No one is immune to the digital revolution, which is impacting governments, businesses and consumers alike. The difference lies only in the response: while some are struggling to keep pace with the speed of change, others have grabbed the bull by the horns and are taking advantage of new technologies to shape their futures, leveraging the digital revolution to improve customer service and get a jump on the competition. In the manufacturing sector, the Internet of Things (IoT) is being used to introduce predictive maintenance and companies are seeking to drive growth by transitioning to a service-based model. In banking, customers have moved past management of their daily activities through online banking and ATMs and today, rely almost exclusively on mobile apps. Meanwhile in retail, businesses are using the explosion of customer data to create more personalised experiences through more agile, tailored services.
Where do communications service providers (CSPs) fit into this picture? According to a 2017 study by EY, digital transformation is a top priority for 71% of CSPs and the sector is leading the way when it comes to digitisation. In its 2018 ICT Enterprise Insights report, Ovum notes that the industry has a maturity-progression index score of 43.9%, putting it ahead of not only all the innovative manufacturers and retailers out there, but also the banking sector, which recorded a score of 42%.
Recognising that a digital business model has the potential to drive innovation, almost all Tier 1, and the majority of Tier 2 CSPs in the EMEA, APAC and Americas regions are expected to either be running on the cloud or to have embarked on migratory programmes, and become digital service providers (DSPs), by 2021. But how do CSPs actually make that transition to DSPs? It goes without saying that customer experience is critical. Deep-dive analytics can offer operators actionable insights – but they will need agility across the board to be able to take action on those insights at the right time. The top priority, however, has to be ensuring that the CSP has a business support system (BSS) capable of supporting a digital strategy based on three pillars.
Improving time to market & supporting revenue diversification
To succeed in this bright new digital world, true DSPs need to be able to diversify their revenue streams and revolutionise their business models, maximising the benefits to be gained from transformational technologies like cloud, blockchain, IoT and 5G. Time to market is a vital consideration here, and operators must have the capability to roll out new products and services quickly and efficiently. But while development lifecycles will have to be considerably shortened, quality cannot be sacrificed.The key to achieving all this is the right BSS. A flexible platform is particularly important as telcos make their first moves into new markets, offering insurance, financial and even healthcare services, and provisioning for the increasingly popular digital TV and music content.
The right BSS solution should also deliver dual-speed architecture that supports migration from legacy platforms to future-proof, cloud-based stacks, and it must do so while guaranteeing uninterrupted service.
Whatever route CSPs go down, their BSS must be at the foundation of their digital transformation.
Reaching all customers
Once upon a time, telcos could afford to adopt a single marketing approach for all their customers, but the digital transformation has now upped the ante. Today, more demanding digital natives make up an ever-increasing segment of a telco’s potential subscriber base and expectations have shot up accordingly.
Reaching all possible customers with new products and services requires omni-channel branding and customised service, as standard. With sufficient granularity in their offerings, telcos can cover a wide range of use cases. We, at Nexign believe that, a flexible BSS platform is essential to supporting this approach and helping telcos to transition from ‘service provider’ to ‘lifestyle enabler’ in the eyes of millennial and Gen-Z customers.
Embracing the API economy
A robust BSS solution has to support open architecture. The benefits of an open architecture include business agility, accelerated integration, increased value and total cost of ownership (TCO) savings. An open approach, based on standardised open APIs such as the TM Forum’s initiative, unlocks opportunities for working with an expanded talent pool to develop new products. And as consumers see their provider become a one-stop shop for everything they need, brand loyalty and ambassadorship will grow.
An open partnership infrastructure also helps to achieve the key digital transformation goals of business model diversification and revenue stream multiplication.
What, then, does a true DSP look like? It should be a native of the cloud, naturally, with access to a suite of analytics that gives it an insight into its customers and the flexibility to offer granular, omni-channel services that go beyond anything available on the market. It should leverage business process automation, to streamline processes and empower associates to work on more innovative projects. It should recognise the importance of digital partnerships and embrace an open ecosystem approach that will allow it to capitalise on technologies like IoT, blockchain and 5G. The true DSP’s business customers should enjoy elastic scalability with a pricing structure to match. Finally, the DSP should offer both core and over-the-top (OTT) offerings in one place.
To attain this ideal and emerge from the digital transformation with a clear competitive advantage, an expanded subscriber base and a stronger business, CSPs will need to be able to rely on a robust, future-proofed BSS solution, a powerful tool that facilitates network monetisation, centralised product cataloguing, omni-channel customer experiences and the development of rich partner ecosystems.