A few weeks ago at the Smart Cities Summit, we were awarded the right to partner with Liverpool City Council and deploy Sigma Catalog on a trial basis to respond to the challenges faced by the aging population.

While that recognition was a highlight, what were my impressions of the event itself? First, Liverpudlians (I believe that’s what they are called) have a great sense of humor. Case in point, I heard this from one of the of the Liverpool city managers: “There was a country-wide discussion about who was the second city in the UK. Birmingham said it was, of course, Birmingham, Manchester said it was Manchester, and Edinburgh said Edinburgh. Liverpool said it was London.”  Perhaps it’s a well-known dig at London, but it went over really well.

Second, when it came to Smart Cities, I heard a lot of optimism mixed with a big dose of “how can we make this happen faster.”  Our answer, if you know where Sigma is coming from, is that to gain agility to roll-out innovative products and services, it starts with being catalog-driven, product Master Data Management and product life-cycle management. If cities are looking to realize and rollout out their version of services, they’ll need some mechanism to reduce time to onboard new capabilities and services that will bring them to the citizens and businesses within a Smart City.

Third, communication services providers (CSPs) will have a big role to play in what services and how cities offer those services to their citizens.  Cities will partner with CSPs who will supply networks services and the basis for the next wave of digital services. Imagine that the city will have a master product catalog and in there will be a representation of the services that they can buy/use from a variety of CSPs. There will also potentially be products/services in that catalog from other suppliers/partners that the city is working with. This library of building blocks is what the city council uses to build up the services/products that they are making available to their citizens and businesses within the city.

Finally, becoming a Smart City is more than just a question of service provisioning.  Cities understand that by becoming “smart”, they secure their future as locations that will attract people to live there and remain to build families. One city leader said he was leading the effort, in part, because he wanted to see his grandkids. His city needs to be a Smart City which would mean his children and grandchildren would remain in the area rather than moving to somewhere that is already a Smart City.

We’ll be back with an update as the trial with an aging population in Liverpool moves forward. As my colleague Daryl observed, many cities want to become a Smart City but don’t have a clear vision as to what that is or means. They are therefore waiting for other cities to go first and essentially pave the way, which is why the trial in Liverpool – and in other cities around the world – is so important.

If there is one constant in this industry, it’s change, and we are on the cusp of the next change.  Sigma envisions the next wave of digital services – a world of living digital services – emerging in the next three years, offering tremendous growth opportunities for service providers. Living digital services are different than what we see now – dynamic, highly sophisticated and able to constantly learn and evolve. They will have the ability to transform and improve the way we live, by offering personalized services that bring us enjoyment, pleasure, and greater efficiency.  If dealing with today’s demands on new digital service introduction wasn’t difficult enough, the next wave will further challenge the boundaries of today’s monolithic, static and hard-coded systems.  A new approach is needed.

A recent whitepaper by Appledore Research entitled “Catalogs, Services-Based Architectures, and Re-Use: The Low-Risk Path to Agilitydiscusses how today’s architectures face challenges in implementing the next wave of living digital services. To overcome these challenges, Appledore Research argues that operators need architectures that embrace agility to connect and sell new digital services alongside legacy services, without having to manually intervene in the process.

But how will this agility be achieved? There is much discussion in the industry about advanced software-defined networks (SDN) and “network cloud” (NFV) technologies, and how they can enable new services faster while also lowering costs. While virtualization is only one (albeit important) link in a chain of changes needed to drive down costs and deploy services faster, agility also requires some other components such as:

  • A services-based (“componentized”) architecture
  • A high degree of re-use of these components
  • Configuration-driven & intent– driven service provisioning
  • Catalog-driven operations – which underpin all the above

Agile Service Creation: A Visualization

The Appledore whitepaper examines these four additional components of agility in detail, discusses best practices for implementation, and suggests an architecture that can be applied across business models and access technologies to enable catalog-driven, collaborative digital services using NFV and SDN. If you are an operator interested in doing product innovation differently and learning how to be more agile in deploying digital services, it’s an interesting read.

Sigma sponsored the development of this Appledore Research Whitepaper and has made it available for free to the service provider community. Our sponsorship of this paper has been carried out in the same spirit and purpose as our active support for initiatives such as the TM Forum’s Open API and Open Digital Architecture- namely; Sigma wants to create dialogue and the conditions where service provider architectures are more open and interoperable to suit their future needs.

If you are interested in reading the whitepaper, it is available for download from the resource library on our website.

Sigma has great customers. One of these customers graciously invited Sigma to be part of the day where it kicked off and rallied its leaders and stakeholders around its service delivery transformation project for its new generation of digital products.

Pop-up stand deployed, rolling presentation set up, account managers present, complimentary pens at the ready, Sigma showed up in force.

By way of background, we’re working for this customer with some of our strong SI partners like PWC and Infosys to implement Sigma Catalog, Sigma CPQ and Sigma Order Management as foundational elements to their new architecture supporting service delivery transformation for their current and next set of digital products.

There was a great turnout on the day that featured workshops, demonstrations and partner vendors (like us) who were more than happy to answer the question “So, what’s your role in this program?” When I had the chance to answer, I explained to the heads nodding politely between sips of coffee, what the three Sigma products would do in the new architecture, which went something like:

“Sigma CPQ will define how you sell, be the basis for your reseller portal, and enable the same sales processes and quotes across your sales channels, true omni-channel as we call it…”

“Sigma Order Management, that will orchestrate all the orders from your reseller portal and give you the ability to reduce order errors which can slow down order-to-cash…”

“Sigma Catalog, that will define your business and all the products – the products you have now and the ones you want to sell next – and as a data store, be shared with every system in the new architecture – it will be that thing your colleagues call the “unified product catalog.”

