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Fuelling business growth in the digital marketplace

Timo Ahomaki,   Chief Technology Officer at  Tecnotree  suggests why  today's dynamic digital  marketplace   has made Communication Service Providers a key element in any success story

The digital age has changed the way we communicate and interact with our family, friends, peers and colleagues. Digital technologies and online services are changing our lifestyle patterns, and the speed at which we embrace digital change is a real challenge for communication service providers (CSPs). Customers demand better end-to-end customer touchpoint experiences, frequent online interactions and full control over their services. These digital capabilities have been key to the revenue success of OTT service providers who have been instrumental in shaping the digital needs and expectations of customers.
In order to compete in today’s dynamic digital marketplace, CSPs must lead this business transformation to meet their customers’ needs and pursue the development of new revenue streams. As a result, CSPs will need to rethink IT and business architectures and systems and pricing flexibility, to assess the level of convergence and sophistication required and simplify the management of the digital value chain.

The Challenge for CSPs
Leading this business transformation is not for the fainthearted, and it has been a daunting task for CSPs. With many types of Business Support System (BSS) transformation projects having been introduced to the market, including brownfield overlay approaches, big bang IT infrastructure replacement programs, greenfield transformation, evolutionary BSS approaches have all but faced similar challenges.
Most of these business transformation programs are IT led investment projects that focus on future IT cost control, performance and cater to mass market needs. In reality, a lot of these large scale programs fail due to lengthy, often multi-year implementations, and can suffer parity paralysis or scope creep as a result. In turn this leads to a number of temporary stop-gap solutions, and can mean that a demanding customisation environment is introduced to an already stressed customer and business support process system.
Even more detrimental is the fact that these lengthy IT led projects can place a stronghold over a CSPs’ commercial strategy, with plans to launch new products and services continually hitting the same technical roadblocks.  For example: fragmented applications, siloed BSS systems, legacy technologies, and inefficient service configurations that fail to meet the business process agility and real-time customer centricity required. As a result, the business case for new services of this kind falls completely flat as the costs and level of business and technical change required outweighs the benefits.
In addition to these challenges, intensifying competition is heightening the game. CSPs are under increased pressure to deliver new services to the market quickly and to frequently reflect the latest trends, apps and social network based behaviours. Consequently, CSPs need to find new ways to enable this digital world and ensure that their customers remain loyal for many years to come.

Not all BSS projects are created equal
There are a number of aspects that can affect the ROI of a project. Complexity is one - the number of vendors being dealt with is another. Often associated with project complexity and poor ROI are other factors such as the manner in which the project is scoped. To maximise a CSP’s chances of achieving a higher ROI, a lot of effort needs to be put in to ensure the project scope is tightly defined and that it only includes what is absolutely essential for the business to run. Not only will this reduce risks, but it will also guarantee that the project completes sooner.

Simplifying the path to digital customer experience
|With customers achieving more presence, power and choice than ever before, time is clearly of the essence for CSPs wishing to capture new revenue opportunities and meet the needs of their customers in the digital marketplace. Customers today have come to expect their service experience to be top class across the board and frequent online interactions and full control over their services have been key to the success of CSPs who have been instrumental in shaping the digital needs and expectations of customers.
Similar to OTT and digital service providers’ business models, CSPs need to take a different approach to their transformation strategy and begin the process of embedding agile and digital capabilities into the heart of their business processes.
The commercial migration approach that tends to be most successful is to devise smaller agile projects that deliver end-to-end capabilities to minimise the level of integration required between systems and to focus on delivering new commercial offers and products to the market, quickly and effectively. The first step involves understanding the core processes that make a business tick, as well as consolidating these processes into a pre-integrated approach to drive major economic and time to market gains for new services.
By examining the required end-to-end capabilities and implementing fit-for-purpose product functionality, CSPs can allow for fast and economical implementation and in the long run, will benefit from reduced project transformation risk, a simpler systems environment and lower TCO.
From a business perspective, by simplifying end-to-end capabilities, from day one CSPs will be able to create new bundled offerings, capture new customers, charge and bill for the services consumed, as well as allow their customers to manage their own services themselves; For example, by providing a care team to offer a one stop shop service to all their customers. Furthermore, through assessing BSS capabilities needs from a business angle, CSPs can plot a more adaptive and iterative approach to guide future actions based on their transformation needs. Using this commercial migration approach will enable CSPs to elevate IT and business teams to move their focus from low value, tactical day-to-day operations, to driving business leadership that focuses on innovation, service differentiation, customer experience and support for streamlined operations.
The range of new digital services enabled by new technologies including LTE, alongside the proliferation of data-centric devices means that the range of products and offers that need to be created and delivered quickly to the market has intensified. To exploit the abundance of new digital market opportunities available, CSPS will need to re-assess their business priorities to ensure that they build a BSS environment that can quickly support critical business change, new monetisation models and new customer digital experiences - at a lower cost of ownership. However, standard and lengthy IT led approaches to BSS projects, which focus heavily on feature parity in a modern system, fail to deliver a target business environment with the right set of priorities needed to build and gain a competitive advantage.
Starting from the needs of the business, and not IT, CSPs will need to analyse their existing business processes to determine if they are still fit for purpose in a digital world. This will require them to rethink how to strategically run their business, while creating and delivering products that can innovate rapidly to better service their customers. To simplify business processes effectively and match them to digital services capabilities, it is critical that CSPs consider IT and business architectures, systems and pricing flexibility, and assess the level of convergence and sophistication required to provide straight-forward management of their digital value chain. Through the adoption of pre-integrated solutions, businesses will be able to reduce complexity and reduce deployment timelines with ease, while improving ROI; thus reducing project transformation risks and creating a lean and efficient modern CSP operation.

Tecnotree Corporation is a telecommunications company, headquartered in Espoo, Finland,  which develops and supplies messaging and charging solutions for operators and service providers worldwide.  Their India  operation is based in Bangalore.
August 19 2015