What makes a great user management tool for hybrid networks?

Published: 31 Mar 2017
Author: Rahim Zaknoun

If your organization has both smartphone users and PMR radio users, are you managing them in the best way? Some users will carry both devices, and will be on different networks. How can you stay on top if your subscriber management tools are separate?

There are several characteristics that separate superb subscriber management from the rest of the pack.

Here are five must-haves for efficient subscriber management.

PMR network operators know full well the demands of managing subscribers while being pressed for time and money every day. You need efficient tools to manage radio users’ data, access rights and other attributes, as well as a way to look after push-to-talk subscribers.

But what turns a good subscriber management tool into a great one? Different software providers will have different features and functionality, but there are five important characteristics that must be met to achieve outstanding subscriber management.

Does the tool manage users consistently over several networks?

With thousands of users on a typical PMR network and broadband network, managing every user individually and in different networks could be enormously time consuming and expensive.

Without the tool, organizations will have subscribers separately provisioned into each network. There will be no link between a PMR subscriber and the equivalent entity in the broadband network. The only way that the user organization could keep track of the relationships would be to maintain lists or databases of subscriber information.

User organizations need to know who has which device and which apps are in use. In addition, their contact information needs to be available to the PMR network side.

Take public safety organizations responding to a major accident as an example. The central command and control, as well as the field commander, need to know which resources are available. They need to know this no matter which communication device the person carries. Otherwise, their common operational picture is incomplete.

Is the tool easy to use? 

An essential part of a great subscriber management tool is its ease of use. Intuitive design means that when a user sees it, they know exactly what to do and can focus on the task at hand. They don’t need months of training to start using the tool.

And if they have one centralized system for managing their subscribers over several networks, this makes it even easier.

Since intuitive design is invisible, people will not actually appreciate it (since they won’t even notice it) – but they will immediately notice if it is not there.

Just as the management tool needs to be easy to use, so do the applications – according to the findings of the second Airbus survey of the professional mobile apps market. This found that “easy to use” is the third most important characteristic of mobile apps for professional users.

Want to know more? This blog post summarises the findings of the 2016-2017 survey.

 

Will the tool save you time?

Instead of managing individual subscribers one by one in different networks, a great subscriber management tool allows network operators and user organizations to manage subscriber attributes en masse, saving huge amounts of time.

In times of crisis or other critical incidents, user organizations need a quick way to make changes on the fly. They don’t have time for managing subscribers separately into each network. In situations where every second counts, taking an extra moment could be the difference between life and death.

Will it save money?

Organizations adopting broadband devices and apps need to consider subscriber management. If they don’t, they will end up with costly, often duplicate or multiple management systems, which are difficult or impossible to keep synchronized.

In other words, user organizations need a solution that can manage their units, talk groups and subscribers over several networks – from one single point. This brings both CAPEX and OPEX savings.

As an operator, you only need to invest in one system, instead of two or even more. This is a great benefit because it also means less site space and less training for the tool’s users, bringing more cost savings.

Is it secure?

Access for users must be controlled and limited. In other words, user organizations need a solution that gives authorized people access to their organization’s subscriber information only. They should not have access to other organizations’ subscriber information, unless it’s permitted. Certificates are the best way to grant network access to each device individually.

Using one system for managing subscribers over several networks cuts the risk of mistakes. Without the tool, user organizations would have subscribers separately provisioned into each network. The only way that the user organization could then keep track of the relationships would be to maintain lists or databases of subscriber information, which is messy and error-prone.


There is one solution that has a great answer to all the questions in this post: Tactilon® Management.

 

What do you think makes a great subscriber management tool? Let us know in the comments. 

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The Secure Communications blog gives you insights into critical communications future, secure and critical communications, public safety and other professional apps, current events, Tetrapol and TETRA radios, and active paging, for example.