Interconnection Billing in OSS/BSS

We now know and understand after the previous article how mobile network operators operates billing and charging systems within its own network. But what if we need to connect to another mobile network operator? What also if that mobile network operator is not in our network but in another network. How does billing and charging work then when we use the network of our rivals? This is Interconnection and it is essential to have an Interconnect firstly at the hardware - network level. Here, though we will be focusing on how OSS/BSS Billing and Charging systems work for Interconnection.

Telecom Mobile Network Operators send and receive calls/SMS from one Mobile Network Operator to another. This activity of sending/receiving data in the form of calls/SMS from one Mobile Network Operator to another is called as Interconnection. The Mobile Network Operators involved in the interconnection need to track the amount of data that gets interchanged between their networks and to that end they need some sort of Billing mechanism working at the OSS/BSS level.

How does Interconnection Help?

  • Interconnection enables communications between different Mobile Network Operators and this enables customers to get in touch with people on other networks.
  • Interconnection helps enable competitive entry in the communications market for all and this in turn leads to telecommunications access/universal service.
Any new entrant in the Mobile Market place will face a lot of opposition from incumbents and to ensure that the playing field is leveled for all players, the WTO has created some regulations to which all telecom operators need to adhere to. WTO regulations ensure that:
Interconnection needs to be provided with all suppliers under non discriminatory terms, rates and quality no less favorable than those provided for its own services. The procedure applicable for Interconnection (RIO) should be made publicly available.

How  Does Interconnection Work?

The first level of Interconnection happens at the network level where switching of networks happens at the MSC - Mobile Switching Center level. These points are also called as the POIs : Points of Interconnect. Next, it enters the Interconnection layer and here the Interconnection Rates are applied as per the Interconnection agreement between the two Mobile Network Operators involved. Finally the processes of Billing and Reconciliation occurs and the accounts are settled. 

How Interconnection Rates are calculated?

Interconnection Rates are the rates that the operators need to pay to access network of other operators and these are usually under the purview of the market regulator. The main methods of rating for Interconnections are: 
  • Percentage of retail rates
This method ensures that the new entrants are provided a level playing field and are assured that they will be able to compete with the incumbents for the market share. But this method hinders the lowering of price and ensures preserves the inefficiencies of the incumbent.
  • Fully Allocated Costs
In this method, the total cost of providing service is divided by the volume of the service provided by the operator who is to be charged. This method ensures that the incumbent controls the service and in a way, it also controls the pricing.
  • LRIC : Long Run Incremental Costs
The best method amongst these is the LRIC. LRIC calculates the cost of providing an additional unit of service over the long run. Since the analysis is a forward looking analysis, it is the most accurate one and avoids the pitfalls faced by the other two. Newer variants of this approach are being researched and debated upon.
  • Bundled and Unbundled Charging
The prices of Interconnection can also be charged bundled or unbundled. Bundled means that irrespective of the use, the operators which avail the facilities from the incumbent will be charged for all the facilities that the incumbent provides. Unbundled means that the new entrant pays only for the services and charges that it uses and nothing but that.

Billing and Reconciliation

At the end of the Billing Period, the Invoices and the Payments that are generated are sent to the respective parties. If for some Mobile Network Operator, its partners need to generate both: Invoice as well as payments before the adjusted amount is generated. Next, the CDRs that are generated at both the Terminating and Originating partner ends are compared. This process is called as Reconciliation.

RIO : Reference Interconnection Offer Compliance

A Reference Interconnection Offer compliance is a document that is present with all the Mobile Network Operators you have an Interconnection with. This document lists all the different charging policies, taxes, revenue etc. that are levied on the various calls. You need to be sure that the Interconnection Billing System that you are buying fulfills all the various requirements listed in the document.

How to choose the right Interconnection Billing solution?

