Sigma Systems was thrilled to return to TM Forum Live! this year in Nice.

An intensive, four day schedule connected over 3,000 industry professionals in a unique, collaborative and innovative atmosphere – featuring over 250 industry-leading speakers, a tech expo and eight live events.

In addition to these attractions, TM Forum Live! showcased 30 Catalysts.

What are Catalysts?

“Catalysts are rapid fire, member-driven, proof-of-concept projects which both inform and leverage TM Forum best practices and standards, connecting service providers, technology suppliers, and global enterprises to create truly thought-leading and innovative solutions to industry challenges.”

– TM Forum

Sigma offered its expertise as a global leader in catalog-driven software for the following 3 projects:


APPEX Omni Channel

Champions Orange, Vodafone
Participants Sigma, Huawei, NTS Retail, Apptium, Celebrus, MACCSA

The APPEX Omni Channel catalyst explores how service providers can use omnichannel solutions to simplify, streamline, and optimize the customer experience from start to finish. By offering customers a consistent buying experience across all channels, omnichannel solutions empower end-users and simplify the sales process for both providers and consumers.

The catalyst will also explore the pressing question of how omnichannel solutions can harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) while seamlessly resolving security challenges. With in-depth looks at state-of-the-art analytics that make use of crowd-sourced data from IoT devices and new developments in event stream management, this catalyst promises to give viewers an engaging window into cutting-edge developments in omni-channel selling.

Sigma’s Role: Having been a part of the project since its inception, Sigma has offered catalog-driven ordering consulting through all stages of its creation. 

Winner of Outstanding Performance in the Catalyst Program this year!

Video: Huawei’s Tim Morgan on the Appex Omnichannel Catalyst


New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data

Champions NTT, Orange
Participants Sigma, CloudSense, Comptel

This catalyst explores an innovative new approach to the sale of mobile data packages. Because of mobile data’s consistently high costs, a broad variety of enterprises – including communications service providers – are encumbered by logistical challenges in selling it to customers.

The modern, digital ecosystem demands a new approach. This catalyst provides a detailed view of an innovative system of exchange that will empower customers by offering better access to data while helping operators and carriers to deploy mobile data as a high-functioning commodity.

The creation of a new platform allowing operators to sell mobile data packages to enterprises will rapidly impact the industry. Find out how in the New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data catalyst.

Sigma’s role: This catalyst saw Sigma’s Catalog deployed to produce the various pricing models necessary for the project’s success.

Video: Mustafa Oyumi, Salesforce Director of Product Management, on the Catalyst


Offer Canvas

Champions  Telstra, AT&T, BT, Orange
Participants Sigma, Infosys, Oracle, EnterpriseWeb, Ericsson

Today, the digital market’s ever-increasing agility is putting unprecedented demand on offer managers: offer management professionals must be aware of even the slightest shifts in the digital ecosystem while also retaining an acute understanding of the customer’s ever-changing demands.

While organizations are investing huge amounts of money in IT and network capabilities, there is still a lack of support for offer managers to capitalize on those investments.

This catalyst proposes a brilliant solution: using pre-tested, pre-built, verifiable models that allow offer managers to construct new offers that are seamlessly testable and incredibly easy to launch. Find out about the Offer Canvas catalyst – and how it’s set to change the face of modern offer management for communications service providers everywhere.

Sigma’s role: Sigma’s Catalog UI provided a fundamental platform for the creation of the Offer Canvas.

Video: Telstra’s Dr. Fawad Nazir on the Offer Canvas Catalyst


Like Sigma, TM Forum is fascinated with the themes of driving digital business transformation, thriving in a connected “5G” world, and using digital services to power new ecosystems and marketplaces. Be sure to see these catalysts bring those themes to life at TMForum 2017.

Learn more about TM Forum 2017 here.

“Many organizations assume complexity is inherent,” remarks Catherine Michel in her talk at the BCN 2017 Latam Summit.  “That complexity,” she continues, “is then built up…into [an organization’s] own operating infrastructure.”

There’s no doubt the communications industry is marked by complexity; there’s little that’s simple about offering a dizzying array of digital services to a vast and ever-more-demanding customer base. But there’s also no doubt, as Michel suggests, that this complexity is often overestimated and magnified by organizations who neglect to use the tools available to simplify the systems they have in place.

