As I wait for transportation to the airport in the too-grand-for-the likes-of-me lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel, it’s given me a bit of time to reflect and put down some thoughts on the happenings at TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia just held in Kuala Lumpur.

Bigger and Better

The event itself is growing and it was clear that there’s a buzz of activity in the region, most probably driven by local service providers’ collective need to better manage and monetize a new wave of digital services.  I was told by reliable sources that event attendance more than doubled over last year’s event held in Singapore.  And I was witness to, and took part in, many vibrant conversations with service providers about substantive issues in the future architectures supporting their businesses.

Catalog-Driven More Than Ever

Here’s even more evidence that becoming catalog-driven is at the core of digital transformation.  Sigma has argued this passionately for a number of years and now there’s more direct evidence from Telkomsel.  Telkomsel CIO Monte Hong and Sigma CTO Catherine Michel spoke to a packed conference room on the critical role that Sigma Catalog is playing in Telkomsel’s effort to build an architecture to support a digital Indonesia.  We’ll post more on the presentation shortly but look here for a brief clip of the presentation.

Service Discovery

If there was a theme that struck a chord, I’d say it was around the concept of service discovery.  Service providers realize that that new software-defined networks are not only going to provide sexy new services to monetize, they’re also aware that the relationship between business and network teams tasked with rolling products out the door will be changed – and all for the better.  Continuing our long history of Catalyst support (more than 40 over the last 12 years), Sigma’s Drew Jordan spent the conference avoiding seafood (he’s allergic) that’s often part of wonderful Malaysian dishes and, more importantly, demonstrating the NaaS in Action catalyst.  Here’s a short video of Drew describing NaaS in Action.

The type of service discovery that we’ve built into Sigma Catalog, which is the core of NaaS in Action, will have great impact on time to market because it takes away what’s often a bottleneck in product innovation, namely the business and network team’s shared understanding of what’s actually possible in terms of network resources.  Active service discovery brings new resources into Sigma Catalog so new product and service offerings are created on what’s already available – there’s no question as to what resources are there, promoting a shared understanding between these teams as to what can be offered.

New Approach and New Products

Sigma is the most innovative provider of software to service providers and this year’s event provided us a great opportunity to talk about our latest innovation, Sigma Portfolio Inventory, the newest product in the Sigma Create-Sell-Deliver Portfolio.  Sigma Portfolio Inventory is a new approach that centralizes the product-service-resource portfolio inventory data into a single master to make that data widely available for access by any external system.  Besides the sheer interest in the new product, our conversations at the booth confirmed the prevalence of the portfolio inventory data disarray problem that many service providers now face and the applicability of the new approach offered by Sigma to address the problem.  Check out this product explainer video to learn more about Sigma Portfolio Inventory.

With no killer app in sight, success depends on driving revenue from a next wave of short-lived consumable products and services.

It comes as no surprise that service providers are looking at ways to diversify their offerings and access new sources of revenue to bolster their business performance. They face a series of significant challenges as markets saturate, traditional services commoditize and the investment burden of rolling out new network technologies – such as 5G wireless – continues unabated. However, there is no killer app out there that will staunch the bleeding. Instead, service providers will succeed by rapidly offering highly personalized and often short-lived services.

These services will increasingly be delivered in partnership for both consumer offerings and enterprise services, such as spinning up mobile broadband connections for remote offices, or for internet of things (IoT) applications. Some will be high value services but many will be low value, high volume propositions and the traditional approach of extensive testing, coupled with complex back office support software will be too slow, too expensive and too unattractive to suit customers’ requirements.

Communications companies need to look at themselves differently to succeed in this new marketplace and achieving mass personalization with a lifestyle service provider approach is the key to that. They need to create, sell and deliver services seamlessly, in an automated way and without error across all their channels.

The create-sell-deliver approach stands in contrast to service providers who have traditionally invested in the post-sales experience through focusing on customer care and billing alongside network innovation. That created a hugely complex OSS/BSS infrastructure. Now service providers need to get new revenues from customers, attract digital natives and monetize new business models. Traditional OSS/BSS has not been designed for this and cannot be force-fitted to new models.

