A New Digital Stack: The Direct Route Telco Transformation

Jennifer Kyriakakis

With each G, expectations change and capabilities increase. What started as a network for mobile phone calls in the ’90s eventually evolved into a network for data in the form of information, entertainment and productivity.

5G, like the Gs before, brings many new expectations and capabilities but is primarily anticipated to improve the overall customer experience. However, improving the customer experience covers a lot of ground and poses obstacles for operators as they are faced with the task of updating their infrastructure to support digitalization. Legacy tech stacks are not equipped to handle this transformation, which leaves operators scrambling to upgrade their systems. There is another path that avoids this pain point, and that is starting over with a new digital stack.

In the past, when standardized processes were more important than customer experience, legacy platforms for billing, CRM and order management did exactly what was asked of them. Today, it is not so simple. The shift in user expectations means Telcos need to reconsider how they digitally transform, or risk customers leaving for better service elsewhere.

Hoping that subscribers will have a better experience with outdated BSS is like offering them a compass, instead of GPS, for directions and keeping your fingers crossed that they get to their destination. The consumer knows a better experience exists and giving them anything less is objectionable.

Moving Beyond Another BSS Upgrade

While it’s tempting to squeeze the most out of expensive legacy architectures, sticking with what exists and attempting to update current systems has failed to usher change in the Telco environment. Firstly, because standing BSS technologies were designed for the demands of the past to support end of month billing, retail stores, call center care and voice-centric services. Second, while enhancements to existing BSS infrastructure may deliver slightly improved results, it doesn’t alleviate legacy issues with IT silos, scalability, upgrades and the high cost of process change. Creating a new, more agile IT infrastructure based on a real-time convergent charging and monetization platform and a self-care driven engagement layer offers the necessary traditional functionality while dramatically improving the customer experience. “Starting over” with a unified commerce platform that provides network-grade reliability in a high volume, ultra-low latency, complex, multi-network environment is what’s needed to support monetizing the network(s) across all parts of the business. A new digital stack lays the foundation to capitalize on the opportunities created from digitization, IoT and 5G.

A Single Source. A Single Stack.

Sometimes an old car just can’t be fixed no matter how many times you take it to the shop. You just need a new car. The same can be said of legacy BSS. Existing systems are burdened with siloed data and infrastructure. When a Telco has a variety of subscriber segments and service types, each with its own payment methods and price plans, all run on multiple systems, the silos become very complex and expensive to manage.

A new digital stack offers a single source of data (truth!) that streamlines the workflow by making accurate real-time information available to all internal systems and external channels. The result is improved customer experiences, immediate monetization opportunities and more efficient workflows. This is where true digital transformation begins.

Open Published APIs and Configuration-Based Software

Traditional BSS architectures were custom tailored for each operator’s exact needs. While it (sort-of) worked then, it most definitely doesn’t work now. No two deployments were the same and many of the BSS components came from different vendors which were glued together with middleware, making any change both risky and time-consuming. In today’s fast-moving market, operators are now forced to struggle with the cumbersome bespoke software that requires costly custom coding and extensive testing for even minor changes or new features. As a result, all that need for customization now means that operators are less able to respond to the market and less capable of launching new products.

With a new digital BSS stack, operators can move beyond today’s limitations and bring agile business practices into the heart of their organizations. Modern capabilities, like open published APIs and configuration-based software, make it faster to deploy and more accessible to operate.

Telcos Do Not Need to Rely on Heavy System Integration

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results. The traditional Telco model must change if we expect true transformation to happen. The pitfalls of heavy system integration are well understood. A new digital stack that is designed from the onset to be configurable, automated and upgradable will be ready for 5G and new commercial opportunities without the need for massive retooling or re-architecting.

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but to remain relevant in today’s digital-first environment, Telcos must break free of cumbersome transformation projects quickly and prepare to stay competitive or face the threat of being left behind. The next decade will be a golden one for Telco if the industry embraces and innovates around new monetization opportunities. At the core of finding innovation is choosing the right platforms on which to build new operating models and future-proof the business. A new digital stack positions Telcos to be digital leaders.

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