The Changing Role of Next Generation OSS
OSS cannot be overly complicated if it is to stimulate greater use of next generation connectivity services.
As a core asset, telecommunications infrastructure has always been known for its highly complex structure and deployment characteristics. This is especially true for OSS. Observers from outside of the telecom domain are often astonished at how much complexity is exposed to users of all types, with dedicated users managing dedicated systems. As we look ahead, however, it is necessary to make looking under the hood to see how telecom services work a thing of the past. Instead, service providers must focus on performance and on making technology accessible for all participants in the value chain.
How OSS Became Fragmented
OSS grew out of individual service lines within distinct Lines of Business (LOBs). This created fragmented elements of order management, assurance, and fulfilment, but OSS were relatively straightforward when they were defined by individual services within the LOBs. The inherent challenge of creating a unified provisioning, fulfilment and assurance solution set became more complex because a cottage industry grew up around OSS, locally in each country as well as through many service providers’ in-house, proprietary developments that catered to this LOB-centric approach.
Those days have since ended because the industry has moved toward virtual networks and digital services where service components are increasingly bundled or embedded into other offerings. Telecom industry consolidation, however, brought localized OSS technology into the mainstream. So the industry now faces the need to simplify service complexity while service providers work to find their places in the broader digital economy.
At the same time, the industry faces specific tectonic shifts, including:
- The shift away from a hardware-centric, dedicated telecoms technology infrastructure to a more virtualised, cloud-based platform for supporting a wide variety of end user scenarios.
- A need to embed connectivity services into a range of business models with the middle-man increasingly paying for digital services’ connectivity components.
- The need to manage an exploding amount of data about all activities which is being gathered at various steps in the value chain and supply chain.
Changing the Focus for OSS
Because of these changes, OSS capabilities now need to cut across a service provider’s entire organization. For example, data that is gathered from interactions and which is intended to optimize service delivery must be mashed up with customer experience data that may come from the corporate data lake or from the edge - wherever it may be found.
The flow of information needs to be bi-directional in order to provide checks and balances. The flexibility of supporting services will help break down traditional silos and will open up new data analysis possibilities, but the information must be used to ensure the quality of service provided to both partner and customer communities.
As a result, the systems supporting future generations of physical and virtual services have to be intelligent and must adapt themselves to support an almost infinite number of permutations of services and use cases. The power of cloud, combined with the increasing automated analytics that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning bring, can help enormously. But the overriding issue is to simplify, or mask, the complexity of all these moving parts in order to make it easy for partners to function in the digital ecosystem. This is a fundamental shift for the industry.
Shielding Participants from Underlying Complexity
Previously there was not much distinction between a technology and how it was defined and exposed as a service. Going forward, services increasingly will be defined on the fly by the other elements in the digital marketplace. Service providers’ OSS will be expected to respond, adapt and comply in real-time to these demands. Business processes will no longer need to be defined by the underlying technology and their associated operations support services. Instead, they will be aligned with the business, and, of course, with customers who have increasingly stringent expectations regarding services and experiences.
As a result, with next generation OSS, it is necessary for service providers to hide the complexity of what is being done under the hood while at the same time making sure that formerly isolated lines of business leverage the common denominators that underpin all participants’ digital activities. The rest of the digital community sees telecoms and its services as providing one component from which they will build their digital lifestyle. OSS cannot be overly complicated if it is to stimulate greater use of next generation connectivity services in this digital lifestyle context.