s usage might be in the future, citing Ofcom projections of 90GB per month by 2025. In preparation, he outlined how regulationss will impact investment in terms of access to fiber, planning permissions, mobile spectrum leases, and net neutrality decisions that affect 5G slicing and monetization capabilities. BT Group’s CTIO Howard Watson outlined how mobile subsidiary EE will switch on 5G services in 16 U.K. cities in 2019, and the overall vision to create “one smart network” that is always connected and always optimized through an evolutionary path from first extending IMS to BT and EE customers, to then switching on its 5G network, to IP voice and public WiFi “on the go,” and a new core in the next few years. Brendan O' Reilly, the CTO of Telefonica said that "collaboration" was critical for the rapid build and deployment of the network, and this meant collaboration among the operators, government, local authorities, and enterprise, and so far this collaboration is going very well. He also felt that aside form the enterprise and FMA, gaming and entertainment users would be among the early adapters. The willingness to share visions and journeys was not unique to European carriers, as I see U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint working together in the 5G realm through the 3GPP, ATIS, and CSRIC, to drive standards and momentum. Everyone realizes they can’t do this alone and the only way to accelerate 5G progress is to work together on spectrum, construction and network build outs in the urban areas that will be ground zero for the first 5G deployments. Those 5G use cases will depend on how well all members of the value chain work together to address key challenges: Infrastructure: how to have enough fixed wireless antennas to maintain line-of-sight with nearby cells for fixed 5G wireless, and the future of mobile 5G.  What’s the best way to set up “street furniture,” the cellular base stations on street lamps and utility poles that will make 5G viable without having to put cell sites every 600 feet? Spectrum: How much and where?  Just this week, controversy erupted when the White House and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced there’d be auctions in the 37, 39 & 47 GHz bands, only to have the FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and many in the press contend that the “rest of the world” would be focused on mid-band airwaves (i.e., CBRS and C-Band spectrum) that are less susceptible to obstruction by buildings, trees, people and even air. Leadership: Who will be driving the vision—will it be the CSPs that bring use cases to the industries most hungry for innovation, or will it be certain industries whose needs catalyze disruption enough to spark real 5G use cases of import? One of the key values of 5G Realised was the tangible effort to connect those who want 5G sooner rather than later with those who can actually supply it. All who attended worked to put aside the unrealistic and explore more of the pragmatic in terms of where 5G would first work and the use cases that would really be viable in gaming, energy, security, financial services, agriculture, health, automotive, transportation and other industries. Though leaders across industries admit they don’t really know what the true impact of 5G will be for them, they do know they have real problems to solve and real pressure to create new revenues. There would be no Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, Lyft or Airbnb today without 4G, and none of us thought of it before. And just like the discovery of Pōwehi, the value of the 5G journey is in what we don’t yet know. Related Content: On-Demand Webinar: The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G White Paper: 5G Core: How To Get There Blog: We Must All Push for Worldwide 5G Security Now  

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led...

Customer Experience

Are You Ready for Digital Customer Engagement?

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a voice-centric contact center standing in the way as you embrace digital innovation? Nemertes Research recently talked about the diminishing role of contact centers, and some of the questions organizations can ask to assess where they are with digital customer experience, such as: Do you offer a mobile app that connects your customer to the right service associate? Have you added contextual chat, voice, or video to your website? Can you proactively engage customers across the buyer journey? Can you interact with customers via their preferred channels? Can you intelligently upsell and cross-sell based on past transactions and business insights? Can your associates share and annotate screens to assist customers and spur product adoption? If the answer to many of the above-questions was “no,” then it’s time to accept that you can no longer rely on the patterns that worked yesterday, and certainly not yester-year! Customers expect you to know exactly what they want and how to deliver it. All generations of people now interact with sales and support professionals through an array of channels—chat, voice, and video. And they expect the experience to be meaningful and satisfying. According to an Oracle Communications survey of 5000+ consumers, 95% of consumers today are mobile and 70% are highly engaged through their mobile applications. This creates complexity for organizations, as the customer journey is no longer linear, as it used to be. The use of smart applications and mobile devices to research, review, purchase and get customer service now triggers more erratic or unpredictable behaviors and choices. So how can organizations meet their customers at critical junctures, especially as the number of touchpoints and preferred channels increase? Two Major Approaches to Digital Transformation According to Mark Mortensen of ACG Research, there are two approaches to digital transformation: an outside-in approach, where a company digitalizes the interactions between itself and its customers using digital-first, digital-only and ominichannel options to go after more revenue, and greater customer satisfaction; or the inside-out model of getting infrastructure in place that transforms the back office so that the company begins faster, agile and cheaper to transact with. Both are hard to do, and most companies ultimately choose one or the other to get the ball rolling. A good plan is to take a page from digital natives like Netflix and Uber, which excel at carving out any inconveniences a person might encounter in the customer lifecycle by very frequently evaluating business models and the technologies and trends that will help them build more satisfying and enduring relationships. Keep in mind these “innovators” started as small disruptors who did NOT get the “right idea” right away. They worked at it and made sometimes painful investments in infrastructure, processes and culture to ensure their evolution was smooth to the customers. Oracle Live Experience customer TelkomTelstra said in a recent video that if a customer has a single fail when trying something new, it is likely that customer will simply go to another provider that fulfills his or her expectations. That’s why the company’s transformation involves flexible business models powered by small APIs that can be rapidly implemented on existing customer infrastructure and applications — without major investment in skilled developers, infrastructure and applications. The Next Step: Cultural Shift As organizations figure out how to move the contact center from cost center to a revenue generator and loyalty driver, they can simultaneously think of how to incentivize even their least digital customers to try new engagement channels, rewarding them for trying something new, as well as giving them an “out” if something new isn’t working for them. Most people won’t take kindly to being driven down a “customer journey” they didn’t choose, as happens when they get stuck in a process and have to search for an 800 number once they reach a point of frustration. For customers not familiar with AI chatbots and video chat, there can be a step-wise transition. Modern customer engagement strategy can aim to provide proactive engagement and transformative experience, moving customers at their own pace beyond the contact center with small steps at first. And as multiple satisfactory experiences are created, they will be more likely to try new things. Companies can offer incentives that reward customers for interacting digitally-i.e., free music downloads, event tickets, digital movie rentals or eBooks. Think of how digital CX innovators are doing things and adopt what you can. Look at Oracle customer Marriott, which is setting the pace for digital in the hospitality industry, using digital rewards to delight customers and make them promoters of their brand. By creating high-touch experiences, Marriott is enhancing, not replacing, the experience customers expect by personalizing experiences, especially for customers that want mobile check in and check out, two-way digital conversations, connections of their personal devices to in-room entertainment, or mobile requests for food and beverage. As another example, Insurance companies can streamline operations, improving efficiencies and scaling their business, while also providing a compelling customer experience. Watch how digital insurance companies can deliver zero-touch claims processing, as well how banks are delivering in-app banking experiences on mobile devices. To learn more about modernizing customer engagement for the mobile generation, download our new eBook.  

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a...

Digital Transformation

CSPs Uniquely Positioned to Enable Comms-Driven Digital Ecosystems-But How to Go About It?

