BSS and the move to perpetual transformation

By Mahender Nandikonda
Mahender Nandikonda, Co-founder & CCO at Qvantel, dissects how telecoms have lost focus on the importance of BSS - and paid the price.

Business Support Systems (BSS) are at the heart of a telecom operator’s successful business operations. But in the past two decades, operators have drifted away from a focus on their business because they have taken an IT-centric approach to source, run, and evolve their mission-critical business platforms.

What should be simple became complicated, slow, and expensive. This led to an unhealthy model of continuous change request (CR) spends, missed project deadlines, budget overruns, delayed time to market, and vendor lock-in. However, we’re seeing this approach starting to change. Operators are well underway with digital transformation programs and BSS evolution is changing from a vendor-led, change request driven process to one that is designed to put the operator in control. 

While technology advances in BSS, such as the move to cloud-native, development of BSS microservices and advances such as CI/CD (continuous integration / continuous delivery) and SBA (service-based architecture) have all helped with the evolution of BSS, they can now be considered as standard on any modern BSS.

From a business side, the transformation of BSS should be driven by the business teams in operators. It should be the marketing, sales, care, retention and product teams in an operator who are making demands on BSS and asking for new features, functions and processes. If they’re asking IT for these new features and IT can supply these in days then great. 

However, if IT still has to go back to the vendor who kicks off a traditional change request process then that’s not so great as this process could take months. This is a stop start approach to transformation and it won’t work. With the rate of change in the telecoms industry and the new opportunities (and uncertainty) that stand-alone 5G will bring, from a business perspective BSS transformation should be perpetual. BSS should constantly be adapting to meet the changes in the market and doing so in a cost-effective, agile manner.

In order to do so, operators and vendors must understand how to best model the business objectives with a BSS, as well as how to keep it dynamic. This means taking a business-first approach to BSS adopting agile business operations (BizOps) where the business users (marketing, care, etc) of BSS can work with IT to implement new rules and processes using a visual tool. This means no-code. This means time to market and cost to serve are significantly reduced as the lengthy and expensive change request model is redundant and no longer fit for purpose. 

How to Build Continuous Business Transformation Capabilities into the BSS

Instead of transformation being applied to the BSS, we must move to an approach where the transformation capability is embedded into the BSS. The BSS must be designed for BizOps. This provides the keys to business evolutionary adaptability and sustainability. 

Operators and vendors need to stop thinking in terms of sequential transformation and shift to a continuous transformation approach. The BSS must become transformative: we need dynamic and adaptable processes; and we need to shift empowerment for leveraging this dynamism and adaptation from IT /engineering to business stakeholders.

These transformative BSS principles lay the foundation for the paradigm shift to agile business operations. A true BizOps type of operating model lifts business into the driver’s seat of perpetual transformation. Its aim is to align operations and IT around core processes that support operators’ business goals in such a way that it yields higher degrees of freedom for innovation and faster time to market for commercial initiatives, while decreasing total cost of ownership.


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