An Interconnection billing solution should in essence replicate all the functions and options that the operators' billing solutions provides to it. This will help it charge and also work best with different Mobile Network Operators. Some of the most important factors that you require in an Interconnection Billing Solution are:
Compliance with charging policies of operators you work
  • Peak - Off Peak Rates
  • Rate per minute, Rate per second
  • Rounding Policies
  • Holidays/ Special Days in different regions
  • Multiple Currency
  • Interface to import data generated to accounting system
  • Ability to generate different types of reports
  • Method to identify calls should be known and compared in both systems
  • Web based view to help create transparency between all stake holders
  • Option to allow the partners to download CDRs and compare them
  • CDRs and system information needs to be very secure
  • Options for correcting the mistakes while rating should be provided

Telecom OSS/BSS Billing Systems Overview

Let me try and provide you a peek into the process of OSS/BSS softwares and their working methodology.
OSS/BSS software work at the Application layer and hence they work well for data as well as voice services. The software which provides OSS/BSS services for all these different kinds of services is said to be providing a convergent billing solution.

Convergent Billing Solutions can be applied for both Prepaid and Postpaid Billing systems. The diagram and article below focuses on the generic Billing flow.

The network layer consists of devices like Access Servers, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), Cisco Netflow Collector and such devices which help the End User connect with the Network Layer and hence the OSS/BSS.

AAA server

The network devices like a RAS - Remote Access Server, VPN server, Switch with port based application or a Captive portal and NAS/BRAS - Network/Broadband Access Server are connected to the AAA server, usually a Radius/Diameter server which handles the tasks of Authentication, Authorization and Accounting. A Diameter server is the upgraded version of the RADIUS server. The RADIUS/Diameter server checks if the information is correct using authentication protocols like PAP, CHAP or EAP. Modern RADIUS/Diameter servers can directly access databases for authentication.

The AAA server usually returns one of three responses to the NAS/BRAS:
Access Reject : Reject Login
Access Challenge : Challenge Login for more info
Access Accept : Accept Login


The provisioning server is primarily responsible for managing access rights and privileges in conjunction with the AAA server. A provisioning server helps the AAA make decisions about providing different access rights to the users.

Mediation Engine

A mediation engine helps in refining and converting the incoming CDRs from the provisioning server into information that can be accessed and used by the Rating/Charging module of the system. A mediation engine is required as an interface between the AAA server and the Rating and Charging systems when the Rating and Charging system cannot understand the CDRs generated by AAA.

The connection between the Network Layer and the Mediation Layer is through the SOAP protocol over HTTP/XML, SNMP or FTP/FTAM. The data transfer can occur real time - for Prepaid Billing, Batch mode through Push or Pull techniques.

Rating and Charging

The Rating and Charging module applies different rating rules to the processed CDRs it receives from the Mediation layer. After the rates are applied, it updates customer account according to the rates, creates a billable data record and sends the same information with the promotion information to the Billing layer. The Rating and Charging Layer is closely connected with customer management. Customer management is primarily for the back office to be able to define new rates, rating mechanisms and apply charges.

Billing and Bill generation

The Billing layer generates bills based on the Billing Data Records it receives from the Rating and Charging Layer and then it applies taxes, discounts, calculates charges and finally generates invoice records for every customer. The Billing Layer will also interface with various other modules like the web self care module, Order Management module. Payment module, Pre and Post Paid integration and the Partner Management module. The Billing Layer can also be used as a standalone Interconnect Billing Solution provided it gets all the requisite details from the Interconnect partner.

The Billing System will interface with the Customer Relationship Management layer, Web Self Care layer and the Reports Layer.

This article tries to provide a very brief overview of how OSS/BSS Billing systems work. Most of the modules described here are not according to the standards set by the TMForum, but help best to understand how the process occurs. To know more about TMForum initiatives and standards, Watch This Space.

OSS/BSS against crime

Just read this news and thought of spreading the word about how Telecom OSS/BSS technology can also be put to use for police investigations. The Bangalore police recently caught an Infosys employee and indicted him for murdering his wife. 

