Why network inventory is the foundation of the product catalog

26 August 2020

Why network inventory is the foundation of the product catalog

An agile product catalog is fundamental to your telecoms business – but while it’s necessary, it’s not sufficient. An appropriate network inventory solution is also essential to provide the single source of data you need to support your business operations and sales activities.

The product catalog helps you sell your services

If you are a provider of telecoms services, it doesn’t matter who your audience is, you need to be able to quickly and efficiently sell offers from your portfolio. After all, your business depends on making sales. Carriers must sell capacity and connectivity, to the required destination, while mobile operators must deliver subscriptions, devices and bundled packages, for example.

As a result, most telecoms service providers maintain what is known as a product catalog. According to consultancy firm Analysys Mason, the product catalog:

“keep[s] track of the products that they offer to their customers and the way those products are offered… Product catalogues enumerate the services that CSPs [Communications Service Providers] offer and the capabilities that the services depend upon. The product catalogue gives a CSP flexibility to set out specific product offers.”

So, the product catalog is fundamental to the business of selling things and the equally important business of making money from the things you sell. Without it, service providers have to cobble together offers, stitching products together on-the-fly in order to meet demand – clearly, that’s unsustainable. Worse, they can’t easily reconcile purchase history with new transactions or target offers. So, not only is it inefficient for delivery, it also means that you can’t easily market and promote solutions from your portfolio.

network inventory foundation

Network transformation demands change – product catalogs need to evolve

That on its own should be enough to ensure that all providers are equipped with a modern product catalog solution, but there’s another factor to consider: the next generation of 5G is coming, bringing new dynamic service creation, activation and orchestration capabilities. As such, product catalogs need to be sufficiently flexible to cope with a wide range of new use cases, business partnerships and on-demand solutions:

“5G will require extensive product catalogue capabilities for supporting new business models, optimizing usage of network resources and engaging with external ecosystems and third-party partners, in order to effectively monetize new enterprise opportunities. In addition, CSPs’ growing emphasis on lean operations and cost control will drive demand for collaborative and configurable product catalogues”

It's worth noting that this isn’t restricted to mobile networks. 5G provides a common new architecture for all networks, based on a flexible, virtual core, with new API interfaces for dynamic service interaction, management and orchestration. Eventually, most operators will move to this agile core, which will enable more effective and dynamic service delivery from the telco cloud. So, the ability to know what you can sell – and rapidly add new products to your catalog is essential.

Network inventory – the foundational resource

But, knowing what you have in your pocket ready to sell – or that you could sell, if there was demand for it, is one thing. Another is to understand if you have enough of the things you want to sell. Do you have sufficient capacity to fulfil the order? Do you have resources in the right place? Are the elements required to support a service available? Where are they? Can you connect all of the elements that constitute a specific service? To understand this, you need another essential solution: the network inventory platform. As Analysys Mason puts it:

CSP approaches to product catalogue systems of the future should be based on a centralized cross-vendor system with a single source of data.”

The single source of data is as a perfect definition of a modern network inventory solution. If you don’t have this, available and accessible to key systems such as the product catalog, you simply won’t be able to service your customers efficiently – or adapt to the demands and opportunities of network transformation and the new virtual telco cloud.

This is of fundamental importance. As Analysis Mason notes:

“CSPs should priorities a design-centered, cloud-native-compliant, open and intelligent solution that is capable of supporting new use cases, from commerce to charging, policy and network needs. In the long run, product catalogue systems that incorporate such capabilities can give CSPs an important competitive advantage.”

But, unless you have the single source of data, you won’t be able to realize the benefits of such a product catalog. Make no mistake – the two are inseparable and cannot be considered in isolation. So, if you are thinking about the evolution of your product catalog, you also need to think about updating your network inventory solution in parallel.

CROSS – the single source of truth you need to support an agile product catalog

CNI can help. CROSS provides the single data source you need to support an agile product catalog, spanning all aspects of your network inventory, with a consolidated view accessible to your catalog, your CRM and any other system you care to connect.

And, CROSS comes with a simple, seven-step migration process, which allows you to gracefully integrate it with your data, so that you can easily bring data sources together into the single resource you need. Why not find out how we can help?