To keep up with the fast rate of change in customer tastes, operators have to pick up the pace in service innovation. What’s needed is true service agility: the ability to quickly develop a wide variety of innovative, next-generation products, personalize them according to customer wishes, and deliver them without delay or service problems. In order to meet the increasingly high expectations of enterprise customers in the competitive North American marketplace, US-based operator CenturyLink required a new framework for efficient product development, delivery and supplier management.
CenturyLink is a major and growing service supplier to businesses, and as such is fully committed to providing an excellent enterprise customer experience. However, its existing systems were holding it back. Many were in place as a result of the company’s previous vertical business model and legacy network infrastructure. The situation was exacerbated over time due to a number of acquisitions and the technology silos that came with them.
“We’ve been stuck in this legacy telco stack for a long time,” says James Feger, Vice President of Network Strategy and Development, CenturyLink. “We decided we needed to transform our back office systems in order to support a wide range of future trends, from SDN/NFV to enterprise customer self-care. More immediately, we wanted to do a better job with traditional services that we provide, like internet, Wavelength, Ethernet, and VPN services.” It was for this reason that CenturyLink approached Ericsson.
A single enterprise catalog
The joint team determined that a business transformation spanning network, system, process and technology-related operations across the company would be the best way to reach CenturyLink’s goals. The starting point and centerpiece would be Ericsson’s Service Innovation Framework, drawing on Ericsson’s industry-leading OSS/BSS portfolio to provide a catalog-driven and standards-based open platform for the operator.
A single enterprise catalog for all next-generation products, services and resources is a key element of the solution, driving product definition and provisioning of complex enterprise services, while also lowering IT costs. The catalog is the repository of all technical and commercial information, providing a structure to rationalize, simplify and consolidate the operator’s next-generation product families among its territories, enabling seamless service fulfillment to all customers.
“We continue to build upon our wide portfolio to bring pre-integrated solutions to the market for faster time-to-market and lower total cost of ownership,” says Per Borgklint, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Support Solutions, Ericsson. “With our Service Innovation Framework, CenturyLink will be among the first to attain the future level of service agility to deliver an extraordinary customer experience.”
The catalog will consistently drive the processes needed to deliver a service, providing instructions in real time on how the service is to be provisioned for the customer. Vital to accurate and timely service delivery, the solution will ensure consistent and dynamic access to inventory, service and order information.
Implementation of standards-based APIs with separation of logic for business, service, network and element management layers will help to lower the cost of initial deployment and long-term solution maintenance. This also allows for virtualization and improved flexibility. The new standards-based solution is enabling the company’s transition to an SDN and NFV-driven service-centric network.
A stepwise approach to transformation
In all, Ericsson is helping CenturyLink to retire over 160 separate platforms and 400 software releases from its operating environment. A stepwise approach is allowing the company to systematically transform existing OSS/BSS functions to next-generation processes.
The catalog-driven transformation from disparate to unified ordering and provisioning will fully automate complex service design and provision services faster. The company will also be able to get new networks up and running more quickly, and have real-time, consistent network and service inventory information at its fingertips. This visibility is the key to proactive, accelerated capacity planning and better service quality with early identification and attention to potential problems.
With the catalog unifying and driving all processes, customers are easily able to get the services they need, and use them in whatever way they wish. “Ericsson’s Service Innovation Framework will help support our goals to simplify our business and better serve our customers by enabling faster product delivery, enhancing service capabilities and providing back office support for the more flexible network environment we are creating,” says James Feger.