What do service providers really want from BSS?
20 years ago, Ericsson hosted the first Business Support Systems (BSS) user group forum in South Africa. Last month, Ericsson went back to South Africa, in Cape Town and hosted, together with MTN group, the BSS User Group Summit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event and I was lucky enough to participate. Here is what I learned.
The BSS user group is an annual event owned by operators from all over the world and facilitated by Ericsson. Together, we discuss the latest industry trends, share success stories and guide Ericsson’s BSS portfolio roadmap. Over 200 people attended this year, representing over 30 different operators. The event lasted for 3 days and had everything from thought leadership sessions on 5G, guest speakers, operator sharing sessions and joint workshops. Just after the kick off and the keynote sessions by both MTN group and Ericsson, , we addressed the room with a direct question, and it became immediately clear what they were thinking
IoT, 5G and mobile data will be the main opportunities going forward
“What is the key opportunity to monetize in the Future?” asked Mats Karlsson, our Head of BSS. The audience, me included, quickly pulled out their phones and started voting. IoT and 5G soon appeared very clearly on the word cloud display and scored the highest votes across the board. Data and mobile broadband were clearly in third place and financial services appeared multiple times, which is unsurprising as the world’s ‘unbanked’ population remains huge and in Africa and MTN has been extremely successful with their MoMo Cash service. Enterprise, B2B, partners and other similar words were also very visible, demonstrating that services providers are looking to engage more with industries. The consumer business was also represented through words such as gaming, content, customer experience, and apps; evidence that no one wants to lose focus on their main revenue generator.
IT organizations taking a leading role in business
It was interesting to see the transformation in which IT organizations inside operators are going through. There is a much higher focus on bringing in business instead of the old ‘just make sure our equipment work’ mindset. During one of the operator’s sharing sessions, my favorite session on the agenda, one operator shared how they are working with product lifecycle management, and supporting marketing and business teams by developing a simple interface that allows non-technical people to create even the most complex offers in just a few minutes.
Another operator discussed insights into their API platform, which they are using not just internally to boost business, but sharing with several other players from different industries, and even the government, to provide its citizens with better services.
A third operator shared a success story from offering data plans that charged by the minute and per service, which was a great success in their market.
Going forward, network slices, private networks, IoT, 5G, new business models and partners will only increase complexity in the telecom world, and the IT organizations will be the monetization engine who make sure the marketing and business teams are equipped with the right tools to remain competitive and move into the enterprise and industry arena.
A call for automation and simplification
The Business Support Systems domain is complex, as operators must manage a multitude of systems, including charging, billing, cataloging, CRM’s, order care, and more. Those systems are often from different vendors (or even developed in-house), have multiple versions and in many cases have off the shelf customizations. On top of that, the systems need to manage elaborating business rules and real time requirements, after all, one minute of lost data is one minute of money lost.
During the three days I was at the BSS user group, operators made a clear call for automation and simplification of BSS systems. Their BSS needs to be more efficient, and leverage automation to reduce complexity, manual customizations and cost. They also need agility, to reduce the time between an idea and revenue, and the flexibility to support innovative business models that 5G and IoT will require. Moreover, they expect an even higher focus on customer experience – for enterprise and consumer alike, integration of channels to offer an omnichannel experience, real time automated dashboards to monitor service level agreements, and finally AI to solve customer care issues or even offer personalized and relevant recommendations.
Those messages and needs are aligned with our BSS roadmap and our vision, and it was reassuring to see that we were already showcasing products and functionalities addressing automation, simplification and AI. Among those demonstrations, three stood out for me; the Ericsson Catalog-driven orchestration for SD-WAN services, where we displayed how operators could create and deliver a very complex offering, such as SD-WAN, using a very easy to use interface; BSS for on-demand services, where we demonstrated how we could make BSS systems more efficient in times of high demand by leveraging the cloud; and last but not least, the demonstration called ‘transform your customer experience with AI’, were we used our expert analytics to enhance end user experience, predict issues and more.
The preparations for next year's BSS user group summit have already started and as 5G gets launched, I believe we will see BSS and IT organizations taking the lead in the 5G monetization journey, being it IoT, enterprise or new consumer applications. New services and bundles will appear, new ways of charging, network slices and hopefully, many other innovations. I look forward to attending next year’s event and seeing how these trends have played out.
You may also be interested in the whitepaper from earlier this year in which Analysys Mason discusses their view of the monetization systems needed by service providers to support their 5G revenue ambitions: Monetize new 5G business modelsDownload report
You can also join the free webinar online "Turn your BSS into a 5G monetization engine"Join webinar
Learn more about Telecom BSS and 5G monetization.