By Amy Oldham
December 18, 2013
As a service provider or carrier, detailed usage data is the lifeblood of your business. If all the data you need is already being delivered directly to you, using a common, searchable format; filtered to include the most relevant information only; correlated to customer activity and jurisdiction; you are in the minority. Count yourself lucky, and stop reading now. The rest of you know that data is not presented in a nice, tidy package with a bow on top. And that means mediation is the first essential step to everything you do.
You might not use the term ‘mediation’ when describing your business practices, but if you are collecting, processing, preparing, and/or correlating your usage data in any fashion, you are mediating data. Mediation ensures that your usage data is efficiently extracted and correctly prepared (i.e., normalized, filtered, enriched, and transformed) for delivery to downstream processes such as end-user billing, CABS, etc. The process of mediation is critical, yet it’s often overlooked because it occurs largely behind the scenes. Here are five reasons you should give your mediation process the attention it deserves:
Mediation is the first step in your business process, which means it’s the first potential source of failure. Because mediated records feed into multiple downstream systems, a mediation shortcoming can have cascadingly negative effects down the line. Ensure mediation functions are working as intended at all times using automated notifications to alert you to any system or processing errors.
Success as a service provider is dependent on your ability to act on your usage data. Therefore, your mediation process needs to be deliberate...don’t leave any part of it—from extraction to delivery—to chance. Make sure your mediation system is able to collect data from multiple sources, handle multiple formats, normalize disparate records, and transform them for use in whatever downstream process(es) follow. A database full of data is no good if it’s not actionable.
Mediation adds value to your data. A key component of mediation is enrichment, which is the process of combining usage records with other key data sets (e.g., LERG, TPM, trunk group, carrier, billing information, customer-specific data). The end result is a rich data source that you can leverage for analytic purposes. By correlating and summarizing this data, you gain insight and immediate visibility to customer activity, market trends, traffic patterns, and network utilization. If your mediation system isn’t enriching records, you are missing opportunities to recognize new areas of growth or revenue streams as well as identify improvements.
Realize both cost and time savings from an automated, optimized mediation system. By using a mediation system that processes records in real-time, you can make decisions and adjust processes sooner rather than later. Deliver files accurately and efficiently by letting business rules filter and forward output files to the appropriate destination(s) in the correct format(s). Also, take advantage of filters to slice off only the data needed for specific functions. There’s no sense carrying around a whole pie when a single slice is all you need. If you need the whole pie later, you can always retrieve it. A complete mediation system will store the usage data in a warehouse for historical searches and report generation.
Mediation is just one piece of your overall strategy. Mediation should not be a standalone process, nor should it make you want to pull your hair out figuring out how to get mediated records into all the downstream applications they feed. It should be a well-integrated tool in your business practice toolbox. Every carrier has unique business challenges/pain points they face. So it only makes sense that mediation feeds anything from revenue assurance platforms, in-house applications, databases, billing systems, report engines, or other OSS. Interoperability is a key factor as you plan and implement a mediation solution.
Equinox has been providing mediation solutions for the telecom industry since 1986. Our flagship mediation platform, TeleLink, extracts raw data (we support over 250 data formats!), and then filters, enriches, converts, stores, audits, and delivers those records to other applications. If you need help devising a strategy for your current mediation challenges, visit www.equinoxis.com or call (615) 612-1200 to discuss your requirements.
About the Author: Amy Oldham is in Corporate Communications at Equinox Information Systems, where she creates and maintains the company’s technical documentation as well as all other customer-facing publications. As part of her efforts on the Sales & Marketing team, Amy is responsible for the company’s newsletter, email campaigns, press releases, and social media presence. When not writing, Amy enjoys swimming, running, and spending time with her family.