August 13, 2014

5 Benefits of a Catalog Driven Approach to BSS/OSS

Here are 5 benefits of adopting an Enterprise Product Catalog-driven approach to BSS/OSS that may not be obvious at the outset but consistently prove to be invaluable to CSPs and cable operators.

An Enterprise Product Catalog is often the “heart” of the BSS/OSS ecosystem. It touches and drives everything that relates to what is sold, how it sold, and ultimately how it is promoted, discounted, delivered, and supported. As a result, any Enterprise Product Catalog needs to integrate easily to 3rd party systems. There are literally dozens of systems which an Enterprise Catalog must touch in a working environment. But creating and then utilizing an effective Enterprise Product Catalog can deliver some clear, subsequent benefits – some of which aren’t obvious at the outset, but prove later to be invaluable to the business.

Initial Drivers

When a CSP decides to adopt an enterprise product catalog approach, often one of the drivers is the need to accommodate the major differences between how marketing teams and fulfillment, or technical, organizations look at services. Technical folks can focus on the complex technology required to deliver and sustain services while providing effective tools for marketing to create and roll out new offers, discounts, campaigns, and promotions to the market quickly. Simply put, the enterprise product catalog should enable a separate but unified experience for each of these groups relating both to what a CSP CAN sell, versus HOW it wants to sell it.

Achieving this dual purpose, and reducing time to market on both sides of the equation, means the product catalog should break services down into self-contained, atomic building blocks that fit together can be used and re-used to build services within the catalog. Leveraging a standards-based data model, such as a TM Forum SID-compliant model, supports the idea of module, reusable building blocks that enable product and service assembly. This componentized, reusable approach is usually central to achieving aggressive time to market reductions. But beyond the obvious – time to market – here 5 other key benefits that CSPs often derive from enterprise product catalog deployments, even if they don’t always expect to:

  1. Culling the product herd. Going through the process of creating the enterprise catalog forces a CSP to revisit and evaluate all of its product offerings and remove any that aren’t worth supporting. The people who go through this process often describe it as painful in the way that a fitness program can be; it may hurt, but the ultimate benefits are immeasurable and absolutely worth it for the benefit of the entire business.
  1. Normalizing product definitions. Adopting a standard information and data model, like the SID, similarly forces the CSP to normalize its product definitions. This pays dividends in things like integration, data migration, data cleansing, and internal data standardization. These all have real, measurable cost and long term management benefits that transcend the product catalog itself.
  1. Bringing better offers to market. This holistic cleansing of the product set and the data behind, coupled with the flexible product, offer and campaign creation tools a product catalog should deliver, make it simpler to bundle, modify, promote and revise products and product definitions. This means the CSP can bring more attractive products to market from the start and have the ability to refine and adapt them based on uptake and changes in the marketplace.
  1. Improving sales. With atomic building blocks, normalized product definitions, and spring cleaning of the product set completed, it becomes far easier for the CSP to create not only streamlined sales processes to bring those products to market, but also to introduce personalization because the relationships between product characteristics and personalization triggers are much easier to define and far more likely to result in predictable outcomes.
  1. Strengthening automation and responsiveness. The enterprise product catalog provides a key and central trigger point for automation service fulfillment end to end. It enables the CSP to abstract complex business, network, and design rules – as well move, add, change, disconnect (MACD) scenarios – from underlying systems such as provisioning and activation. This allows the CSP to enable one-touch provisioning starting from the product catalog, but also to replace, redesign, and improve the underlying fulfillment systems without impacting the catalog itself and the customer-facing processes it supports and enables.

Looking forward, another potential benefit of an enterprise product catalog is that it can provide a conceptual framework for defining product-centric policies in on-demand, digital service environments that are far more policy-driven. This creates an intelligent touch point between the CSP’s customer- and product-facing business systems and emerging technologies like SDN/NFV and real-time, policy-based charging that can play key roles in service innovation – but only if their capabilities can be harnessed through an intelligent and well defined product catalog. It may make sense for the enterprise product catalog to play a central role in helping a CSP to identify the aspects of these new technologies that can be defined as product components, integrating into offerings, re-used, sold and monetized.

Photo by moogs with Creative Commons License / cropped from original




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