How to Become a Digital Service Provider in Four Easy Steps

Posted by Scott Sumner on Monday, September 25, 2017 with No comments

Disruption in the mobile telecom industry is driving communication service providers (CSPs) to transform themselves into digital service providers (DSP). In embarking on this transformation, CSPs have three main goals in mind:
  1. Maintain and grow the subscriber base by extending lifetime value to customers
  2. Grow revenue through new business opportunities
  3. Drive out excess costs and inefficiencies, through operational excellence
Such a transformation requires agility in several key areas: network (infrastructure), services (including operational support systems/OSS), and customer experience (including business support systems/BSS). We will explore each of these in turn below, but there’s a prerequisite step to consider as well: learning from failure.

1. Learn from Failure

Thus far, digital transformation efforts on the part of CSPs do not have a stellar track record. TMF Forum reported that 60-70% of such programs fail and that 54% of CSPs say previous attempts at digital transformation have not succeeded.

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A key reason for these failures is lack of ubiquitous, real-time insight into performance and experience. Such insight is possible, however. Rather than than be discouraged, CSPs should learn from past mistakes and move forward in a strong position to succeed using what they know now.

2. Transform Infrastructure for Network Agility

Creating a flexible and open infrastructure fosters competition and innovation from a broad vendor ecosystem, and enables the development and deployment of new revenue-generating services. This type of API-driven network, built in a way to enable flexible slicing and interconnect, benefits both the operator and its partners.

3. Transform OSS for Service Agility

Operators support systems (OSS) must evolve to enable rapid, dynamic service creation, provisioning, activation, and retirement of services. A service-oriented, dynamic software defined network (SDN) benefits the CSP through faster time to market for new services, and ability to react more quickly to market and competitive pressures. It also accelerates time to revenue.

4. Transform BSS for Customer Agility

To ensure subscribers get what they want, when they want it, and even before they realize want it, business support systems (BSS) must support an end-to-end, customer-centric approach using predictive analytics.

Bringing It All Together

Steps 2-4 above are inter-related aspects of network and IT transformation, and cannot really be addressed in isolation. They all require responsiveness to partners using the network through APIs; the operator’s need to rapidly scale out existing services and deploy new ones; and changes to user behavior, experience, or demand. All of this must be done without compromising the user experience.

Such a tall, complex order is possible—within a dynamically orchestrated system that has visibility into all functions, relationships, and behaviors of the network, it services, and its users. This vantage point provides the feedback needed for a closed-loop automation process between service creation and its management and optimization.

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Agility is the key to all methods of understanding service, network, and user behaviors. Several requirements are worth noting here:

  • Lightweight, virtualized, monitoring instrumentation with immediate affinity to services as they are created. 
  • Fail-fast development methods--employed from the first beta--to provide critical feedback into the app experience as agile development adjusts the service until it’s ready for wide-scale deployment. 
  • OSS/SDN architecture that adapts to the network--in ongoing operation mode--to maintain optimal performance and circumvent problems, in context. 
  • At the BSS layer, use of data as input to analytics, as a means of improving customers engagement, experience, and service quality. Result: customer-centric insight drives network provisioning changes and new service availability. 
When these requirements are met, DSPs can find new revenue through a variety of opportunities, such as:
  • Mobile edge computing (MEC) as-a-service
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
  • Distributed edge cloud
  • Slicing
  • Mobile payments
  • API-enabled network and resource consumption
  • IoT across federated mobile/cloud networks
  • Telehealth 
By positioning their network for cloud-type consumption, mobile operators stand to gain—for the first time—from key over-the-top (OTT) applications traversing their network. In facilitating this interaction with ‘subscribers’ (IoT service providers, content and transactional applications, etc.), MNOs become DSPs, turning their unique assets into an enviable “mobile cloud.”

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