Experiences in Building Mobile E-Business Services: Service Provisioning and Mobility

Experiences in Building Mobile E-Business Services: Service Provisioning and Mobility

Ivano De Furio (AtosOrigin Italia S.p.A., Italy), Giovanni Frattini (AtosOrigin Italia S.p.A., Italy) and Luigi Romano (AtosOrigin Italia S.p.A., Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-066-0.ch013
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Organizations in all sectors of business and government are pursuing service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiatives in response to their need for increased business agility. This is particularly true for mobile telecommunications companies. That is why mobile telecom operators need to research new and innovative sources of revenue. Innovation is not an easy task. It requires embracing a new way of doing business, where new technologies are fundamental. SOA architecture and Web services technology are proposed by IT industry as the best solution to create a network of partnership and new services, but despite software producer claims, interoperability issues arise with service composition. Such a problem can be significantly reduced by adopting a semantic approach in service description and service discovery. Our research is focused on new methods and tools for building high personalized, virtual e-business services. A new service provisioning architecture based on Web services has been conceived, taking into account issues related to end-user mobility. The following pages deal with a proposal for creating real localized, personalized virtual environments using Web services and domain ontologies. In particular, to overcome interoperability issues that could arise from a lack of uniformity in service descriptions, we propose a way for controlling and enforcing annotation policies based on a Service Registration Authority. It allows services to be advertised according to guidelines and domain rules. Furthermore, this solution enables enhanced service/component discovery and validation, helping software engineers to build services by composing building blocks and provision/deliver a set of personalized services.
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Current Situation

Today’s telecom operators live in a rapidly changing environment. The revenues per minutes from voice traffic have steadily decreased in the last 10 years (see Figure 1). The Value Added Service (VAS) revenues are following the reverse path: the growth ratio is almost 35% per year.

Figure 1.

Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Voice is slowly decreasing while VAS is constantly increasing their importance (Italian case. Source: Assinform)


This is the main reason that drives telecommunications industries to invest in new value added services. Actually, Value Added Services revenues come mostly from content provisioning. Typical services are based on the download of contents like: logos, ring tones, games. The value chain for VAS is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

Today’s value chain. Operators are in full-control of the delivery process


Mobile operators are in the middle of the value chain and control provisioning and billing processes. It means that, if goods vendors want to sell a product using the mobile network payment system, they are completely dependent on the operator.A Telecommunication business model is mostly based on an operator-centric approach.

Legal barriers have strengthened the position of the mobile operators in the value chain limiting, as a consequence, the growth of the mobile service offering. Technology issues also have contributed to enforce a closed business model approach, despite the market demands for a more open and collaborative business approach.

In the latest years telecommunications monopolies have been abolished in Europe. Telecommunications operators are facing increasingly fierce competition with new operators. It has become imperative for such companies to reinvent themselves and adopt the nimbleness that makes their new competitors so successful. Innovation requires embracing a new way of doing business (open garden), where spotting and cultivating new technologies is fundamental. This includes the systematic identification of new technologies and business models, detailed evaluation, aggressive prototyping, and, last but not least, implementation and operations.

For example, the next generation of services should take localization into account. In other words: services are increasingly based on user position. An efficient mobile-ticketing service, where a user can buy, for instance, bus tickets using its telecom account, should allow user mobility from both a geographical and a service provider point of view. Imagine users routinely traveling within his town by metro or bus and paying via mobile-ticketing service. When users move to another country, the same operator should offer the same service localized in the new town or should have a service roaming agreement with a local operator that allows users to access the service in the same way (interface and procedures) they are accustomed. Notice that in this case roaming is used in a wider sense: it is not referred just to the core services of the network operator, but it also covers service processes. Addressing the problem of roaming services to a higher level of abstraction is a first step turned towards opened business models. Furthermore, in almost all the European countries, telecommunications operators generally offer services that are strictly related to their core business, and services like mobile-ticketing are not widely deployed.

The tailoring of services to customers’ preferences and profiles is a key success factor for the service offerings of mobile network operators and service providers. Indeed, mobile users have shown their interest in mobile phone customization by buying colored covers, personal logos and ring tones. The next step is the personalization of services: content adaptation to terminal capabilities, context and location based services and content filtering on the basis of user preferences.

Figure 3.

Today services are based on telecommunications accounts. Future services must be billed differently


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