Trends in BSS en OSS
There is a large diversity in the IT application architectures of telecommunications and internet providers. However, the following common trends and issues can be distinguished:
- IT applications require increasing agility to anticipate on changes in the market. Front-end systems should allow price changes within a few hours. New propositions should be configured within days. Changes in business processes and business logic should be implemented in a few weeks. Agile development methods like SCRUM can support organizations in filling this need.
- Traditional telecom services and IT services are more and more converging. Unified communication and collaboration in the cloud services are typical examples.
- IT application architectures originally designed to support high-volume single product silos (stovepipes) need to be migrated to integrated solutions to offer a large variety of product propositions and product combinations. Bundling of voice, TV/video, and internet services in the consumer market and the convergence of voice and mobile demonstrate this trend.
- IT application architectures of telecom providers are increasingly integrated with the applications of their customers and partners/suppliers.
- IT application architectures have expanded during the years and have become too complex. A rationalization or redesign of the IT application landscape is highly desirable. In practice, IT rationalizations are very difficult to execute. The business case for the replacement of IT applications is often difficult to achieve and not implicitly positive.
- The information models are no longer uniform and up to date as a consequence of all kinds of changes that have been implemented over time. Data is often scattered over different databases with possible data inconsistencies. Furthermore, the integration of new applications with legacy applications is complex. The related data migration and the notion that the store must remain open are also complicating factors.
- Conservation of IT knowledge is under pressure as a consequence of increased outsourcing to Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
Prodapt Consulting has the required experience and expertise to anticipate these trends and can provide adequate solutions for the mentioned issues. Our consultants are experts in the translation of business requirements into process and IT solutions and their implementation.
- IT strategy and business alignment
- Application and vendor selection
- IT redesign
- Functional design
- Process and IT implementations to support product innovation and process optimization
- IT integration
- End-to-end chain-analysis and optimization
Besides our generic process and IT expertise, Prodapt Consulting has the in-depth technical knowhow and experience to support organizations in planning, designing and managing specific application domains.
Business Support Systems (BSS) support, in particular, the customer relationship management (level 1) process as specified in the TeleManagement Forum Business Process Framework (formerly eTOM).
The main goal of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is to optimally support the customer (or potential customer) via all feasible communication channels (call center, internet, email, direct mail, direct contact, etc.). CRM is an integrated approach in which strategy, process technology and people have an important role. It is not sufficient to implement a CRM application without supporting and training the people during the change process. It should also be validated whether the existing business processes are still applicable in the new situation where the customer comes first.
Besides strategy and processes, technology is an important part of a CRM implementation path. Areas in which technology can support the CRM vision of an organization include:
- 360 degree customer view; a consistent and uniform view of the customer, products, tickets and all customer communication in one overview across all channels (call center, internet, shop etc.)
- Opening up channels and implementation of customer self-service with a transparent customer experience
- De-duplication of customers / improvement of data quality
- Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) for call center support
- Integration with front-end (portals) and back-end systems
- Marketing support for campaigns, promotions and events
- Reports and dashboards to support operational, tactical and strategic decisions
In the telecom sector, besides the traditional CRM aspects mentioned, there are aspects such as order orchestration, product modeling, product mastering, etc. These aspects, together with interfaces to billing and provisioning, form a complex whole, in which knowledge of IT architecture, solutions, market knowledge and experience with CRM systems can be crucial for the success of a project.
Besides generic and also telecom-specific BSS knowledge, Prodapt Consulting has gained much experience in package implementations of Siebel, Amdocs-Clarify, Salesforce, SAP, MicroSoft Dynamics, Huawei BSS and ecommerce applications like Intershop and Magento.
At a high level, the billing process can be divided into “charging” and “bill invoice management.” Charging is the process to assign a value (charge) to every event. To support this process, network elements generate “event detail records” to register the usage of a service.
Charging can be performed online or offline. Online charging is executed in real time and is directly related to the actual use of a service. Through authorization and business policies, it is determined whether a user’s balance contains sufficient funds (prepaid) to continue the actual use of the service.
Offline charging is executed after the service has been used. Processing is not required in real time and is often related to a subscription.
Bill invoice management is the process of creating an invoice on a regular basis (e.g., monthly) and to send this invoice to the customer. The invoice is a compilation of usage, subscription fees, taxes, discounts, and adjustments.
Revenue (assurance) management is the process of collecting invoices and to trigger the appropriate measures in case payments are overdue.
In the billing and revenue management domain the following trends can be distinguished:
- There is a shift towards converged billing. Converged billing implies that the billing process for all customers, networks and services is handled by one converged platform. This billing convergence is a logical consequence of the telco’s requirement to offer product bundles in the market.
- There is an ongoing shift from offline charging to online charging. In particular in the mobile market, insist on obtaining real-time insights on their usage. That demand is strongly encouraged by the growing mobile data usage. More mechanisms are emerging that warn users when limits of their bundle or subscription are reached. For international data usage, European legislations are even enforcing operators to inform their customers when the limit of €50 is reached (Bill Shock Prevention).
To enable online charging, a close integration between network elements and charging applications as a Policy Charging and Rules Function (PCRF) are being established, with an application called Diameter being the standard integration protocol in this domain
- The introduction of one European payment market: the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and the related implementation of the new International Bank Account Number (IBAN) was a big challenge for telecom and internet providers. Support for IBAN and SEPA needed to be incorporated in their billing and revenue assurance applications ultimately by February 1, 2014. Furthermore, SEPA will enable automated collection throughout Europe.
Also in billing and revenue assurance Prodapt consultants have deep knowledge and expertise. Key billing applications we have experience in:
- Billing applications like CSG SingleView and Oracle BRM
- Online charging applications like DigitalRoute MediationZone, and NetNumber
- Revenue assurance applications like McFocus
Operations Support Systems mainly support the TM Forum Business Process Framework (level 1) processes: Service Management & Operations and Resource Management & Operations.
The focus of OSS is in fulfillment and assurance. A limited set of OSS functionality is targeting the billing and revenue management vertical. The core of OSS provides the following set of basic functions:
- Capacity management for the network (resource and network inventory management)
- Service delivery (order management & end-to-end provisioning)
- Proactive monitoring of the various network layers in relation to incident reports (fault, performance, and service quality management)
- Collection, distribution, and usage data (mediation)
- Workforce orchestration for installation and repair activities (workforce management)
It is crucial that OSS is established from generic and reusable building blocks. The building block approach is not limited to service delivery, but should also be incorporated for processes as customer self-care and service assurance.
A thoughtful and comprehensive implementation of the product model and the granularity (number of decomposition layers) are essential. The network inventory should represent the layering of the network solution, service, logical connectivity, physical connectivity and equipment, sites, and at last geographical information. Prodapt Consulting is promoting the use of standardized information models like TM Forum Information Framework (formerly SID) to cover OSS architectural matters.
Our consultants have gained knowledge and experience for many years in OSS projects and programs in roles that varied from program manager to business analyst, designer and technical architect. They have experience with a great variety of applications and solutions:
- BPM(S) and integration solutions like Websphere Fabric, Cordys, WebLogic, Tibco, and WebMethods
- Network Inventory applications such as Netcracker, Amdocs-Cramer and NetAdmin
- OSS solutions such as Comptel, TTI Netrac, Comarch, Amdocs, AxiOSS, Oracle OSM, Oracle Communications ASAP (MetaSolv), Huawei OSS, NetNumber, NetCool and ZSmart
- Service Assurance applications like BMC Remedy ARS
- Numberportability solutions from PortingXs and Logica TPress/MPress