Siloed and heavily customized legacy business support systems (BSS) have become a stumbling block for innovation in the telecom sector. Suboptimal transformation outcomes and continued business requirements changes have made it critical for Communications service providers (CSP’s) to prioritize the shift to a unified, cost-effective way of managing own as well as partners’ product portfolios, and customer-related processes/data, across multiple geographical locations and lines of business.

The strategic principles discussed here are key issues that influence the execution of a Digital BSS strategy. Getting these decisions right will help CSP’s make the move to digital BSS seamlessly, ensuring the right technology is utilized and a future-proof solution is adopted.

BSS Transformation vs Selective Upgrades

There are no second thoughts on how CSPs will benefit from an umbrella approach to BSS transformation, driven by the need to consolidate BSS/OSS environments and multi-region operations, and streamline new business processes.

However, the argument for testing new capabilities, specially in a dynamically changing environment in a step-by-step manner based on market needs is also valid. Avoiding the risks of a “big bang” approach by adjusting BSS systems as the business grows into new areas could be suitable in specific case, with greater emphasis on outcome and cost toward specific purposes

In large digital transformation projects, this decision gets influenced in several ways:

  • IT pushes for the lowest-cost solution that delivers the most significant impact.
  • Management pushes IT to migrate all legacy functionality into the target platform and asks for additional functionality.
  • Business and IT leaders work together to map legacy-to-target BSS functionality in critical areas only and agree on future upgrade roadmap.

While the last approach is recommended, a CSP should evaluate various approaches and select the right combination to meet its own specific needs. CSP’s should examine their business for robust, repeatable processes that can be ported to the cloud.

Cloud technology delivers predictable TCO with lower maintenance costs, however, a strong business case still needs to be made for each migration or conversion. The end goal should be to move from a transactional BSS to an automated solution that offers the scalability and flexibility to roll out new services and features easily.

Evaluating Readiness for Multiple Lines of Business

Once the decision has been made to undertake a BSS transformation, careful planning and execution are vital.

Navigating a BSS transformation journey entails ensuring readiness for multiple lines of business. CSP’s need to consider the characteristics of their operating model and organizational structure to evaluate the major risks and opportunities of going digital.

Factors such as the impact on customer base, their product and service portfolio and the complexity of those products and service lines must be evaluated by mapping customer facing processes across the product/service portfolio.

There is no one size fit all approach here. Start with a use case that is most pressing for business, like a multi-play commerce OR a unified Sales experience OR CRM modernization. Define right processes to ensure the objective is meet. Measure your success. Optimize it first and then scale it up to next use case.

Do keep in mind that changes in business processes may affect what the customer experiences – anywhere from the bill format to a chat with a service representative. By carefully mapping all business process impacts across a customer lifecycle could reduce the risk of customer dissatisfaction.

Sourcing Models: Buy vs Build Vs Hybrid

As CSP’s figure out their BSS transformation strategy, new sourcing models are emerging in the cloud. CSP’s should understand the digital BSS vendor landscape and define a robust sourcing and partnering strategy. Key objectives to keep in mind when evaluating vendors are:

  • Open platforms: Work with vendors that embrace open ecosystems and standard interfaces (like TM forum Open APIs).
  • Standardize scale: Design cloud solutions for scalability from end to end. Merely adding more capacity is not enough since each bottleneck must be addressed.
  • High-Grade Security: Security concerns cannot be compromised in the interest of reducing cost or time-to-market. The damage from a security breach can be disastrous for the service provider and will not impact the vendor or integrator.
  • Be Future ready: Not just in terms of technology – 5G, AI, IoT etc but also new ways of doing business.

To Conclude

“By 2027, over 50% of network-based telcos will create, design, and deliver digital services congruent to the OTT model, such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix,” according to IDC Research. Making this transformation to compete with digital economy giants will require telecom industry companies to undergo a paradigm shift in how they execute service delivery and transform their BSS infrastructure.

A future-oriented BSS transformation should deliver the following benefits:

  • Ability to launch new business lines and business models that secure the CSP’s position in the digital value chain.
  • Simplified product management, billing, ordering and customer service processes that can react fast to changing market conditions.
  • Ensure monetization of existing assets such as network and customer data.
  • Enable customer service teams to react in real time to customer needs
  • Create new services faster by replicating service models across business units.
Sachin Saraf

Sachin Saraf

Sr VP – Tech Mahindra