Telco Scaling Strategies: Modernizing Business Support Systems for Flexible Revenue Growth
Consumers and businesses alike are driving huge demand for innovative telecommunications technology that tests the limits of monolithic, traditional business support system (BSS) architecture. The competition is fierce within the industry, tipping telcos to differentiate their businesses with fresh digital services like low latency mobile apps, ultra-fast streaming services, virtual reality, and IoT solutions. The worldwide adoption of 5G is driving the change, bringing with it the need to simplify architectures to accommodate the complexity of modern 5G networks, which require multiple assurances, orchestration, provisioning, and charging functions to aggregate data effectively and manage services. Alongside the development of headline-grabbing technologies, telecommunications enterprises are also busy building increasingly customer-centric experiences. Fast, reliable communication is essential for all people, from the average consumer who expects flawless performance, to the enterprises that need to run mission-critical business processes over telecommunications networks. These interactions matter immensely for customer loyalty. Partnering together, Tech Mahindra and MongoDB have ushered telcos through their ongoing BSS modernization journeys by enabling business growth and operational efficiencies with solutions ranging from core network functions through to product catalog and customer management systems. Today, we see that the biggest hurdles standing in the way of telco innovation are legacy data architectures that eat up developers’ time with time-consuming maintenance work. Building a consolidated view: Drilling into customer data Billing modernization is a big market. The global telecommunications billing and revenue management market size reached $13 billion in 2019, and is forecast to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 11.6% to more than $31 billion between 2020 and 2027, according to research prepared by Forrester Research, Inc. Core, consolidated customer data act as an enabler for many other related solutions that share the need for a solid, reliable record of customer core data. The common factor for payment processing, customer loyalty programs, service provisioning, service usage, and finally billing generation, is customer core data. Figure 1: Customer centricity in billing Like many large corporations, CSPs are often made up of siloed application stacks broken out by product area, such as VoIP, mobile, cable, and so on. Since customers use products and services that exist within multiple silos, changes to customer data need to be propagated to multiple systems. The lack of a single, consolidated view is often a result of historical mergers and acquisitions. Without the ability to analyze data within a single view, opportunities to capitalize on data analytics to uncover cross-selling and up-selling opportunities are lost. Furthermore, enterprises managing multiple parallel billing implementations and the systems’ associated data synchronization infrastructure can incur hefty costs and architectural complexity. The best way to address these challenges is to modernize core customer data systems to have a single view of customers and their billing-related data. At the heart of these modernization projects is the move to a new platform. Product catalog simplification and the hybrid cloud approach Akin to the global-scale retailers with some of the most complex product offerings around, telcos have a complicated array of product offerings that require CPQ processes to be able to combine offerings. Whether a telco is combining handsets, tariffs, warranties, add-ons or promotions, managing data in a streamlined and scalable infrastructure is a crucial modernization strategy. What’s more, telcos must deliver personalized and real-time shopping experiences to customers across web, mobile, phone, and in-store platforms to stay competitive. The modernization and simplification of a telco’s product catalog architecture can quickly turn into a complicated mess when certain existing legacy systems must stay in place. Making one swift rip-and-replace move can be a big risk with costly implications for long-term transformation projects. Today, more and more successful modernization strategies are achieving omnichannel implementation and multi-play services goals by migrating incrementally. This enables telcos to set the stage for a successful migration, at the right pace for the company. A key part of a modernization strategy is often a move from a self-managed, on-premise architecture to a cloud-based one. Initially, a hybrid cloud strategy is often more cost-efficient, and acts as an important stepping stone in any enterprise’s digital transformation journey. The limits of existing legacy systems inhibit telcos’ ability to scale and grow. As the telecommunications industry reimagines how to apply new technology in the digital-first world, heavier reliance on the public cloud is delivering operational and competitive advantages. But for an industry with complex legacy infrastructure and loads of personal data, moving every workload to the cloud isn’t feasible yet. Through implementation projects with telcos around the world, Tech Mahindra has proven that a central commercial catalog, integrated with the right legacy technical catalogs and BSS stacks, improves time-to-market for launching multiple bundles and offers that are still processed and billed to a single customer. The benefits of this hybrid approach are immediately apparent: Faster time-to-market Increase in sales Improved customer satisfaction Reduced handling time Less fallouts, errors, and training time Through Tech Mahindra’s BlueMarble Commerce solution, underpinned by MongoDB, telecommunications enterprises are quickly overhauling their omnichannel strategy without overhauling their business or existing systems. A true end-to-end omnichannel multi-play solution for telcos, BlueMarble automates channel sales, order management, CPQ (product configuration, pricing, and quoting) and fulfillment, including reverse logistics. Combatting the complexity of BSS modernization By putting the needs of their customers first, telco, cable, and media service providers are building a bridge toward seamless and consistent experiences for both digital and physical user experiences. BlueMarble Commerce was built with this principle in mind. With its ability to connect with legacy systems using custom-built adaptors and APIs, BlueMarble combines multiple channels in a uniform, seamless manner, helping to simplify telco modernization. MongoDB delivers a multi-cloud database service built for resilience, scale, and the highest levels of data privacy and security. This is critical when building a platform that enables a cohesive, integrated suite of offerings capable of managing modern data requirements for building applications in a microservices framework without sacrificing speed, security, developer experience, and the ability to scale. These were the primary reasons to choose MongoDB for the BlueMarble platform. With these features of MongoDB Atlas, BlueMarble acts as a federated, overlay solution that masks the complexity of legacy, and enables the creation of new digital functionalities by integrating new digital architectures with existing legacy, eliminating the need to build new bespoke applications. In conclusion, as telcos compete to provide the exciting new technologies driving change in the industry, they must not lose sight of the customer, or providing customer value. Tech partners like MongoDB and Tech Mahindra are leading the charge in supplying cloud-native, microservices-based architectures in business support systems. This essay appears in the new TM Forum report: Evolving BSS for future services. Access the full report here .
