Making the Platform-Play Pay

Making the Platform-Play Pay
Digital transformation is fast at play across many industries, eliminating the laggards and empowering the adopters. One of the key aspects of this transformation is building a platform business. In the following excerpt from our latest digital transformation webinar, Richard Doughty elucidates the benefits of platform-play offerings and lays out a platform roadmap for CSPs.

Digital transformation has a lot of interpretations. For some businesses it means digital delivery of products and services, for some it translates to offering a digital-first, omni-channel experience, and for others it is a way to save costs through automation. Whichever is appropriate to your business model, digital transformation is about addressing the challenges of new products, markets and customers by use of the latest available tools.

For telecoms operators keen to move up the value chain to capture revenue generated from products delivered across their networks, a key component of the digital transformation process is about enabling more of their investment in the BSS/OSS to support and be used by those content provider partners. It is about offering their capabilities ‘as a service’, monetising the investment in their own systems and moving closer to those end customers. The platform-play is how operators can go about achieving this goal.

There are five significant areas of opportunity in the platform-play. Several of these are cogs in the overall machine and the value of the each is multiplied in the whole. The areas we’ve been talking about with operators are as follows:

Customer empowerment – The three Cs in customer empowerment that deliver genuine revenue benefits are: Control, Confidence and Consumption. Visibility and control over spend is key here – providing the real-time tools that let customers monitor and manage their spend greatly improves customer happiness. It also increases contact with the customer and builds confidence in your services. Confidence gives the customer the incentive to experiment, try other products and expand their use of the operator’s offers.
A well documented example of this is the historical attitude towards roaming services. Here the accepted tradition has been to disable data roaming when abroad. As operators have lined up better roaming offers that improve real-time transparency over consumption of roaming bundles, it has helped customers build confidence in using these services abroad. Where there was no revenue from data roaming before, it has now become a big source of revenue for operators. And they are also delighting the customers with their services. Historically customers had to contend with the post-holiday bill shock, but now they are happy to spend £5 a day for two weeks (twice the average monthly spend) and they are not complaining about it.
Unified convergent charging – The modern breed of charging engines truly opens up opportunities to deliver microservices to partners and move up the value chain in the OTT world. Direct Carrier Charging (DCC) is the latest innovation, which builds on the older, offline predecessor, Direct Carrier Billing. DCC requires the microservices and open APIs in a next generation Online Charging System (OCS) to expose the control, rating and balance management functions to third partiesThis enables partners to use those services to permit the end customers to pay for something in real-time from their mobile balances (cash or unitary balances). OCSs are not cheap and offering their capabilities as-a-service to content providers is a real opportunity for operators looking to monetise investments they’ve made in their own platforms.
Omni-channel ordering and fulfilment – Omni-channel ordering is another critical piece which helps businesses to never miss any selling opportunities and benefits customers by giving access to buying products and services anytime. It gives organisations invaluable intelligence on the customer sales journey and can pinpoint specific reasons which slow down sales. It also helps customers to complete the buying process from different points of origin. For instance, a customer can start the buying process on a mobile app, continue it on the company website and complete the buying process in an actual physical location. Omni-channel ordering and fulfilment helps build a seamless buying and selling experience. Of course, it is dependent on APIs that underpin it. Operators can also open up the omni-channel process to others who wish to utilise the investments made in their platforms.

IoT Monetisation – CSPs are naturally poised to become platform providers for IoT. However, their success will depend a lot on their ability to manage communications between different entities, leveraging existing relationships with enterprise customers and exploiting their billing and revenue management capabilities. While CSPs will obviously offer the connectivity layer for IoT, it will account for only 10% of the revenue potential in the IoT market. However, IoT will offer many new opportunities to service providers, and having modern BSS/OSS will help them support new IoT offerings at no additional cost. CSPs can leverage their existing BSS/OSS assets such as self-service dashboards, CRM, billing and service activation, among others. They can also offer connectivity management, device management and application enablement tools to move away from the proverbial ‘dumb pipes’ and transition up the value chain, closer to the customers. Monetisation systems to support B2B2X models for billing across the IoT value chain must be highly scalable, with low capex investment needs and allow operators to easily access new industry verticals.

Open integration – The final piece of the platform matrix is essentially a key foundation for the four aspects outlined above. It comprises of three core components:
  • Core/edge philosophy – Adopting a DevOps approach to building new capabilities, not just within the operator business but also with ecosystem partners, and aligned with the delivery cycle.
  • Deployment and management flexibility – Investing in scalable technologies, such as virtualisation, and building on these to deliver a cloud native platform. A key part of charging is the use of microservices which allows operators to utilise core BSS features and expose these through APIs for other businesses.
  • Standards-based integration – Operators need an open integration layer to support collaboration with others. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technology leverages open APIs making it easy for others to work together and feed the partner ecosystem. Open standards such as TM Forum Open APIs also assist operators in building relationships with different partners, opening up newer monetisation channels and delivering greater agility to businesses.
Telcos need to move towards adopting a platform-based business mindset from their traditional product and services-based approach. It is now up to the telcos to take that first step and show that they can indeed adapt and innovate for the next era. Can they make the platform-play pay?
The excerpts are taken from a Heavy Reading webinar titled ‘BSS and OSS Modernisation – Lynchpin of Telco Digital Transformation’, sponsored by Cerillion. You can access the recording of the entire webinar here.

You can also download the ‘BSS and OSS Modernisation – Lynchpin of Telco Digital Transformation’ whitepaper here.