Dublin played host to this year’s Subex User Conference and it should be proud. The industry seems to have embraced the User Group as an alternative to the ‘independent’ conference and rightly so. The commercial conference will always have a in-built conflict. One set of attendees pay good money to sit in a dark room and listen to their peers tell them that, for them too, life is not easy but here are some ideas. Another set of attendees will sit and watch the coffee urns get cold waiting for the people who are sitting in a dark room to come and talk to them and pay very good money for this to happen.
There are, of course, exceptions. The big shows will always have their place as the annual industry pilgrimages and some smaller ones, like the Next Generation BSS Summit nicely surprise.
At a User Conference you know what you are getting – a vendor’s customers and potential customers. So you can relax.
As it turned out in Dublin, we could relax and enjoy.
The conference was opened by Peter Cochrane, ex CTO of BT and well known as a visionary. Controversial too. His first thought that grabbed the attention was that the reason that ‘cloud services’ have such a bright future is that the internet simply will not scale to support billions of people and billions of devices. The second that telecoms has already become a commodity and there will end up being just three telcos in Europe. This, of course, will depend on whether our industry can truly understand that data is not a product in itself. If it cannot, then it will remain a commodity. He also explained that manufacturing has come so far that the next generation of devices will be bendy and manufactured in layers and that big companies cannot innovate. He gets no argument from us on that one, we have been watching ISIS slide into crisis for some time now, taking any reputation that NFC had with it. One of his main theses was that fibre to the home is actually cheaper than maintaining copper to the home.
Market Strategist at the TM Forum, our own Tony Poulos, confided that he was scared. From an almost stagnant market two to three years ago, ‘billing’ has become a cauldron of activity, mainly driven by real time requirements. Keeping abreast of revenue assurance, fraud management and what customers are doing, in essence supporting the ‘now’ generation is a daunting task indeed. It scares him watching it, how much more scary must it be, he wondered, supporting it and trying to keep ahead of the trends and pressures?
Subex themselves discussed two issues that they have highlighted as important trends in the industry. In fact they are getting a reputation as ‘strong, silent’ types. Without too much fuss they have leveraged their core strengths of revenue assurance into a whole new area that affects CTOs and CFOs alike, but in different ways – Asset Assurance -which we have discussed in some detail, and wholesale fraud, which they have pointed out is a $6.12 billion problem and needs a policy and structure to address.
Someone also recited that NFC poem again – Never Forsake Cash.
It was an excellent event, and it is always good to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Bring on the next one.
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.