The story goes like this:
Husband claims that he received a call from his wife while he was away jogging asking him to come home as three men had arrived at the house looking for him. He came, didn't find the door open and so came back with a new key to his house only to find wife dead.

The Bangalore police checked the HLR - Home Location Register and looked at the call records between the husband and his wife. They found that the time at which husband claimed, wife called him, the husband and the wife's cell phones were in the same location - in the same tower area. The tower serving their house where wife was supposed to be was a different one. 

Confronted with these facts, husband confessed.

"Do No Evil" says the Devil

Google - Verizon Deal

The big news this week in the Telecom market is about the Google-Verizon deal that supposedly threatens Net Neutrality. Google CEO Eric Schmidt explained Google and Verizon's position on Net Neutrality, saying

"I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. It's OK to discriminate across different types...There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really a Federal Communications Commission issue, not a Google issue."
The FCC it is believed is working on formalizing regulations for the deal and will come up with the same soon. The statement from the FCC chairman was encouraging as he said,

 "Any outcome, any deal that doesn’t preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable"
The Obama government and the FCC are pushing for net neutrality, but a recent ruling by the courts in the Comcast - FCC case suggests that the judiciary might not agree to this. Lots of stories about the deals are doing the rounds and like many others I would like to believe that Google, which has created its huge fortune based on Net Neutrality will not undermine it yet.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality means that any packet of data passing over the internet has the same right to bandwidth as any other. This ensures that every website and every "Type of Data" on the internet has the same right to bandwidth.  

Possible Implications of the Google-Verizon Deal

Dynamic charging introduced by Mobile Service Providers helps to improve bandwidth utilization and manage traffic. It has been generally observed that ISPs introduce some or the other form of discrimination to incentivize customers to surf some sites more than others. But till now, there have been few instances of the same getting reflected in business deals between ISPs and websites.

Google and Verizon, it seems have proposed a tiered system that helps discrimination based not on websites, but datatypes according to the statement by Google CEO. This implies that Verizon might want to create a system wherein videos are streamed faster as compared to data. This in turn will most definitely encourage higher video based traffic, resulting in better revenues for Verizon adding up to what it will receive from Google. And as far as Google is concerned, it will have a larger number of customers on Youtube due to faster speeds. It also seems that the deal will affect WiFi and mobile surfers surfing the internet on Verizon's 3.9 G LTE enabled network. Details though are scarce. 

Such a move has long been warranted, with the huge explosion in internet traffic and the seemingly insatiable demand for higher bandwidths. It might just come to a point when ISPs will allow consumers to access their pick of websites at the fastest speed and the rest much slower. The consumers benefit and so do the ISPs because of their deals with the websites in protecting for protecting the websites' clientele.

Making a case for MVNOs in India

Background : Indian Telecom

The 3G auctions and the subsequent churn have created a few more operators in the already crowded Indian telecom space. This though, augurs well for everyone concerned. The new operators, especially the ones with pan Indian ambitions like Aircel, Uninor, Videocon, Spice and Virgin mobile are focusing on getting as much market share as possible by using:
  • Innovative OSS/BSS systems
  • Unique Marketing Strategies
  • Banking on Number Portability
A look at the numbers* reveal that most of these companies have a market share of anywhere between 0 to 6 percent with Aircel having the highest market share of 6%. Ideally any new company now joining the fray as a MVNO/Telecom Operator in India, will be one that targets a market share of anywhere around the 5% mark.

Long Tail

According to the Wikipedia:
"The Long Tail or long tail refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution than observed under a 'normal' or Gaussian distribution."
Amazon and Netflix are cited as prime examples of the Long Tail principle. The Long Tail principle helps businesses realize a significant profit by selling many hard to find items at a high margin.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is a strategy which helps an organization achieve high growth by creating a new demand in an uncontested market space. Blue Ocean is all about "Value Innovation". Value Innovation is the alignment of innovation with utility, price and cost principles. This in turn helps create uncontested market space which makes the competition irrelevant.

