OSS/BSS in Future Service Delivery Models Wednesday 31 October 2012 @ 13:07
At the CommsDay Melbourne Congress 2012, Symbio's CEO Rene Sugo made a presentation about the role of OSS/BSS in future service delivery models.
Here is an overview of the topics and ideas covered during the presentation, and you can download the accompanying presentation slides here.
Historical Overview of OSS/BSS
OSS/BSS has been evolving as the industry moved from a basic model of reselling the 'plain old telephone service' in the 1980's to the current complex environment of service bundling, integration, managing different underlying networks and the customer's desire for 'self service' empowerment.
Our landscape is now at the stage where technology itself has facilitated a complete disembodiment of service layers and access layers, all because of the IP protocol which lets anything travel over anything.
This ability for consumers to access almost any services 'over the top' sets a new challenge for service providers and OSS/BSS specialists. The OSS/BSS specialists themselves will need to further specialise and focus on specific OSS/BSS architectures moving forward, otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant in a customer "bring-your-own" "do-it-yourself" world.
Users at the centre of the Universe
Around them are a myriad of services that are now within their reach, and the internet has facilitated an incredible plethora of OTT providers - be it content, applications, services. You name it, you can now get it on the great global shopping mall that is the internet.
The role of the service provider has therefore changed, we all risk becoming a conduit for access, bundled with whatever commodity services we can white label and integrate in an attempt to provide a meaningful value pool for customer acquisition and retention.
Erosion of Value
Another phenomenon we are seeing is the erosion of value. What was once the only game in town - voice - is now all but a basic expected service - be it on copper, mobile or NBN technologies.
Slowly more and more 'value added' services will be eroded and relegated to the 'vanilla' layers of the value stack. These vanilla layers are the things customers want to tick a box for when shopping around. They don't necessarily represent any value to them other than the inconvenience of not having them.
The key however is that service providers cannot be complacent about the vanilla layers. They must be as rock solid and reliable as the day they were premium services. For example with voice, there is an expectation of local geographic numbers and local number portability. Yet it is only recently that the industry noticed the issue of local number portability in an NBN world. How can an industry be capable of churning an NBN access service in 30 minutes, yet it takes up to 6 weeks to port a phone service? Are consumers expected to live without inbound telephony for 6 weeks every time they churn? Without lifeline services?
The fact that voice has been ignored affirms the view, that people - even within the industry - just assume it is there. Its been around for 150 years why shouldn't it work tomorrow?
The point here is that just because something is assumed to be 'vanilla', that does not mean it is easy, nor does it mean the customers expectation will be lower.
And it is not just voice - as more and more services become eroded or commoditised into the vanilla layers, it will be harder and harder for service providers to integrate, manage, bill and support these basic expected services.
This is where highly integrated and automated OSS/BSS systems will allow service providers to stand out and differentiate themselves in a vanilla world.
The way forward is clearly to have well defined OSS/BSS structures with B2B and Portal interfaces to allow up and down integration, and well as a high level of automation and customer self service.
Example 1: Local Number Porting
An example which is close to Symbio's heart is Local Number Porting (LNP).
LNP in Australia is a shocker. There is no doubt about it - it is well overdue for a review. There is no standard contractual terms between providers, varying processes and no standard SLA. With 10 parties to deal with, it is a mine field for new service providers and a stifler for competition.
Customers don't understand that. And when their number porting fails for the 3rd time in a row, and they are 3 months behind implementing that new phone system or their staff are all sitting in that shiny new office with no phone service - they get very very upset.
Symbio had to find a way to improve the customer experience, and we did, developing and implementing a number porting platform hosted on our network which is open for the industry to use, allowing our customers to interact with carriers as if they had a direct bi-lateral agreements. It can shorten a category A port from weeks to just 3 days, thanks to the real-time API and self service GUI tools over the internet. It allows our customers to self-manage a number port without even owning a network.
In the first 12 months of launching this service, we ported 65,000 numbers to our network. All indications are that we will port over 100,000 numbers in the next 6 months alone.
Example 2: Virtual PBX
Another great example of customer expectations driving service delivery models is Virtual PBX. The concept is easy enough - the hosting of PBX features and functions in the cloud, so that customers don't need to buy their own phone system. There are lots of great functional benefits of having access to the resource in the cloud - it's never busy, it's backed up, redundant, can be reached from anywhere.
But how do you deploy a service on a mass scale, with thousands of non-technical users and still manage to make money. They key of course is a self service and self provisioning model. Make it so easy that customer's don't want to call you.
This is all possible thanks to highly integrated end-to-end OSS/BSS systems full of feature rich API functionality that can be easily tailored by service providers for their customers needs.
Future Service Provider Models
We see that there will be three service provider models which will prevail:
- base service providers, which provide primary network and infrastructure.
- those that provide the fillings - in the form of content and applications etc.
- those that are really good at putting it all together and cooking up something new - in the form of an end-to-end aggregated service.
The prediction is that service providers will need to chose their path, and this will dictate their OSS/BSS direction, and strategy, and it will not be possible to be all things to all people.