It is well known that jogging triggers our brain’s ability to make associations, but I never expected it to create a connection between the Pokémon GO mania and service assurance. Continue reading and I’ll explain.

I usually come across at least a handful of other runners on my usual jogging route, but last night those runners were replaced by hordes of teenagers walking phone first, trying to catch the legendarily elusive Vaporeans and Mewtwos of this new digital reality. These rare Pokémon have even caused player ‘stampedes’ in Central Park according to NBC – make sure to watch the video at that link. In any case, it is impossible to deny that Pokémon GO has taken the world by 15-million download stScreen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.59.57 AMorm, even here in northern Sweden.

The social media and press frenzy surrounding the game has been entertaining to follow, but one announcement in particular piqued my interest. Earlier this week, T-Mobile shared their plans to zero-rate the app and offer free data for all Pokémon GO sessions for a full year for their customers. Talk about opportunistic and timely new service creation! T-Mobile saw an opportunity in the market and in a very limited amount of time, created a new service to appeal to a large segment of existing subscribers and potentially also reach a sizable group of new customers. Interestingly, the age group currently infatuated with the game probably also includes a large number of mobile users who are starting to pay for their own services, rather than the bill being addressed to mom and dad.

Now, imagine you just levelled up and can now go to the Gym (I learned that you must be a Level 5 trainer when I myself was denied entry at the local Pokémon GO Gym) when you see this free data score. You download the app, excited to start collecting on your zero-rated deal and hit the Gym, but the service is not working. Like the crashed Niantic servers globally, your dreams of honing your Poke-skills are dashed. Dissatisfaction with your provider has hit an all-time high.

Deploying new services to take advantage of time-sensitive, trending opportunities is a delicate but potentially very rewarding process. As a service provider, you know that there will be huge demand for the service immediately due to the popularity of Pokémon GO, but you need to develop and launch the service quickly in order to grab the biggest bite of the market, and you need to make sure that the service can be delivered correctly the first time upon a customer ordering it. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility; if you are going to advertise the answer to someone’s dreams, you better make sure you can deliver as failure will seem just that much worse with so much emotion in play. So how do you ensure that this speedily-developed service will be delivered correctly to your Poke-hysteric customers the first time?

Enter software-based service activation testing. Upon ordering a new service, customers expect it to be accessible and working as soon as possible. Despite this, many services are delivered without service activation testing today, or they are only tested at a very primitive level. This is often because thorough activation testing has required expensive field efforts and hardware tools in the past and service providers are reluctant to make the case for the proper capital and resourcing efforts required. As a result, deliveries fail, costly fieldwork is needed, and customer frustration ensues.

With software-based active Test Agents, multi-layer, end-to-end service testing can be conducted using active traffic generation to mimic the actions of your hardcore Pokémon trainer customers remotely and cost-efficiently. This allows you to test the new service being delivered in a real-world production environment before adding subscribers into the mix. In addition to ensuring service fulfillment, you must also ensure low latency as this is often required by these types of applications, so validation from time of service instantiation using active Test Agents is key.

The capability to react agilely to the needs and desires of your customers will be key to revenue generation for service providers of the future: creating short-lived new services for certain events, or deploying new services quickly to take advantage of trends. The ability to ensure that the delivered quality meets your customer requirements over the lifetime of these service requires software-based, active tools with automation capabilities.

If you are interested in learning more about software-based activation testing or automated active assurance, please find us at www.netrounds.com, or you can find me at the local Poke Stop.

Kaela Loffler, Director, Marketing & Industry Alliances, Amateur Pokémon Trainer, Netrounds

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