The path to serving the end-users

The communications provider's primary focus has always been on operational excellence, with customer experience a distant second. The underlying software infrastructure forms the essential backbone for providing the "smarts" to deliver the best customer experience. In an article last issue I made a call to the industry to agree to a new vision of a software systems that is going to play an even more critical role in shaping the future of connectivity in people's lives. This issue we'll look at the vision, building blocks and the attributes of this software system. 

Despite the complexities and confusion in the sector, Yankee Group's research suggests there is a path forward that will meet operators' needs for the experiences that end-users seek. We call this architecture the software experience system (SES). It is a set of software components that is designed to fulfill business processes end to end, event driven, and able to adapt itself to user preferences, demands and behavior in real time, in order to provide a superior customer experience.

The building blocks of "anywhere" SES should be familiar to industry experts in the network software space: they are the same components we talk about today. What is different about our SES architecture is that it has been expanded to include of a larger set of building blocks such as a SDP, BSS/OSS, network and business intelligence, and profile and policy management.

In addition to the expanded view of this domain, we see five common attributes that the current BSS/OSS systems need to become the building blocks for the SES architecture. These are required so the components can be assembled together in any desired combination to create a software infrastructure that helps exploit the full potential of the anywhere networks.

Attributes of the SES

  1. Model driven creation and simulation of services. Each building block should have the ability to be modeled in an integrated development environment where services that support a business process can be created, tested and then deployed.
  2. Preference, context and location aware. The software system is able to understand user preferences and adapt itself to provide the best service. It is aware of user context and location and takes these as inputs to predict the ideal quality of experience that the customer expects from the interaction with the intelligent network.
  3. Business process optimized for customer experience. The most radical change happen is that CSP's software infrastructure cannot dictate their business processes and strategy. The  only way CSPs can provide holistic customer experience is building clear business processes that drive the software infrastructure
  4. Real-time and event driven. The software systems will process complex events in real time, and provide the users the best actions to take based on those events. This directly enables the service provider to lower risks and provide excellent experience to their customers.
  5. Holistic intelligence. Each building block with the SES system is endowed with the smarts to understand its role within the architecture on the event that it is tracking, executing or acting on. Once this information is pieced together holistically, actionable intelligence is available to both the customer and the service provider. The policy manager, identity manager, network intelligence manager and business intelligence form the pillars of the SES. Service providers should be use the QoE measure to determine parameters such as profitability of the customer, lifetime value of the customer, ability to launch innovative business models and real-time visibility of network resources.

The organizational challenges operators face, most software vendors' lack of a long-term view and a standards body that could do much better providing industry direction all create the makings of a perfect storm.

How close are we to accomplishing this ambitious goal? Because all the enabling technologies exist, we have no doubt that it can be done. But it's not feasible today as a number of obstacles have to be overcome.

In the next issue, I'll define the size and growth rates of this new area and describe how vendors should build these attributes in their systems. Stay tuned.

Back to part 1, BSS/OSS needs to change now

Ashvin Vellody is a senior VP for consulting at Yankee Group