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Telcos’ IT strategies for vertical enterprise revenues

As telcos make the shift to service-focused, highly automated organizations, they are having to address IT focus points in OSS and BSS.

Dean RamsayDean Ramsay
25 May 2022
Telcos’ IT strategies for vertical enterprise revenues

Telcos’ IT strategies for vertical enterprise revenues

The horizontal growth of communications service providers’ (CSPs’) B2B portfolios is the subject of much debate amid the drive for renewed revenue streams, as Dean Ramsay, principal analyst, TM Forum, explores in this extract from the report Enterprise verticals: placing the right bet.

As CSPs build new operational and business frameworks to address opportunities in areas such as IoT, cloud services and security, the logical approach is to construct highly versatile and flexible platforms capable of supporting myriad new business use cases and then build industry vertical specialisms on top.

As we enter the 5G B2B era we are approaching the point at which new technological changes are brought about in the network and in operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS). The most significant are:

  • Standalone 5G network slicing using the 5G core 5G NR (New Radio) capabilities – ultra-low latency, higher bit rates, and increased capacity and coverage
  • Multi-access edge computing (MEC) and edge cloud
  • Autonomous network management and orchestration
  • End-to-end service orchestration
  • An evolved, cloud-native OSS/ BSS ecosystem built to open standards for digital-first, service-centric operations.

Each one of these technological developments requires significant IT changes, and bringing together this multi-faceted next-generation operational fabric has taken considerable time and resources.

As a result, we are now seeing some of the first examples of live network deployments with large elements of the full vision achieved. One thing that has been notably different about the 5G technology cycle is that consideration for advanced service level management and orchestration has been baked into the specifications from the beginning.

As such, the distinction between network and IT has blurred and operations is now not just a network topic.

Service level focus

Much of the 5G focus for the past decade has been on technical network considerations, but the priority for many CSPs now is service levels. It is essential to evolve IT stacks and ecosystems to mirror the tech capabilities of the network, in order to become a business entity that behaves like a digital native to its B2B customers and ensure optimal monetization and scalability as new lines of business are commercialized. A TM Forum survey shows that CSPs’ impressions of how their enterprise customers will view them over the coming years is shifting more towards the characteristics of a digital-native service provider.

Evolutionary IT

In order for CSPs to make the shift to service-focused, highly automated organizations, they are addressing IT focus points in OSS and BSS. In OSS, automated workflows under a service orchestration scheme are essential to achieve zero-touch provisioning and service management in systems that bridge the intelligence in BSS above and the network below. Each one of these systems categories is evolving radically:

  • Catalogs – products, services and assets, once tracked in disparate databases, are now centralized and have all the supporting information needed as a “single source of truth” by all surrounding OSS/BSS architecture. It is essential that catalogs can be interrogated (and if necessary, changed) in an automated fashion for zerotouch service operations to become a reality.
  • Inventory systems – dynamic, real-time resource and asset inventories will be essential to manage and orchestrate new vertical industry service models over a hybrid network environment. Unifying federated legacy inventories with new data stores and presenting a common interface is essential to removing the large manual cost of this function.
  • Ordering and service fulfillment – B2B customers interact with their IT service providers in a primarily digital manner. And because expectations have changed, the way telcos take orders must also change rapidly. Digital-first, platform-style interactions are the aim, and legacy order management and fulfillment is evolving to accommodate this. As a key touchpoint with business customers, this is a central focus of improving customer experience and driving higher Net Promoter Scores.
  • Service assurance – assurance is evolving to be a big datacentric bridge between the live network and service operations, forming an essential feedback portion of the closed loop scenario of modern fulfillment, management and monitoring.

In BSS, the intelligence behind modern operations, CSPs are looking to establish a more holistic, end-to-end view of service operations, so that automated workflows can utilize the customer-centric data in the BSS to provide better network services:

  • Revenue management – dynamic rating, charging, partner management and converged billing need to have strong links to service orchestration systems in order to provide automated workflows down through the OSS into network services. The way in which services, and microservices, are accounted for financially in new value chains has changed radically from the traditional telco services of the 20th century, and complexity continues to increase.
  • Customer engagement and experience management – refining enterprise customers’ impressions of a CSP will have a direct correlation with increased sales and retention. As telcos move into new vertical markets, being able to excel at interacting with customers will have a significant impact on their commercial success. Making costly improvements elsewhere in the operational stack may be irrelevant if they cannot succeed in the key touchpoints with potential new customers.

Download the report to find out more.