Requirements for starting a MVNO in India

Indian Company having a networth of Rs. 10 crore for Metro / Category A, Rs. 5 crore for Category B and Rs.3 crore for Category C service area, paid up capital of 10% of prescribed networth and satisfying 141 licence conditions such as FDI,substantial equity etc. is eligible to apply for MVNO licence. MVNO must get parented to an MNO in a service area. The license service area of MVNO will have to be the same as that of parent MNO. Arrangement/agreement between MNO and MVNO to be driven by market forces. No limit on number of MVNOs attached to an MNO. A MVNO will have to submit the agreement with MNO before issue of license to MVNO. MNO will be responsible for paying the spectrum charges for utilisation of spectrum by MVNO.
Rajesh at Emergic provides a more accurate figure and states that the total cost of a new MVNO is "Rs 80 crore for a national MVNO licence", adding that "My estimate is that this will require an investment of about Rs 200+ crore, and has the potential to deliver a topline of about Rs 2,000+ crore in 3 years for the market leader."

Consolidating my understanding of the current scenario, I believe that the Data/VAS based MVNO targetting a niche consumer base can definitely generate a large amount of income. Just as the blackberry is gaining in popularity as it provides a niche data service, there is an opportunity for the service provider to serve the "Long Tail" and yet bring in the profits.

* Numbers from Mohit Agarwal's article at Telecomcircle.

MVNOs : Explained

What are MVNOs?

Mobile Virtual Network Operators are telecom operators which do not own any telecom infrastructure and yet survive in the market based on their strategic alliances with current MNOs - Mobile Network Operators. MVNOs usually buy MOUs - Minutes of Use in bulk from traditional mobile operators for sale to their own customers.

The introduction of MVNOs in the market is a natural progression towards having a free market and contributing to the efficient use of telecom infrastructure. A mature market is expected to provide the customer with choice. It often becomes difficult for a large operator to service such diverse requirements effectively. Such varied requirements could get well addressed by niche operators catering to specific customer segments. These operators create a structure that differentiates between wholesale and retail operators.

Method of Service Delivery

MVNOs deliver their own SIM cards and are also responsible for branding, marketing, billing and customer care. Some MVNOs have their own infrastructure whereas some do not own infrastructure but are based on services provided by it such as:-
• Tariff and service design control or
• Only pre-packaged services.
• Service implementation and differentiation
Based on their infrastructure, MVNOs can be classified as Skinny MVNO, Thin MVNO and Thick MVNO.

Symbiotic relationship between MNOs and MVNOs

MVNOs cannot exist without MNOs.
MNOs also derive a lot of benefit from MVNOs, such as:
• MVNOs help in expanding the market size and penetration.
• MVNOs help MNOs target specific segments where they are weak and create a wider customer base. A larger market helps all the players concerned. MVNOs follow a Blue Ocean strategy of creating an uncontested market by reconstructing market boundaries.
• MVNOs help provide specific products and Value Added Services to customers. Eg. Disney provides cartoons and entertainment and ESPN helps provide sports information to its client base.
• MVNOs help MNOs in effective network and bandwidth utilization.
• MVNOs also help MNOs lower operational costs which accrue in the form of billing, sales, customer services, marketing budgets as they directly buy minutes from MNOs.

MVNOs and Blue Ocean strategies

The MVNO model is about providing differentiated services and hence rather than fight the battle, they create a whole new battlefield of their own choice. This is what Blue Ocean strategies are all about and so MVNOs are the best vehicles of experimentation for enterprising entrepreneurs.

