Conscious (Un)coupling of VAS

I used to work for a very prestigious mobile operator in the country. I actually worked there for almost 10 years.

When I first joined the company, whenever I met someone and told them I worked for X, the discussions were rather pleasant, unrealistic but pleasant;

Get me a good package noh men?

I’ll see what I can do (I really couldn’t)

With a good number, easy to remember?

Sure, sure

Incoming totally free, possibly outgoing also

Ha ha, let me see what I can do (I mean I really couldn’t)

Couple of years later I met the same person, and the discussion was not so pleasant;

You still work for X?

Yeah, still going strong

Bloody rouges no men, this is daylight robbery

What now?

You people are just taking my money

I can assure you, nothing of the sort happens

Here, I put a reload for 500, 150 already gone, some bugger VAS has taken it. The only Vass I know died sometime ago

No, those are services you use.

I don’t use anything

Ok, ok, let me check

I’m sure we all have had this experience, from a victims point of view or from the accused. Now, though a bit eccentric, it’s not wholly untrue. This is part of the side effects some OTT players bring to the table. See, operators can’t build all the services they want in-house, no operator has the capacity to do so. Besides if you close your doors as an operator to all OTT players because of a few black sheep, you are missing out.

Innovation is something that happens in the weirdest places, you can’t mass produce it, the option is to adopt it from anywhere it happens. This is also how, as an operator, you stay relevant. If a competitor has signed up with a 3rd party vendor to provide a killer service, that’s going cause fret amongst your customers, even churn in some cases. It’s pretty evident that as an operator you need to deal with OTT players and 3rd party vendors to stay relevant.

For an VAS to work, they need connectivity to an operator, maybe access some resources of the customer, ability to communicate with customers and of course to charge them! I mean none of us a running a charity here.

With all these to think about should you still go ahead? How? Yes, of course and Well, use protection! I mean, better safe than sorry right?

Operators are very protective of their customers. Their credibility as a trustworthy service provider is more important to them than any amount profit a service would bring. There market dominance (or otherwise) depends on it. For this reason operators spend a lot of resources to provide the best services to their customers with a sense of protection.

What challenges do operators face?

TTM (In the telco industry, we love acronyms)

To Share or Not to Share

Show me the money

From the vendors POV, they need to make sure the customer still has sufficient funds to consume the service. Need to keep the vendor notified of any unsuccessful charging attempts on a customer account to the vendor can suspend the service or engage the customer in a micro-charging model.

The solution here again is to let the customer decide what they want and how much would it cost them. Letting the vendor manage the charging for a service is not the smartest choice either, the operator should be able to carry out the charge and notify both parties of the status. The vendor should be able to define the charging plan for the service and the customer needs to accept it, and then we can pronounce them service provider and customer.

Shameless Plug

P.S. Credits for the title should go to Gwyneth Paltrow 😉

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