Tackling the 5G Complexity Beast with MongoDB’s Developer Data Platform Simplicity
The advent and commercialization of 5G is driving a sea change in the mobile user experience. This success is evidenced by the booming adoption of 5G-enabled devices. Supporting real-time business, streaming, and gaming applications on a 5G network is essential for telecommunications companies’ enterprise growth but demanding on the systems that support them. As the “cloudification” of network functions continues to evolve, it grows more challenging for older business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS) to keep up. To address the needs of increasingly complex networks, operators are reevaluating their data strategy by recognizing that a developer-focused data platform, to address the needs of mission critical systems, can enable a greater level of agility across the enterprise. This is the thesis of a new IDC white paper, sponsored by MongoDB, Effective Data Management is Essential for Taming the 5G Network Complexity Beast (doc #US49660722, September 2022). In the analysis, led by Karl Whitelock, Research Vice President, Communication Service Provider - Operations & Monetization, IDC examines the new generation of services that will drive innovation in multiple industries, and reviews solutions for the challenges telecommunications providers will face amid new operations and monetization strategies derived from 5G and mobile edge computing services. Take me straight to the IDC White Paper: Effective Data Management is Essential for Taming the 5G Network Complexity Beast Building business solutions at the network edge As software-driven 5G services evolve through a cloud-native network architecture, complexity grows. Within the multi-technology network, an advancing web of systems connects data from the mobile network to an edge cloud, HCP cloud, the core network, the internet, and back again. To manage this complexity, network automation and extensive data analytics capabilities are key components in delivering a first-class customer experience. The new generation of digital services is 5G enabled. IDC is witnessing demand from social media, streaming video, search, gaming, transport, and industrial internet IoT applications building network traffic, and associated data, at soaring rates. Businesses across diverse industries are jumping on the 5G bandwagon. The business solutions being dreamed up by developers are redefining services and business outcomes, particularly when utilizing delivery at the network edge. For example: Manufacturing Private 5G networks help high-speed production facilities identify defects and remove incorrectly assembled equipment. Architecture/Construction Robots measure architectural layouts and site dimensions are collected during construction. Records are stored in the cloud for later access by inspectors, builders, and customers. Sporting Events Edge computing can be faster and more reliable for processing data at large scale sporting events. This allows organizers to collect and process data to build interactive digital experiences at the edge.
