Last week at Digital Transformation World in Nice, I probably spoke to as many vendors as service providers. Vendors were looking to ‘swipe right’ with other vendors as much as they were with telecoms service providers. As we move from proprietary closed shop software stacks to open digital ecoystems, there’s lot more vendor dating in the air. BSS vendors are working together to deliver open, API driven ecosytems. In the past, if an operator wanted an end to end stack, they would have gone with a large IT or network equipment vendors. Not anymore.
This ‘tinder-fest’ of vendor dating is a direct result of how service providers are changing their attitudes to IT. There’s a lot of activity with service providers building out ‘digital first’ operations. This is affording a greenfield opportunity to stand back and take a fresh approach to IT. Often, due to legacy issues, the easiest way to create a digital first service provider is to create a new ‘second brand’ company from scratch. These are much more agile and lean operations where digital channels for sales, service and support are not just the norm, but in some cases the only option. These digital first companies don’t have the time (or often budget) to undertake large, massively expensive, service heavy implementation projects.
The companies that are winning these digital first deals are typically the more agile companies. They have made the investment in virtualising their systems to be able to provide cloud native platforms with digital APIs to enable ease of integration and interoperability. But most importantly they are open – not just in system design, but also in how they do business. And that’s what was so good to see at DTW last week. Vendors, who once could have been classed as competitors, are open about working together to deliver agile end to end solutions for service providers.
We’re seeing CRM, billing, real-time charging, policy and CPQ companies form partnerships. Just as telcos are evolving to become digital service providers and be able to sell any service that can be delivered over a network and consumed on a device (from a phone to a car to a robot in a factory), vendors are also evolving. They are investing in their best of breed systems to ensure that they are the best they can be in supporting their specific function, as well as being able to be part of an open ecosystem.
DTW was an excellent event. There aren’t many events where you get CIOs and CTOs from service providers walking onto an exhibition stand and having 30 minute in-depth discussions about microservices based real-time charging! Aside from that, having all the leading Digital OSS/ BSS vendors in the same place for three days, with an open attitude to working together, opened up some very positive conversations.