Digital transformation has, for all intents and purposes, become the norm, not the exception in these times. This is especially true for the global telecommunications space which has, doubtlessly, been facing challenging times.
Here’s how-today, an operator’s business is characterized by rapidly declining revenues, wafer-thin margins and shifting competitive boundaries. In addition, the core businesses of voice and messaging have shrunk to mere shadows of their former selves. This is, unsurprisingly, owing to the advent of new communications channels!
Simply put, the enhanced functionality of smartphones has reshaped a customer’s behavior forever. That apart, it has opened up new (and improved) channels of communication, engagement and service delivery. These are, needless to say, faster, more streamlined and far more efficient than traditional channels.
Now, coming to the new face (and habits) of today’s customers. In a nutshell, today’s customers are an increasingly skeptical lot, a fact that isn’t helped by disruptive forces like mobile devices and social media. Today, the bottom-line is shifting from passive to active brand engagement, owing to the increasing number of customer touch points. It is thus only logical that brands ought to be where their customers are.
The crux of the matter is simple. Telecom operators have to rethink their strategy, in terms of ensuring an omnichannel experience for customers and sales staff. That apart, enabling real-time credit control through convergent real-time rating for pre-and- post-paid customers is equally vital.
In short, digital transformation is an ideal opportunity for telecom operators to rebuild lost (or crumbling) market positions, build innovative offerings and prepare for the future.
Before this can be achieved, however, these players have to break away from legacy systems, in particular, operations and business support systems (OSS/BSS). After all, these are central to delivering next generation services that are crucial to an operator’s strategy today.
The Advent of Next Generation OSS/BSS Solutions
Ideally, from an overall perspective, next generation OSS/BSS solutions ought to be scaled both vertically and horizontally for on premise deployments. When scaling a system vertically, more power is usually added to an existing infrastructure. This can mean more memory (RAM), faster storage such as solid state drives (SSDs), or more powerful processors. On the other hand, horizontal scaling is slightly more complex. When scaling such systems horizontally, one generally adds more servers to spread the load across multiple machines.
Interestingly, quick and easy allocation of resources is greatly simplified, in case of cloud-based deployments. Here’s why-cloud computing permits this process to be executed in a monitored environment, where overloading is never a challenge, as long as the system is managed properly.
Scalability and Databases
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that databases are, understandably, allocated the most attention while scaling up these systems. Here’s why-these are often the first component to fold under high pressure in an application heavy environment. To avoid this, the following methods have proved very effective:
To shard a database for scalability is to split up the data into separate database servers. The data requests are shared across multiple servers instead of the same database server each time. Less data on each shard reduces index sizes which improves data seek time.
Database partitioning separates the data into distinct parts. Certain partitioning methods include:
- Splitting data by range (alphabetically or numerically)
- By row (horizontal partitioning)
- Column-wise (vertical partitioning)
Application-Level Database Optimization
This can be achieved by:
- Using database indexes
- Table partitioning
- Caching database queries
- Running large queries and/or batch queries offline
Criteria to Consider Before Overhauling Legacy OSS/BSS Systems
Compatibility with Open APIs
A next generation OSS/BSS solution ought to be enhanced with multiple APIs. This, in turn, will simplify the integration process with OCS for catalogues, payments and other allied processes. Other vital criteria include:
Generation of Actionable Customer Insights
To stand apart from the clutter, operators ought to ensure that their OSS/BSS solution offers detailed customer insights. This, in turn will provide useful in estimating the customer’s credit limit, so that the customer doesn’t have to experience undue and frequent service downgrades.
Deployment of New Age Technologies
Next generation OSS/BSS solutions ought to support technologies such as HTML 5, J Query and JSON APIs, which are compatible with public and private cloud infrastructure.
Business and Revenue Models
Ideally, business models focused on capex and software-as-a-service business (for software licenses and services) should be implemented.
Next generation OSS/BSS solutions should be enhanced with JSON APIs, to ensure compliance with the latest technologies. These APIs help in faster rollout of integration, as well as faster testing and iterations.
Typically, OSS/BSS solutions house a significant amount of data, pertaining to a customer’s service usage, call types, average call duration, and service usage patterns. This data can be used to develop a customer’s social network analysis chart, to determine if the customer is an influencer or a follower. This information, in turn, is useful to design multiple usage and retention plans for the customer.
In sum, to survive in a digital world, operators have to rethink their systems and processes and, indeed, businesses. The process of transitioning from communication providers to digital players is a long and complex one. Nonetheless, operators are moving, undaunted, towards using digital technologies for a better tomorrow. After all, what better way to survive in the brave, new digital world?