‘Create-sell-deliver’ is about capabilities that enable innovation to be created rapidly, sold dynamically – primarily through digital channels – and delivered rapidly to get it into the hands of users as soon as possible. The create-sell-deliver process is therefore the business flow that is essential for service providers to create in order for them to introduce not a single killer app, but hundreds, possibly thousands, of mass personalized individual apps. It’s the incremental revenues from these that will change the picture for service providers’ top and bottom lines.

With solid customer relationship management systems already in place, the focus needs to be on managing create-sell-deliver processes effectively. Yet this is a very different set of processes to the traditional service provider business and it requires a new approach. Service providers must therefore stop trying to do more with their legacy OSS/BSS and, instead, look to overlay existing systems with systems that have been specifically designed for new models.

Keep it simple, retain what is good and works well, such as CRM, but overlay new systems to handle the create-sell-deliver processes. This will enable service providers to harness new innovations, facilitate service creation, perhaps through open application programme interfaces (APIs), put a frictionless sales process in place and, finally, assure the delivery of the service. The happier service providers make customers by creating a wide choice of attractive services, letting customers buy via the channels they select and ensuring service quality is maximized, the less service providers will have to do post-sales.

The more service providers get right in create-sell-deliver, the less they will need to invest in their post-sales systems. In effect, the investment can move from focusing on reactive, post-sales systems designed to address issues to focusing on proactive systems of lifestyle service provider that generate revenues and maximise customer satisfaction.

To learn more about how service providers are handling the create-sell-deliver process, visit https://sigma-systems.com/create-sell-deliver-next-wave/ to download our infographic.

Fall is here (in North America at least) and we are busy attending shows across the globe. Last week we were at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles, this week we are attending the Liberty Global Tech Summit in Amsterdam, and in the coming weeks, Sigma will be attending shows in Texas, Brazil, and South Africa.

Sigma’s booth at the Liberty Global Tech Summit in Amsterdam

These shows are always a great opportunity to catch up with our customers, but they also bring awards, and Sigma is proud to have been shortlisted for several awards due to be handed out in the coming weeks.

Telecom Asia’s 11th annual Readers’ Choice & Innovation Awards


Sigma is nominated in the OSS/BSS Innovation of the Year category and unlike many telecom awards that use analysts or media as judges, voting for this award is open to the public.

If you are a Sigma customer and would like to share your support, you can vote for Sigma until September 30, here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RCA2018Voting

20th Annual World Communication Awards

Sigma is shortlisted for both the Vendor Innovation Award, and our CTO, Catherine Michel shortlisted for the Woman in Telecoms Award.

The awards will be held in coordination with the Total Telecom Congress, and despite being awarded on October 31, the gala dinner is sadly not a costume party.

2018 Glotel Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sigma’s Create-Sell-Deliver portfolio is shortlisted in the Telecoms Transformation category at the Glotel awards scheduled to be handed out on November 8 in London. The award will be given to the commercial or technological initiative that has resulted in a significant improvement in communications service delivery. We believe our Create-Sell-Deliver portfolio does just that, and we hope the judges for the award feel the same.

After this wave of awards is handed out, I’ll provide an update on how we fared. Sigma has already seen a great deal of industry recognition in 2018, with awards from TM Forum, Light Reading, Pipeline, and Deloitte and we hope this fall (in North America at least) we pick up a few more trophies for our mantle.

Sigma’s recent experience where we won the right to partner with Liverpool City Council has gotten me thinking a lot about Smart Cities.  Allow me, if you will, to clear out the messy desk drawer of thoughts I have on the subject.

Intelligent versus Smart

When we talk about ‘smart cities,’ we mean urban environments that are ‘intelligent.’ Environments that can respond dynamically to changing context, using data taken from meters, sensors and other devices to, for example, automatically route traffic, manage public transport, optimise the use of parking space, policing, garbage collection and more – controlling the delivery of these and many other urban functions in a way that minimises waste, maximises value and optimises spend.

We also mean living environments that are responding to the changing demands of their population – supporting the social, medical and transportation needs of an aging population, for example, with better, more accessible ‘living services.’ The argument for smart cities is easy to make. Creating a smart city environment is harder to do, however, and very few cities have progressed beyond the start of this journey.

