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Customer retention is a key issue for all service providers so it’s no surprise that the TMF has baked processes that can be used to boost retention and support loyalty into eTOM. Of course, different operators will have different policies, but a variety of levers are available. Some customers may be offered improved packages with higher speeds, free upgrades and so on. These offers can be made when they call to check their notice period, or a provider can initiate an offer proactively. Similarly, loyalty can be rewarded with enhanced offers, new capacity and more.
However, for these levers to work effectively, the BSS must be able to determine if the resources required for a specific customer at a given location are available and can be added to their existing service subscriptions. Or, if they are not, that they can be added according to a new work order. Once again, inventory is at the heart of such a process. Put simply, if new service capabilities – enabled by physical, logical or virtual resources – are required to support retention and loyalty, then integration with the network inventory and a single data model of the network are required.
CROSS is available for integration with any such process, via simple APIs, enabling the efficient interconnection of OSS and BSS assets, so it’s a key link in ensuring effective support problem handling. It maintains the single network data model necessary to support proactive, automatic or reactive retention and loyalty processes.
The “support problem handling” process is another element of the “customer support and readiness” group of processes and is one of a number that are related to issues that can emerge. As the name suggests, it’s all about ensuring that things people buy work as they should. That sounds easy, but it can be complex. What the process accomplishes is to define the ways in which this can be achieved, and the data that is required to ensure the correct outcome.
To put this into practical terms, let’s think about a broadband service that is sold with specific performance parameters – 100Mb/s, for example. The service probably defines some parameters governing this performance (“at least 90% of the time) in the small print of the contract. But, a user doesn’t care about that – if they think the service is too slow, then they’ll complain. At which point, the service provider must investigate.
As we noted, this requires data to be collected regarding the service – in this case, a physical connection to a specific address. To do this, the support problem handling process must interact with relevant systems – one of which is the network inventory platform. Unless this is integrated with the relevant workflows, then this data collection exercise cannot proceed smoothly or efficiently. Integration of the OSS (network inventory) with the BSS (customer support) via this process is thus essential. Service providers must automate these processes via integration of different systems in order to deliver performance at scale.
CROSS is available for integration with any such process, via simple APIs, enabling the efficient interconnection of OSS and BSS assets, so it’s a key link in ensuring effective support problem handling.
“Support Order Handling” is an important process in the Frameworx model. It’s part of the “customer support and readiness” group of processes and included within the overall “operations support and readiness section. Its meaning is, largely, self-explanatory, in that it’s really concerned with ensuring that the infrastructure required to support an order – materials, systems and resources – can operate effectively. Without going into the full details of the reference model (you can do that over at the TMF, if you are a member), it’s clear that this requires a knowledge of those resources to be available.
So, inventory is front and center of this process. You must have accurate and up-to-date information regarding all resources that might be required to fulfill an order – is there sufficient processing capacity, capabilities, product components and so on. And, this information must be available to processes and systems in the customer order handling system. As such, integration between these systems and the inventory platform is essential. Otherwise, the necessary data can only be obtained manually or via a series of separate inquiries.
CROSS solves this challenge by providing a single source of data that is accessible to all systems. It can be integrated from the OSS to the BSS, enabling, on the one hand, automated inquiries to be generated and answered, while on the other ensuring that its data set is continually updated from other systems in the OSS.
CSPs must meet performance targets – which can be driven by internal KPIs, external regulations and oversight, as well as SLAs with different customers. At the same time, they must ensure that they direct their resources to the right places – to protect service performance and to ensure consistent profitability.
This means that they need to understand what resources are involved in delivering a particular service, whether it is over- or under-utilized, how demands have changed, and much more. Without such information, they cannot accurately define resource support strategies and maintain the required levels of performance.
Integration of OSS and BSS information is essential to achieving this. In particular, CSPs must be able to obtain a complete picture of the resources and assets in their network, how they are used, how they relate to each other and where they are located.
CROSS provides this essential data, through a consolidated record of all network inventory, mapped to logical and virtual services. It is consistently updated and, in addition to allowing CSPs to understand the performance and profitability of any specific service, it is available to support the near- and long-term definition of resource support strategies as well as the development of new targets and benchmarks.
For CSPs, creating a strategy for resources is essential. They must forecast their requirements, based on a mix of factors, including product and market evolution, as well as current performance and operational needs. As such, they need to understand the resources they have, so they can identify shortfalls and make the right investments to enhance their capabilities and offers.
Inventory is key to this process, because it provides a record of current resources and their utilization. To ensure efficiency, CSPS need a single inventory that provides a complete record of their assets – physical, virtual, logical and service – so that they can truly understand their networks.
This information must be available to other processes, such as the “establish resource strategy and architecture” eTom process. If the data can be shared, the job of formulating new strategy can be expedited, because it will be based on the latest, most accurate records.
CROSS fulfils this role, providing a consolidate record of all resources, across all layers, enabling CSPs to base their “establish resource strategy and architecture” process on facts, that are continuously updated. This information is then made available to any other OSS and BSS process, via integration through APIs.
“Gather and analyze resource information” is an interesting eTOM process that helps CSPs to discover new opportunities. It takes a somewhat holistic view, drawing inputs from a wide range of data to support the analysis. These sources include information about technologies, competitors and the market, but it can also include customers. Importantly, it should extend to an understanding of network resources.
The process also refers to processes through which this information is shared between working parties. However, it doesn’t specify how the data is collected, as such. Clearly, to make the most of such analyses, accurate data is required – and, to truly understand opportunities, network data should also be considered.
As such, there’s a clear role here for accurate understanding of network inventory. With such data, gaps in, say, coverage in a particular area can be weighed against competitive intelligence regarding the availability of rival network coverage, while also helping to understand the costs of closing such gaps.
By integrating an agile network inventory solution - CROSS - with other OSS and BSS processes, information regarding inventory can be obtained whenever required, or automatically delivered to relevant processes. This means that a richer understanding of capabilities and, in turn, opportunities and investment requirements can be secured.
Customer interface management sounds a lot like some sort of nonsense buzzwords but behind the somewhat clunky name is a very important process. If a customer needs a new service or feature, the agent (or web portal, or other such system) used to handle the request and interaction must use the customer interface to determine if the request can be met. As a result, the customer interface is simply a window into other processes that must supply it with information.
So, the interface must interact with other processes, to ensure that any “information, materials, systems and resources1” are available to meet the request or answer the query. In this case, the keyword is “resources”. The inventory system must provide a single, consolidated record of all resources – and their availability – so that the customer interfaces can be maintained as accurately as possible.
CROSS enables this by providing REST APIs for integration with relevant processes that can, in turn, provide the information necessary to maintain effective customer interface management.
Planning for the future is essential for CSPs. Rolling out investments can take time and, with a constantly evolving technology base, they must plan for the long-term. Many projects last for years – such as 5G rollout, or national fiber coverage, for example. Already, some are looking ahead to 6G, for example, which is unlikely to be deployed much before 2030.
In this context, CSPs must balance near-term investments against those for longer time periods. To achieve this balance successfully, they need to be able to understand what resources are required and where they are needed – and have the agility to shift, if they experience new demands or pressure from different stakeholders.
So, the eTOM process “produce resource business plans” is extremely important. It depends, however, on the provision of accurate information regarding resources, consumption trends and availability data. Network inventory is a crucial feed into this process, so a consolidated record of all network resources, across all levels, is essential.
That’s what CROSS offers. It delivers the single source of truth required, consolidating all records into a single data model. This information is available via OSS and BSS integration to other processes that, in turn, feed into business and workflow plans.