Recent research by Global Market Insights revealed that the global OSS/BSS market is set to grow to more than $50 billion by 2024. This would suggest that the BSS space is set for a major bounce. But before we get too carried away, let's consider the recent Ericsson news about its failed Revenue Manager solution and the associated $860M restructuring costs. This suggests that there is still some turmoil and ongoing changes in the industry. Big single system vendors BSS projects don’t have a history of working too well. Add in digital transformation and 5G coming down the line and customers wanting more changes in shorter timescales and the chances of success from big bang BSS transformation projects are somewhat slim. I’m pretty sure Ericsson will agree.
At MWC this change in the BSS space was very evident. Openness and collaboration are now the order of the day. This change is being driven by the visionary operators who know that they need to evolve and do it a lot quicker than they previously thought. This move towards collaboration and openness between vendors and SI companies is being driven by commercial reality and a new market dynamic. Just like operators, OTTs and increasingly platform providers see themselves as partners in one market, channels in another and competitors in yet another, the OSS/BSS vendors, SIs and platform providers also need to develop this dynamic approach to partnerships and collaboration. This vendor openness and collaboration is being cheered on by operators. They know that they need to upgrade their BSS to cater for digital services and 5G and that they don’t want more of the same vendor lock-in with expensive and slow to change systems (even if they do have Digital and 5G badges on the side). The single vendor big bang transformation projects don’t work. Ericsson's Revenue Manager is a testimony to that. Operators want to work with vendors who are open to new partnerships and business models and their systems are designed with degree of openness in their DNA.
Out with the old, in with the new
If operators want to succeed in a 5G era, they must change how they think about BSS and its transformation. They must abandon ‘big ticket’ BSS transformations that are lengthy and costly, and often fail to meet the operator’s needs. They must do away with timescales based on months, and focus on what they can achieve in weeks, or better yet, days. Operators need to take a new approach to BSS, one that embraces digital, adjunct systems and does away with the ‘rip and replace’ approach typically taken by most BSS vendors. This new digital BSS will enable faster time to market and will allow operators to monetise the many new services currently in reaching distance. In the face of decreasing ARPU and squeezed revenue margins, the choice is a simple one to make. The question is: what does digital BSS really look like?
The old world encouraged operators to own and design proprietary solutions, with little input given to the value of partnerships. This new digital BSS world, however, embraces collaboration and understands the need to form successful partnerships to maximise the rate and level of innovation. As more exciting technologies take hold of the telecoms industry, operators will naturally feel daunted, overwhelmed even, at the prospect of changing how they approach technology and business. In fact, operators will soon come to a realisation that the very things that make up their DNA will need to change to make way for new qualities, new methods and new ways of working. This will become particularly important with the proliferation of cloud-native solutions, DevOps, OpenSource and open APIs, and as more partnerships are formed between vendors and operators to adopt and monetise these new technologies. This approach to collaborative development will significantly help to speed up the rate of innovation, and prevent the issues currently faced as a result of inadequate, archaic legacy stacks.
Speeding up digital transformation
Digital BSS will also be key to speeding up digital transformation timescales. Operators simply can’t wait around for transformation to happen, they must act now. Adjunct solutions enable a ‘building blocks’ approach to transformation and will see operators offer services quicker than ever before. Indeed, in a recent implementation of a real-time charging solution adjunct to an existing billing system, one tier 1 operator was able to benefit from a 70% reduction in time to market of new services to their subscribers. For operators’ whose ultimate concern is their subscribers, being able to radically decrease timescales is a key factor in retaining customers and increasing the all-important customer engagement. This digital BSS approach enables disruption without being disruptive, and for the risk-averse operator, that’s exactly what they need.
In most cases, legacy BSS is now expensive, slow and simply inadequate. To access new revenue streams, while keeping up with subscriber expectations, operators need to change and adapt now, otherwise they run the risk of being left behind as competition increases. If vendors and operators are to see the OSS/BSS market reach the projected $50 billion figure, they’ll need a new perspective and a new approach, one that begins with digital BSS.