I have a feeling, and it doesn’t exactly make me prescient, that we’ll be hearing a lot about “digital disruption” in Barcelona at MWC 2018 next week. Conversations on the subject will doubtless run the gamut of familiar subjects: Infrastructure disruption, services disruption, business model disruption, delivery mechanism disruption, you name it. What do they all involve? And all fueled by the journey (quest) to becoming a Digital Services Provider.
With the above noted, all journeys have to have starting and ending points so with that in mind, what’s the fundamental departure point from which disuption will flow as CSPs digitize themselves. Arguably this:
Core to the digital transformation is that any service provider must be ready to ingest and analyze a lot of data from ALL of its assets, be those assets elements in its network, applications in its infrastructure, or something else.
This suggests that digitization will be difficult given that CSPs are historically monolithic, slow-moving entities whose culture is generally conservative and who have likely have neither the legacy infrastructure nor, possibly more damagingly, the mindset to to quickly integrate rich sets of data from their assets and leverage it cross-organizationally to optimize operations.
While the will is there (or at least it says so on the tin) the reality in practice is that few telcos are architected to process their asset data and understand what it means, how to prioritize it, and how to monetize it. As a result, shifts towards actions based on data, the automation of processes and workflows based on data, etc. are likely to present a challenge.
Addressing that challenge is, however, not the starting point of the digital journey. The reason is obvious: You can’t do any of the above until you actually have the data. So if, as is widely accepted, data is the fuel of digitization then it follows that data collection, integration, and management technology will be the foundational element of the digital CSPs infrastructure. This, too, represents something of a shift in priorities and it is one for which many telcos are unprepared.
Data-related functionality is, as we know, largely limited and siloed within the legacy landscape; the familiar story of multiple boxes deployed to address individual Use Cases. Billing Mediation is a good example; one box to collect the usage record information required for billing. While in any era, digital or otherwise, that function will remain necessary imagining that a product called “billing mediation” is any longer relevant is delusional. Yet, still, CSPs seek out billing mediation applications. Why?
Put simply, billing mediation today must be viewed-and the functionality acquired-only as one component part of a much broader picture that includes OSS, policy, analytics, machine learning, Cloud and IoT integrations and more. To view it otherwise is to subsconsciously enable the perpetuation of the myth of siloes and to misunderstand the importance of data in the DSP. Add a box that does one job; leave yourself with an outdated infrastructure fit for last-generation telcos-hardly the holy grail of digitisation.
What CSPs (and DSPs)-especially the former who want to come to the latter-need is to understand the data technology that present market conditions demand; flexible, configurable, scalable, efficient, cost-effective. Only when they do will their path to digitisation be smoothed and will they become profitable, efficient Digital Service Providers.
DigitalRoute technology, often mistaken by some for a Billing Mediation product, has been powering digitization since long before digitization existed through the truly horizontal nature of its application. Please click the link below if you’d like to have a conversation in Barcelona next week. With 360+ customers and 450+ implementations, we’d be happy to avoid marketing-speak and show you a variety of real-world Use Cases that stretch far beyond Billing Mediation and that underline how a digital data infrastructure needs to be built.
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