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the social-to-cash-to-care lifecycle. Digital services have shown immense traction and benefits across vertical markets as they increasingly prove themselves as the way forward. These services are all about tapping into and connecting with customers through a broader range of more flexible, personalized and customized services. To fluidly connect people and process across ever-expanding boundaries in digital services, it’s necessary that enterprises and their communications providers digitally transform in their own right—continually introducing more robust and flexible communications as the underpinning of evolving digital services and the ecosystems that will enable them. Communications is becoming increasingly fundamental to digital services for not only connectivity, but also increasingly mobile, sensor- and device-driven, real-time services that demand and generate incredible amounts of data. That will uniquely position telecommunications service providers as the only ones in these ecosystems capable of connecting key stakeholders and managing the innate complexity of having so many comms, IT, operational and business pieces working together in increasingly smart interconnected ecosystems. It’s through ecosystems that the best services will be provided, integrating the unique capabilities and position of the CSPs with a range of services for increasingly higher value verticalized offers. The Challenge: there is no one way to do this! To fully capitalize on the opportunity to become the horizontal underpinning of digital services and ecosystems, as well as to provide increasingly integrated vertical offerings, CSPs are setting the stage for working in new Cloud- and Edge-driven ecosystems.  This is not a simple proposition as there are a number of different approaches to cloud deployments, including public and private clouds, edges, and hybrid approaches.  These may all be used in different flavors and combinations depending on the providers, ecosystems and use cases. The maturation of IoT and the move toward 5G each has its own implications as well. Many CSPs have been building up private clouds to address their own deployment needs and to move into digital services. There are some common approaches to this that are evolving to be more Cloud Native. Challenges abound, however, with multiple environments within these clouds and a range of complicated orchestration that is struggling to serve business needs.  Time-proven approaches of standing up networks out of individual boxes for a limited set of use cases do not scale rapidly enough as ecosystems rapidly evolve along with their cloud, and now edge technologies. 5G and SBA, enough? The changes in 5G introduce some relief, as a move towards a much more cloud-friendly approach gives rise to the Service-Based Architecture that allows for a better fit into cloud and edge environments, not to mention more rapid evolution of the building blocks of the services provided by these networks.  Though it’s an improvement, it does fall short in several ways. For one, these changes need to fold into the need of operators to participate in and host ecosystems around more integrated services.  That, in turn, requires a different mindset than building networks only out of boxes and a move towards providing and integrating higher value services using the advantages of ecosystems and clouds.  For example, the value in the network slices popularized by 5G, and starting to be deployed on 4G, is not just in the specialization potential.  It is just as much in the ability to bundle up entire slices as offerings and realize the reduction in complexity and operations that can bring, along with the possibility of better integration in to vertical services and ecosystems. As an industry, we must continue down this path and work to take advantage of communications as the underpinning of these ecosystems. To learn more about ecosystems and integrating services via marketplaces, listen to our new webinar “5G and Cloud—Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators.” Also read our new white paper “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications” to see how practitioners responsible for network-oriented applications are trying to move to the “web services” model.      

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the...

UC and Contact Center

The ‘Darlings’ of Enterprise Connect were UCaaS, SD-WAN, & Artificial Intelligence

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change, and—in sharp contrast to Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago—5G was not the darling of the event, as four other areas seemed to steal the show: Cloud-based UC, Collaboration and CC: Since Enterprise Connect is really more about communications than networking, it had a strong focus on unified communications (UC) and the Contact Center (CC), with everything becoming available “as-a-service” through the cloud. Whether UCaaS or CCaaS or Communications PaaS, it was apparent that everyone had embraced comms in the cloud, and subscriptions to the cloud as opposed to anything targeting on-prem sales. The focus was UC&C (collaboration) that would integrate different elements of comms for faster, better, cheaper collaboration, culminating with in-app communications that would capitalize on real-time video and audio communications integrated into mobile, cloud, and desktop apps. While most vendors were showing they were “all in” with cloud, Oracle Communications also felt it was important to emphasize to customers that they could extend the life of their on-prem telephony infrastructure as they evolved toward cloud-driven audio, video, mobile and Internet-driven capabilities. A case in point was our announcement about fortifying Microsoft Teams with our Session Border Controller, showing a hybrid option for taming complexity and managing security across chat, meetings, and calling as enterprises evolve. That would give orgs Teams features while maintaining their on-prem voice, which they could augment with cloud-based audio/video collaboration and messaging. SD-WAN: As enterprises move their real-time communications to the cloud through Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), with packets running over the Internet, it will be SD-WAN that ensures QoE over the network, no matter where their users are. And the more real-time communications move over to the cloud, the more organizations will need border security. Enterprises will need more secure pipes for apps and services being delivered to users. That means not only generic security, but also app-level security. That’s where our enterprise portfolio shines, and that’s what we were really demonstrating at Enterprise Connect—our SBCs as the voice edge of an enterprise network and our Failsafe SD-WAN technology as the data edge of the enterprise network. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Advanced Data Analytics: As evidenced by the five keynotes, the combination of AI, ML and Advanced Data Analytics are already enhancing employees’ interactions. We saw, for example, how real-time translation during conference calls could improve collaboration and productivity among employees speaking different languages. On top of that, adding context about each person on a conference call could give each individual insight about his or her relation to others on the call—giving a better understanding of past interactions and the potential for future synergies and interactions. It was refreshing to see practical demonstrations of how these technologies are transforming customer engagement. Virtual assistants and bots were already cutting out most if not all extraneous questions so that human agents and associates could focus on higher-value engagement with customers—driving contact centers toward the profit side of the spectrum as opposed to cost. As enterprises get better at understanding and even predicting customer behavior (and their preferences around channels, devices, locations, etc.). it will be contextual insight that informs companies on how to engage increasingly mobile and demanding customers throughout their engagement lifecycle to drive up loyalty and sustainable revenues. 5G-driven mobile data capabilities: Though most enterprises at the show were not really talking about 5G and IoT, many analysts present were discussing how 5G speeds and lower latencies would be game changers for enterprises in the not too distant future. Improved network capacity and performance will inevitably mean happier customers. SD-WAN will play a critical role in ‘gluing’ 5G with other existing network access technologies like MPLS and Broadband Internet. We have recently explored the potential of network-slice-as-a-service and other exciting opportunities 5G will bring to enterprises. To learn more about how to transition enterprise networks, explore the findings of our new research about managing enterprise networks, and watch our recent Webcast with Oracle Communications Senior Vice President and General Manager Doug Suriano, Oracle Communications Worldwide Vice President Vin La Rocca, and Oracle Communications Vice President, Products and Co-Founder Talari Networks John Dickey.

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change,...

Security

Cracking Down on ‘Call Spoofing’ With STIR/SHAKEN & Next-Gen Call Authentication

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in the form of illegal and spoofed robocalls have become the FCC's top consumer complaint. Illegal robocalls are also the prevailing complaints for Europe’s OFCOM and UK ICO, as well as Canada’s CRTC. Call “spoofing” — the practice of deliberately falsifying information transmitted to caller ID displays or tricking someone into giving away valuable personal information — has become so prevalent that FCC Chairman Pai this past November demanded that CSPs adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing, threatening that the agency would intervene if carriers didn’t commit to a solution. As a follow up, the FCC this month called on all in the industry to "catch up" so that regulatory intervention wouldn’t be necessary in light of this heightening epidemic. Heeding the call of both the FCC and their consumers, many carriers have begun researching how to best implement ATIS’ STIR/SHAKEN standards and solutions. ATIS’ and the SIP Forum’s publication of the Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards provide a framework of interconnected standards intended to help carriers digitally validate the handoff of phone calls as they travel through interconnected phone networks. The hope is that by having originating carriers affirm caller IDs as “legitimate” and by having those caller IDs further validated by other carriers before reaching consumers, the level of confidence that verified calls are indeed legitimate will go up, restoring trust among consumers, and helping legitimate businesses regain one of the most tried-and-true marketing tools in phone-based communications with potential or existing customers. Call Authentication in the Age of the Dynamic Reputation Database To keep up with the criminals’ adaptability, STIR/SHAKEN solutions must be robust, flexible and rapidly extensible through an application delivery model that enables CSPs to deploy standards-compliant functionalities on day one. They must have the ability to alter applications rapidly, with feature enhancements deployable in weeks or months, not quarters or years.   Oracle Communications has achieved all three with its next-gen call authentication solution, which runs STIR/SHAKEN components on carrier-grade platforms and extensible technology, integrating with licensed and long-proven components: Oracle Commerce Cloud (OCC) Applications; Oracle Communications Converged Application Server (OCCAS Middleware); Oracle Key Vault (OKV) and Oracle Communications User Data Repository (UDR); as well as additional platform and application support from MyOracle Support and the Oracle Communications Consulting application delivery model, which can triage and respond in accordance with SLAs. The OCCAS Middleware delivers feature-rich SIP and Web applications like the STIR/SHAKEN secure telephone identity (STI-AS/STI-VS). As a robust development toolkit, OCCAS enables applications to natively support SIP, REST, JSON, SOAP, LDAP, and JDBC — scaling horizontally, and deployable as a virtual machine or Bare Metal. It’s also important to note that OCCAS is extensible so that it can be central to multi-analytics capabilities, which means it can integrate with a cloud-based, third-party nuisance analytics database. In such a case, it would help pull nuisance analytics and push feedback. The Oracle Key Vault (OKV) is a purpose-built hardened appliance that is well suited to storing private and sensitive data.  Finally, Oracle’s “on-demand development as a service” changes the traditional feature delivery model by removing the concept of a request for enhancement (RFE) back log from the start and empowers CSPs to rapidly deploy feature enhancements. All of these components comprise a solution that provides STIR SHAKEN “Caller-ID Attestation,” ensuring originating operators can validate caller identity, and inserting a signed “Identity” header into SIP INVITE messages. “Signing” is done with a certificate issued to the origination operator and terminating operators are then able to validate the signature and take appropriate action based on the results. Inter-operator trust can therefore be established though certificate chains. To learn more about how STIR/SHAKEN runs on Oracle, go to this new video, and to find out more contact us.

