Tecnotree CTO says operators need more agility in BSS environments

The CTO of Finnish business support systems specialist Tecnotree has said the traditional approach to BSS can hold operators back and solutions that work now might be unworkable in five years’ time. Talking to at the Mobile World Congress 2015, Timo Ahomäki said telcos need to focus their thinking on where their business is going and build a system around that vision.

According to Ahomäki (pictured below), when deciding it’s time to update their BSS environment, operators often record every functionality their current system offers into a huge document and ask for a project quote rather than try and figure out what is needed to take the business forward.

“What we try to tell our customers is that if this is what you really want, if your current IT [solution] already does what you are after, why are you even switching, what’s the point? We try to provoke our prospective clients to really think about where their business is going, what they will need from their BSS in say five years’ time. Usually if they think about it, as well as finding what they are missing, they also find stuff they realise is soon no longer needed.”

Simplistically put, Tecnotree’s idea of the best working BSS solution has a totally flat architecture where everything is handled on a metadata level. This is designed to ensure no physical data transfer is needed when any changes are made.

“I think the sort of big technological realisation we’ve had is that this traditional, hierarchical asset management type model doesn’t work in a telecoms environment,” Ahomäki said. “This is because the business isn’t in a static state, everything is constantly changing. If you have a very rigid, hierarchical system every change is reflected in numerous places [within the system], and you need to physically ensure the change is made in all of those instances. When you work with metadata none of this ‘copy-pasting’ is needed.”

Tecnotree’s key markets are Africa and Latin America, as well as a few Middle Eastern countries, and the firm’s clients include companies of varying sizes. But according to Ahomäki there has been a gap in the market for a BSS provider who can offer a scalable, integrated system.

“You have the tier ones who need those extremely large systems that are quite heavy on the platform-cost side Timo_Ahomaki_Tecnotreeand that scale up to the heavens but don’t scale down very well at all. You’ve also got those point solutions, typically in the cloud that work well for very small players but are not complex enough to scale much higher.

“I think something’s been missing from the middle. We have created an integrated system, which is what our customers in our focus markets typically need. We have sort of positioned ourselves above the smallest players but quite far down from the really big ones. We can begin with a start-up with a very simple system and then add more components over time. We are also about to launch a new product, which will have all our components in one as a fully integrated system.”

Although Ahomäki admits technologically it’s very difficult to find anything hugely differentiating within the BSS field, he believes offering something with a clear purpose can be a market differentiator.

“I think the way we do business is what is unique, our selling-point. We seek competitive edge by trying to offer cost-efficient solutions, and I think the time of just adding lots of different features to systems just for the sake of having as many as possible is over.”

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