How, then, might legacy systems – laden by obsolete, slow and inefficient practices – reverse these cumbersome business models?

Agility. It’s a term that seems to have invaded every CSP (Communications Service Provider) boardroom – one that is used with such frequency that its actual meaning is often blurred and misinterpreted by even the most experienced industry pro. What does agile mean, then? Speed? Certainly. Insofar as it hastens services and erases logistical roadblocks, an agile approach to B/OSS projects is, without a shadow of a doubt, defined by speed – and the inherent power of that speed.

But that’s only half the story.  

 

Defining the Agile Business

Something that’s “agile” is more than just something that’s fast. Agility encompasses a set of fundamental practices that underpin the new approach to providing communications services, all branching towards the goals of reducing costs, decreasing time to market, and enhancing customer service.

What, then, does the modern DSP do to become agile? Here are five ways that your organization can embrace agility. 

To be agile – and to embrace the power of the digital revolution – the modern CSP must:

1) Be Catalog-Driven

 

Agile business

 

The new generation of consumers – the digital natives – demand a seamless, up-front selling and servicing process.

When we talk about a service provider that embraces the digital natives, we’re talking about an organization that encapsulates their business – the things they sell, the services they offer, what they have in their portfolio – and articulates it in the clearest terms possible for the customer. Why? Because every agile digital service provider clearly defines and standardizes what they’re selling.

There are a variety of benefits to a catalog-driven approach, but few have a greater impact than simplifying, clarifying, and expediting all interactions with the customer.

2) Embrace Your Ecosystem

When you sell in omni-channel and when your services are underpinned by a consistent customer experience, your digital garden starts to grow. But these agile business processes aren’t just outward, customer-facing executions. Emphasizing the value of every end-contact with a customer lets you start to exploit your network investment, and suddenly an amazing growth in your partner ecosystem can begin to flourish.

When agile business practices are used to consistently and persistently define what your business does, your name becomes synonymous with those services, allowing your portfolio to be more easily interpreted by relevant partners.

Embrace over-the-top providers of content, devices, and new services and incorporate them back into your own portfolio. DSPs connect what they can sell with other ecosystems.

3) Be Omni-channel

 

agile business analyst

 

Building an underlying consistency around business processes that define how customers interact with your portfolio deepens customer loyalty, boosts sales, and enhances your exposure. When every contact point with the customer is driven by a consistent business process, it helps DSPs embrace create a seamless customer experience.

Being an agile business means selling seamlessly through every sales channel so you can reach customers when and how they want to be reached. 

4) Be Context-Aware

 

 

Agility is to speed what intelligence is to context. When you have a set of services that tell you – regardless of the interaction or channel – what is required to sell a product to a customer and get it delivered, you have a far deeper insight into the sales process from start to finish.

Think about it this way: when you know who your customer is, what their location is, what’s in their existing portfolio, what their financial details are, and what their availability/serviceability requirements are, you have an incredibly powerful and insightful set of data. But you have to act on it. 

Armed with this data, the agile DSP strikes – automating processes that target customers based on what offers they’re eligible for and compatible with. Regular systems gather data. Agile business systems propose actions to execute on that data with powerful customization – and therein lies the remarkably powerful difference.

5) Deliver Flawlessly

 

agile business analyst

 

You’ve simplified, standardized and rationalized what you’re selling in your catalog. You’ve created data-driven rules for what’s required, what’s compatible, and what has to be available at the time of sale and delivery. Now, by the time you create the order for upfront selling, everything’s pre- and post-validated – everything is compatible and feasible for delivery across any channel. It’s the pinnacle of an agile business: it’s governed by an orchestrated order management process that produces automatic, actionable commands.

The fallout rate is low-to-none because you’ve assured feasibility from the get-go, ultimately meaning your customer is satisfied from start to finish. Easy interaction on their terms (in their channel of preference), customers understand what you sell, have received a simple timeline, and then they get it.

