TM Forum Live

Confessions of a TM Forum Live! Virgin

TM Forum Live!, the industry association's annual jamboree in Nice, is the key event in the OSS/BSS world’s calendar -- closely followed by Light Reading’s OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV.

Many of the themes discussed were common to other shows -- e.g., IoT, 5G, SDN/NFV and the all-encompassing digital transformation. Omnichannel is also a popular term that found its way into many presentations. There were some cool omnichannel demos on display, but frankly, many operators today fail to deliver a satisfactory user experience in any single channel, never mind having the ability to start a purchase online, modify it by phone and complete it in-store.

The topics that interested us at the show, and which we discuss in our latest report, TM Forum Live! Highlights: Eight Key Takeaways, are:

  • The transformation roadmap: NFV is just table stakes in the digital transformation process.

  • DevOps: Resistance to change from the middle.

  • Microservices: Just one of many factors in rearchitecting your OSS/BSS.

  • Open APIs: Important, but there is still a need for common information models for them to be truly useful.

  • Open source: Not free, but it has an important role to play in OSS/BSS.

  • Automation and artificial intelligence: Allowing the network operations center to do more interesting work with the same headcount, and allowing customer care to do more with less.

  • Service assurance: To move from open-loop management (reactive, manual) to closed-loop orchestration (automated provisioning, AI-driven self-healing), operators need to break down the silos between fulfillment and assurance and address their OSS holistically.

  • Vendor selection: The action-oriented proof of concept (PoC) is replacing the wordy request for proposal (RFP). Operators are increasingly looking for a best-of-breed approach in OSS/BSS to avoid lengthy and expensive integration.

By no means were these the only themes of TM Forum Live!, but they were some of the more important ones, in our view. And if operators can get these eight things right, they will be well on the way to digital nirvana.

As the title suggests, this was my first time at TM Forum Live! I learned a lot and would like to thank the companies that took the time to meet with and educate me.

À la prochaine!

— James Crawshaw, Senior Analyst, OSS/BSS Transformation, Heavy Reading

James_B_Crawshaw 6/12/2017 | 5:10:19 PM
Re: Vendor selection Windstream shared their vendor selection criteria and weights in a presentation at TMF Live.  Cost and terms was 15% of the total evaluation score. They described cost and terms as "Total cost of ownership including pricing, licensing and payment structures. The structure for agreements to perform services and pay for services rendered. Includes SLAs, KPIs, performance incentives and preferable terms and conditions."

So yes, payment structures is clearly an issue and operators understandably are reluctant to commit to volume based costs for software when they know there are no incremental costs to supply more instances of the same software – it is a 100% gross margin business. At the same time they don't want to pay a large up-front fee.

The middle ground is success-based pricing models for software where the operator pays something up front (to make it worth the vendor's time) with larger payments over time depending on how much the software is used. 
microcaptechinvestor 6/11/2017 | 2:00:24 AM
Vendor selection James, curious if the general theme for vendor selection was not only best-in-class tech, but also pricing based on functionality, not capacity. I'm an investor in this sector, and it appears like a big hang up is basically porting over technology and pricing models from legacy hardware approaches.

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