The different ways in which MVNOs operate around the world are:
Business MVNOs like BeyondMobile and Abica provide bespoke services to businesses.
Discount MVNOs provide cut-price call rates to market segments.
Lifestyle MVNOs like Helio focus on specific niche market demographics.
Advertising-funded MVNOs like Blyk or MOSH Mobile build revenues from advertising to give a set amount of free voice, text and content to their subscribers.
Ethnic MVNOs like Lebara target ethnic communities by providing inexpensive calls to their home country.
Tesco, a UK based retailer, started an MVNO with O2 and An Post, Ireland’s postal service started one with Vodafone.

Future of MVNOs

A lot of the MVNOs mentioned haven’t worked and there have been some high profile failures, notably that of Disney and ESPN. But the business model of MVNOs is still a lucrative one and there are more and more players joining in the fray. More about MVNOs in India soon.

Cellular Phone Security

I recently lost my cellphone and that was when I came to know about IMEI number and why the Government of India is not allowing China made cellphones without IMEI number to work in India. My cellphone was a cheap Nokia one and losing it gave me endless joy as it helped me get a newer better version. But what if you have a high end phone and you lose it. There is a way to ensure that if you do not get your cellphone back, you can at least ensure that whosoever gets it is not able to use it too. Read On.

What to do if your cellphone is stolen?

Every phone has a IMEI number. IMEI - International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number is a unique which helps identify mobile and some satellite phones. IMEI number is usually found in the battery compartment of the mobile phone and should not be confused with the IMSI number about which we will learn more later. The primary use of the IMEI number is to provide more security by uniquely identifying every phone working on the network. We can easily know the IMEI number of our phones by pressing *#06# into the keypad.

So how can IMEI number prevent our cellphone from getting stolen?

The IMEI number is mapped to the device and this mapping has a one to one relationship. This means that there is one IMEI number for every single device. The moment we start using a cellular phone with a valid IMEI number, the same is transmitted to and stored by the service provider in a register called as the EIR - Equipment Identity Register. GSM network operators maintain three lists of international mobile equipment identities (IMEI) in their Equipment Identity Register (EIR):
# grey - GSM mobile phones to be tracked
# black - Barred GSM mobile phones
# white - Valid GSM mobile phones

Hence if the user tries to connect to the network and get on call using the Barred GSM mobile phone, he/she will be barred from using the network.

But what if the phone is taken to another region where our network provider and hence his EIR are both not accessible. That is when CEIR comes in to play.

CEIR - Central Equipment Identity Register is a database of IMEI number of blacklisted devices. Chinese mobiles have been banned in India if they do not possess IMEI number and the same has been facilitated by the use of EIR and CEIR.

Network Operators Benefit through IMEI number?

The increasing number of high end phones in the market also increases vulnerability of network operators due to spamming, spoofing and hacking. Spoofing can change the identity of the user and this might lead to revenue leakage. Network operators benefit from having a built in mechanism that can help them keep suspicious cellular phones in check.

Mobile Phone Tracking through IMEI number

Cellular phones can be tracked and their location can be established using Mobile Phone Tracking mechanisms. Mobile Phones can be tracked by cellular towers, software in the cellular phones or by using a combination of both these mechanisms.

Cellular towers can track a phone in its cell or other cells by interpreting signals and signal strength from the cellular phone and also by using methods such as triangulation.

Handset based techniques can be implemented when the mobile device is equipped with GPS or a software that helps track its location.

Sometimes methods that utilize both of these techniques are also used to track the cellular phone. If you are buying a high end smart phone then you can be rest assured that it will be having most of the security mechanisms already built into its system.

IMEI number vs IMSI

The IMEI number is associated with the device and has no relation whatsoever to the subscriber. The IMEI number should not be confused with the IMSI - International Mobile Subscriber Identity which is used to create relevant entries about the phone in the HLR - Home location register or the VLR - Visitors Location Register. The IMSI is stored in the SIM card. It is a 15 (or sometimes 14)digit long number which consists of the Mobile Country Code (MCC) which is 3 digits long, and is followed by the Mobile Network Code (MNC), either 2 digits (European standard) or 3 digits (North American standard). The remaining digits are the mobile station identification number (MSIN) within the network's customer base. The IMSI is used to activate/deactivate the customer account by the telecom service provider when the customer lodges such a request. So when we call the call center and ask the service provider to stop billing on our card, this is the number that they use to deactivate the customer account.  