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in...

Security

Sneak-Peek of Oracle Communications at Enterprise Connect: SD-WAN, E911 & More

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 and unified communications, contact centers, and customer experience. On March 18, from 1:00-1:45, Oracle Communications will have subject matter experts speaking in two concurrent sessions: Communications Hacks: Sources and Solutions As part of the Security and Compliance Track, this session focuses on call centers and whether they are becoming the main target for toll fraud. Our own Rajat Gopal, senior director product management and strategy, will join a panel discussion about security architectures and what enterprise IT departments can do about SIP access attacks, telephony denial of service (TDoS) and the emerging variations on legacy security threats. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the security approaches required to stay ahead of threats. Some key questions the panel will answer: Is toll fraud growing as a problem, even as long-distance telephony declines? What kind of SIP-based attacks are most prevalent? What impact are TDoS attacks having? What should Session Border Controllers and other devices be able to do? How can employees be better trained to reduce risks? Meeting the E911 Challenge: Under the Unified Communications Track, Andrew Gottlieb, vice president, SD-WAN Solutions, Oracle Communications, will take part in a panel that will address 911 strategy, and how to maintain accurate 911 information in a multi-vendor environment, on premises and in the cloud, while implementing features such as the ability to notify security desks of 911 calls, call recording, and misdial prevention. Key questions the panel hopes to address include: How to identify a caller’s location and route that call to the proper public safety answering point (PSAP)? How can UC architects manage E911 location in wireless and softphone-based environments? How to best track user locations and what to do with emergency location tracking information provided by Apple and Google? What happens to E911 location information when moving to the cloud? Deploying Failsafe SD-WANs for Contact Centers On day one, from 6:10PM – 6:30 PM, Oracle Communications will have a  Contact Center and Customer Experience presentation in EC Theater 2200. Oracle SD-WAN experts will explain how to improve traffic reliability while lowering costs. The focus will be MPLS-class reliability and application QoE for both hybrid and all-Internet WANs, delving into both virtual- and cloud platforms to deliver UCC, Data-Center apps, and reliable mission critical real-time communications —even when networks fail or are compromised. The presentation will cover questions such as: How can enterprise WAN managers and CIOs work with limited IT resources in remote locations? How can managers feel secure replacing time-tested MPLS-based solutions with unpredictable Internet connections? How can WAN administrators avoid having to map applications to network connections on a per-session basis? We hope to see you next week in Orlando at booth 1619—stop by for a demo and set up a meeting with one of our Oracle Communications team members! Additionally, we look forward to seeing those who will be attending  our Enterprise Customer Advisory Board event, held Thursday, March 21st at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center. For further reading in preparation of what you will experience at the event, go to the  Oracle  + Talari Networks blog page for a comprehensive look at SD-WANs; download this recent Nemertes UC Security Whitepaper, “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You"; and see our Webinar “Is Your IP Telephony Network Vulnerable?”      

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 an...

5G

We Must ‘All’ Push for Worldwide 5G Security NOW

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of innovation and security as we transition from 4G to 5G. Security encompasses the network itself (the RAN and CORE), the application layer, and the devices connecting to those networks. Where security used to be layered in “after the fact” we all know that with 5G it must be built in from the ground up. The influence we as a nation, and foreign countries, have over 5G standards will have wide-ranging impact as 5G is like nothing we have ever seen before. After decades of trying, 5G represents the first true convergence of IT technologies and telecoms business—making SS7, SIP and Diameter relics of the past as truly cloud-based, software-based data centers come into replace the Central Office. Our decades of lessons around SS7 and Diameter taught us that it’s not the technology that is the problem, but rather the partners we “trust” and to which we connect that can prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Many show themselves to be complicit, providing access to rogue companies and actors, which demands a re-think about network boundaries as we develop 5G. Currently, the work is falling squarely on the 3GPP SA WG 3, whose 3GPP TS 33.501 is the first 5G spec to come from the collaboration of industry, which worked with the GSMA to address issues like session hijacking, network spoofing and security architecture and procedures for 5G systems. We all want to get there fast, but we have to build in security and know that the standards are complete before we open up catastrophic vulnerabilities—catastrophic to not only individuals, but to industry, government and societies as a whole. It will be another year to year and a half before release 16 will be done, but an amazing amount of work has been done in release 15.  We focused on the 5G radio so that first 5G spectrum would work on existing 4G networks, and with the next release, we can look at the core network functionality, and defining things like congestion control and other basic fundamentals. There is yet more standards work underway, focusing on the tools and security controls that should be built into 5G design specifications in order to ensure 5G networks and devices are sufficiently secure from their inception. Consider that your connected toothbrush doesn’t need to have the same level of security as your pacemaker, so there has to first be classification of devices to ensure the most critical get the security treatment they demand.  That is something ATIS,for example, has been very active in when it comes to 5G security requirements.   The U.S. market is an anomaly in that it has as many as 400+ telephone companies—some with less than 1,000 subscribers—who will sometimes choose to do what’s fastest or cheapest rather than what’s most secure. As a result, it’s very important that not only the “big 4” telcos commit to 5G security, but that all of the small- to mid-sized telcos do so as well. It’s everyone’s responsibility to become well educated about how existing vulnerabilities will affect not only 5G, but even existing 3G and 4G networks. Recently I attended the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) panel “Mitigating Security Risks to Emerging 5G Networks” as Chairman of the Network Security Working Group of the Communications Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). I was joined by security experts from AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. State Department, and FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel delivered the keynote. She noted “these are interesting times” in that they represent the best option for making sure equipment manufacturers, CSPs, government agencies and consumers think about how to: Build security into devices; Implement security practices for the entire lifecycle of equipment; Educate IT and business leaders, as well as consumers about “cyberhygiene”; Ensure compliance to best practices for security; Establish a common language for managing risk. During the CSIS talk, Rosenworcel referred to the race to 5G as a microcosm for the broader debate about global leadership and economic security. And because it is the FCC that will have to license the millions of devices that come with the rise in 5G and the IoT, Rosenworcel urged that all of us consider some salient challenges and questions, such as: With every device emitting a radio frequency passing through the FCC, what role should the agency play when issuing licenses for public airways in terms of encouraging service providers and manufacturers to comply with security best practices? What level of disclosure should there be around security practices for the full lifecycle of equipment? Can there be a common language instituted for managing risk—across industry, government and different sectors? What can be done to evangelize better consumer cyberhygiene (i.e., when downloading software upgrades, when assessing connection security in cases of unlicensed airwaves)? With these questions looming, it is important that all stakeholders join forces, as did AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. State Department, Oracle and the FCC during the CSIS event. With Mobile World Congress coming to a close, and other events coming up, like TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World, we should continue to make the impact of nations’ decisions on 5G security a critical issue, and all should join forces to educate consumers, enterprises, governments and industries overall of the what breaches in IoT and 5G devices, networks and infrastructure could mean. It’s also extremely important that government agencies continue to work with leaders in the industry to address the risks posed by those suppliers’ who do “on site” development and customizations in ways that are risky to the greater whole who stand to otherwise benefit from all that 5G has to offer. For example, the work by the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue alerts and educational materials will help guide IT service providers and customers. To watch CISA’s most recent webinars, go here. Also, look at the this video “Securing the Network” about how to protect yourself as network virtualization creates a larger attack surface for cyber-criminals.

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of...

