Communications service providers look to standards to reduce costs & drive innovation

More than half of Communications Service Provider (CSP) executives are keen to adopt industry standards for BSS/OSS business processes and architecture, according to research released this week.

Of 100 senior executives surveyed by research firm Vanson Bourne, 56 per cent estimated that the adoption of existing standards would free up between 1-16 per cent of their annual IT budgets. According to the report, budget reduction, lower integration costs and increased operational agility could be achieved through better adherence to industry standards.

75 per cent of the survey respondents said that current systems integration costs were higher thanks to inconsistent standards adoption; 65 per cent felt the same way about management and maintenance costs. When asked which outcomes for BSS/OSS would offer the biggest benefit to the business, 54 per cent ranked IT architecture agility in their top three, with 67 per cent saying that agreed industry standards would be “very helpful” in achieving that outcome.

The growing threat to traditional CSPs from over-the-top (OTT) players has forced a significant change in strategy as carriers evolve into service aggregation and more innovative models for customer experience. Speaking to, Will Blench, EMEA vice president of mobile software provider Openwave, says that with some operators – particularly those in emerging markets – adopting a very aggressive approach towards monetising OTT services, innovation in price plans, billing, smart metering, insertion and advertising are all coming to the fore for CSPs. “Customer experience is a big driving force behind a lot of the innovations we’re seeing at the moment,” he says, “If you can move away from SMS or call-centre-based interaction, to a more rich customer experience, you have the opportunity to open up more options to end users.”

For many commentators, BSS/OSS integration is a fundamental component of creating the architectural flexibility required to roll out these services while keeping complexity under control.  Recent research by Frost & Sullivan found that disparate, siloed OSS/BSS systems limit the possibilities for service providers looking to make hay in this space, lengthening time-to-market for new products and services and preventing operators from getting a more complete view of the customer. Piotr Machnik, business development centre director at Comarch, says that service providers have often taken the approach of using a mixture of commercial off-the-shelf applications (COTS) and bespoke/in-house developed software, leading to the creation of “isolated software silo architectures…that have to be broken down in order to keep up with market requirements to offer many services at a very fast pace. Integrating BSS/OSS environments is the answer.”

Responding to the Vanson Bourne findings, Oracle Communications’ Bhaskar Gorti said that it was clear that industry standards had a “very real role to play” in making BSS/OSS work for businesses. “Standards expedite procurement processes through their use of common terms to describe product and service capabilities, as well as the ability to indentify inefficiencies via comparisons with industry best practices,” he said.

Gorti’s comments came on the back of Oracle’s announcement of  its Rapid Offer Design and Order Delivery offering was the first product to gain the TM Forum’s Frameworx Solution Ceritification. The Forum’s Frameworx standards cover areas including strategy, infrastructure and product (SIP) domain as well as the operations domain, including readiness, fulfilment, assurance and billing functions within eTOM (enhanced Telecom Operations Map) models. eTOM is the most widely used and accepted standard for business processes in the telecoms industry.

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