4 Profitable IoT Innovations – and Why CSP’s Should Be Excited

While we’re all aware of the objects that are commonly embedded with online capabilities – smartphones, computers, and so on – the sphere of digital connectivity is expanding ever-further; the border between “offline” and “online” is shrinking, and objects we’ve always thought of as static, unconnected, or unchanging are suddenly coming online. Everyday items are increasingly being digitized, linking them to the IoT (Internet of Things) – the vast network of people, objects, and devices that possess online connectivity.

But just how vast is it the IoT? A report by BI Intelligence indicates that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by the year 2020, up from 10 billion in the year 2015. Of those 34 billion devices, 24 billion will be comprised of IoT devices. It’s a digital revolution – and it’s obvious that companies want to capitalize on it before they fall behind. Of course, “falling behind” can happen with deceptive pace when it comes to technology advancements.

There are huge profits to be made among the world’s digital upheavals, and those who predict, who anticipate, and who adapt most quickly stand to gain immensely from the IoT’s redefinition of the digital landscape.  Of all the industries that are preparing for the seismic impact of IoT innovation, few will be more affected – or more empowered – than Communications Service Providers (CSPs). As communications providers around the world digitize and transform, the question of how the IoT will play into that transformation is being asked with increasing frequency.

Here are four innovations that illustrate just how the IoT will answer that question:

Wearable devices

With the emergence of the smartwatch, anyone’s wrist can now act as a hub for data – enabling a range of activity including text messaging, phone calls, and internet access. What’s more, the emergence of fitness watches illustrate the IoT’s increasing ability to actually connect with the wearer’s body – a development that has huge implications in terms of providing live, real-time data that will optimize personal efficiency, wellness, self-awareness and more.

 

Connected Cars

In an era of tech buzzwords, “driverless” is one you’re unlikely to avoid. But there’s a reason for this: the “driverless” car is going to fundamentally transform the face of daily travel, promising to make the world’s roads far safer and far more efficient. The likes of Mercedes, Audi and BMW have all announced the development of self-driving cars – a number of which will be controllable with smartphones and smartwatches.

Smart Homes

App-controlled thermostats, connective lighting, smart outlets, Bluetooth-activated locks and a range of other “smart” home appliances have contributed to a shift in public perception of what exactly constitutes a smart home. These additions don’t demand tens of thousands of dollars or extensive home customization, and often entail relatively simple installations. The end result is that homes are rapidly adopting IoT equipment and, in so doing, becoming part of the IoT themselves.

Link Systems

LinkNYC is a unique and first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace 7,500 pay phones across New York City this year with structures known as “Links”. Each Link will offer “superfast, free public WiFi, phone calls, device charging and a tablet for internet browsing, access to city services, maps, and directions.”  It’s a brilliant example of how the remnants of the soon-obsolete communications infrastructure can be reshaped, repurposed, and replaced by smarter and more efficient technologies.

Why should CSPs be excited about IOT innovations?

IoT innovations like the ones outlined above are, no doubt, impressive in and of themselves. Many of them – inconceivable ten, five, or even just a few years ago – are now redefining the digital ecosystem and disrupting the very core of how people conceive of and relate with the devices they use.

They Empower the Product

One commonly-cited best practice for the modern CSP vying to maintain relevance in the digital era is shifting to a product-centric – rather than an infrastructure-focused – approach to business. Why? Because the modern communications ecosystem is transitioning from an emphasis on the physical communications infrastructure towards an emphasis on the products used for communication themselves. In this way, the IoT – embedded in physical products – plays directly into the hands of any savvy CSP. Those who successfully embrace the conceptual shift to a product-centric viewpoint will, naturally, delight in the proliferation and ever-increasing significance of IoT innovations. It’s a fundamental, conceptual shift in the way modern communications should be understood: CSPs can now invest in creating and offering products that delight customers instead of focusing on communications infrastructure that burden them.

They Give Context

Likewise, the modern CSP’s success can be built on three pillars: create, sell, and deliver. Executing those three actions is simplified by consistency across multiple digital channels; knowing who your customer is, where they are, and what they have available means you can connect what you can sell with other ecosystems. Context is everything, and with the flood of information brought on by IoT devices, CSPs will have more context than ever. They will have more power to sell across channels than ever before, and perhaps, above all – a vastly greater ability to anticipate customers’ needs and provide a flawless delivery to meet those needs.