5G

Survey Says 5G Smart Ecosystems Critical To Going Digital

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings revealed that the overwhelming majority of enterprises are aware of the benefits that 5G can bring to their business, with 60 percent of IT and business executives saying they are already undertaking a strategic review of 5G network technologies, evaluating its potential impact on business objectives—the most salient being: Increasing employee productivity Reducing costs Enhancing customer experience Improving business agility When asked about the importance of network qualities, the IT decision-makers highlighted network speed and resilience as key benefits they expect, but interestingly, business decision-makers focused on QoE, which was the highest-ranked network quality they said they would like with 5G. At the heart of that QoE they cited “extremely reliable mobile connectivity” as critical. As for expectations around timing for 5G, it seems the majority of enterprises feel basic connectivity solutions to be deployed by 2021 and more advanced “transformative” capabilities to be available in the 2022-2023 timeframe. In the meantime, respondents noted that the “ecosystems” in which 5G will be structured will be based on 5G network-enabled solutions. That means CSPs will be critical enablers to those ecosystem buildouts. Because 5G-driven smart ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models, there will be key innovations that arise from their evolution, namely: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engines; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  With these innovations, smart ecosystems will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented software capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. To learn more about smart ecosystems, download our new white paper “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems Are the Future” and visit us at Mobile World Congress at booth 3B30 in Hall 3 at #MWC 2019. Find out how to expand your competitive advantage with transitional 4G-to-5G network and monetization solutions, advanced cloud capabilities, and end-to-end security and SD-WAN solutions.

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings...

Customer Experience

Digital Customer Experience: Are Your Customers Struggling to Connect with You?

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how companies interact with their customers and how decisions are made. Business leaders are taking note. In fact, a recent Nemertes Research survey of 700 global organizations found that as many as 85 percent of companies have developed or are planning to develop Digital Customer Experience (DCX) strategies. Many in the survey indicated they will devote measurable budgets and employees to the efforts as most companies, on average, have experienced the following success metrics after launching a DCX initiative: 50% improvement in customer ratings 
 15% reduction in operational costs 
 31% growth in sales 
 68% more customers won; 14% fewer customers lost 
 31% reduction in contact-center agent turnover 
. [Note: for access to the Nemertes paper, register for our Digital Customer Experience Webinar]. Here at Oracle Communications, we have found that companies that do not invest in DCX risk severe competitive disadvantage. Measurable success in revenue growth, cost reduction, and higher customer ratings requires a DCX strategy that helps address certain key questions, such as: Are your customers struggling to connect with you? Can you meet your customers where they are in terms of device, location, engagement channel choice? How well does your mobile app provide service and sales support? Would you like to improve customer satisfaction and convert service opportunities into sales? Coming into your store and having a personal meeting with you as a business owner or manager is often the last thing a customer will do. Instead, that customer wants to engage through a peferred device to immediately connect and create a meaningful experience. To create that desired experience, DCX transformation focuses on omnichannel communications, new methods of proactive collaboration and outreach and loyalty-building programs and campaigns. Businesses can empower customers to make DCX truly personalized, contextual and meaningful throughout the entire customer engagement lifecycle. To do so, they must increasingly realize the customers expect them to cater to their needs, regardless of where they are or whether they are using multiple devices to research/shop/buy/get support. Customers want a choice in the paths they can take, and rarely will they follow the paths that businesses have carefully laid out for them. As they navigate their own path of engagement, they build an individualized journey. Businesses have to honor that journey, meeting customers where they are, in context, with the appropriate interaction to make the most of their individualized journeys. As this happens, there will continue to be a dramatic shift in the balance of power between organizations and their customers across virtually all industries. Customers will continue to redefined their “ideal experience,” and business leaders will have to determine whether they are ready to take the next step. To learn more about that "next step,"  register for our upcoming Webinar “Real-World Success Metrics for Digital Customer Experience" and view our recent video: “Why Should Companies Invest in Digital Customer Engagement?” Additionally, you can view our recent eBook, “New Ways to Engage the Connected Customer.”

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how...

5G

5G Smart Ecosystems Are Critical to Digital Business

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented platforms capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. With so many moving parts, service providers and enterprises must make sure to keep customer experience top of mind. Customers expect intuitive experiences and context-driven interactions that are real time and dynamic in nature. Whether moving toward smart homes, smart workplaces or smart cities, it is digital smart ecosystems that must somehow improve peoples’ lives. They can do so only by abstracting the complexity that comes with managing far-flung data, monetization models, partner ecosystems, clouds and connectivity infrastructure. To manage that complexity, there are three key innovations that will underpin successful Smart Ecosystems: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engine; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  These innovations will make CSPs the ideal enablers of smart ecosystems, particularly as they move toward 5G. Their role will be paramount in expanding beyond connectivity to application and service provisioning, as well as enablement of digital services like connected cars, entertainment and IoT management. A recent Oracle survey revealed that 49 percent of network and IT executives are exploring 5G-enabled smart city services, looking to 5G as a way to increase penetration in the enterprise market. As they evaluate roles in smart ecosystems, they will need to seek out solutions that help them to integrate network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications. They must also increasingly leverage analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in order to deliver a more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experience. To find out more about how to build and leverage digital smart ecosystems, download our recent white paper, “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems are the Future.”  

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented...

5G

What Does It Really Mean to Be in the Cloud?

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you have developing and running the software, the more continuous delivery and integration you have, the greater the opportunity to improve software quality with shorter cycles—and overall, the better off you are.   Microservices come into play in the operations realm, with each piece of deployed software having an independent lifecycle of upgrades and scalability. If you cannot scale and upgrade automatically, then you are not truly taking advantage of all the Cloud has to offer! Of course, there is more to operating in the Cloud than the aforementioned three concepts when building out a Cloud 2.0 journey. Below we offer up eight principles that have been foundational to Oracle Communications in establishing its own SaaS services. The principles are derived from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and we believe they are crucial to this journey: System Immutability: Since everything is code, and all changes are made through CI/CD, no manual configurations or customizations are allowed. This enforces an effective intrusion detection framework and any changes that are not part of the programmed pipeline are considered malicious. Automate Everything: Since all aspects of build, test, verification and deployment are automated, this enables a DevOps pipeline for rapid repair and minimizes human error factors. Disposability:  This is all about faster recovery from failure with regular repaving (re-deployment) where failing services are automatically removed and new ones deployed. Externalized Configuration: Decoupling the configuration from the software and treating it as a build artifact in a controlled and versioned manner enables development and production parity, with versioned configuration eliminating costly operational errors. Logs as Event Streams and Constant Telemetry: This is a fundamental enabler for better threat monitoring, forensics and diagnostics for an aggregated and time-ordered holistic view of events. Delegated Governance: This puts in place a business agility compliance enforcement and feedback loop for greater control of the rate of change in a DevOps environment. Independent Lifecycle: Independently upgrading, scaling and deploying each Microservice is paramount for supporting other cloud native principles as well as minimizing the amount of change in the system at a given time. These eight principles are enablers for better cloud operation. And as 5G introduces increased connectivity and speed, along with the need for more security and reliability, service providers will need the agility, flexibility and security of the Cloud and Cloud-Native principles.  By leveraging these principles, organizations will be able to evolve and prepare for 5G and its promise for innovative business models and new revenue streams. For more insights, view our on-demand webinar "5G and Cloud, Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators."   Also listen to other related webinars: 5G Core: How to Get There The Potential of Network Slicing

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you...

Oracle Communications

Customer Advisory Boards Offer Unique Opportunities For Oracle Customers

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At these Customer Advisory Board (CAB) events, customers get direct access to experts in the Oracle Communications product teams, building relationships that help align and accelerate product innovation and implementation. Customers also engage in conversations and build relationships with peers — one of most unique aspects of CAB being the camaraderie and the ability to share individual experiences along with views of technology and business evolution. “CAB is a great platform where we get to meet the communities that are using similar types of products. It’s great to interact with peers who have similar domain knowledge and to be able to talk to them to see if they face similar challenges,” says SiriusXM’s Dalbir Gambhir, senior director, application development. “Also, we get to meet the oracle team that is working on innovation and advancement of products and processes.” Vittal Cooduvalli, senior director, application platform operations at Charter Communications also values the intimate sessions with Oracle experts: “The product sessions have been very valuable on two faces - one, in trying to understand the roadmap, and two, to correlate it to what we do in our business.” If you are interested in this unique experience of relationship building and having direct access to product and industry experts, you are welcome to join the Oracle Communications Customer Advisory Board meetings coming this spring: The Global Enterprise CAB to be held in conjunction with Enterprise Connect on March 21 in Orlando, Florida; The Global CSP CAB to be held April 9-10 at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores, CA The theme for both CABs will be “smart ecosystems,” with agendas that delve into areas such as 5G, IoT, Network Slices, SD-WAN, SaaS, Security, and Analytics.  Agendas span functional and business innovations along with security aspects of building these ecosystems.  Agendas also include discussions of the roles CSPs and enterprises can play in these innovations.   Subject matter experts and customers will have deep discussions about integrated network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications and how to leverage analytics, AI and ML. The goal is to help customers and partners build more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experiences for their subscribers. Breakout sessions will be organized in tracks focused on Enterprise Communications, Monetization, Orchestration, RODOD, Digital Business Experience, Session Delivery and Signaling (Spanning 3G, 4G, 5G). There will be deep dives on upcoming features, functionality, and use-cases. Also find out what’s up and coming in demonstrations taking place during networking breaks. How to Join the Community If you would like to attend either of the upcoming Oracle Communications CAB meetings so that you too can play a role in product direction and future releases, first check that you are eligible to attend as a customer. That means you must be licensed with one or more products in the areas of: Enterprise Communications Orchestration, RODOD and Digital Business Experience Monetization Session Delivery Signaling and Policy Please note that customers must have a valid and active Customer or Partner Participation Confidentiality Agreement (CPCA) in place to attend the CAB. Then, contact your Oracle Sales Representative to become a part of the community.   1.    

