The jury is in, the verdict is clear. The need for responsiveness in the real-time world is driving a wholesale replacement of legacy BSS. ‘Time to market’ is the most critical driver. This is according to research house Infonetics and others (more details on the Infonetics research in our newsletter). The need to decrease time to market, via real-time capability, is the operators’ top priority.
Some industry commentators have been talking about real-time replacing the old post-paid point systems for several years now. This is as it should be, it is the job of commentators, journalists, analysts and vendors to look ahead and be ready with the technology when the technology is needed. And, without question, proven real-time charging and control technology is needed, out there and ready for action.
On the face of it, this is all good news. My problem is that I have been around the telecoms industry too long. I am a cynic and I admit it. I know that the real problems that the industry faces revolve around people, processes and politics. We know that big transformation projects of the past and big data projects of today fail unless there is someone pushing (or is that pulling) from the very top. We know that when it comes to radical change such as de-commissioning a system or two, turf wars will break out and can be nasty. We can even admit that sometimes consultancy projects can be used to help fight turf wars.
The changes that real-time thinking demands are going to be tough to deliver. And telcos are up against agile start-ups whose executives get up in the morning and think “what can I change today?” This is not the same for most telco executives. As an old friend said many years ago, as competition was taking hold, “for as long as it takes three months for the incumbent to organize the diaries of everyone they believe need to be in a meeting with me, I know I am three steps ahead.”
What is comforting is that the technology is being implemented and is being used – by the business. Oddly, even though marketing has a greater and greater ‘say’ in purchasing decisions, it is the financial imperatives, not the ‘fluffy’ customer experience improvements, that are driving the change. Real-time is being implemented to keep ahead of bill shock and offer customers transparency and spend control. Once that is producing some return on investment, then telcos will begin to turn to marketing to design more compelling packages than just ‘data.’ Sadly, even when change is a question of survival or extinction, there is still the business case to build.
As the industry prepares for the autumn series of events on BSS, it will be interesting to listen to operators’ opinions on what their priorities are. It will be interesting to see whether the attitude backs up the research. Certainly at recent industry seminars and meetings it seems as if change is afoot. And even if that change is all about becoming as cost efficient, lean and agile as possible, it does not mean that the people who work for telcos are changing what they think when they get out of bed in the morning.
Perhaps the urgency of reducing time to market will genuinely drive this change. We talk about technology and how it will transform our lives, but we need to address how we change our thinking. Perhaps if we give the real-time technology to parts of the business such as marketing, such as customer service, such as the CEO’s office, then maybe telcos can properly catch up – and serve - the ‘now’ generation.