Overview of Cellular Networks

A cellular network is called so as it is created of many cell like structures connected to each other. The cells are hexagonal in shape like a honeycomb. Every cell has a tower that is responsible for providing “Network Access” to all the cellular mobile phones in that cell. 

Why are Cellular Networks, Cellular?

Cellular networks work on radio wave frequencies that are assigned to them and within these limited, shared frequencies they need to try and accommodate as many users as possible. Cellular networks are arranged as cells as it helps frequency reuse, bandwidth optimization and hence supports more cellular phone users. The hexagonal cell structure was found to be the best structure for implementing cellular networks as it helps reach the most number of people without conflicting frequencies or sacrificing on the number of cellular mobile phones that are being used.

How do Cellular Phones work?

When a cellular phone user makes a call, it reaches the towers which are called as BTS – Base Transceiver Station or cell site and which houses transceivers as its name suggests. A transceiver is also called as a TRX and it is basically a device that helps in transmitting and receiving radio signals. The TRX aka DRX – Driver Receiver will be in contact with the cellular phone or any other User Equipment. It is used primarily to send and receive signals over the radio frequency. 

The BTS forms a part of the BSS Base Station Subsystems and it is controlled by a parent Base Station Controller via the BCF Base Station Controller Function. The BTS takes input from the UE under guidance from the BCF and passes the same on to the BSC Base Station Controller. The signals from the BSC are passed on to MSC.

The MSC or the Mobile Switching Center is where the call signals from the User Equipment are passed on further to the number it intends to connect to. A MSC is a soft switch that provides facilities for calling and receiving calls to numbers registered in the network and also outside it – roaming. It uses various databases like HLR and VLR for this purpose. 

Once the call is forwarded from the MSC it reaches another MSC or a BTS and connects to the user the call is dialed to. The whole function happens in a matter of seconds.  

Persona for Offshore Web Development

What is Persona?

The concept of Persona has long been used in marketing as a tool to define users and user groups. Persona was introduced as a tool for Web and Application development by Alan Cooper, better known as the "Father of Visual Basic". For Business Analysts, Persona is an invaluable tool for helping bridge the gap between clients and developers.

It is important to realize that people are diverse. We must understand that all users, including those with disabilities use our products differently. This is because different people use different adaptive techniques, different interaction strategies, different experiences, different expectations and different preferences.

While Persona do not ideally help address all the differences, they do try and bring out all the common traits in the user group and define a personality based on extensive market and data research. Let us try to best understand a Persona with an example.

Persona Example
Rahul is a manager in a recruitment agency in Mumbai. He lost his eyesight at the age of 12 in an accident. This disability has made it difficult for him to achieve the degree of success that he has achieved. He being a very determined individual doesn't take no for an answer and has been working hard to improve his lot.

Besides his work, Rahul also volunteers in a disability rights organization called GIVE India.
Rahul uses the internet at home with the help of a screen reader to keep track of the news and to keep in touch with the people working in his domain. He has a fast internet connection at his office, but the slow dial up connection at home coupled with badly created websites frustrate him.

Check out these Steps to create a Persona.

Persona:Advantages for Offshore Development

Persona are helpful in understanding user requirements better - especially in Offshore Web Development. As business analysts working in an Offshore Development setup, it becomes imperative for us to create a bridge between client expectations and developer understanding of the project. Creating a persona helps a great deal in this task.

This is especially important in small to medium scale organizations which have only the voice of a customer to listen to while developing a project. Some of the major benefits of Persona are:

1. User Perspective

Developer will be able to create their applications and its benchmarks based on user preferences and not on their own. Persona helps gain a very clear user perspective. 