I thought my elevator pitches were equally as effective for each product, but it was those last three words that elicited the most pronounced nodding and coffee drinking in my audience.

All the products were demoed during the day and Sigma Catalog, their “UPC,” made the biggest impression on the stakeholders. This very unscientific poll tells me that the people who’ll be involved in the day to day workings of this transformation project understand just how critical a single well-managed catalog will be to the success of the transformation project.

They may have just been polite to the makers of the catalog (us!), but I think the sentiment was genuine as these were the things I heard:

“We love that you can configure products and not have to program them.”

“New offers will be immediately available in the portal, no waiting.”

“We can rationalize products to a reasonable number, not the 4,000 we have today.”

And, rather powerfully –

“It’s a real, proven product, not like custom-built software that we’ve struggled with over the last four years.”

So, not very scientific, but it’s clear: transforming to create, sell and deliver the next generation of products and services requires that you put the right catalog in place. Sigma is proud to say that we’re going to deliver exactly that for this and the rest of our customers.

 

Stephen Krajewski stephen.krajewski@sigma-systems.com

Sigma Systems, Next Done Now.

London (June 14, 2018) – Sigma Systems today announced that it has won the Mayors Challenge Award for Aging Population at the Global Smart City Summit in Liverpool.

As the winner of the Aging Population Challenge Award, Sigma will partner with Liverpool City Council and deploy its Sigma Catalog on a trial basis in Liverpool through a formal partnership with the city council and its partners, to respond to the challenge of an ageing population.

Tim Spencer, President and CEO of Sigma, commented “We are honored and excited to win this prestigious award and we look forward to working with the city of Liverpool on solutions that will benefit the city’s aging population. Cities undergoing digital transformation are facing similar challenges as Communications Service Providers (CSPs) undergoing digital transformation. Municipalities are making good progress at connecting and automating services for citizens but as the number of data sources grows and the size and complexity of the data mushrooms, having a strategy for data management and data access around the services offered to citizens becomes increasingly important. The Liverpool City Council has recognized how Sigma Catalog can help them meet this challenge.”

The Global Smart City Summit – Real Solutions for Cities is taking place during 2018 International Business Festival in Liverpool from 12th – 28th of June. The Conference covers groundbreaking innovations that Smart Cities are implementing all over the world.

For more information about Sigma’s smart city-ready products and services, please visit www.sigma-systems.com.

About Sigma Systems (www.sigma-systems.com or Twitter @SigmaSystems)

Sigma Systems is the global leader in catalog-driven software solutions for communications, media, and high-tech companies. It serves over 80 customers in 40 countries with its award-winning products.  The company’s portfolio spans enterprise-wide Catalog, Configure Price Quote (CPQ), Order Management, Provisioning and Insights products in addition to offering a core set of services including professional services, cloud services, and managed services.  Sigma utilizes an agile approach to implementing its B/OSS products for its customers.  Sigma has offices in North and South America, Europe and Asia Pacific, with technology and integration partners globally.

Contacts:

Chloe Purcell
Head of PR
Milner Strategic Marketing Ltd.
+44 1473 633123

Glenn Gibson
VP Marketing
Sigma Systems
+1-416-827-6851

I’ll have my first chance to visit Liverpool this coming week.  I’ve been to Manchester, Preston and even Blackpool (several times, in fact) but never Liverpool.

I’m not visiting just to go to find Penny Lane or snap photos in front of The Cavern Club. I’ll be there do something a bit more contemporary – but less musical – namely, to be part of the Smart Cities Realized Summit which focuses on smart city case studies of real and deployed/deployable solutions from cities around the world. The summit is part of The International Business Festival which happens every two years in Liverpool, attracting 30,000 people from various parts of the world.

Sigma will be there because we’ve put forward two solutions for the Mayor’s Challenges, which is a competition to implement Smart City ideas by signing contracts with the City of Liverpool as well as share vital information with all the other cities in attendance.  The two areas we focused on were:

  • Smart Transport – How do we enable sustainable, low carbon, equitable travel in a city? How do we overcome current and future travel issues?
  • Ageing Population – How do we respond to the challenge of an ageing population? What changes does a city need to take into account? How can social care be delivered more effectively?

In developing the response to these challenges, two points jumped out when it comes to Smart City applications.

First, cities are going to be dealing with a lot of data – and I mean a lot of data – as they start to create and then deliver smart services to their citizens.  From our experience with service providers, too much data can easily become a problem that can get out of hand.  It also, conversely, presents a great opportunity, if managed well, to gain insight from data to improve operations and services themselves. Definitely, cities must be aware of and be ready to manage a greatly increased set of data.

Second, as technology advances to enable more and more services, there’ll be lots of new technology that needs to be co-ordinated by cities, who probably don’t have a great deal of expertise in doing so.  Thus, cities will buy services and equipment from communications services providers and cloud services providers like AWS to enable smart services – all of which still needs to be understood and managed.

The core of our solution for Smart Cities, Sigma Catalog, excels at the understanding, design and management of such services, especially in a federated model, making services shareable among all people within a city administration. In the use cases of transport and ageing population, we’re proving that Sigma Catalog will help them co-ordinate and figure out what services city administrators have access to and what they can offer their citizens, and then innovate on top of those. Just like we’ve done with communication services providers around the world.

I’m excited to finally see Liverpool (sorry Blackpool) and I’m excited to find out if we’ll be able to work with the city of Liverpool to trial and prove some of the Smart City use cases.

Drew Jordan
drew.jordan@sigma-systems.com
Director of Product Architecture
Sigma Systems