Across the globe, a combination of powerful commercial factors requires service providers to look at lucrative, next-generation services to boost their revenues and profit margins. To fully capitalize on this opportunity, they are transforming the way they do business, their networks and their IT infrastructure.
Over the last 18 months, we have seen the arrival of next-generation networks such as AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS. While KPN's All IP and BT's 21CN are just around the corner, Telstra's NextG and China Telecom's CN2 networks are already delivering services.
The problem faced by service providers, however, is that having made large investments in these cutting-edge networks, many find their operational support systems are an obstacle rather than a catalyst for change.
An independent survey, based on the responses of 100 executives from wireline and wireless service providers around the globe, concluded that while OSS transformation is essential to introduce new services, many providers are hindered by the current capabilities of their existing operational systems.
The survey also found that launching new services takes too long and is prohibitively expensive, putting providers at risk of being out-competed by rivals. Likewise, their systems cannot support convergent bundled services, or provide an end-to-end view of their customers. Worse still, duplicated data, processes and systems are creating inefficiencies and raising operating costs.
Service providers are, therefore, increasingly recognizing the importance of transforming OSS in order to transform their business. But while OSS transformation is vital, it cannot interrupt day-to-day business operations, which must continue uninterrupted. This presents a dilemma: how to address the tactical need to roll out new services quickly while embracing a fundamentally different approach to operations to meet long-term strategic goals. It is equally important that when embarking on transformation projects, both short-term tactical goals and longer-term OSS transformation goals are met.
The goal of an OSS transformation project is a single next-generation OSS platform to support all operational processes.
But there is no 'right' way of getting there. Instead, the appropriate strategy will depend on the service provider's starting point. We have identified five ways in which leading service providers are undertaking these OSS transformations, each with its own distinct challenges:
‾Complete BSS and OSS transformation - a total overhaul and replacement of all supporting systems. Telstra is taking this approach.
‾Complete OSS transformation - a replacement of all operational support systems with a unified approach. Strategy used by Telekom Austria.
‾Service transformation - renewing the entire OSS from order to activation for one service and then extending this to other services. Danish carrier TDC is taking this approach.
‾Process consolidation - existing OSS are unified using orchestration and then extended. BT is using this strategy.
‾Inventory consolidation - unify existing OSSs using a common inventory, and then extending. Approach taken by the Netherlands' KPN.
What is vital to all of these approaches is that the OSS software chosen should be able to support the final goal of a single, unified OSS infrastructure, as well as the intermediate goal.
Cassandra Millhouse is product marketing manager at Cramer, Amdocs OSS Division