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How Telecoms Can Adjust To The Reality Of The Digital Era

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'It is important to gently transition the technology into people’s everyday lives and get them used to the fact that their devices can now talk, something that wasn’t previously possible' - says Michiel Nuytemans, Comarch OSS Solution Manager.

Download the article to learn how to provide service continuity in the era of more and more complex networks!

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How Telecoms Can Adjust To The Reality Of The Digital Era

  1. 1. Standardizing data, applications & processes In order to find new streams of revenue and maintain their current customer base, communication service providers are focusing their business innovation on services instead of connectivity. Recent years have seen a revolution in digital services that has given rise to new business models in the following fields: ▶▶ Digital services: mobile payments, video-on-demand, communication tools, etc. ▶▶ Cloud and virtualization services: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). ▶▶ M2M solutions: solutions and connectivity for all kinds of devices (Internet of Things – IoT). Most telecom operators are already active in each of these segments. They are competing with various over-the-top (OTT) players in offering mobile payment solutions, messaging applications, and virtual infrastructure for enterprise-scale applications. This shift has clearly had an impact on telecom operators’ legacy BSS/OSS environments. They have had to adapt over the last two decades from offering fixed and mobile telephony to complex IP services. How telecoms can adjust to the reality of the digital era
  2. 2. As networks become more complex, new technologies are necessary as an add-on to the legacy infrastructure in order to provide service continuity. CSPs are now looking at leveraging heterogeneous networks and NFV/SDN to ensure their networks demonstrate sufficient flexibility and efficiency for future business models.
  3. 3. What Business Models can CSPs Adopt in the Era of Digital Services? There are three basic business models CSPs can adopt to take advantage of the digital revolution: ▶▶ Digital service provider – developing and providing end-to-end digital services to their own customer base ▶▶ Digital service enabler – offering other service providers (e.g., OTT) assets such as a customer base, billing or service qu- ality management capabilities, etc. ▶▶ Connectivity provider – using proprietary networks to offer connectivity and infrastructure to other service providers. The optimal strategy to follow will differ from one operator to another. Focusing solely on network connectivity will, however, be reserved for a small number of operators who will manage the “pipes” for other service providers. Many CSPs will either need to develop their own digital services in cooperation with various partners or instead offer these services to other providers. In reality, most CSPs will adopt a mix of strategies, depending on the type of service, type of customer, and other factors. Before we dive into the challenges CSPs face in adapting their operational environments to the digital revolution, it’s important to highlight why BSS/OSS should be discussed as one entity, instead of being referred to as two separate entities. Both CSPs and vendors clearly separate the functionalities and responsibilities in each of the domains. Different teams are responsible for BSS and OSS. They have different priorities, objectives, and processes. Therefore, they have different mindsets. Delivering value-added services is all about breaking down these boundaries and integrating products, services and infrastructure on the level of provisioning, assurance, CRM, billing, and new product definition. Therefore, this article illustrates the impact of digital services on BSS/OSS as a whole. Challenge No. 1: Increasing Network Complexity OTT services have initiated the migration from conventional traffic (circuit-switched voice or SMS) to pure IP traffic. In order to meet the capacity increase in total traffic caused by these services, operators have invested in the deployment of next- generation networks (LTE, LTE-Advanced). As networks become more complex, new technologies are necessary as an add-on to the legacy infrastructure in order to provide service continuity. CSPs are now looking at leveraging heterogeneous networks and NFV/SDN to ensure their networks demonstrate sufficient flexibility and efficiency for future business models. Heterogeneous networks also use technologies such as Wi-Fi or femtocells that make it possible to offload traffic from the operator’s critical infrastructure, which can help further improve network bandwidth. Next-generation OSS vendors need to tailor their solutions to handle the increasing size and complexity of future networks.
  4. 4. Challenge No 2: Managing Data-Driven Real-Time Services Most digital services are delivered over an IP network, making it hard for operators to monitor, monetize, and assure the quality of each individual service because they would need to collect, process, and store large amounts of data. Today, telecom operators are investing in enhancing customer experience and service quality for their traditional service portfolios in order to reduce churn and differentiate from their market competition. Expanding these initiatives to include digital services requires a data-centric BSS/OSS stack that enables them to efficiently provision, monitor, and bill whatever the customer is consuming. It is easy to see that the sheer volume and structure of IP traffic makes this a challenging task. The manner in which people consume these new services is also different from conventional services. Today, consumers want to be able to activate, deactivate, upgrade and cancel using simple but powerful self-management tools. Corporate customers expect usage-based cloud services that they can scale horizontally and vertically in real time. Mobile payment transactions require an on-the-fly payment mediation to settle them. The real-time factor of these services has become critical. This requires a BSS/OSS that seamlessly integrates the service delivery platform with third-party