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At...

Security

What to do? Botnets on the Rise with Voice-Enabled Smart Devices

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made up of PCS, handsets, servers and devices now bursts with millions of tiny, connected “things” — in homes and enterprises: security cameras, door locks, DVRs, WiFi routers, printers, appliances, monitors. What happens when millions more users begin streaming music, setting timers, controlling in-home and in-office devices with the IoT-driven digital services? How many millions of potentially “infected” “things” will make us all vulnerable to sabotage and espionage? Of particular concern are botnet-driven malware attacks, like the Hide-n-Seek and Mirai attacks. Not too long ago, 50,000 unsecured IP surveillance cameras in Japan carried out a massive DDoS botnet attack. These types of attacks can be self propagating and trigger massive IoT infections, and even DoS attacks. These attacks are even “monetized, with cryptocurrency sites becoming the most recent target. And as perpetrators succeed, they make the code publicly available so that copycats can race to also capture their “15 minutes of fame” —albeit anonymously. These threats are certainly catching the attention of service providers offering smart-home and intelligent-business services, but even “hardening” of devices cannot fully offset what manufacturers fail to do. For this reason, most security and IT professionals never “breathe easy.” They know the bad guys are racing to be 20 steps ahead, as evidenced in a recent Oracle Communications’ industry survey that shows security as the #1 network challenge. We expect security to be an increasing concern with the migration from 4G to 5G architecture and the expansion of the IoT. As the surface area of security risk exposure expands, CSP customers and enterprises will demand that suppliers invest in broader network and web application security—anything that helps them gain visibility into botnet activity and to detect when bots are being distributed in various parts of their networks. In that vein, Oracle Communications has invested significantly in 5G next-gen core security, as well as improving its capabilities to detect new security threats with the acquisition of DNS pioneer DYN. The global DNS is a critical core component and a natural extension to Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure and Network solutions — all of which are intrinsically architected with Security as a number-one priority. For CSPs and their enterprise customers to protect against botnets, they have to continue to explore solutions that are securely architected, securely deployed, securely maintained and independently verified. That is the case, for example, with Oracle Communications Session Border Controller, which offers SBC denial of service (DoS) self-protection. The SBC is just one example of the Oracle Communications solutions available to provide multiple levels of security. And as our CSP and enterprise customers get into IoT-driven digital services and feel the pressure to ensure their customers, partners and employees are protected from botnet-driven malware attacks, they will see that security is part of our DNA, as we have architected foundational solutions like Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Autonomous Database with security as a number-one priority. To read more about defeating malicious bots, go here. And to learn more about security best practices, go here.  

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made...

Internet of Things

How to Combine Mobile Internet, IoT, and Cloud for 'Internet of Value'

The evolution from Internet, to mobile Internet, to Internet of Things has set the stage for the cloud-enabled “Internet of Value” in which individuals and businesses derive more value from the combination of Internet and Cloud. In a recent study, we demonstrate why delivering a differentiated customer experience is strategically important, and the urgency monetization decision-makers feel to streamline the entire ERP/CRM/Monetization value chain. If you manage to heighten the level of “value” experienced by a customer, you can drive up satisfaction and perhaps loyalty, both of which translate into longer-term B2C relationships and recurring revenues over time. We give a real-world example of how this can happen in our video "Going Digital: the Internet of Value," in which a solar-panel business handles purchase, analytics, and monetization stages in the cloud, enhancing the value" as the customer goes through the customer journey. For most companies, value begins at the point where the customer is seeking to know more about a product, solution or service—the primary source of the information likely being Internet searches on a preferred device, likely a smart phone, tablet or laptop. To remove friction in the purchase, installation, power generation, and settlements, the business process is facilitated by a combination of clouds. For example, in Oracle Monetization Cloud, the customer can begin to evaluate specifications around performance, quality, durability and warranties to better understand how different solar-panel brands compare to one another. In simplifying the otherwise complex and confusing process of comparing brands, a relationship is initiated and early-stage trust is established. In our video example, the customer chooses the brand of solar panel that is the best fit for his or her needs, after which a bill is sent, panels installed and electricity begins to generate. As this happens, Oracle Monetization Cloud not only keeps track of the billing, but also collects how much energy is generated from the system. The Solar Panel owner goes to the cloud for both payments, and to receive payments on the power generated by the panels. As information is gathered, it can be stored in Oracle Analytics Cloud for historical reference about how much power is produced during different seasons and different types of weather, helping the consumer better understand how much they are producing versus how much they are consuming, as well as how much energy is being sold back to an energy company. If questions or information needs to be shared between the solar panel owner and the power company or the solar company, the Oracle Live Experience Cloud provides a direct voice or data connection through an application or a website. The information from Oracle Monetization Cloud and Analytics Cloud may be presented through an easy-to-use GUI, with information about the performance of individual panels or arrays of panels graphically depicted and drilled into through the touch of the screen. For example, panels lit up on the screen can at the touch of a button be expanded for more information about specific energy production. If there are panels that have gone dark, a tap on the screen can initiate an immediate, one-click engagement with an agent from the solar-panel company, and through screen-sharing, that agent can immediately see what is on the consumer’s screen. The consumer and agent can even mark with a pen/stylus certain characteristics on the shared Live Experience screen, and then determine action, such as whether the panel will be re-set by the agent, who can then also issue a credit or take other action to further satisfy the customer and heighten the perception of value from the brand. That “value” of that customer-service interaction further augments the tangible value the consumer sees when drilling down into energy credits and the monthly, or yearly statistics about money saved or money generated by that initial solar-panel purchase. Over the lifetime of the relationship with the customer, that value can increase through the high-value engagements that come through combining Internet, mobile and cloud. For energy, financial services, retail, manufacturing and other sectors, this combination of technologies will combine with more cognitive and predictive technologies (fueled for example by 3D, AI, ML) to further drive the Internet of Value.  

The evolution from Internet, to mobile Internet, to Internet of Things has set the stage for the cloud-enabled “Internet of Value” in which individuals and businesses derive more value from...

Strategic OSS

Strategic OSS as 'Incubator' for Digital Innovation

When Oracle Communications was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Operations Support Systems for the seventh consecutive time, it was recognized in particular for its modern OSS, which provides open, multi-domain, service fulfillment, and cross-layer orchestration to enhance business and operational agility across traditional and virtualized networks. When going digital, CSPs will need modern OSS, with OSS data becoming more important to lines of business, as well as to marketing and strategic planning departments — all of which strive to better understand how the creation, fulfillment, provisioning and assurance of products and solutions will affect customer experience. More strategic OSS will necessitate a convergence of network/service assurance (which has a direct impact on end users' perceived QoE) and service fulfillment (all actions and processes involved in implementing a service order and provisioning the service to the customer). It will also require embedded analytics, automated business processes, and workflows that make OSS more automated and configurable—the ultimate being a self-orchestrating, horizontal software layer that supports hybrid physical and virtual resources—ostensibly, an SDN- and NFV-driven OSS execution layer (OSS orchestration). In that vein, Oracle Communications provides both traditional OSS and strategic OSS. To learn more, read about our Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration, an open, agile, model-driven approach designed to accelerate CSPs' digital transformation efforts by supporting both physical and virtual environments. Also view our vIMS Orchestration Demonstration to learn about self-service and on-demand delivery of services such as Carrier Ethernet across multiple sites with the addition of Value-Added services (i.e.,  using virtual Session Border Controller and Core Session Management).       

