Is 2008 the year for user data consolidation to take off? Nokia Siemens Networks is betting it might be, acquiring network management provider Apertio for 140 million ($206 million) on January 2.
A Loudhouse Research study published by Apertio a month and a half before the acquisition predicted that mobile operators would become increasingly interested in the types of services it offers. The mobile operators surveyed overwhelmingly (81%) wanted to cut their new service speed-to-market to under six months, a benchmark only a quarter of them currently met.
Key to cutting those lead times, Apertio and others contend, is reducing the "silos" of information that Home Location Registers (HLR) currently keep and better consolidating and using that information. That consolidation will also provide better diagnostic and marketing information while potentially cutting maintenance costs of expensive HLRs.
"The end game has always been to exploit the data to grab a greater share of wallet," wrote Andrew Wyatt, Apertio's chief product operations officer, in an email. "But data consolidation has huge payoffs in terms of infrastructure rationalization and simplification."
Apertio provides real-time subscriber data management and database applications for Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and other telecom providers.
"Enabling access to this information in real time means you can profile subscribers and deliver new services and advertising appropriately," stated Jürgen Walter, head of Nokia Siemens Networks' Converged Core business unit, in a press release.
Elisabeth Rainge, director of network software at IDC, said telecoms' user data consolidation was currently lacking and would be an emerging concern over the next couple of years.
"Nokia Siemens has jumped on this [trend] to bring the Apertio business in house and has been forward-looking enough to realize the importance of the data structure [in the future]," Rainge said.
Aside from cost reductions and service deployments, she said, the need for data consolidation was heightened by the popularization of social networking software and the European Union data-retention directive.
"The move [to consolidated data] is about being able to leverage all the data that carriers have," Rainge said, adding that this data is useful from both technical standpoints, such as network capacity planning, and business perspectives, such as marketing new services to likely buyers.
Rainge also said the timing may have been just right for Apertio, a young company that has seen rapid growth. She predicted that the big winners in the market would be IT vendors and top network equipment companies -- possibly including HP, IBM and EMC -- which can operate on the scale large telecoms will demand.
"I don't think this is the thing a company like Apertio could do on its own," she said.
Nokia Siemens has already had some success in partnering with Apertio, so the acquisition was a natural fit for them.
"Apertio in partnership with NSN have won numerous [unannounced] Tier 1 accounts globally over the last two years," Wyatt wrote. "This gathering momentum provided proof that the proposition was resonating in the market."
He said that Apertio's strategy would be to continue offering "open" subscriber data management solutions, strengthened by Nokia Siemens' end-to-end network architecture.