Future OSS/BSS

Digital transformation needs a centralized product catalog

At TM Forum Live! Asia in Singapore this December, Kannan Ramakrishnan of Tata Consultancy Services will co-present a case study focusing on streamlining product lifecycle management and transforming communications in the eastern hemisphere. How can a centralized product catalog help with the challenges of disparate data?

Customers’ market expectations drive one side of the telco landscape; operators’ technology-driven ambitions  the other. Telcos need to find the fine balance between investing in the network to meet demand (such as higher speeds from 4G/5G investments), and leveraging opportunities generated by new-age business models in a connected marketplace. These opportunities aren’t necessarily network-focused, like investment in smart devices.

What telcos have is an authentic customer base and networks guaranteeing quality of service (QoS). What’s needed is an ecosystem suited to digital lifestyles. To achieve this, they will need to continuously acclimatize to the paradigms of digital businesses, being able to:

  • adapt to newer business models;
  • roll out products and services quickly;
  • create a seamless ecosystem; and
  • build a comprehensive understanding of customers’ and employees’ experience.

Hence, their IT systems need to be simplified and agile to deliver a constantly evolving customer experience – and a centralized product catalog is essential

A centralized catalog to enable simplification

A single master list of all product information within the centralized product catalog means that this information is accessible and that the product definitions are consistent. It also enables telcos to keep a close eye on their growing list of products and prune their portfolio where necessary. This includes legacy products they cease to sell and support.

A centralized catalog for the customer experience

Successful segmentation of customers, and then identifying their specific needs drives more personalized interactions, improving the digital customer experience overall. Let’s look at two scenarios to illustrate how a centralized catalog can do this:

Scenario 1 – Customer segmentation can help to recommend a personalized offer based on customers’ monthly usage patterns

Scenario 2 – The customer can fully personalize their own offer/products/service to suit them, often referred as ‘hyper-personalization’, based on how flexible the catalog is with bundling.

A centralized catalog for agility

Telcos can create and roll out new products with the aid of a streamlined catalog. To explain how, we must look at the entire ‘ideate to launch’ journey. We sectioned the journey into the sub-processes of ‘ideation to acceptance’ and ‘acceptance to rollout’:

Ideation to acceptance

A catalog supports the creation of new products this by providing clear product information as well as the workflow management and the collaboration involved. This can be adapted or used to inform the creation of a new package. Ideas are captured, enriched, assessed and the business decides whether the idea is accepted or rejected.

Acceptance to rollout

New products need product configurations across OSS/BSS; CRM capturing the offer, for example, and/or billing recording the pricing. Altogether, these typically take more than a week, but are needed in less than a day. A centralized product catalog ensures this happens in a single application, achieved through three means.

Comprehensive product modeling allows a new product to be modeled easily, using information from products, prices, tariff plans, rules & policies, as all the centrally stored information is not scattered across systems.

• Business-friendly user interfaces – the catalog’s easy-to-use interfaces make it easier and more accessible for the business to create well designed, less complex products and services more frequently.

• APIs and one-touch federation supports configuration across multiple OSS/BSS, whereas previously,  dependency on various IT teams created a lag in the launch cycle. Federation of these systems and/or exposure to them through APIs completely removes those dependencies and makes the time to market much quicker.

Telcos will need to combine a deep understanding of digital services with end-to-end IT operations and transformation know-how to realize these positive benefits of the centralized product catalog.


    About The Author

    Head, Product Management & Marketing

    Kannan Ramakrishnan heads Product Management & Marketing for TCS HOBS and has 18+ years of experience in the telco Industry. He has the experience of executing multiple long-term transformation programs for service providers across the globe.

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