They’re often the first thing we engage with in the morning, and the last thing we engage with at night
People care about their apps. They’ve become an extension of who we are, and they matter to us more than the networks or the devices that we so readily upgrade or swap out. The first thing many of us do when we wake up is reach over and grab our phone to look at our favorite app. For some, it’s social like Facebook, TikTok, or Snapchat. For others, it might be newsy, like an aggregator site (Apple or Google News, Flipboard), or brand-specific like the BBC or the New York Times.
Some of us will look at a weather app before we even look out the window to see the real thing! Over breakfast, much of the “conversation” might be chatter over WeChat, Facebook Messenger, or Threema. By the time we get into in the car, bus, or train (or the home office for “WFH-ers”), we already used several apps or app mashups.
At the end of the day, it’s the same apps or perhaps a different mix of apps that “tuck us in” for the night – sometimes literally, through sleep apps like CALM, Sleep Cycle, and others meant to calm your mind after a day of hyper stimulation over our apps!
The ways in which our lives are integrated into apps is an issue recently explored by IDC’s Karl Whitelock, Research Vice President, Communications Service Provider Operations and Monetization, in his new Sandvine-sponsored IDC Vendor Spotlight, "Application and Network Intelligence Is Critical for 5G Success." In the Spotlight, Whitelock examines the issue of “app complexity” where service mashups and multiplexed services lead to intricate mixes of in-app capabilities like videos, emojis, filters, messaging, maps, payment options, and more cross-pollination of functions. For example, Twitter users embedding YouTube videos; or Snapchat users combining Bitmoji avatars and payments; or Uber riders combining maps, payments, and chat — mixing and matching more fluidly and seamlessly as they get more comfortable with the functionality.
“Central to the customer experience are several challenges that can no longer be paid lip service if performance-based pricing models are to be successful and the full degree of 5G- enabled business opportunity is to be realized.”—Karl Whitelock, Research Vice President, Communications Service Provider Operations & Monetization.
Apps are a steady presence and we are loyal to them, even when things get rough. During the recent Facebook outage, we noticed on our customers’ networks an immediate flood of Facebook users to TikTok and YouTube channels, but then an immediate return as soon as the outage was addressed. However, we also noticed some people continued using the alternatives they perhaps would not have otherwise tried, even after Facebook service was restored.
With apps so integral to our personal and professional lives, the quality of experience (QoE) grows in importance. According to Whitelock, the value highlighted via net promoter score (NPS) ratings will increasingly depend on how well service providers answer questions relevant to different consumer or enterprise customers:
- • “Could everyone hear and see me OK during the Zoom video work session with our customer?”
- • “Which of my apps are using the most bandwidth and how can I dynamically allocate network capacity between apps running at my location whenever necessary?”
- • “Can I prioritize my work productivity and video conference apps for my home office so that I receive top bandwidth priority between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.?”
- • “Was today's social media experience, which included voice conversation and video messaging, discernable in this part of the network at this time of the day?”
Answers to those questions can help gauge what Whitelock referred to as the "usefulness of the usage experience" for those engaging with applications, which ultimately influences customer perception about value.
To answer the questions most important to app users, different stakeholders within a CSP organization must be able to assess QoE through different lenses—CTO, operations, network planning and engineering, marketing, and customer care.
As Whitelock points out in the Spotlight, understanding network connectivity underpinnings is no longer enough: “Central to the customer experience are several challenges that can no longer be paid lip service if performance-based pricing models are to be successful and the full degree of 5G- enabled business opportunity is to be realized.”
To guide CSP decisions about 5G services, he suggests insight must be driven by real-time data about customer sentiment. We agree, as we had written in a previous blog, that “good quality data” requires executive buy-in for data governance and data management so that Big Data fuels decisions across network planning, engineering, operations and technology, and all important business initiatives.
With that in mind, we have built a 3GPP-compliant 5G Service Intelligence Engine — a network data analytics function (NWDAF) — that accelerates the development and operation of new business models by assuring performance SLAs such as those required by more complex 5G network slices.
Through the combination of machine learning and user-plane analytics, we provide Application and Network Intelligence, which is a deeper level of traffic classification and granular KPIs not possible with traditional probes or gateways. The goal is to empower service providers to see what’s happening with their services and apps at a macro level — per slice, per user, per application, per access network. It means giving them a QoE-focused window into not only categories of applications, but into individual applications so that key questions can be answered, such as “How did device and subscriber performance compare in 4G versus 5G,” or “What did in-session connectivity look like as a mobile signal transitioned between 5G SA and 4G/5G NSA networks?”
With prepackaged use cases and sophisticated application and network intelligence, we speed automation and take appropriate inline actions, such as prioritizing applications and devices, ensuring fair usage, managing cyber threats, and growing revenues through application and usage-based plans.
If you’d like to see IDC’s perspective on application and network intelligence, download the IDC Vendor Spotlight, and feel free to contact us to learn more about our Application and Network Intelligence Portfolio, 5G Service Intelligence Engine, and Analytics.
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