Light Reading

Biting the BSS Bullet

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Infographics
Light Reading
12/16/2013
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Communications service providers (CSPs) have been talking about the importance of enabling real-time transactions for years, yet little progress has been made in meeting the pent-up demand for instant gratification that has been fueled by increasingly ubiquitous (fixed and mobile) broadband access.

Now, though, it's crunch time for CSPs. A new Heavy Reading report, "Monetizing Data: The Role of BSS in the Digital Revolution," finds that their "real-time issues" are hampering the ability of CSPs to compete effectively and that legacy BSS systems are inhibiting their ability to support the innovative charging schemes that could help generate new services and revenue opportunities.

"Operators will need to adopt software systems that will allow for control and visibility," notes the report's author, senior analyst Ari Banerjee. "Their disparate, siloed back-office systems will not be able to help with their rapidly changing business models," he adds.

The infographic below, built from the results of a recent Heavy Reading survey of 46 unique global operators, shows just how far CSPs are currently from their real-time goals.

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TomNolle
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TomNolle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/20/2013 | 10:41:44 AM
Out with the Old
I think the biggest problem with OSS/BSS systems and the associated processes is that they tend to think of services as being created and managed through linear workflows rather than in response to events.  There have been initiatives for years now to change this model (the TMF's GB942 is a strong example) but none of them have really gotten traction.  Operators say that vendors are slow to accommodate new approaches, and vendors say operators are slow to accept them, but as long as we think of provisioning and management as being a slow march, slow they will be.
bbhayes
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bbhayes,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/18/2013 | 12:56:40 PM
Why it takes so long to change BSS
As you point out, we've been talking for years about the need for carriers to make dramatic improvements in their BSS capabilities. Why are they so stuck? A long and complex answer, but one that anyone hoping to help them out must understand:
  1. They have been well trained to think that their enormous size means that only a tiny handful of vendors can possibly meet their needs. This foundation of FUD enables those incumbent vendors to fend off pretty much all comers especially when coupled with the natural aversion to change and the horrible track record of (those self same vendors) in completing migrations to new versions.
  2. Having invested hundreds of millions in those systems, they really want to believe that there must be a way to 'fix' them.
  3. Despite overwhelming and long running evidence that their existing systems cannot be made to support their business needs, carriers have also not been forced into a place where they really are losing money, allowing them to keep putting things off.
  4. Staff cuts mean that carriers have little in-house ability to actually keep up with what is possible. I have seen this first hand where their technically competent folks are just woefully ignorant of the plethora of options actually available (remember that those self same incumbent vendors often occupy dozens, if not hundreds of those roles for each carrier...).
  5. Now that it is clear that operating costs plus lost opportunity costs are tipping the scales undeniably to Action is Mandatory, some carriers are grasping the nettle and changing their internal procurement processes to find vendors who can meet their needs, now. For example, AT&T's announcement about Domain 2.0 - specifically seeking new vendors with the designed-in flexibility to take them where they must go.

I am cautiously optimistic that the size of the business problem may finally outweigh the fear-of-change. I look forward to continuing this important dialogue with the brave.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/16/2013 | 2:28:20 PM
Re: Confirmation of concern
I agree Ray.  What is taking these guys so long to update and modernize their BSS?  Today products can almost come and go in one day and they couldn't even activate the service that quickly.  It is imperative that they improve reaction times and allow for the ability to tailor services as required to each customers needs.  Tailoring may actually allow for more revenue growth then all of the fix bundling packages.
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
12/16/2013 | 1:09:37 PM
Confirmation of concern
Wow, these numbers do not paint a rosy picture.... I have heard service providers talking for about a decade about how they are becoming reactive and streamlined. If they don't work on actually doing something soon they'll miss the chance forever and cede customer attachment to the OTTs.
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