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What is digital transformation?

By May 18, 2016 No Comments

It’s about telcos being supported by real-time automated systems and processes and being data driven. This enables greater customer engagement and the ability to rapidly react to new opportunities. It’s also about being more agile as many of the systems are automated.

There will not be an epiphany when a communication service provider wakes up one day and announces to the world that they’re a digital service provider.  It’s an on-going journey, as there will always be new tech and market advances, new disruptors and new opportunities for telcos to go after. Becoming a digital service provider is about having the vision to grow your business in the internet economy. How a telco engages with customers, and how they sell to them changes in this world. So too does a telco’s part in the revenue eco-system. The opportunities are huge.  And to do this telcos will need the right tools. What is clear is that becoming a digital service provider, requires an overhaul of existing OSS / BSS back office systems, many of which were originally developed before 2007 when the iPhone came along and started to redefine the mobile business for everyone.

What we’re seeing is that NFV / SDN is providing the network foundation for digital transformation. Virtualization is now rapidly being adopted in the OSS / BSS stacks and in many cases is the base for new OSS/ BSS systems to be implemented as part of the digital journey. Once virtualized systems are in place telcos will start to see benefits such as faster time to market as well as the ability to roll out new agile processes that are enabled by virtualization.

This new /upgraded real-time and automated OSS / BSS will enables telcos to have many of the characteristics of digital service providers. These include:

•             Real-time, all the time

•             Data and intelligence driven

•             True customer centricity

•             Rapid time to market

•             Short product development lifecycles

•             Leaner and lower cost operating models

•             Digital based care, sales and marketing – any channel, any time

•             Partnering ethos

·             Ability to enable ‘anything as a service’ for enterprise customers

•             Extensive use of open systems

·             Delivery of services on any access network – cellular, fibre Wi-Fi or satellite

The use of real-time as a foundation for digital makes perfect sense. People use the internet in real-time. They buy and use apps and services in real-time.  The systems that support the internet economy must be real-time as well.

This is where a problem comes in for some telcos. They’ve invested so much into legacy systems that they can’t let go, or the quote from their billing system vendor involves a 3 -5 year system transformation project, which will be out of date when it’s finished. As a result we’re seeing more and more telcos adopt an adjunct system approach to enabling digital transformation. Keep the voice billing systems that you’ve got and use them for the purpose they were designed for – billing circuit switched voice calls. For everything else – all data, all VoIP and VoLTE calls run these through a real-time charging system and pass the rated usage records onto the existing billing system.  Likewise, big data preparation engines can go in front of existing data warehouses to provide the level of business intelligence that is needed by digital service providers. This is not a new argument, but virtualization and increased systems and process agility is enabling these implementations to happen very quickly.

The foundation of digital transformation is real-time, automated systems and process and being a data driven company. If telcos can provide these foundations quickly and cost effectively using adjunct systems, then they’ve got the equivalent of the fast track pass to get to the front of the queue to start the digital journey.