When Oracle Communications was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Operations Support Systems for the seventh consecutive time, it was recognized in particular for its modern OSS,...

5G

Gone With One-Size-Fits-All Approach, In With Network Slicing

One of the most exciting concepts enforced in 5G is network slicing, which provides the opportunity for CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user, device or context, by logically isolating virtualized network resources. When applied appropriately, service level agreements (SLAs) may be attached that provide the building blocks of the business model. The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) provides a concise definition of network slicing: 'A network slice Instance is a set of run-time network functions, and resources to run these network functions, forming a complete instantiated logical network to meet certain network characteristics required by the Service Instance(s).”  As a highly dynamic process of defining, instantiating, and selecting, scaling, and de-instancing slices, there are certain capabilities needed to support network slicing, such as: Resource and lifecycle management Orchestration Real-time selection and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) monitoring The concept of a dedicated core network is not new and was introduced in 4G as a DECOR feature. 5G however bakes network slicing into its core service and extends it to be end to end. That means the one-size-fits-all approach to network infrastructure goes by the wayside, as 5G brings a service-based architecture, IT-centric cloud services, and an exciting new ability to personalize network “slices” that match the specific requirements of industry-vertical applications to customer segments. This evolution will empower CSPs to launch and evolve custom-fit network slices-as-a-service rapidly—with lower capital and operating costs—and provide opportunity for new revenue-generating, customized digital business services. Register for the second webinar in our 5G series, “The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G,”  to discuss the potential of network slicing and its impact on smart ecosystems through slice-as-a-service business models and potentially a slice market place.  

One of the most exciting concepts enforced in 5G is network slicing, which provides the opportunity for CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user,...

Monetization

Everything-as-a-Service Model Depends on Robust Monetization Capabilities

Across industries, leading businesses are increasingly shifting their business models from selling products as a single transaction to selling everything as-a-Service (XaaS). Who wouldn’t want to trade lumpy revenues in for recurring and predicable revenue streams with the added benefit of much deeper customer relationships and the data to continue to improve offerings? In fact, 75% of monetization decision-makers see launching a subscription-based service as a priority, recognizing that to compete in the digital economy they must move away from product-centric, transactional relationships toward more sustained and meaningful relationships with customers. But competing today requires much more than a simple subscription that lacks personalization, flexibility, incentives and a way to stand out in the marketplace. In fact, companies who are leading the pack are moving beyond product sales and simple subscriptions and now offering creative packages with bundled services, intuitive pricing measurements and flexibility in subscription account setup. Business leaders who want to move toward those capabilities need to take a fresh look at their business models and the systems and solutions they use for monetization. Yesterday’s ERP-based solutions can provide stop-gap capabilities, but savvy business leaders understand that to truly scale their XaaS business — with the flexibility to imagine any business model — they need purpose-built monetization solutions that tightly integrate with front- and back-office applications. That is not easy to achieve, as most companies that are operating in a product-centric world lack the pricing, billing, monitoring, revenue management and other monetization capabilities necessary to complete the shift from selling physical products to digital services. That means that companies moving toward XaaS must seriously evaluate whether their existing solutions can support unique services and bundles by enabling flexible pricing based on custom attributes, or advanced cross-product discounting and charging based on events, downloads or other measurements that relate to consumption. The companies that are winning in XaaS today strive for some common capabilities that help them stand out, including: Accelerated launch of creative subscriptions and usage-based offers that no longer hinder the evolution of business models; Increased subscriber control through online tools and the ability to personalize everything from threshold notifications to payment methods by account owner; Advanced capabilities like AI for product recommendations, bots for intelligent customer interaction, and analytics to monitor subscription KPIs; Opportunity to take advantage of REST APIs and best practices based on standards that foster integration among commerce, point-of-sale, engagement and ERP applications. And of course no one wants to risk security breaches, limits to business growth or stalled innovation, so the most robust monetization solutions must be delivered on high-security, high-performance cloud infrastructure with the ability to instantly scale up and down. To learn more about how Oracle is bringing the power of communications-grade billing to the cloud for all industries, read our latest major Oracle Monetization Cloud release. Additionally, check out a recent OVUM report about XaaS and requirements for software-driven strategic approaches to monetizing digital services .    

Across industries, leading businesses are increasingly shifting their business models from selling products as a single transaction to selling everything as-a-Service (XaaS). Who wouldn’t want...

Security

Security: Trust Is No Longer a Reasonable Assumption

IP networks introduce the vulnerabilities of the Internet to telecoms infrastructure, as the concept of “trusted partners” falls apart in ever-expanding digital- and IoT-driven ecosystems in which illicit actors purchase roaming network connectivity and network credentials from wireless service providers, using IP connections (i.e., via SIGTRAN in SS7). Because SS7 and Diameter are the standard for roaming interconnects, they become the vehicles for network-connections abuse. Readily accessible tools for location tracking and SMS/voice interception mean that once-effective authentication such as two-factor sign-in used by banks and credit card companies is no longer secure enough to protect subscribers’ personal information. Deploying a security appliance is not the answer. It’s important for CSPs to create a security framework and implement security at the gateways (session border controllers (SBCs), signaling transfer points (STPs) and Diameter edge agents). It also necessitates defense-in-depth, with security in the home location register (HLR)/ home subscriber server (HSS), the Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) / Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), and other points in the network. Defense in depth means security implemented in as many places as possible. Persistent monitoring and analytics is critical. Without visibility, CSPs will not be able to identify attacks on subscribers. Visibility is critical in all networks, especially as we move towards 5G. While many have discussed encryption as the solution,  the reality is encryption (at the MAP or AVP layers) will not prevent SS7 or Diameter location tracking, SMS intercept, or call intercept. Only solid, comprehensive security frameworks implemented in the signaling gateways ensures robust signaling security. To learn more about securing the network, watch this TIA NOW panel debate about the best path forward.

IP networks introduce the vulnerabilities of the Internet to telecoms infrastructure, as the concept of “trusted partners” falls apart in ever-expanding digital- and IoT-driven ecosystems in...

Security

Evolution of SBC from Purpose Built to Virtualized

Most Session Border Controller (SBC) deployments combine purpose-built processing with signaling and media controls in a single appliance or network element to stop front-line of DOS or DDOS attacks. But as organizations virtualize and move to the cloud, they want the type of scalability and flexibility not generally available with hardware. As a result, a new breed of SBCs has emerged—virtualized and fully orchestrated—to work well in software-defined environments, particularly those using white-box solutions from managed service providers that lack robust security for VoIP and SIP. The virtualized SBCs can be used on both the customer and service provider ends when firewalls do not provide enough protection, with security functions delivered via software implemented on devices, such as IP PBXs, to stop network intrusions and provide network management and transcoding. In addition to agility, elasticity, and freedom from proprietary hardware, virtualizing SBCs means faster introduction of services and shorter innovation cycles. Additionally, multitenancy is addressed by dedicating one or more instances of an SBC to a customer, which also means scalability on demand and improved user experience and SLA adherence. Oracle Communications has built out a robust set of requirements for VoLTE, video calling and conferencing, SIP trunking and hosted services, HD voice and RCS, and WebRTC, as shown in the table below. With new SBC and VoLTE technology, Oracle Communications is focused on powering networks of the future, building SBCs that enable trusted communications across IP network access borders and IP interconnect borders, including fixed line, mobile (VoLTE), and OTT services. Learn more about purpose-built and virtualized SBCs. For more information: White paper: Choosing Future-Generation Session Border Controllers (PDF) Case study: Italian Ministry of Labour Video: Telefónica Pursues Virtualization with Oracle Communications Video: Telefónica Stops Threats with Oracle

Most Session Border Controller (SBC) deployments combine purpose-built processing with signaling and media controls in a single appliance or network element to stop front-line of DOS or DDOS attacks....

