Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Are we ready for experience assurance? part I

As mentioned before, Quality of Experience (QoE) was a major theme in 2012-2013. How to detect, measure and manage various aspects of the customer experience has taken precedence in many cases to savings or monetization rhetoric at vendors and operators alike.

As illustrated in a recent telecoms.com survey, Operators see network quality as the most important differentiator in their market. They would like to implement in their overwhelming majority, business models where they receive revenue share for a guaranteed level of quality.  The problem comes with defining what quality means in a mobile network.

It is clear that many network operators in 2014 have come to the conclusion that they are ill-equipped to understand the consumer’s experience when it comes to data services in general and video in particular. It is not rare that a network operator’s customer care center would receive complaints about the quality of the video service, when no alarm, failure or even congestion has been detected. Obviously, serving your clients when you are blind to their experience is a recipe for churn.

As a result, many operators have spent much of 2013 requesting information and evaluating various vendors’ capability to measure video QoE.  We have seen (here and here) the different type of video QoE measurement. 

This line of questioning has spurred a flurry of product launches, partnerships and announcements in the field of analytics. Here is a list of announcements in the field in the last few months:
  • Procera Networks partners with Avvasi
  • Citrix partners with Zettics and launches ByteMobile Insight
  • Kontron partners with Vantrix and launches cloud based analytics
  • Sandvine launches the Real Time Entertainment Dashboard
  • Guavus partners with Opera Skyfire
  • Alcatel Lucent launches Motive Big Network Analytics
  • Huawei partners with Actix to deliver customer experience analytics…

Suddenly, everyone who has a web GUI and a reporting engine deliver delicately crafted analytics, surfing the wave of big data, Hadoop and NFV as a means to satisfy the operators’ ever growing need for actionable insight.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the operator will find itself with a collection of ill-fitting dashboards providing anecdotic or contradictory data. This is likely to lead to more confusion than problem solving. So what is (should be) experience assurance? The answer in tomorrow's post.

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