Future OSS/BSS

Where next for OSS/BSS? We asked the experts…they didn’t agree

Speaking at TM Forum Live! on Tuesday, a panel including Erik Hoving, Group CTO, KPN; Phil Jordan, Group CIO, Telefónica; Jean-Marie Culpin, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Orange; and Ulf Ewaldsson, Senior Vice President and Group CTO, Ericsson, had big ideas about the future of operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS), but they didn’t necessarily agree.

Hoving insisted that OSS and BSS don’t belong together in the digital market.

“We started that 20 years ago when we didn’t want people to make phone calls without paying for them, but now and in future it’s all very different,” he said. “The core of operations is next to customers, whether wholesale, business or consumers – but the whole thing is too consumer-oriented now. We need B2B2C and B2B2X, which is about the OSS core. We’ve spent zillions on BSS but we don’t need billing – which digital native sends out a bill? We don’t use the billing system for anything else.”

Oh, just stop it!

Moderator Mark Newman, the Forum’s Chief Analyst, asked if billing wasn’t an asset, a service that could be offered to other companies? Hoving was not impressed. He replied, “For 20 years we tried to make sense out of data and failed, but Google did it. Stuff is not an asset if you don’t get something out of it. If you aren’t going to do something with it then stop doing it.

“The future all about customer centricity and experience and quality. Just look at the events last weekend around cybersecurity – we should make sure customers can be secure on the internet. We have a big role there, that’s much more powerful than billing for data.”

Ericsson’s Ewaldsson agreed he didn’t see why OSS/BSS should be looked at together.

“We need to offer an iTunes-like store for whatever you do, so provisioning via apps,” he said. “Yes, we sit on a huge legacy and the older generation resists apps, but many are trying to make the jump although it’s big. Legacy holds us up – every service ever offered has to be honored. Should service providers shut down more legacy services? I think we’ll have to.”

Telefónica’s Jordan stated, “I don’t know what OSS/BSS 2.0 means. I need real-time processes – a set of software-based services that are ‘interconnectable and easy to use. So, I’m certain about some of the characteristics – like data to personalize, providing customers with information in real time, and allowing them to use their data… A lot of transformation is about providing a customer experience fit for digital world. We can’t wait to figure out exactly what we want – we should work on characteristics of systems not try to figure out exactly what we want to do.”

I want it and I want it NOW

Orange’s Culpin had a straightforward view he delivered with passion and humor: “This is what we know ­– that as a customer, I want to have everything I need when I want it, how I want it, just like my customers, to drive any service and content. That’s me my family and anybody else. It has to be on my devices when I want it. We want all types of customers to have that unmatched digital experience.”

Jordan observed, “We can’t match Jean-Marie’s requirements. We need a configurable set of microservices in the cloud and all the processes in the cloud. Some will happen quicker than others, but IoT will be soon.”

Ewaldsson commented, “Cloud technology has never cost people more money – that was a rationalization of what we do and we’re very rapidly going towards it. We can overlay what we’ve got – the spaghetti – and we will have to use that approach and fast. It’s a very attractive way for much of this stuff.”

Jordan retorted, “There is no magic wand. We can’t just put overlay over everything. We made it complex; now we need to make it simple. We tried to make a simple enough digital proposition for consumers and we’ve probably missed the moment, but there is a lot of opportunity in B2B2B and X.”

Hoving had little patience with the industry continuing to do many things. He said, “The way we do business in the Western world is wrong; the philosophy is wrong. China went to cloud-based internet immediately; it’s not legacy-based and they are not bothered by that. We don’t understand this, although five years ago, no one had their pictures in the cloud, and now we couldn’t take them out of it. Why send SIMs to customers that have to be activated?”

Watch this space, it’s going to be mighty interesting and in the meantime, enjoy the video.

For more about what’s next for OSS/BSS, check out this TM Forum white paper.


About The Author

Snr Director, Research & Media

Annie Turner has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. She has contributed articles to many publications, including national and international newspapers such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, and a multitude of business-to-business titles. She joined the TM Forum in 2010 and is responsible for overseeing the content of the Research and Publications portfolio.

1 Comment

  1. Profile Picture
    Baljit Sarpal on

    I am now sorry I missed this great debate – spent the time networking with colleagues which was fantastic at TM Forum Live. To me then “winning answer” to this question is surely one which will meet the needs of the various commercial models, apart from a small number of niche players most significant players are going to play in multiple domains, B2C, B2B, B2B2B and they are not going to be able to afford multiple variants of their BSS/OSS architecture if they want to keep their unit costs down – which they will focus on even more as we move to micro services. The horizontal platform based approach to looking at the different layers of the traditional BSS/Stack with a structured hand-shakes points with standards based APIs is the only way we can move to a model where big and small players can join together in a Digital ecosystem, which will not cost out new entrants into the ecosystem.

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