They Delight the Customer

If yours is a truly digital business, then no matter what the innovation or source of innovation,you can devise any type of operating model to serve customers more effectively. That’s why a true digital business isn’t threatened by IoT innovations, but excited by the new possibilities they open. With a catalog-driven approach, CSPs can harness the power of unifying their products and services so that every customer interaction is made more simple, more efficient, and more informative.

If harnessed properly, IoT innovations like these mean that CSPs can provide experiences, not just products or services. It means they can exceed a consumer’s expectations instead of just meeting them. It means they can make their services more understandable, relatable, and actionable, and it means they can integrate all digital channels so consumers can interact with them when, where, and how they want to.

What does the word “disruption” mean to you? It’s undoubtedly laced with a few negative connotations: ideas of agitation, of forcing change, and of disturbing old ways of life all spring to mind. Nobody wants to be “disrupted,” especially if that disruption means they’ll have to drop their old business routines, rethink everything about them, and summarily toss them out of the window.

No industry, no company, and no professional is completely immune to the tidal wave of change brought on by “digital disruption”: the type of change that happens when new digital technologies and business models shift the status quo of how goods and services are exchanged. Think Uber, think Skype, think mobile phones writ large.

Business has always been a game of anticipation – though anticipating the next phases of the world’s digital transformation isn’t exactly a straightforward task. But if you look around, there are companies who are already doing just that. They’re companies that don’t just stand by and watch technological advancement; they don’t just react to changes in contemporary communications – they enact them. They trail-blaze, they spearhead, they innovate. The ability to adapt is, more than ever, a critical skill in the world of CSPs; considering the global changes bearing down on the industry, it’s likely to be one that decides many companies’ very existence.

TELUS is Canada's fastest-growing national telecommunications company, boasting $12.8 billion of annual revenue and 12.7 million subscriber connections.

TELUS

TELUS is Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company, boasting $12.8 billion of annual revenue and $12.7 million subscriber connections.

Founded 1990
HQ Vancouver, BC, Canada
Chief Executive Officer Darren Entwistle
Website https://labs.telus.com/
Employees 47,700
Project Spotlight

As part of its multi-billion dollar investment in Canada’s telecommunications infrastructure, TELUS has begun connecting homes in one Canadian city to its fibre optic network, a move that will, according to TELUS executive VP Tony Geheran, “dramatically improve Internet speed and capacity for residents… as well as health care facilities and schools.” Why? “Fiber is the future,” he observed. The TELUS Pure Fibre network is one of the world’s most advanced communications networks of its kind, producing radically increased web speeds: up to 150 megabits per second.

Create, sell, deliver. It’s a mantra that emphasizes the agility needed for modern digital service providers to actually succeed in rolling out a project or service. Speed-to-market means rapidly packaging and launching quality products to customers, but that all falls by the wayside unless it’s just that: rapid. Fibre networks illustrate how digital disruption isn’t just the source of conceptual changes in how we understand technology. It’s a catalyst for very real and practical changes that are transforming the technological infrastructure used by service providers. If fiber is the future, then companies better start preparing for it.


T-Mobile is the USA's third largest wireless carrier, serving 71.5 million customers and operating with annual revenues of $37 billion.

T-MOBILE US

T-Mobile is the USA’s third largest wireless carrier, serving 71.5 million customers and operating with annual revenues of $37 billion.

Founded 1993
HQ Bellevue, WA
Chief Executive Officer John Legere
Website https://www.t-mobile.com/
Employees 50,000
Project Spotlight

Phone scammers stole $7.4 billion from some 27 million victims in 2015. It’s a digital epidemic and a serious security challenge for all modern CSPs. T-Mobile’s recent response, called “Scam ID”, runs a security check on its customers’ calls using a database of scammers’ numbers to issue a warning during incoming calls.

It’s a brilliant example of a product-centric approach: one that lets modern service providers respond with agility to address their customers’ challenges. Rapid and effective customer service is a key differentiator of the new generation of CSPs: not laden by complex B/OSS, they’re not only keenly aware of the customer’s experience, but aggressively and perpetually seeking to improve it. Scam ID is logical, sensible and simple – but most importantly, it was rolled out seamlessly to millions of users overnight. That kind of rapid implementation encapsulates the clarity, consistency and agility that define modern digital service.