How Telcos Are Transforming to Digital Services Providers
The telecommunications industry is in the midst of a digital revolution, shifting from a traditional service delivery model to one that is increasingly customer-centric and that extends beyond the provision of traditional connectivity services to include diverse digital services. Telcos undergoing this modernization journey are digital services–focused first, offering apps, streaming services, retail platforms, peer-to-peer payment platforms, and more. As telcos delve into the complex 5G, IoT, and AI technologies powering personalized and real-time user experiences, pressure is increasing on aging networks and business support system (BSS) infrastructures. MongoDB customers like TIM and Telefónica are using the MongoDB Atlas developer data platform to deliver a robust platform-focused experience that complements existing technologies. Through an integrated modernization approach, telcos are improving both customer and developer experiences, building innovative new applications. In a recent roundtable discussion , Boris Bialek , MongoDB global head of industry & solutions, sat down with telco IT leaders Paolo Bazzica , head of digital solutions at Italy’s TIM, and Carlos Carazo , global CTO of Spain’s Telefónica Tech IoT and Big Data division. This article provides an overview of the discussion and insights into how platform thinking is invigorating telco IT teams. From communications services providers to digital services providers The shifting value chain in telecommunications. Source: Kearney The shift and expansion from traditional communications services to a comprehensive digital services suite requires global telecommunications companies to rethink their monetization strategies. Even before the pandemic, an evolution was well underway for telecommunications providers. From 2010 to 2020, overall revenue coming from connectivity services grew by only 2%, according to research compiled by Kearney. During the same period, digital services experienced a five-fold increase. Although telecommunications providers successfully sparked a revolution that grew into a $6.3 trillion digital economy, only those capitalizing on digital services reaped the benefits. In 2020, digital services like e-commerce and online advertising surged, capturing nearly 80% of growth. Leveraging platform thinking As network operators evolve to digital service providers, the idea of platform thinking is rippling across the industry. Network connectivity was tested with the hardships of the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in Italy, but TIM’s digital platform project Fly Together , which was initiated in 2018, helped bridge the divide. “People went from their normal lives to a full lockdown in one day. People realized that telco was a key point, because you need to stay at home, but you still need to communicate to work and go to school,” said Bazzica in the virtual roundtable discussion hosted by MongoDB. “Our digital platform was the way to refill or top up your account, and access ebooks and so on, so I think it’s more than just an evolution for the business; it's a different positioning.” Today, customer trust is a key differentiator and essential focus for TIM. People rely on TIM’s services to keep the country going. And TIM continues to modernize the digital experiences of its customers through the Fly Together platform. “From my perspective, this is definitely a trend, and I think it’s the evolutionary stalwart of the digital life of the people to be relevant and continue to be their trusted partner,” Bazzica said. A similar dynamic led to the creation of Telefónica Tech two years ago, a division of Spain’s Telefónica SA, according to Carazo. The new business is split into two units: one dedicated to offering cloud or cybersecurity solutions and the other offering IoT or big data digital services, which are the services customers need to pursue their own digital transformations. “We are strongly convinced that connectivity is the basis for any new digital economy, so we are really proud to offer connectivity for these customers,” Carazo said. At the center of Telefónica Tech’s transformation is its Kite Platform , run on MongoDB, which is a managed connectivity platform running close to 30 million IoT devices all over the world. The platform provides connectivity, but it goes beyond IoT connectivity and provides multidimensional benefits across all IoT environments from the devices to the product connecting the clouds. This is the foundational component of Telefónica Tech’s portfolio, which delivers new business use cases across industries. Modernizing applications and evolving to microservices and APIs How can a telco simplify this complex journey to modernization? For TIM, the change was driven by a desire to modernize 700 different applications before effectively going into the digital business. TIM launched Fly Together to build a digital layer that serves the scalability and latency needed to transform customers’ digital service experiences. Before, a customer could be querying up to 14 systems, depending on which apps were open. Without the digital experience layer, you can’t express an SLA or determine how long it takes to open an app, according to Bazzica. The first task of Fly Together was to build the layer that decoupled the backend systems from the model that helps run TIM’s digital channels. Through its work with MongoDB over the past four years, TIM launched a resilient platform that doesn’t require exotic hardware to run efficiently. Because the platform was developed in a cloud-native environment, it comprises containerized microservices and RESTful APIs, setting a new standard for the company’s development of applications. “We are able to modernize, but gradually. We still have our mainframe running,” Bazzica said. “The real experience is seeing the company learning and experimenting. That’s another value with this type of technology; we can try a lot of different things with minimum effort and make big discoveries.” Four digital services trends to watch IoT is driving many exciting use cases for Telefónica Tech’s new business division. Within the B2B sector, there is healthy growth across four key industry use cases, according to Telefónica’s Carazo. Connected Industry and IoT — Telefónica starts with providing private network solutions. These technologies are expected to evolve to more complex use cases like robotics and predictive maintenance in small and medium factories within the next five years. Smart metering — Massive growth is expected in smart metering, which uses electronic devices to measure energy consumption. The implementation of this trend could spur demand for millions of connected devices. Connected cars — This sector is expected to grow significantly in the next five to 10 years as operators deploy new digital services like infotainment, security, and safety applications. Smart cities — Cities around the world are seeking services for their digital citizens looking to live in more sustainable and flexible communities. These use cases are critical to building modern cities, societies, and industries. Platform thinking and an integrated approach to modernization will help telcos create modern applications, extending their businesses beyond conventional services to include novel digital services. Watch our webinar to learn more about TIM and Telefónica’s transformation to digital services providers.