One of the most promising things about technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) is that they open innovative ways for service providers to create and deliver digital services. Many of these services will be created via new partnerships with content providers, gaming companies, social networks and other service providers that were previously considered competitors.
Good times, right?
As a part of TM Forum’s Catalyst program—an initiative that brings together service providers, technology suppliers and large enterprises to develop solutions to real-world challenges by leveraging the organization’s best practices and standards—a group of members is working on a proof of concept (PoC) to demonstrate the value of this newfound collaboration. In the PoC, the group is identifying ways to provide a unified, personalized way to buy different kinds of digital services across multiple retail channels, whether the services are managed by the service provider or by third parties. They’re combining traditional communications services with all kinds of digital services into one shop–an omnishop—with Amazon-like, one-click purchasing. By doing this, service providers can deliver a better shopping experience for customers, improve customer loyalty and potentially sell more services.
Consumers are used to shopping online for just about everything and expect a simple, secure purchasing process. But that doesn’t necessarily mean online shopping is easy and worry-free. Consumers engage with so many different online retailers that they have an almost unmanageable amount of usernames and passwords to remember and are somewhat uncertain about the security of their payment details.
These are the kinds of concerns the Omnishop Catalyst project aims to address. Service providers are elevated to the role of a trusted, convenient digital services retailer. The project is led by Liberty Global and the technology supplier participants include Netcracker, ZIRA, Infosys, ESRI, IBM, Sigma and TMNS.
This project uses an omnichannel approach to selling services. This will make it easier for customers purchasing traditional mobile, broadband or TV services, as the same pricing information will be available on the service provider’s Website, in their retail stores, from service provider call centers and via social media. If a customer starts a purchase on one channel, such as online, while at home, he or she will be able to complete the transaction through any other channel, such as in a store or via a mobile device.
Omnishop takes the omnichannel concept further. In addition to selling their own traditional services, service providers can also offer apps, Internet of Things (IoT) packages and other digital services from third-party partners. Beyond that, the Catalyst project aims to enable service providers to offer energy or smart city services, like offering the ability to buy transportation tickets.
The goal of the project is to implement an omnishop PoC while minimizing disruptions to existing back-office systems and reducing the time it takes to introduce new offers across multiple channels. Importantly, the project will also design an architecture for aligning different retail channels with back-office product catalog, order management and customer management systems so that any new digital service can be plugged in to the systems and bundled with the service provider’s offerings.
A key feature is the Next Best Offer recommendation, where, with input from several different sources, the Omnishop is able to provide product recommendations to the customer based on their location and customer profile. Netcracker contributes its analytics engine, customer management, order management and product catalog capabilities to the project.
The Omnishop Catalyst PoC shows service providers something that Netcracker is very eager to discuss at its TM Forum Live! booth: Modernized back-office systems can provide a better customer experiences and help service providers completely reimagine and reinvent their businesses so they can be seen as valuable digital brands to their customers and partners.
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