Integrating OSS and BSS – how joined up is your thinking?
As we race towards the 5G-enabled world, integrating OSS and BSS systems and processes has never been more important. Why has this become a pressing issue? Well, as McKinsey, a consulting firm, has pointed out, OSS and BSS are the “very systems needed to be able to market, sell, price, provision, and operate the oft-touted new use cases, such as connection cards and mission-critical solutions” that 5G will enable. That’s to say nothing of the existing services and solutions offered by operators.
Despite this, McKinsey also notes that most investment is taking place in the network. While building out new connectivity is crucial, it doesn’t make any sense to ignore the gains that can be obtained by investing in the processes that support these offers – and enable operators to actually sell them. So, what should be done?
Well, to start with, joined up thinking requires a recognition of the problem, so let’s turn away from 5G for a moment and consider a simple, but common problem that many operators face today. Let’s suppose that a customer wishes to place an order for a new and upgraded fiber connection. Our hypothetical user has a DSL connection but has been seduced by a cold call or an advertising promotion of some kind, to request a service upgrade.
So, what happens next? Well, delivering this order requires a number of things. First, categorization – is it true FTTH, or simply an FTTC? Next, equipment - is a new modem required (probably, yes)? How do we update the customer record and billing plan? What new contract is required? What additional services have been requested (IPTV? Sports channels?). Each of these questions has implications for different teams and departments.
When an order has been placed, accepted and confirmed to the customer, a series of workflows needs to be initiated to the responsible teams and systems. Quite apart from deciding to whom and where any equipment should be sent, the operations team needs to know what resources need to be allocated in order to deliver the requested service. These include physical resources, such as ducts and cables, termination points at central offices, and so on, as well as the service (100Gbs fiber), and more – all of which need to be joined up to support the service.
The benefits of integrating OSS and BSS
As this simple example illustrates, business processes are inextricably linked to operations processes. What will happen when other, more complex services are added to the portfolio? How will operators service new B2B partners that use their network and assets? How can they deliver the services that they need?
Put simply, you simply cannot function in competitive markets without the ability to integrate business and operational processes. If you do not have an integrated OSS and BSS, you will be unable to:
- Understand your service catalog in the context of the resources at your disposal
- Activate and fulfill customer orders in a timely fashion
- Correlate customer orders with customer records
- Manage and maintain services once delivered
- Optimize performance in order to meet obligations set by contract and regulatory terms
- Create new, more complex services and deliver them efficiently
- Constrain and control costs
- Enhance profitability and protect margins
- Support new business models and partnerships that use your network resources
There is thus a clear and compelling need for integrating OSS and BSS, in order not only to ensure the smooth operation of a network but also to secure the efficient delivery of services to paying subscribers and business partners.
A clear picture of your OSS and BSS landscape
To achieve this smooth integration, a clear picture of your OSS and BSS landscape is required. This applies to the systems in place and to the resources that you have available. In turn, this requires a complete, accurate and continuously updated overview of your inventory – the resources that actually deliver services to your customers. These include the physical elements (fibers, cables, cabinets, termination points, as previously mentioned), as well as logical and virtual components, and, ultimately the service as defined in the product catalog (100 Mbs/s fiber, 1 Gb/s fiber, and so on).
Unfortunately, many operators lack such visibility, which means it is difficult for them to deliver services in a timely manner – indeed, it’s a common complaint that service delivery takes weeks, not days – and it’s just as common to use reducing this time cycle as a key performance indicator for the business. So, not only is this important for meeting customer obligations, it’s also important for establishing full control over your business.
3 steps to OSS and BSS integration
Of course, there are multiple steps that need to be taken in order to ensure efficient OSS and BSS integration. We’d love to help you explore this topic in more depth in a one-to-one chat, but here are a few of the most important that you need to consider before embarking on an OSS and BSS integration project.
Step 1 – update your inventory solution
It is absolutely critical to obtain the updated picture of inventory mentioned earlier. Without this, subsequent steps will be disconnected and cannot deliver the benefits required. However, this does not have to be a seismic transformation. Some operators delay this step, undermining all OSS and BSS transformation efforts, often because they fear that they do not have data of sufficiently high quality to support migration to a new, consolidated inventory system.
However, with CROSS, this is not necessary – data can be imported in its current format, tagged with a unique quality score and then cleansed through iterative cycles.
Step 2 – Integrate inventory with key business processes
BSS processes, such as the service catalog, order management, CRM and so on must be able to access the data in the inventory via simple API integration. Manually sharing data impedes agility and places a brake on all transformation projects. APIs provide the means to ensure that data can be made available across systems.
Step 3 – Align marketing and sales efforts
The ability to deliver and support customer orders is one thing – but the ability to be able to target offers according to account status and resource availability is quite another. If there are existing customers, for example, who have yet to take up fiber offers in areas that are reached by your network, then you need to know who they are, so that they can be targeted with incentives to migrate from legacy connections.
In fact, this is perhaps the most powerful indicator of successful OSS and BSS integration. If you know which parts of the network can support new offers, where and how, then can you be more effective in maximizing returns from your investments. Similarly, knowing where there are insufficient resources can also put a brake on upselling activities, so that efforts are not wasted.
In short, a key benefit of OSS and BSS integration is not only to be able to optimize network performance and to fulfill customer orders efficiently, it is also the ability to target efforts to grow revenue, profitably. So, while we don’t have space to enumerate all the benefits of OSS and BSS integration, the simple fact is that, unless you take steps to achieve this, you can never truly join and connect key activities – which means performance must, by definition, always be limited.
And, let’s return to the original point. If operators are to succeed in selling and supporting their services, in adding new services to their portfolio quickly and efficiently, while managing costs and optimizing performance, they simply cannot avoid addressing OSS and BSS integration challenges. Investments in networks are necessary, but they are not sufficient to drive our industry towards great levels of success, productivity, agility – and profitability. OSS and BSS integration is a pressing issue and one that demands immediate attention. Why not have a chat with our experts? Get in touch to find out more.