A critical but seldom highlighted role in any service provider is that of the offer manager. This is the person responsible for managing the lifecycle of any offer made to the market. The offer manager works with product managers, marketing, sales etc. to decide which commercial offers can be made and to ensure that all aspects relating to supply, delivery, pricing and regulation etc. are covered.
The issues they have to contend with that slow down the process are usually non-technical. They could really benefit from a set of reusable models for billing, catalog, business policy, order capture, CRM, fulfillment, product models etc. so they can bring new offers or changes to existing offers to the market faster.
There has already been a lot of work done, or in progress, around service and resource modeling. Projects like OpenECOMP, Open-O, ETSI-NFV, etc. are focused on how to model and orchestrate network and cloud services. However, not much work has been done to take this modeling approach up into the business stack to make sure these services can be taken to market in the form of products and offers. These projects assume integration with BSS systems, which are still highly manual in many cases, and require a lot of time and effort to introduce new offers or make changes.
Ideally, when a network or cloud service is available in the services catalog, offer managers should be able to use these services, encapsulate them in commercial models and make them available as products and offers. All this should ideally be done without heavy integration and development effort by IT.
This challenge has been taken up by a number of TM Forum members through the Offer Canvas Catalyst proof-of-concept project and it has attracted some very big names in the industry. Champions include industry heavyweights such as Telstra, AT&T, BT and Orange with star-studded support from Infosys, Sigma, Oracle, EnterpriseWeb and Ericsson.
Empowering market-facing staff
The results of this Catalyst will empower customer and market-facing staff. They will not have to rely on long IT release processes and large amounts of time and cost to take offers to market. Offer managers will be able to log on to an offer designer and have access to a catalog of products and commercial models. They will be able to combine multiple models to create new offers and pull existing offer models, make changes to them and republish them in the offer catalog.
When they have created a new offer, they will be able to test, verify and certify these offers before taking them to the market. When they have finished the verification process, publishing offers in the marketplace should be a one-click process. This will then make required changes to run-time components of the architecture to publish offers in the marketplace as well as configuring the architecture components to respond to these offer requests when customers order them.
At TM Forum Live! In Nice next month, the Offer Canvas Catalyst will demonstrate two use cases: A B2B use case that will have a cloud connectivity aspect along with network quality of service, and a consumer use case that will be a mobile broadband plan refresh.