opinion


Telco BSS: Challenges and solutions for growth and sustainability

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Rahul Tyagi, Lead Solution Consultant at Tecnotree, assesses what is required of today’s BSS.

Over the years, both business and business models within the telecom industry have experienced incredible changes, especially wireless communication. As a result, the ‘Business’ part of Business Support Systems (BSS) has also changed – it’s no longer limited to telecommunication services and has evolved into an offering that encompasses telco services, connectivity-based services, digital content & services and cross-industry offerings.

Over the last two decades, change came mainly from the CSP side for both customers and IT partners; possibly because they were unaware of the potential of technology and its application in telecom business. The drivers of this transformation have now changed and, today, end-customers are the primary change agents; relentless in demanding better services and experiences and putting more pressure on service providers.

In response to these shifting market dynamics and heightened expectations of telecom customers, industry body TM Forum has had to continuously re-invent the frameworks that underpins BSS, so that it can evolve into a more powerful, smarter and agile suite that can keep the CSPs relevant.

So, what are the issues modern BSS face and how can they be fixed?

Switching from customisations to configurations

Customisation has a direct impact on telecom business in terms of costs and customer experience.  Therefore, as part of the BSS improvement process, IT service providers must address the need to have an agile BSS platform that can adapt quickly to the change by simple configurations.

Recent RFP trends also suggest that operators are looking for solutions that are easy to manage and support low code / no code configurations of UIs and business processes. Therefore, the use of open standards such as TM Forum Open APIs can also save a lot of time and efforts to integrate with other systems and increase interoperability. Further, virtualization of functions would enable the isolation of a particular function which can then be deployed agnostic of underlying HW.

Intelligent cperations- for true time-market digital services

Another critical process to be reengineered is the managed service operations within the CSP. While it costs both CSPs and their IT partners time and money, downtimes can cost even more. Applications developed using microservices-based architecture and deployed virtually over cloud or an in-premise setup would greatly reduce maintenance efforts as they provide flexibility and modularity to the solution – helping with independent and parallel execution of IT operations and achieving zero downtime via CI/CD DevOps methodologies. Worry free operations in the digital world means self-deploying, automated and secure software updates, human task and interventions that cause errors to be reduce via Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Autonomous diagnostics and self-healing tools.

Effective use of data (customer & operational) can also help CSPs to mitigate or solve most of their maintenance issues. Storage over cloud can also help CSPs save a lot of money in a longer run with the added advantage of dynamic scalability via better monitoring and automation. As today’s telcos double up as IT companies, customer data has become their most valuable asset.  Intelligence driven digital customer engagement using embedded AI/ML journeys and low-code micro services-based architecture improve customer engagement in real time.

Vendor-supplier gaps lead to failed transformations

The breakdown in the relationship between IT service providers and CSPs is becoming ever more prevalent, as both struggles to adapt to the changing market. Solving this requires a two-step approach focused on technology and consultation. BSS platforms need to be developed using state of art technologies that are technically and functionally capable of delivering a secured digital experience. On the other side, suppliers (IT & ICT service providers) should act as consulting partners to leverage product features and operator infrastructure to deliver an experience to its business users and subscribers – An experience that is proactive, omni-channel and personalized.

Another factor that can lead to better relations between the two parties is RFP process improvement. Started wrong, this process can lead to failed projects and since BSS spans different business units, the solution must be less about BSS and more a full digital transformation with all stakeholders aligned on needs and objectives. Generic RFP requirements for BSS products will lead to BSS transformation and not a full digital transformation. BSS transformation is about upgrading existing applications for a better UI, feature rich products and automated processes, while digital transformation is not only about systems, but experience and behavior too.

Enterprise BSS suites to improve revenues

Finally, the modern-day BSS must address the need to better manage enterprises (B2B). With the rise in partnership models to deliver non-telco services and content, there has been an adjacent surge in 5G & IOT based enterprise services. Combined with the role of telcos in industry 4.0, it is clear that there is an immediate need for an advanced and comprehensive enterprise business solution. This will be a major source of revenue for CSPs as today’s business model is more collaborative, mainly driven by partnerships.

Conclusion

The changes seeping into the industry are not stopping anytime soon, and as a result, BSS needs to transform into something that is flexible, dynamic and agile. Fixing BSS can be done in one of the two ways. The first is reactive and utilises the change management process, based on identifying specific areas, products or processes and addressing something specific that is known and already been done. The other is a proactive approach where vision drives the transformation to meet the future world business needs and bring cultural and behavioural

changes. They are two very different approach and organisations that confuse ‘change’ with ‘transformation’ fails; it is one of the reasons why transformation failure rates are so high in telecom industry.

Ultimately, however, the modern light weight and agile ‘BSS platform’ must have robust systems that requires less customisation and maintenance; but at the same time, CSPs and ICT vendors must improve interoperability with their partners & suppliers by adapting open standards. Digital transformation of BSS will be critical for telcos to drive Industry 4.0, using 5G, Edge Computing, IOT, AI/ML as the catalyst.

 

Rahul is a Lead Solutions Consultant at Tecnotree An expert in telecom BSS, his focus is on digital transformation consultant and industry 4.0 ; help organizations from different industry verticals to adapt and grow.


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