There’s a strong rumour that the “better future” that we’ll (and by “we”, I mean the telecoms industry collectively) be discussing in Barcelona next week won’t include BSS and OSS, at least as we know them. This immediately throws up two questions worthy of attention:
- True or false? Is the King really dead, or is this just another exaggerated rumour?
- Whatever comes next, how will we get there? Whatever else, building a “new B/OSS isn’t going to be an overnight, “rip and replace” job.
The problem with legacy infrastructure as I see it is that its construction has never been driven with a great deal of visionary thinking. For roughly twenty years since the advent of “boxed billing” and “modern BSS” in the late 90s, what I see as a self-destructive combination of short-term thinking (regarding infrastructure planning) allied to a possibly unhealthy degree of vendor influence, has delivered a legacy that’s no longer fit-for-purpose (if, indeed, it ever was).
In essence, at each juncture or evolution within the industry during that period (new generations of network, new services, new delivery mechanisms, and so on) the response from CSPs has broadly been a rush to “put out the fire” using the predictable “best hose on the market” offered by, well, name your vendor.
That this approach hasn’t worked is self-evident not least because we wouldn't be having a conversation about a new B/OSS if it had. So what do we now, on the cusp of 5G, Cloud, the IoT and the convergence of so many dramatic trends? How do we learn from past mistakes? Will the same thing happen again?
Using football parlance (always apt when visiting Barcelona), my view is that “digitisation” offers such a significant change of direction for the comms industry that it affords an opportunity for CSPs to “put their foot on the ball in the crowded midfield of the telco market, to look around, and to take a moment to really figure out what best to do next before rushing to misplace a pass, as has so often been the case before. This process, you’d like to think, will be one of the “things” taking place in the corridors and coffee shops of MWC.
In fact, it’s more than “you’d like to think”. I’d argue that if BSS and OSS infrastructures are going to deliver more value, this has to happen. And CSPs know it. As leading analyst firm Gartner reports, “over the past decade, technology business unit leaders at network-based communications service providers have often complained of fatigue from continual investments in business support systems (BSSs) and operations support systems (OSSs) having realized only limited benefits.”
In a way, Gartner’s observation is laced with irony-CSPs are fatigued because the fruits of their own labours aren’t up to scratch. But overlooking cynicism, the reality is that process and application standardization efforts haven’t matched business change requirements, years of mergers and acquisitions have thrown an endless stream of spanners into the works, the nature of services has been in a constant flux and the result has been an optimal state application architecture failing to emerge.
Present day transformation objectives thus have to be different from those familiar in the past. Effective transformation will no longer result from multiple sets of applications addressing siloed requirements. Rather, uniformity, agility and flexibility, managing customers, products, services and revenue has to be the end goal.
How to do it? That will be ours (and, we hope, many others) focus at Mobile World Congress next week. Why not click the link below to book a meeting with us? We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss our recommendations.
If you want to continue this 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