ITEXPO begins in:   New Coverage :  Asterisk  |  Fax Software  |  SIP Phones  |  Small Cells

December 2006, Volume 9/ Number 12

Return to IT Table of Contents

Turning Metrics into Gold

By Kelly Anderson


Being the mother of a five-year-old daughter, I seem to have a part-time job that consists of keeping up-to-date on the princess stories of today and yesteryear. In doing my homework, I came across an old Grimm fairy tale that I had forgotten about � Rumpelstiltskin. In case you have forgotten, Rumpelstiltskin is about a miller that wanted to marry his daughter off to a king so he makes up a story that she can spin unvaluable straw into invaluable gold to make her seem different and more appealing than other girls. Well, the king sends for her and locks her into a room full of straw to prove her worth to him. She, of course, can not do that, so an opportunistic elf shows up to do the work for her and in exchange she will give him lots of gifts and then finally her firstborn as payment for services rendered. When the time comes for payment, she is unprepared to hand over her new baby girl to the impatient elf. So, the elf gives her three days to find out his name to free her of this obligation, and so on. Needless to say, I could not help but parallel the debate about monitoring the home and carrier network and user activity to this delightful fairytale.

The promise of IPTV (News - Alert) and other content-based applications have proven to create quite a stir in the industry. We have seen the emergence of what many would consider to be �gold� to a potential service provider. This �gold� is what back-office professionals used to call CDRs or Call Detail Records in the old telephony days. This CDR data was once only available and needed for applications like billing and fraud control. I think only people who attended ATIS meetings really knew what it was.

Well, the industry is changing, and now there are articles and analysts hyping the importance of this type of data to open up new content and efficiencies as well as monitor user behavior for advertisers, media outlets, and internal marketing plans. While I am pleased to see the exposure on data (I have been a fan for many years of the potential of CDR data), service providers have to be careful about the applications that provide the data, and they need to make sure the data record they receive has a complete picture of a given transaction. Impartial data that does not consider all aspects of the user experience and use patterns may be as useable as no data at all.

All of the data honestly boils down to metrics. These metrics need to be present in the network today to give an accurate picture of the providers� network for capacity planning and QoS monitoring, but what about the picture of what the customer is experiencing?

There is a black hole around the home network that will need to be addressed to make data complete and useable. Just as the king had an expectation about his future wife�s capabilities, so too, content providers and advertisers will have the same expectations of IPTV if they make allowances they normally wouldn�t just because of the promise of accurate user data. Since most formats and protocols to obtain home network data today are propriety, a provider�s ability to work through multiple device vendors to get a clear cut view of data is compromised and almost completely inhibited in today�s test markets.

So, what needs to happen to get this effort moving? Just like the value of gold from something inexpensive and seemingly meaningless such as data, service providers from all areas of the industry need to not only work in the organizations that are addressing these issues, but also apply some pressure to vendors wanting to promote and develop propriety protocols that make implementations of a constructive data model difficult and expensive to manage.

The industry is in need of this change, and there are several groups working on this effort from all areas of the industry. The problem is that the title of �Industry Liaison� has, for all practical purposes, gone away from a provider�s infrastructure. Workers have been few in this area and the ones that are working on industry issues are doing double time to give the industry a standard and a single data model and transport mechanism that the world of IPTV and other like services can live with.

The promises of data are being made and banked on, but the implementation is still infantile at this stage. The industry must get on board quickly to keep the train of data gold alive and running.

In the next month, (News - Alert) will be releasing its specifications and protocol designed to accommodate the data needs of IPTV. This effort was completed with the help of most of the major North American and international standards organizations and is being incorporated into many of the standards for IPTV currently being released as well. It honestly involved a cooperative effort I have not seen among the standards organizations to date.

The key to its success will be in the implementation by vendors who may or may not have been part of this effort. This has the potential of streamlining network data monitoring and creating a great cross-vendor platform that will make implementation easier and metrics of the entire user experience more complete than ever. The issue is that in the North American competitive communications market it is going to take more than an elf to spin this into gold. It will take the entire kingdom working together to implement a standard that will invite opportunity for all without giving up their firstborn. IT

Kelly Anderson is President and COO of, a collaborative industry consortium focused on developing and driving the adoption of next-gen IP service usage exchange standards worldwide.


Today @ TMC
Upcoming Events
ITEXPO West 2012
October 2- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
The World's Premier Managed Services and Cloud Computing Event
Click for Dates and Locations
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
Cloud Communications Summit
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas