MWC 2018 - Creating a Better Future (But Not For You!)

by Keith Brody Feb 13, 2018

It’s that time again.

This year’s MWC tagline is “Creating a Better Future”. In an aspirational sense, that’s a nice idea (and never let it be said that those of us in telco are guilty of underestimating the importance our own roles in a changing world). But for those responsible for actually delivering the better future well, things might get worse before they get better.  Why? Because there’s an awful lot of work to be done at the coalface before the better arrives. 

One reason-you’ve probably heard more than one variation on the theme already and you’ll doubtless hear many more in Barcelona as well-is that BSS and OSS are dead. Allegedly. To be honest, I’m a bit allergic to taking exaggerated headlines like that seriously but still, there is a grain of truth to this one. To cite a supporting source, leading analyst firm Gartner published a report last year (CSP Platform Business Signals an End to BSS and OSS as We Know It) that suggested “Through 2019, a lack of architectural vision will erode ROI in operational technology applications for 80% of network-based CSPs.” Dead or not, it means the legacy BSS/OSS status quo isn’t really sustainable.


Really, this shouldn’t come as a surprise but perhaps it does because the sheer breadth of change the comms industry is now facing (5G, Cloud, IoT, APIs, and so on all at once) is combining to drive a generational shift in infrastructure requirements.  Of course, over the past twenty years vendors have been eager to trumpet a similar message as each technology advance has taken root (2.5G, 3G, 4G, ETC.) but the relatively contained nature of those evolutions has enabled addition rather than revision to be an adequate response. And so the world of siloes and patchwork application architectures has been born.

Although siloed-one business case at a time-OSS and BSS has just about worked (arguably…services may have kept going out of the door but the relegation of the CSP to dumb pipe provider may be directly linked to the failure to adequately address long-term infrastructure demands over the past two decades), there’s a widespead acceptance echoed in the aforementioned report that it cant go on. The penny will eventually drop (it's happening now) that the emperor is naked.  Twenty years of piecemeal investments in O- and BSS infrastructure that have at best delivered limited benefits is making this clear. Infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with a myriad of evolving requirements ranging from equipment to services to M&A and beyond. Standardisation efforts haven’t helped grease the wheels of progress either.

What we need to talk about in Barcelona (everyone, not just you and I) is what to do about this? Transformation as a concept is a nice idea. Transformation is now a mission-critical requirement. But transformation in practice isn’t always a nice experience. Furthermore, that’s in part due to the lack of an answer to the question of how do you do it? There isn’t one way or, for that matter, even an agreed best way.  What we know is that CSPs need to re-architect their infrastructures to realise the agility, flexibility, speed, and scale needed to meet the requirements of their customers, products, services, and revenue streams in the evolved commercial landscape. I’m not sure we’re agreed yet the best way to do that.  In this series of blogs over the next couple of weeks we’ll start a conversation about how.

If you want to continue the conversation personally in Barcelona, why not click here to book a meeting? Otherwise, look out for the next blog in our series.

Keith Brody is head of communications and product marketing at DigitalRoute


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Topics: MWC, Mobile World Congress, Telco, MWC 2018

Keith Brody

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