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True innovation in Monetization systems comes through Design Thinking

True innovation in Monetization systems comes through Design Thinking

When we think of technology today, it’s usually the latest cool gadget or software that we use that jumps to mind. But when we look at the actual definition of technology, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, technology is described as “the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems”.

Science can take many forms, including social science, so we can also refer specifically to social technologies. One such social technology, with as much ability to bring about significant change and solve problems like traditional technologies, is Design Thinking.

What is Design Thinking?

According to the Harvard Business Review, Design Thinking has the potential to "unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes."  But what exactly is it?

Design Thinking can be described as an continuous problem-solving process that helps find innovative solutions to difficult problems. It can be broken down in to five stages that are often described as a sequence or a loop, but, in reality, usually run in parallel or out of order since the process, by essence, is non-linear. And it is this non-linear nature of the process that allows for and encourages continuous innovation.

Fig. 1.

A human centric approach to innovation

From a distance, Design Thinking looks like something we do all the time, and to a certain extent it is. The difference, and really the key to Design Thinking, is the reliance on empathy that leads to a truly human centric approach. When it comes to software development, this means putting specific focus and emphasis on the person who will use the product and understanding the current and future challenges they may face. These insights are important when it comes to properly defining the needs that the product must meet. Based on this foundation, alternative ways of solving problems can emerge and new solutions can be quickly built and tested within the product.

Using Design Thinking to create innovative Monetization Solutions

Within our Monetization Solutions team, we have embedded the Design Thinking process into the way we work and develop our products. One of our key projects for a Tier 1 US CSP aims to deliver a 5G Stand Alone (SA) Charging solution into the network where we have built and continue to develop a solution using the principles of Design Thinking.  

The solution required both integration with existing OSS and BSS systems while maintaining the ability to charge for existing consumer and 5G Non-Stand Alone (NSA) plans. It also required integration with the new 5G SA network functions while providing the flexibility and customizable logic to fully support the ever-expanding 5G SA ecosystem.

We embedded the principles of Design Thinking throughout the process:

-    Integrated working teams

From the early phases of the project our products and standards team worked together with the customer technical teams to discuss and understand the needs driving the solution (empathize). We collaborated in the creation and refinement of the first phase of the standardization of the converged charging interface, which then continued through the process of multiple deliveries, taking the knowledge learned from each to define, deliver and test each subsequent phase. This enabled outside--the-box thinking to deliver a viable solution that would bridge between the 4G, 5G NSA and 5G SA requirements.

-    Defining and iterating the solution requirements

We also used Design Thinking in the ongoing definition of the technical solution:

  • We applied this to the area of network monetization, to allow for the charging of usage, devices, and access within the network, which are being defined and refined using the principles of empathy and ideation for building prototypes which can be reviewed and further honed. This allowed for differentiated charging and monetization strategies to be delivered in online and offline models as required and optimized.
  • We also defined a structure and architecture for delivering rated and unrated CDR to billing and introducing current balances and status of the subscriber accounts into these feeds, over and above those defined in standards.  
  • We allowed for performant routing and management of 5G messaging within a network that requires continent scale delivery and 100M+ device target deployment size. This extreme geographic scope and device scale required careful and innovative approaches to user data segmentation and management to retain support for 5G latency requirements.

By utilizing Design Thinking from the outset and throughout this customer deployment we were able to develop and deliver an innovative monetization solution that is flexible to continually evolving requirements.

Design Thinking encourages innovation no matter the domain. But monetization is unique in that it sits between being a purely network function, that is static and standards driven and marketing and customer enablement, an area that is constantly seeking innovation and adapting to what's new. Design Thinking allows us to span these two worlds and to iterate between them, so we can achieve truly innovative solutions.

Nokia was shortlisted in the Best Vendor 5G Innovation category of the GLOTEL awards 2021 for our design thinking approach.

For more on our monetization solutions, visit our website: Monetization | Nokia

Sophie Janss

About Sophie Janss

Sophie is a member of the Nokia Converged Charging (NCC) Product Line team, and is responsible for building the Charging Configurator. She is passionate about Design Thinking and User Experience and what these bring to product development. She has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has held various roles in R&D and project delivery.

Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn

Andy  Porter

About Andy Porter

Andy Porter is a Senior Product Manager in the Digital Business Unit at Nokia, with responsibility for the Nokia Converged Charging product. Andy has a particular responsibility and focus on the delivery of converged charging solutions for 5G networks, and works closely with customers, standards and R+D teams to deliver solutions to current and future problems in this domain, especially related to Enterprise and Industry 4.0 use cases.

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Elana Crowne

About Elana Crowne

With 15 years of experience in business consulting and strategic marketing, both outside and within the Telecommunications industry, Elana is a skilled problem solver and storyteller with a customer first mindset. As Head of Product Marketing for Nokia's Charging and Mediation products, Elana is responsible for defining and taking the solution stories to market.

Connect with Elana on LinkedIn

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