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Group-Wide BSS/OSS Automation: A Hot Topic on Day 1 of TM Forum Live!

Digital competition is the key business case driver that automation advocates have long awaited.

Deutsche Telekom's VP of OSS, Markus Beckmann, was unabashed in his assessment of what needs to happen with BSS and OSS in the immediate future, saying “it will kill us as an industry if we keep running separate systems for everything.” Beckmann, in his Monday morning session at TM Forum Live!, stressed the need to leverage a single solution across all DT properties as the company shifts to an all-IP environment by 2018, pursues its Pan European network strategy and begins to deliver services not only over its own aggressively updated infrastructure but also over that of its peers and competitors who have fiber in regions where DT’s fiber network has not been built.

A Common Platform Approach Becomes Common

The common platform philosophy Beckmann espouses is forward-looking and provides a model for the greater industry, but his is not simply a voice in the wilderness. Orange Group CIO Thierry Souche advocated a similar perspective, noting that one of the great challenges for group-wide transformation is shifting from silo-based architectures that differ across units in different countries to a common architecture that, for example, completely automates trouble tickets and work orders, moves from legacy to policy-driven BSS and permits a degree of agility and flexibility that simply isn’t possible in disparate BSS-OSS environments.

Open APIs and flexible adaptation layers were among the chief characteristics that each of these experts promoted as being keys to achieving agility, flexibility, group-wide commonality and the ability to expand and evolve over time. Relatedly, it was stated across multiple sessions that the key roles for big data applications today focus on enhancing customer experience and making networks more reliable. In fact, the rising demand for more digital, real-time and adaptive customer experiences and customer journeys is having a substantial impact on OSS and the sudden acceleration of its evolution.

Disruption Validates the Need for Automation

Ironically, the digital and OTT players who have raised customer experience expectations so substantially in recent years are proving to be the catalysts that service providers need to substantiate the business cases that reflect the comprehensive automation for which the BSS-OSS community has advocated more than a decade. Similarly, virtualization is a key driver for complete automation.

As Souche stated, total automation of the network will result from a combination of virtualization technology and the sort of consolidated and API-driven, future-state OSS environments he described. The value of that level of automation cannot be overstated. It may hold the key for service providers to regain ground that is often believed to be lost to digital competitors.

There’s Always a Next Generation

A common refrain among experts is that there is always a next generation. Service providers are laying the groundwork now for their next generation, and they are trying to do so rapidly. While group-wide automation and consolidation may sound like an arduous, long-term process, it's clear that today's initiatives have incentives to prioritize large-scale transformation because the benefits have moved from “nice-to-have” to “must-have.”