Demand drives change
Rampant demand for new services and applications and the emergence of non-traditional competitors is driving communication service providers (CSPs) to revisit their business strategies. To remain competitive and generate new sources of revenue CSPs need to look at new business models, relationships with applications and content providers (ACPs) and must offer unique value chain assets. The volume of applications and potential turnover rate will mean rethinking back office processes and architectures.
Traditionally, CSPs have dealt with subscriber growth by enhancing their systems and processes in technology-based silos with a relatively low number of services. Today there is the potential to enable literally 1000s of new partners and applications.
It is likely that CSPs will have to deal with these challenges as well as an IP network transformation. The ultimate goal of transforming the operations support systems/business support systems (OSS/BSS) and processes will be to create a holistic, industrialized approach to the back office. This transformation will help CSPs avoid the potential linear OPEX cost associated with managing a multitude of partners and applications. Industrialization will enable CSPs to:
- Deliver a high quality of experience (QoE)
- Manage operating expenses (OPEX)
- Efficiently handle large numbers of transactions in the back office
- Execute flexible and automated operations
Thriving in a world of throw-away apps
Moving forward, rapid conception and deployment of services will become an important competitive differentiator in the integrated communications space. This is especially true as new types of applications with high-profit margins emerge, manifest themselves and then disappear within only a few days or months. Examples of these include the myriad of applications that spring up in the context of events such as the Olympics, America’s Cup and the FIFA World Cup.
These represent service product shelf lives that are conceived and made available during the fervor of the international event and then wind down as cycles are reset for the next international event. Industrialization and agility are essential to the CSP back office management of enablers, partners and applications to allow these types of applications to thrive.
Alcatel-Lucent is helping CSPs break out of the siloed past and take advantage of profitable applications and partnerships. This includes leveraging standards. Additionally, it requires experience and expertise to help CSPs create operational service templates and life cycle management that facilitate the rapid introduction, demand harvesting and decommissioning of applications as they quickly become obsolete. By packaging operational profiles, network, applications and operations enablers and partner models, it becomes easier for CSPs to profitably leverage opportunities presented by the wide range of types and tiers of applications while holding OPEX steady.
Silos must come down
Network operations architectures traditionally have been designed to support the management of subscriber growth and new technologies for services that were closely linked to the network infrastructure. This meant new equipment had to be supported. As a result, a separate OSS/BSS silo was created for each service that was delivered. Siloed operations have been challenged by technology advances such as IMS (IP Multimedia System), quad play service bundles and IP convergence requiring data across all OSS and BSS. The complexity and pace of new service offerings and meeting end users QoE has further challenged siloed operations.
Indeed, service creation typically associated with new technology or equipment configuration updates was lengthy. It could take as much as 18 months to design, test and rollout a new service and have it integrated into the back office so it could be provisioned, activated, delivered, monitored and billed. Because most developers cannot afford to work this way, they often dismissed the idea of working with CSPs.
Tearing down silos will improve time to market, reduce costs and complexity and also provide new sources of revenue through the exposure of CSP back office assets such as customer data, centralized customer care and consolidated billing.
Standards are essential for agility, speed and assurance
Generating revenue and managing OPEX may seem contradictory; however, an industrialized approach to OSS/BSS can help CSPs:
- Improve time to market
- Become more agile
- Reduce OPEX
- Optimize revenue opportunities through partnerships and business models
Industry initiatives such as the TM Forum (TMF) Service Delivery Framework (SDF) and IPsphere programs are essential to developing standards-based information and technology (IT) strategies. In addition to co-leading these initiatives, Alcatel-Lucent is a founding member of the TMF content encounter catalyst projects and contributor to network management and API standards groups such as 3GPP, IETS and GSMA OneAPI. Standardizing and automating service delivery processes will enable rapid service creation and deployment, future expansion and profitability.
The TM Forum taps into best practices from both the IT and Telecom industries. For example, it has incorporated a service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach into its framework to move away from customized and proprietary interfaces. It applies the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices in IT service management in the definition of meta-data and business and management processes. By drawing on these resources, CSPs can develop secure and scalable solutions and rapidly deploy new services without an OPEX explosion.
In addition to primary market and technology research and years of experience in OSS/BSS projects, Alcatel-Lucent is leveraging these industry initiatives to provide consulting services and create service model operational profiles for CSP’s exposed assets. These operational profiles will:
- Simplify the developer’s interactions with CSPs
- Streamline and automate processes from order to cash
- Minimize network and operations risks
- Industrialize the way new products and services are added to the back office
A 3-pronged approach
CSPs need to identify the gap between their current mode of operation and their desired future mode of operation (FMO). These considerations go beyond technology; evaluating the systems, people, processes and metrics is necessary to build a holistic plan for moving forward. Alcatel-Lucent is helping CSPs succeed in this area with a 3-pronged approach:
- Business and Operations Consulting is a collaborative approach to define the road map to transform to a FMO. It helps CSPs determine the assets to expose and the best business models for working with ACPs.
- Operations Enabler Implementation defines and implements the required architecture and APIs for back office enablers.
- Dynamic Management Implementation defines and wraps operational profiles around exposed assets/enablers, partner types and tiers, and different types of applications. This provides the basis for automation and governance of the fulfillment, assurance and billing processes.
Intelligent and dynamic OSS/BSS
In the new world, the focus needs to shift from technology to partners, applications, end users and quality of experience. CSPs need to integrate their value-added services with content and product/service development assets outside their walls to leverage the Internet creativity and boost their service value and experience.
With the potential scale, and in some cases, short lifespan of the applications, the new OSS/BSS environment must support dynamic and automated management of the partners and applications from order to cash, including new revenue sharing models with partners. Service assurance will be a significant challenge because high QoE means guaranteeing the service across platforms and networks — parts of which are controlled by the CSP and parts which are controlled and hosted by partners. The bottom line is that new business models and the operational agility to deliver 1000s of applications at low cost have become an imperative as CSPs pursue new sources of sustainable revenue and strive to deliver high end user QoE.
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