Likewise, it represents the omnichannel customer experience in action – a catalog-centric approach that simplifies the complexity of multi-network, multichannel and multi-device environments by simply giving customers what they want, when they want it, and where they want it.


By far the leading name in Japanese telecommunications, NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation) is the third largest CSP in the world.

NTT

By far the leading name in Japanese telecommunications, NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation) is the third largest CSP in the world.

Founded 1952
HQ Tokyo
Chief Executive Officer Hiroo Unoura
Website www.ntt-global.com
Employees 241,448
Project Spotlight

NTT recently announced a partnership with Japanese auto giant Toyota. Together, the companies are creating high-speed communications technology for “connected cars”: self-driving, autonomous vehicles equipped with smart technologies. It’s an understandable collaboration; both CSPs and automakers are hungry for data from their customers as vehicles become increasingly connective.

One of the key pillars of digital disruption is the emergence of the “Internet of things” (IoT), the global network of physical devices, vehicles, and buildings that are embedded with digital systems and software enabling them to collect and exchange data. Service providers, though, are often puzzled by the question of how to harness the IoT’s revolutionary power; a modern CSP needs to innovate, but that innovation has to be compatible with the existing digital ecosystem. The IoT has inconceivable potential to organize data, predict patterns, and exchange information seamlessly – and even do so completely free of human oversight. But these powers aren’t just statistics: they can end up delighting customers by producing real-world results: in NTT’s case, by giving drivers faster, more up-to-date, and more accessible information. Likewise, “connected” vehicle technology emphasizes the trend that, increasingly, it’s the products people use – and not the communications infrastructure itself – that will define consumers’ relationship with CSPs.


So, while these profiles highlight specific examples of how the world’s businesses are being disrupted digitally, what’s more pertinent is the philosophy behind these enterprising projects. If you’re a modern CSP, your services should be underpinned by the very same philosophy: instead of ignoring or waiting for the digital revolution, companies should be taking part in it. Don’t let your company just watch the digital revolution. Participate in. Take advantage of it. Revel in it.

Looking back at Mobile World Congress, I was struck by how little focus there was on service provider operations or the underlying network.  More emphasis was on the connected services that operators can bring to customers on their end device, and the new business models they are looking to adopt and promote into the marketplace.

With all the disruption occurring in the industry today, much of which is driven by the “digital natives”, it is clear that traditional service providers must move to a digital orientation of operation.

Sigma sees disruption happening in three main areas:

The first lies in the network, with all the innovations around 5G, fiber and a push towards virtualization.

The second area of disruption is in the over-the-top content-based capabilities that many 3rd party digital natives are introducing.

And lastly, the notion of being a digital business in and of itself is gaining traction.

This means having the ability to spin up any type of operating model in order to serve customers, no matter the innovation or source of innovation.  It means being able to navigate across multiple sales channels and taking innovations to market in a zero-touch, automated fashion by moving into a DevOps way of operating. Ultimately, it’s about the operator having the agility and flexibility to launch a new business model, a new innovation or a new capability in a short amount of time.

Service providers have traditionally been infrastructure-focused, engineering-led organizations, where the network and the OSS/BSS have been viewed as assets, rather than enablers.  However, digital natives have shifted this paradigm – the product is the asset and the product should be driving system changes.   And the thing that has been neglected, which digital natives live by, day to day, is the upfront creating, selling and delivering of the product to the customer.

So, what do service providers need to achieve in order to transition from a monolithic, legacy, multi-siloed B/OSS into a truly Digital Service Provider (DSP)?  Sigma believes that a DSP must have the following characteristics – they must be catalog-driven, ecosystem agnostic, omnichannel enabled, context-aware, provide exceptional customer service and deliver flawlessly.

Sigma’s Chief Technology Officer spoke recently about the realistic, practical steps a CSP can take to achieve these qualities, none of which involve dismantling or replacing back office systems.  Instead, we advocate for Catalog-driven, Agile B/OSS as an overlay to legacy systems.  Sigma will be co-presenting with Windstream at TM Forum Live! in Nice to discuss how the operator transformed into an agile organization with the support of Sigma’s catalog-driven solutions.  Give Sigma a shout if you’d like to learn more about our approach to The Path to Digital.