Digital Transformation

CSP Investment in AI and ML Set the Stage for 5G

Inspired by real-world deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (Ml), Oracle recently released GraphPipe into open source—the main purpose of which was the simplification of the deployment and querying of machine learning models for developers, freeing them to choose from a variety of their preferred frameworks and tools. As simplification of AI and ML continues, service providers will more readily derive insight from the enormous amount of data that comes in from millions — and ultimately billions —of network elements, devices, monitors and sensors. If you look at the leaders in the triumvirate of AI, ML and predictive analytics, the most popular applications today revolve around customer-service chatbots, speech and voice services, and more and more around predictive maintenance for cell towers and power lines (i.e., equipment troubleshooting, technician updates). For example, Verizon’s investment in analytics and AI-driven technologies such as ML and chatbots have helped it proactively address hundreds of customer-impacting events related to speed and QoS of its FIOS service. AI-driven monitoring of services and predictive models are helping the company transform gigabytes of data from network elements and monitors into insight about potential issues and interruptions to customers before their customer experience is affected. AT&T is another service provider that has focused on AI-driven voice apps and speech recognition technology for improving customer experience, as well as an impending strategy to build self-healing and self-learning networks. In its most recent move, AT&T began capitalized on FAA approval of drones, using AI and ML for analysis of drone-captured video for tech support and infrastructure maintenance of cell towers—something that could not only reduce costs, but prevent fatalities related to cell-tower maintenance. As cognitive technologies continue to help CSPs automate operations, such as call center processes and outage troubleshooting, they will set the stage for a future of increasingly secure and self-healing networks — a crucial step toward 5G, where AI, ML and predictive analytics will help manage and orchestrate the rapid growth of traffic on mobile networks and IoT’s prodigious data volumes. In that evolution, the interrelationships among AI, ML and analytics will become more important to CSP strategies around customer experience, digital business models and network evolution.  To find out more about the interrelationships of AI, ML priorities, download our recent white paper, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the Future of Communications.”    

Inspired by real-world deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (Ml), Oracle recently released GraphPipe into open source—the main purpose of which was the simplification of...

UC and Contact Center

Reducing TCO for UC and Contact Center Networks

Voice is transforming through digital and cloud transformation, with webRTC, video collaboration and unified communications woven into customer journeys inside and outside the contact center. The emergence of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) will further influence requirements IT must evaluate for on prem and cloud environments. As these transformations take place, contact centers should integrate or complement unified communications, but in many cases, contact center networks are fractured—made up of many IP communications platforms, endpoints and services that become difficult to administer. This fosters a reactive rather than proactive approach to managing the network, and IT organizations are forced to put out fires as they erupt as opposed to proactively identifying issues, correlating data and resolving problems. When managing many vendor-specific management applications or general-purpose packet capture and analysis tools, it helps to have comprehensive network monitoring and troubleshooting tools. The can become essential to ensuring service quality and user experiences, especially in complex enterprise UC networks. In fact, third-party management tools can help businesses reduce implementation costs by as much as 76 percent and reduce annual operations expenses by 25 percent. But choosing the right tools can be daunting, as architectures and features vary greatly vendor to vendor. To help streamline the process, Oracle Communications has rolled out a “UC Monitoring and Troubleshootiong Buyer’s Guide,” intended to help organizations choose the right management tools by zeroing in on the foundational capabilities and criteria to seek out in network monitoring and troubleshooting tools. The buyer’s guide reviews the key features and functions of an advanced UC monitoring and troubleshooting solution, providing advice on how to determine if a solution is designed for real-time IP communications sessions, or whether it will provide an end-to-end view of sessions. To assess the functionality, scalability, extensibility and costs of each solution, download the UC buyer’s guide. For more information: White paper: Maximizing Profitability with Cloud Collaboration Enterprise Connect Video: Customer Engagement in the Contact Center

Voice is transforming through digital and cloud transformation, with webRTC, video collaboration and unified communications woven into customer journeys inside and outside the contact center....

Security

TIM Brasil Implements Oracle Session Border Controller as VNF For Increased Agility

TIM Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of Telecom Italia, has positioned itself as a leader in 4G and fixed ultra-broadband network markets, with more than 56 million customers and double-digit ARPU growth for this year. With a new brand signature of “Evolution never stops,” TIM is making infrastructure a strategic priority through investments in advanced IP networking technologies and IP services. A large part of its investments have focused on increasing SIP interconnect and peering capabilities with other Brazilian operators to help TIM expand its footprint for Internet, video, voice and cloud services throughout Brazil. As it extends its reach, TIM needs to accommodate an ever-changing array of services and service deployment models, and needed the flexibility and agility to quickly expand and scale as needed. The operator sought a solution that would give it the flexibility to pick and choose different interconnect approaches in different markets while also ensuring security at its borders. In that vein, TIM worked with long-time partner Oracle Communications on virtualizing the Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (OC-SBC), which it had for many years used for SIP trunking and peering. Through its NFV-based data center, TIM implemented the OC-SBC as a virtualized network function (VNF) running on an Oracle-supported bare metal hypervisor from VMWare® (ESXi). Multiple instances of the OC-SBC can now be clustered along with TIM’s existing purpose-built platforms, providing a way to gradually introduce “hybrid clusters,” which offer more deployment flexibility and network agility— and all without compromising the security, interoperability, and reliability of TIM’s purpose-built SBCs. As a service provider in a market as large and dynamic as Brazil, the virtual SBC’s support of all commonly used IP communications enables TIM to peer with a wide range of service providers and to resolve multivendor interoperability and multiprotocol interworking issues. As a result, TIM has shortened innovation cycles and accelerated the introduction of services in competitive markets. Because of the success of this virtualization effort —the SBC being the first virtualized element in TIM’s NFV-based data center—TIM plans to extend this software-based approach to other network functions. To find out more about how Oracle Communications Session Border Controller can enable innovation, reduce capital equipment expenditures and contain ongoing operations expenses, download the following related assets: TIM Brasil Case Study: Oracle Session Border Controllers Accelerate SIP Interconnect Initiative White Paper: Choosing a Future Generation Session Border Controller Platform Trusted Communications Across IP Network Borders

TIM Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of Telecom Italia, has positioned itself as a leader in 4G and fixed ultra-broadband network markets, with more than 56 million customers and double-digit ARPU...

Customer Experience

Survey Links Modern-Engagement Technologies to Greater CX and Loyalty

Businesses can expect a 25-30-percent increase in loyalty when using modern-engagement channels, such as HD Voice, HD video, screen sharing, and chatbots, according to a recent Oracle Communications survey, Modern Experiences for Connected Consumers: Creating Digital Customer Engagement." In the survey of 5,028 consumers, 70 percent said they would buy more from a brand that provided contextual, personalized customer service, with 79 percent of respondents citing one-click connectivity with a well-informed associate or knowledge worker (i.e., technician, claims agent, loan officer, nurse, etc.) as key to enhanced customer experience. Another key factor cited by respondents for enhanced CX was prompt, first-time resolution to problems, with 77 percent admitting traditional engagement channels “detracted from their lives,” namely through the friction of navigating menus, having to talk to multiple people, and repeating information. For brands looking to eliminate those frustrations and seeking new ways to nurture existing relationships or forge new ones, 76 percent of respondents in the survey agreed they would use a company that promptly gets them to the appropriate individual with a minimal number of menu selections or inconveniences (i.e., waiting for truck rolls, having to drive to offices, stores or branches). Younger consumers and those highly engaged through mobile apps in particular viewed traditional engagement channels and activities as “tedious and inefficient,” with them voicing an eagerness to experience interactions that are more direct and efficient over their mobile devices at times that in-person human contact are not possible. Satisfaction with engagement was highest in-person, with technologies like mobile apps, video chat and web chat topping the list as well. To find out more about what consumers value in terms of modern-engagement channels, see a summary of key findings in our infographic, and in two sister reports: Regions in Focus, which looks at the main reports’ trends across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand Industry Segments in Focus, which looks at five modern-engagement use cases spanning health care, cable, insurance, and banking (loan and fraud detection) In reading these reports, you will see which technologies can help your brand emotionally connect with customers, improving their perceptions around engagement, value, connectedness, and caring. For more information: New eBook: New Ways to Engage the Connected Consumer Learn more about Oracle Communications modern-engagement technologies Ovum Report: Oracle Live Experience Cloud inserts context across the customer journey Live Experience eBook: Modernize Customer Engagement for the Mobile Generation

Businesses can expect a 25-30-percent increase in loyalty when using modern-engagement channels, such as HD Voice, HD video, screen sharing, and chatbots, according to a recent Oracle Communications...