applications. Challenge No 3: Integrating with Third Parties Delivering digital services (such as enterprise cloud services or M2M) requires cooperation with various partners in these specific fields. A lot of integration is necessary between telecom operators and other parties to offer a seamless experience – not only in the area of service provisioning and management, but also billing, customer analytics, and service usage information. As previously mentioned, telecom operators sit on a mountain of data derived from their customers’ service usage. This data is an asset that CSPs’ partners can leverage to offer new services and products. Next-generation BSS/OSS should allow CSPs to deliver new services by smoothly integrating with a wide range of third parties and at the same time enable them to offer partners the ability to efficiently leverage their data and infrastructure. How to Transform BSS/OSS to Support Digital Service Strategies? Standardizing Data, Applications and Processes The most important change in the digital revolution lies not in the BSS/OSS stack. It comes from within the organization and relates to processes and workforce. Some telecom operators go as far as to set up entirely new business units dedicated to digital services. They operate with different processes as well as a different, more customer-minded and service-centric mindset than people directly engaged in BSS/OSS. They deploy next-generation service delivery platforms designed to reduce the time-to-activate for their digital services. At the same time, they also train their workforce with new processes that offer an end-to-end view of products, services and infrastructure. Historically, BSS/OSS systems have been architected as silos, with their own individual processes and applications for every line of service. By standardizing processes and service-product models, as well as by reusing service components, telecom
  5. 5. operators have redesigned their BSS/OSS architecture towards open data models. In this way they have significantly improved their capability to launch and to provide new services. The new, modern BSS/OSS architectures, having open data models that represent services, products and resources, allow CSPs to have an end-to-end view of the various processes in their organization. By controlling and orchestrating each of the components involved in the idea-to-product, product-to-offer, offer-to-activate and activate-to-revenue processes, telecoms can offer agile product development, provisioning, and assurance, thus increasing customer value. Telecom operators who decide to implement an architecture ready for digital services have to focus on the interoperability of their internal functionalities (billing, infrastructure, products, services, quality) with those of third-party partners for each service. In summary: in order to achieve the data-driven architecture described above, it is important to standardize three things: data, applications, and processes. Data Next-generation BSS/OSS systems should use a common data format to store information about networks, services and products. This allows third-party systems to reduce integration costs and to improve the time-to-market for new services.
  6. 6. Applications CSPs should focus on integrating their functionalities internally , e.g., within their own organization, as well as externally to their partners by offering standard APIs. This not only shortens the time necessary to integrate new services, but also offers the opportunity to expose valuable functionalities to third parties. Telco operators have a lot of valuable data and resources that can be leveraged (and offered) to third parties to improve their services. Providing an open architecture would enable these kinds of initiatives. Processes Finally, from an organizational perspective an open, data-driven, component-based BSS/OSS environment is only as useful as the processes and workforce allow it to be. CSPs need to invest in adjusting their processes to facilitate the development, provisioning, billing, and assurance of new services. Compared to simply modernizing and upgrading BSS/OSS environments, this might be much more complicated. Conclusion The future of the CSP business lies in the delivery of digital services, either as a provider or an enabler. Whatever business model is chosen, the digital revolution will have an impact on the organization, processes and solutions that will be needed. As the infrastructure, services and partner environments grow and become more complex, operators need a horizontal component-based BSS/OSS stack that allows for end-to-end process integration. Therefore, next-generation service delivery platforms should have common data formats, open APIs, and customer-centric service models. Most importantly, CSPs should remember that IT systems are only part of a bigger organizational transformation that should help them grow their businesses in the coming years. Michiel Nuytemans Comarch, OSS Solution Manager, Telecommunications Business Unit
  7. 7. Why Comarch Having people’s devices suddenly start communicating directly with them and sharing unique, relevant content might freak them out. Instead, it is important to gently transition the technology into people’s everyday lives and get them used to the fact that their devices can now talk, something that wasn’t previously possible. __________________ Jerry Filipiak, CEO of Comarch Inc. telecom.comarch.com More information: telecom.comarch.com Comarch Headquarters Al. Jana Pawla II 39 a 31-864 Krakow Poland phone: +48 12 646 1000 fax: +48 12 646 1100 e-mail: info@comarch.com About Comarch Comarch is a global supplier of IT products and services for the telecommunications industry and has been present on the market since 1993. Comarch provides solutions in the areas of BSS/OSS, M2M and Cloud Service platforms, as well as a range of Managed Services. Comarch’s uniqueness lies not only in the compliance of its products with industry standards, but also in the flexibility and high competences of its engineers. Having comple- ted projects for over 50 telecom operators, Comarch has accumulated vast experience in the fields of designing, implementing, and integrating IT solutions. Current customers include Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, E-Plus, MTS or KPN.