Digital Transformation World or DTW, which evolved from the famous TM Forum, has long been the key meeting place of the OSS / BSS industry. The extended focus has sharpened debate and brought in more stakeholders – enabling more perspectives on end-user and partner requirements to be shared. As a result, the ecosystem is much more aligned around the challenges of transformation, the opportunities for next-generation service delivery, and the interests of providers and customers.
This was our third time exhibiting at DTW, and awareness of the problems we solve has grown markedly since 2017. Then, inventory was a somewhat arcane – but never-the-less important topic. Today, with radical reshaping of networks in full-swing and a new 5G architecture being rolled out, there’s growing recognition of the key role effective inventory management can play in supporting digital transformation.
That’s because aligning new services and the assets that are required to enable them has become of critical importance. If you are planning to deploy a network to support smart services across millions of connected devices, you can’t afford not to understand your inventory. And, if you are building a massively dense infrastructure to support 5G services, you need to be able to dynamically allocate capacity, launch new services and support differentiated slices – which also means you must have a clear picture of your assets.
But, it’s not only because of technical challenges though. Cultural pressures and growing competition are forcing service providers to focus more on customer service and experience – which means they must be able to deliver to demanding timescales, proactively assure their networks and use performance as a differentiator.
Understanding your physical, virtual, logical and service inventory is thus essential. So, it was exciting to have so many wide-ranging conversations with stakeholders from service providers, city leaders and application providers alike.
Perhaps the most frequently asked question was “How do assets from different inventory systems get linked – is this an automated or manual process?”. That’s because many providers still suffer from a siloed base, with multiple systems that are not aligned. Clearly, with an increased desire to automate network operations – and to converge network platforms, this is an important question.
We solve this problem with our Network Inventory Consolidation Strategy, or NICs, which enables auto-discovery and full correlation of network assets, across all systems. So, users benefit from a single point perspective of their network which automatically adapts to changes, maintaining a clear picture at all times.
However, a key difference is that this is not a single, laborious transformation. In fact, our approach enables this picture to be created dynamically, which means it is enhanced through time, based on the accumulation of data. In other words, we cleanse the data and work continuously to clarify the picture, sharpening the focus. Legacy approaches require a near-perfect change, which takes time and costs money.
Transformation cannot simply be a ‘big bang’ activity. It must proceed on a gradual basis, which helps service providers and operators transition gracefully to new architectures and processes, so they can capitalise on new opportunities.
So, a key lesson from DTW is that transformation should be iterative. Inventory management is key to this, as new assets are brought into service, through dynamic orchestration and allocation. That’s a wrap from Nice - see you in Copenhagen next year!