Monetization

Oracle Emphasizes Focus on Monetization in Subscription Economy

As companies shift from physical products to digital services, they will need to rapidly design and monetize of offerings across cloud, IoT, and future 5G services. They will have to differentiate their services and convert customers with attractive price points and compelling discounts and offers. That will require sophisticated billing, revenue management, customer lifecycle management, pricing, sales, and support. Oracle Communications has continued to invest in each of those areas, even winning recognition recently for being “uniquely positioned” in a post-Oracle Industry Connect report by IDC that evaluated Oracle Communications’ strategy around monetization of new business models. In particular, IDC noted our triumvirate of solutions: Oracle Monetization Cloud, Billing and Revenue Management and Network Charging and Control —a monetization suite that complements greater Oracle’s ERP applications and pre-integrated, easily provisioned SaaS options. Soon after the report, Oracle Communications announced major new enhancements to its Billing and Revenue Management, including new operational user experience features, enhanced security capabilities and updated technology platform support. Of particular importance to digital communications services would be the complete revenue management capabilities that are built to accommodate high-volume, low-latency, and convergent-usage processing. The Elastic Charging Engine will support advanced charging models for mobile, fixed and cable digital services as well as lay a foundation for IoT and future 5G services. For more information: Download the IDC monetization report. Also check out our recent study on creating digital engagement in the age of the connected consumer. And learn more about our major new enhancements to its Billing and Revenue Management, including new operational user experience features, enhanced security capabilities and updated technology platform support.

As companies shift from physical products to digital services, they will need to rapidly design and monetize of offerings across cloud, IoT, and future 5G services. They will have to...

5G

Communications-Enabled AI Will Drive Automation, Personalization

With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), businesses will become more adaptive, real-time, predictive and cognitive—moving away from manual, process-centric approaches to completely automated, data-driven ones that will set the stage for prescriptive and predictive analytics, and a future of autonomous capabilities that will add value to services, interactions, collaborations and relationships. Whether in personal, work or B2C and B2B environments, the predictive capabilities triggered by advances in AI and ML will mean more personalized and value-driven approaches to everything we do. Netflix is experimenting with AI-powered algorithms for personalized movie trailers; automotive companies are thinking about the ways in which cars can transcend transportation and become full-blown IoT devices that entertain, inform and connect people to other devices and collective intelligence; health care providers are improving not only patient outcomes but enhancing the work-life balance of healthcare professionals using AI; airlines are transforming the passenger experience and revolutionizing the detection of anomalies in aircraft. The goals are to remove friction, to automate, personalize, secure, and add value. To succeed, businesses will need to more effectively capture "context" so that a person’s real intentions and preferences are actually reflected in the digital channels and options presented to them. As that happens, businesses will have to provide better interfaces for customers to dynamically change and control their preferences about interactions, devices, channels of engagement and relationships with third parties, as well as what information that can and cannot be shared at certain times, in certain places. These will change as people evolve and become more comfortable or less comfortable with certain technologies, interactions and third-party relationships. For an enterprise to be truly AI-centric, every aspect of the business will require communications in order to enable a better customer experience; accelerate digital business; and improve networks and security.

With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), businesses will become more adaptive, real-time, predictive and cognitive—moving away from manual, process-centric approaches to completely...

Digital Transformation

Top-Five Requirements for a Successful Digital Transformation

Our world is experiencing a digital transformation that is fundamentally reinventing the customer experience, upending traditional business models and operations, and placing greater demands on network and cloud infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation is a $2.3 Trillion opportunity in the telecommunications and media sectors alone. But it is more than that for communications service providers and enterprises offering digital service platforms because you have a critical role to play in enabling the digital transformation of all industries. Why? Because you provide the communications networks, Internet of Things platforms, and cloud infrastructure, applications and services that help enterprises deliver digital services. More than $10 Trillion of value from digitalization over the next decade depends on the telecom industry. As enterprises and service providers undergo digital transformation, there will be a number of challenges to conquer, including how to: Scale, manage and secure billions of transactions and zettabytes of complex data generated by digital services and content; Manage billions of devices and machines as more people and ‘things’ become connected and communicate with each other; Simplify and automate network functions and operational processes; Monetize and secure digital services and customer data using a wide array of usage and subscription models; and Create more personalized, "live" customer experiences across any digital channel. Here are my top-five requirements to meet these challenges and ensure a successful digital transformation: 1. Connect the Dots There are three key pillars to a successful digital transformation journey — Network Evolution, Digital Business and Customer Experience. By ensuring that your transformation efforts encompass all three pillars in a holistic way, you will be able to connect, monetize, and engage your customers to create new digital experiences. For example, video optimization in the network will improve the monetization of video content as well as the customer’s video experience. End-to-end security, policy, customer data management and analytics across all three pillars can bring the digital experience to a whole new level. 2. Integrate. Integrate. Integrate. Integrated cloud and communications infrastructure, platforms, and services with service-based architectures and open application programming interfaces are essential as more people, devices, and “things” connect, communicate, and transact with each other. This requires that you simplify, virtualize, automate, and integrate network functions and IT operational processes in an on-premise, public, private or hybrid cloud environment. It also requires security at every layer — from data center, silicon chip, database, network, application — to complete monitoring and self-remediation against security policies. And finally, it requires integration of Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Experience, and IoT platforms with monetization and communications applications to connect your entire business — people, processes, and things — to deliver successful digital services. 3. Provide a Complete Concept-to-Cash-to-Care Customer Experience Successful digital organizations put customer experience at the center of every process and operation in their digital transformation journey. They deliver a personalized, contextual and meaningful experience to customers across the entire customer engagement lifecycle, from concept-to-cash-to care. This requires a 360-degree view of what each customer is experiencing, which can be achieved by collecting, analyzing and acting on data at every touch point — from network nodes to mobile apps to social media to self-service to contact centers. By engaging customers on the right channel at the right time, having access to contextual customer data and insights, and quickly resolving customer issues, empowered associates can deliver meaningful and proactive engagement for a better customer experience. Cloud-based customer experience solutions with integrated monetization capabilities will ensure the smooth on-boarding of new customers, with the ability to create, rate, bill, invoice and report on new digital service offers. 4. Deliver Innovative Digital Services Innovation is critical in designing digital services. This can mean providing an all-digital service or a product-as-a-service enabled by digital channels. Either way, the flexibility to design innovative offers that provide customers with choices in how to pay for and consume services is key — whether it’s a recurring subscription, consumption-based pricing, pay-as-you-go charging, freemium pricing, cross-product discounts, bundling services together in different combinations, or charging based on creative metrics. The name of the game is having the flexibility to evolve quickly as market conditions change. Predictive analytics that take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), social listening, and Big Data can help service providers and enterprises present compelling offers based on past behaviors, respond rapidly to social sentiment, and deliver real-time views of business performance. 5. Take Advantage of the Latest Technology Innovations Innovations such as highly scalable and reliable cloud and 4G/5G mobility infrastructure and platforms, AI, ML, biometrics, and blockchain are all part of ensuring a successful digital transformation journey. Integrated Cloud and mobile network infrastructure will need to scale, store, and secure more data, more connections and more transactions. The use of AI in everything from customer service chat bots and robotics to analytics, will allow service providers and enterprises to deliver customer experiences in ways that are both personalized and automated. ML will shift the burden from the user to the applications, which must find the right answers even if the user asks the wrong questions. It will also provide meaningful insights based on data from devices and applications. Biometrics like emotion and behavior recognition will further personalize customer engagements. Knowing what people want to buy or how they want to be treated based on their emotions and behaviors will allow for more effective communications. And finally, Blockchain technology will make value transactions like payments, sharing IoT and customer data and identity, and tracking customer purchases and billing both instantaneous and secure. The future belongs to those organizations that can meet these top-five requirements and capture the trillions of dollars in digital transformation opportunities. Learn more about how Oracle Communications is helping service providers and enterprises in their Digital Transformation journey: For more information: Read the whitepaper: Accelerating Your Digital Transformation Journey: From Network Evolution to Digital Business to Customer Experience The Economist: Pricing strategies and business models for the on-demand economy Monetization as a Competitive Advantage: New Services, New Opportunities Ovum: 10 Imperatives for Digital Customer Engagement The Future of Enterprise Communications: The Cloud Redefines Customer Experience The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Platforms, Q3 2017

Our world is experiencing a digital transformation that is fundamentally reinventing the customer experience, upending traditional business models and operations, and placing greater demands on...