04 Mar 2015

How to Ride a Tsunami

We’ve all talked about it.  Dumb pipe vs full service provider.  Is OTT competition a death knell for the telecom industry or its future?

Your marketing team is doing its job.  They are watching the competition, scanning the marketplace and studying what new products appeal to customers.  They are feeding those requirements to your IT and engineering teams to create new products and launch them.  But your IT team cannot meet all of the requirements from marketing.  Ever.  It is an endless priority game.  All the while revenue and profit slip away as impatient customers figure it out for themselves with OTT applications.  You’ve missed the market window.  Again.

The Opportunity

The telecom industry has learned some tough lessons.  It now knows that broadband connectivity is the single most important product it has to offer.  Everyone needs to be connected – whether through fiber, wi-fi, 4G, DSL, cable or satellite it doesn’t really matter in the end.  Your customers need that connection.

And because as communication service providers (CSPs), you own and operate these networks and have a conspicuous value proposition to offer any service riding over that network.  Voice services need high-performing networks or you can’t communicate.  Video needs a high-bandwidth network or you can’t really enjoy the content.

You have another advantage.  You have a long-trusted billing relationship with your customers that OTT vendors do not enjoy.  Your customers have a strong preference to buy new products from trusted sources.  You also have strong local support teams and infrastructure that your customers rely on.

Yet your core product revenue continues to face margin pressure.  It isn’t going to stop.  You need new revenue from new products.  At Sigma we’ve seen many emerging success stories.  We’ve seen CSPs learn how to launch new products every week.  We’ve seen CSPs build on those trusted relationships to sell support and security services to their customers in innovative new ways.  We’ve seen CSPs partner with OTT providers across eHealth, eCars, smart homes, smart cities, remote backup and many more.

The Solution

So how do you ride this tsunami anyway?  At Sigma we’ve helped many CSPs learn to do just that.  We can help you too.  We can help you launch new products every week and master what’s coming next.

Here’s how it works.

The objective is to deliver a new product or service to the end customer, in an automated fashion.  No automation, no joy.

Just think through the multiplicity of product and feature choices, the product bundles and complex pricing policies, the number of steps required to configure and price a new order. All the while, the technical dependencies and business relationships must be preserved amongst the order items – and with the products previously purchased by the customer. There must be both the awareness of the product characteristics selected and the ability to dynamically enforce the rules that the specification of those characteristics trigger so that the order is properly validated prior to fulfilment.

Once the order has been “personalized”, or configured, and validated for the customer, it then requires decomposition into a level of data that the OSS and the network will understand, thereby kicking off the install stage. There is a strong dependency between the characteristics specified in the order and the set of steps involved in orchestrating the provisioning and activation of an order. Without a centralized product catalog – defining data once reusing many times – you will not achieve any sort of product velocity.  The IT team will forever continue as a roadblock to the aspirations of the business.

The result is systemic, automated enforcement across the BSS and OSS. The offer defined within the catalog matches the offer the customer selected and personalized, which matches the order that was then fulfilled, which matches the type and level of service the customer is then using and, ultimately, what the customer is paying for.

Create-Sell-Deliver…The Agile Way

Being able to create, sell and deliver new products on top of a catalog-driven infrastructure, with very little net new IT development or testing. That’s agile.

BSS and OSS products that have been architected in the pursuit of agility share some key characteristics:

  • Catalog-driven. Each application is designed with an external centralized catalog in mind. Easy to say hard to do.
  • It is not an “all or nothing” or “rip and replace” paradigm. We expect customers to leverage significant portions of their legacy BSS/OSS, whilst incrementally modernizing critical systems in the Idea-to-Install path. Applications can be implemented singularly or as pre-integrated components, depending on the core needs of the customer.
  • Interface architecture must be standards based, with common integration protocols, such as HTTPS SOAP / REST / Web Services implementing the TMF OSS/J API specifications.
  • Cloud & Mobility. Applications must be deployable in the cloud or on-premise. User interfaces must be thin clients allowing for performance when deployed in cloud & mobile environments.

The Result

Operators don’t need to be held hostage by legacy systems; many of the traditional systems (e.g., CRM, Rating / Billing, ERP) can be left in place to do what they do best.  Having an iterative approach to re-orientating the architecture to be catalog-driven / catalog-aware, whilst deploying capability to overhaul critical processing around Catalog, CPQ / Order Management and Provisioning.

How to tell if you are riding the wave: success metrics gathered from previous Sigma Systems implementations

CSPs now have the tools to evolve into the quick and agile business the market demands. They have the flexibility to react to fast moving markets and customer needs and can adopt agile capability incrementally, without the disruption and cost of replacing legacy immediately.  Sigma has helped other CSPs learn how to ride a tsunami – we can help you too.

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