How cloud-based BSS is driving return on investment
Cloud journeys are well underway, and BSS stands to benefit in terms of agility and operational efficiency. Supporting emerging business models as networks, applications, services and customer behavior evolve puts new demands on BSS to capitalize on 5G opportunities. In short, new levels of flexibility and agility are rapidly moving from the nice-to-have category to the must-have category; they are fast becoming table stakes. This is about enabling responsiveness, or even better, it’s about enabling proactiveness. It’s also about ensuring choice, especially choice of cloud platforms, because as cloud journeys progress new options emerge, new decisions need to be made. And, it’s not just about technology, it’s about understanding choices, customer benefits, financial benefits and operational benefits – managing cost and risk along the way.
We’ve been exploring BSS to cloud journeys with Futurum since late 2020 and I am pleased to feature Ron Westfall, Senior Analyst for Futurum Research, as a guest blogger on the Ericsson blog sharing his wrap-up of six months of research and conversations around the realities and practicalities of BSS journeys to cloud.
So, please Ron give your reflections on the research you have done of BSS journeys to cloud.
In the 5G era, telecom BSS will become the primary monetization engine of CSP investments. BSS provides the flexibility and horsepower needed to quickly and easily create new services, bundles and offers (often in conjunction with ecosystem partners). It also helps capture revenue from 5G’s new strengths of faster speeds and lower latencies in a meaningful way. Through investment in BSS upgrades, including Cloud native application development, CSPs attain the essential capability to expose commercial offers to developers facilitating partner inputs and innovation. As a result, cloud-enabled ecosystem collaborations have made previously unattainable levels of agility and scale possible.
Cloud underpins the flexibility and agility needed to support service evolution
As networks and service offerings evolve, CSPs are advancing the BSS-to-cloud journey and reaping the benefits in core competence areas. These include: accelerated time-to-market (TTM) and time-to-revenue (TTR) improving top line growth, capital expenditure (CapEx) reduction and scaling with elasticity. There are also numerous operational advantages including a broader focus on commercial enablement and business missions, and the ability to extricate IT teams from manual, legacy-laden tasks such as the non-core competences of managing compute and the lower levels of the infrastructure stack.
By moving BSS towards cloud design principles, CSPs lock-in key financial, operational and technological benefits, and also pave the way for future 5G use cases. And when used in conjunction with BSS components, private and public cloud adoption is helping CSPs reduce costs and improve agility. For example, the graph below shows how elastic deployments, microservices and automation are believed to deliver the most value to BSS operations in the cloud.
Cloud BSS readiness has many facets including well-functioning CI/CD pipelines. CSPs need a robust plan for deploying BSS on cloud platforms, and everyone across the business needs to understand that this requires an evolution that spans the entire IT estate along with strategic business support to provide direction to necessary investments.
Integrating business support solutions
BSS is not an island, it must be integrated or embedded within the network, the OSS and the rest of the ecosystem. This is particularly important when it comes to online charging, especially since 5G standards continue to develop at a swift pace. For example, the release of the 3GPP 17 in 2021 will require an end-to-end stack that is able to rapidly to align with, and reap the benefits of, the new specifications. Through the expanded use of open APIs, CSPs broaden the ability of partners and developers to augment cloud BSS capabilities in key areas, such as 5G monetization, whilst also mitigating organizational silos that impede progress in critical areas like DevOps collaboration and agile software development.
Cloud-based BSS is a hot topic in the industry. I participated in a recent Futurum Tech Webcast discussing the impact it will have on CSPs.
Managing cloud journeys
Cloud journeys must be managed carefully and have realistic goals - this is essential for executing a ‘successful journey.’ These journeys are not simple, but instead require the full transformation of the organization, in terms of its business, culture and technology. During this process, the risk of transformation to the cloud must be minimized, and functional capabilities and system reliability retained and improved. Accomplishing realistic business returns is vital for the advancement of commercial objectives and risk-free automation while maintaining reliable operation. For example, if the current time-to-market (TTM) requirements for a new service or capability is six weeks, then the initial steps would require a three-week TTM interval and would incrementally advance towards the end target of only a two-day TTM interval.
Essentially, CSPs need to infuse their approach to BSS-to-cloud journeys with realism and pragmatism to successfully implement their cloud-native solution. This is as much about deciding what not to do as what to do, in terms of setting a prioritized sequence of events. They must conduct a thorough examination of existing applications and legacy processes to determine what they should avoid doing. This will ensure resources are focused on attaining the ‘next goal’ in the overall journey. For instance, focusing one part of the organization on lower-risk, quick return areas (such as digital customer experience and 5G core functions), in order to demonstrate how cloud migration yields advantageous business outcomes and broader organization satisfaction.
For CSPs, it is vital to measure the success of the cloud journey to determine their long-term competitive prospects. To do so, CSPs first need to understand how to gauge the most important measures of success during the BSS transformation journey. It is difficult to gauge the end point in the early stages, and if the journey is not planned carefully there is greater chance of over-spend and becoming ensnared in complex obstacles. CSPs must be cognizant of optimizing outcomes throughout the journey, as options will change as progress is made. They must be mindful of the needs of flexibility and adaptability, the principles espoused by so many CSPs. This aligns with one of the key takeaways from our 2021 report ‘The BSS-to-cloud journey: Powering innovation across the digital value chain’: “CSPs that started sooner don’t necessarily expect to complete the process sooner, confirming that setting proper expectations is key to success”.
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