By Ari Banerjee, SVP Strategy, Netcracker Technology
Virtual reality, cloud gaming, hyper-personalization and digital marketplaces are just a few of the interesting and cutting-edge services and features that communications service providers (CSPs) are considering as they look for ways to remain competitive in an increasingly complex world where complacency is not an option.
CSPs realize with so many options available to customers – whether enterprises or individuals – ensuring loyalty by providing the best possible experience is critical to their business. They want to balance that with being able to get new and innovative services to market quickly and also capitalize on those services, especially for those operators that have made significant investments in 5G infrastructure.
Monetizing 5G and IoT investments will require operators to develop collaborative, multi-partner business models, supported by rapid service innovation and dynamic settlements in a B2B2X setting involving consumers, businesses, government agencies and other entities.
In addition, a growing number of CSPs is looking for ways to empower customers with digital-first experiences in order to differentiate themselves and win market share. This approach enables a level of automation that dramatically reduces the operator’s customer service costs. It also leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to anticipate customer needs and behavior, delivering personalized engagement via their channel of choice while proactively driving loyalty.
But in order to reach these goals, CSPs need to look at the critical systems that will make it all possible. This includes shifting to modern, scalable digital BSS system that takes advantage of cloud economics, provides superior customer experience and supports unprecedented levels of service innovation while significantly improving TCO. CSPs will need a cloud-native BSS that supports several core areas.
CSPs must be able to implement real-time convergent charging for location-based services, dynamic service quality, application type and any other parameter as needed.
The flexibility of cloud-native BSS/OSS enables CSPs to use everything from network slices to fixed private 5G networks to charge for existing and evolving services. Without flexible charging, CSPs will be unable to rapidly implement new business models to adapt to the shifting needs of dynamic networks.
Partner ecosystem management
CSPs have greater E2E capabilities than ever before, but they still cannot do everything alone. They require a comprehensive ecosystem of partners working together seamlessly to support flexible networks. As a result, creating the right ecosystem and subscription system is crucial to effectively monetizing infrastructure investments.
The effectiveness of a partner ecosystem depends on how well it is managed. If you cannot onboard partners effectively, you will severely limit the services that your ecosystem can offer and will be unable to effectively capitalize on partner contributions. Cloud-native BSS supports greater interoperability to deliver service offerings across private, cloud or hybrid infrastructure for a robust partner marketplace and greater competitiveness.
BSS with cloud capabilities streamlines management of complex B2B2X relationships hierarchies by providing a centralized management platform for the entire partner lifecycle. Operators and enterprises can bring partner-related services into their broader service portfolio and efficiently deliver them to the customer.
DevOps and CI/CD
CSPs must launch continuous joint development initiatives with DevOps and CI/CD methodologies to fully leverage the increased agility and flexibility of cloud-native BSS. DevOps and CI/CD can be used to continuously incorporate improvements into the solutions based on operational or business data to maximize agility. Cloud-native BSS is also essential in supporting partner ecosystems as they expand DevOps relationships with new collaborators, such as cloud service providers.
BSS has been automatically performing repetitive tasks for decades, but BSS solutions in the telco cloud era have to evolve by applying intelligence to decision-making in complex workflows and processes. AI/ML can monitor and analyze customer behavior in BSS for unparalleled personalized engagement at customer touchpoints to drastically enhance customer experience and increase loyalty.
The search for industry revenue growth is firmly on the B2B side of CSP business, and new network technologies for 5G are stimulating a wave of new opportunities with enterprises. Platforms with cloud-native applications allow CSPs to fully leverage these new opportunities. The platform approach provides a rich and automated interface to BSS users through standardized APIs and simplifies adoption of next-generation network technology.
Operators that want to invest in and deploy cutting-edge BSS solutions should focus on a few key points:
- Invest in BSS systems that support a digital customer engagement model. Functional capabilities should support consumer and enterprise segments and B2B2X business models.
- Invest in AI-driven BSS solutions that monitor and analyze customer behavior for a hyper-personalized engagement at customer touchpoints to improve the customer experience and increase loyalty.
- Next-gen BSS solutions should have an embedded partner management capability that allows CSPs to efficiently manage the growth and transformation of partner ecosystems to meet the unique requirements of the telecommunications industry.
- The online charging systems of BSS must evolve to support charging for the ultra-low latency services of 5G, such as AR/VR or Industry 4.0 applications, edge cloud services and 5G network slicing.
Digital BSS solutions can help accelerate and simplify customer acquisitions, engagement, onboarding processes, journey management, quotation, loyalty and lifecycle management. And one that’s built from the ground up to support the cloud will help operators evolve to a partner-based digital economy and provide future-proofed functional capabilities enable operators to become more innovative and disruptive, facilitating access into new markets and guaranteeing carrier-grade quality and compliance with strict security and privacy requirements.