Smart Cities, Broadly Speaking

The smart city is likely to be a broad concept, its functionality ranging from short-term transactional activity (to allocate parking spaces or transport services, say) to very long-term predictive functions (to support city planning, for example). It will be highly dependent on data, often in very high volumes, which will need to be collected, subject to complex processing, and often – though not invariably – acted upon in real time.

Many players and stakeholders are likely to be involved – apart from city authorities, these might include utilities, network operators, vehicle manufacturers, car park operators, public and private transport operators, systems integrators and many more, making everything from ownership to strategy, priorities, quality and the investment/ revenue model hard to define. Significantly, many of these stakeholders will have little experience of delivering complex technical or infrastructure projects.

It’s easy to see how this scenario could descend into chaos, undermining the objectives of the smart city and slowing their realization – not least as the scope of activity of the ‘Smart City’ seems likely to grow exponentially with the expansion and increasing efficiency of networks and devices. This will drive the need for an increasingly sophisticated operational layer that will coordinate applications, data, users, and communications.

If the laudable objectives of the smart city are to be met, it is essential that this complexity not be allowed to descend into chaos.

Rationalize Those Services!

Service providers – most often city authorities or their partners – will need to rationalise and categorise the complex range of services that they will make available to customers, users and partners – recording what’s available to the market, how it can be accessed and by whom, how it can and should be exposed, delivered and so on. The efficiency with which these services are managed will be core to the success of the smart city.

For example, to support more efficient transport facilities within the city, the operations centre should maintain a dynamic view of the availability and status of the connected devices, vehicles, telecommunications and cloud services and other resources that the city either owns, uses or directs to manage traffic, parking, public transport, and other facilities. 

Not only will this increase the viability, efficiency and revenue potential of the city’s transportation, but selected data could also be exposed for consumption by third parties – another potential revenue stream for the city and stimulating partner organisations to create additional smart services for citizens, such as parking reservation, rental bikes, bus and taxi tracking and car sharing, and enterprise offerings such as parking utilization and traffic flow data.

About the (Intelligent) Data

Tomorrow’s cities will exploit advanced networks, ‘big data’ processing, connected devices, and artificial intelligence to deliver environments that are more efficient and sustainable for city authorities – and more satisfying and rewarding for their citizens. 

In common with other ICT-based services, however, they will also need a significant amount of intelligent off-network capability to deliver value – the behind-the-scenes processing that will provide services to citizens and other users of the city’s intelligent infrastructure, helping cities to manage what could otherwise easily descend into an unmanageable swamp of data and disconnected functionality which would deliver none of the hoped-for benefits of the smart city.

That’s it, and I’ll be back to fill you in on the Liverpool project when there are things to report.

Drew Jordan

 

 

Our 2018 Hackathon is now in the books.

For this year’s event, we had over 80 participants spread across 13 teams collaborating in our offices across this globe.

To shake things up for our 2018 event, we directed the hacking into four categories. This concentration will help us to incorporate better the solutions developed into either our product roadmaps or our internal tools and procedures.

The four categories (and accompanying challenge statements) were:

Category #1 – Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Virtual Reality
How do we push beyond the traditional uses of the applications and utilize the latest generation/bleeding edge tech to incorporate Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Virtual Reality into our portfolio?

Category #2 – Flexible Deployment
How can we improve deployment and reduce the effort and complexity of implementation across our portfolio?

Category #3 – Mobile/IoT
As our customers expand further into digital channels and into third-party relationships as part of the IoT ecosystem, how can we better enable our applications to behave out-of-the-box for these environments?

Category #4 – Data Visualization and Impact
What can we do to improve the display, navigation, interaction with and understanding of with the data in our solution?

By my math, over 2000 development hours were logged this week as part of the Hackathon and that time will serve as a way to kick-start new initiatives that will make enabling our solutions.

And while all these Hacakthon developments will be great for our customers, I still think the coolest thing to come out of the event was the robot-themed prizes (see pic below) for the participants.

Interested in participating in our 2019 Hackathon and other cool events here? Join the Sigma team! We have almost two dozen open opportunities in various locations around the world.