After learning and hearing the experiences of Rahul and his work, a developer will be able to realize that creating a website that is very complex or which has links placed very close to one another is not recommended. Also having really beautiful colors on the website will not be a very important requirement.

2. Story Telling

All our lives, we have loved to listen and create stories. Nothing helps clear user requirements better than creating a good story and telling it to the developers. Communicating the stories of our users to the developers and how the tackle their problems at work and away will help them get a real sense of their clients and their issues.

Nathan likes surfing the internet when at the office and he makes note of all the good sites he has visited during the time period. To ensure that he is able to access these files whenever he wants to he stores these files on Google docs.

3. Role Playing

 No story is complete without the characters and the characters that define a story help create a better understanding of the users to the development team.

If the users of a particular Plumbing Equipment Shopping Cart Website are considered, they are mostly men - technicians who are aware of the specifics of every product and who are buying for their clients and not themselves. A technician will buy what their clients require and no more. While designing a website for such a customer, we need to realize that Up Selling to technicians will not work. But providing discounts to returning customers will.

4. Crucial for Localized Products

With websites increasingly catering to smaller and more localized niches rather than the behemoths of ancient times, it is imperative that developers creating these websites are able to understand the real requirements of the end users. Developers will be able to create websites far more easily using Persona in such circumstances.

Amanda lives in a small village in Denmark and buys essential items online as it saves her the trip to the nearby city. The requirements of Amanda are completely different from those of Nathan who lives in New York. This will have to reflect not just in the products and design but also the business logic of the website. Cross selling of articles for Amanda will be different from cross selling for Nathan for instance. 

Persona for Business Analysts

Persona also adds a lot of value in communications for the business analysts and they help in clarifying a lot of product documentation and requirements documentation. They thus help ensure that:
1. Documentation is neither superfluous nor over specific.
2. Features are prioritized better.
3. Helps create a product that focuses better on persona's values.

Persona for Developers

Besides helping the business analysts, Persona also empowers the developers as they are able to:
1. Take good, reasonable implementation decisions easily
2. Understand requirements more easily with lesser specifications.
3. Raise concerns that are valid
4. Look forward to being able to find best opportunities.
5. Stay focused on real requirements.
6. Use common language of Persona for internal communication. 

Persona have been known to be implemented and used in various ways on the development floor. Some are printed, some on the charts and some hung on the green boards. Persona has also been used as screen savers and desktop backgrounds for employees to ensure that they keep in touch with client requirements. But its multifarious benefits have been reaped by one and all irrespective of its method of implementation.

Internet Business Analysis

India is slowly - very slowly becoming more internet savvy and even though it is an accepted fact that mobile phones will be ruling the Indian market, the internet still is a lucrative business. There are a huge number of start ups that are based on the internet presently and a even larger number that have already failed after trying to crack the difficult Indian market.

So there are some questions that every start up should be asking itself.  

1. What is the USP of your website?
The question to ask when starting up with any new website is similar to the one you would ask while starting a new business: What is it that the site brings to the table that is better, cheaper and easier than what already exists.

2. What is the prime objective of the website?
Being able to state the objective clearly in as less words as possible helps define a scope. This in turn helps both the website owner and the development team to have a very clear picture of what it is that they are creating.
Broadly, the internet consists of sites that do the following:
1. Search Engine
2. Collaborative
3. Informative
4. Information Gathering
5. Buy and Sell on the Internet

There is a difference between creating a search engine for real estate - and a site that provides information about real estate - and this needs to be kept in mind all the time while designing and developing the site.

3. What is the target audience of the website?
The internet helps in targeted advertising and targeted marketing. Demographics are important and they are becoming even more important on the internet. The best way to ascertain a target audience is to create a Persona. Read more about Persona in my next post.

The answers to these questions help clear a lot of doubts for both the development team and the client in any internet based web development project and also ensure successful project completion.