Why Modern BSS Is Crucial in Driving Operator CX and B2B … – The Fast Mode

Business support systems (BSS) are at the heart of telco B2B operations. BSS provides the information and processing systems required to register new customers, configure their services, account for their usage and generate invoices. As operators race to improve their capabilities to serve a growing number of enterprises, end users, devices and services, BSS plays an increasingly important role in revenue assurance and in delivering superior end-to-end experience for users.

Despite their importance, BSS tools vary greatly in their capabilities. While some operators have access to leading-edge features that allow new products to be rolled out in just days and which can be upgraded and scaled in minutes, others grapple with legacy BSS applications with rigid architectures and which are constrained by extremely long upgrade and development cycles. Legacy BSS also lack automation, with heavy dependency on manual configurations and reconciliations. They also involve in-silo management of customer data, which leads to a lack of visibility into customer journeys and experiences across different channels and touchpoints.

A powerful BSS tool can make or break operator B2B business. Why? Unlike its retail counterpart, B2B business involves highly granular product and pricing strategies. Operator B2C services involve, at the most, three or four different services, namely voice, messaging, data and content services. These are coupled with either a fixed price all you can eat plan or tiered, usage-based plans. Other add-ons such as a connected car and roaming offers merely extend existing voice and data services, and come with standardized pricing. Operator B2B services on the other hand feature an exclusive mix of services that cater to the unique needs of enterprises, which come in different sizes, needs and budgets. Staples such as VoIP, UC, messaging and FTTx are supplemented by newer services such as 5G and SDWAN, and various add-ons such as cloud computing, cloud storage, CPEs, IoT devices, network security and IT integration services.

Breadth of services is not the only complexity faced by operators. Most of these services require dynamic accounting rules and pricing transparency due to complex technologies involved in assembling and delivering them. The introduction of standalone 5G networks and network slicing accords different services such as eMBB, URLLC and mMTC unique computing and networking instances that enable different enterprise customers to be allocated their own virtualized networks. This is supported by cloud-native architectures comprising containerized microservices that allow these instances to be spun up as needed. Similarly, for operators using VM-based architectures, the management of networks and network functions are implemented via VNFs. At the same time, deployment of multi-access edge computing (MEC) for edge processing enables operators to provision computing and networking services closer to the users.

These technologies necessitate a monetization approach that can accurately and reliably rate, charge and mediate an enterprises use of operator computing and networking resources. This enables enterprise needs to be swiftly met, while eliminating redundancies and wastage. This is especially critical when the mix of enterprise services includes both expensive, premium services which are resource intensive, as in the case of MPLS lines and extensive suite of security services, as well as cost-effective hosting services that use public cloud facility and general Internet lines.

More importantly, the breadth of operator services for B2B requires an open collaborative platform that is able to present an expanded inventory listing featuring thousands of third-party vendors and suppliers. This enables enterprises to develop their services using a one-stop platform supporting B2B2X delivery models. An autonomous driving application for example, requires not only a 5G URLLC slice provisioned and billed by the operator, but also MEC capabilities, compute platforms and a wide range of sensors that has to be procured and integrated from third-party suppliers.

Modern BSS supports extensive operator services, and allows flexible, fine-grained charging that accords enterprises from different industries and of different sizes, the plans that best meet their use cases. An enterprise implementing smart manufacturing will require connectivity services in the form of fiber broadband that is complemented with plant-wide LAN services and wireless links such as WiFi and LoRaWAN or NB-IoT, alongside supplementary products/services such as virtual CPEs, smart modules and OT security services. Charging and pricing for these plans will require the imputation of various other parameters, including the number of end users, SLAs, ownership of assets and hardware, type of value added services, plan flexibility, subscriber self-care features and others.

Modern BSS supports product / service bundling by including an open marketplace that allows seamless onboarding and integration of third-party products and services. With built-in billing and monetization mechanisms that facilitate revenue sharing, the marketplace provides enterprises a one-stop shop and at the same time, facilitates the development of B2B2X partnerships and ecosystem.

Modern BSS is essentially a collection of subscriber, service and revenue management modules alongside a host of other innovative features that facilitate productization, subscription and monetization. Service management for example, involves customer relationship management, omni-channel customer care engagement support and omni-channel self-care. Revenue management involves mediation, convergent charging, invoicing/billing, credit limit management and payment management. Diagram 1 lists a plethora of functionalities that make up modern BSS.

Modern BSS solutions leverage flexible digital architectures, combining cloud-based hosting and hosting on virtualized environments. Cloud hosting allows BSS modules to be introduced, run and removed as needed. It uses open APIs and leverages the power of public cloud. Virtualized environments, on the other hand, allow operators to move away from proprietary equipment in favour of standardized, modularized yet open systems that promote a flexible mix of BSS components deployed as VNFs.

As with any other digital application, modern BSS can be enhanced with a wide range of networking services such as load balancing, analytics and DPI. It also borrows IT best practices, with the adoption of DevOps and tactics such as CI/CD, for faster response times and greater innovation.

Another feature of modern BSS is the use of big data, analytics and AI, including the use of machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) algorithms to enable automation. This supports end-to-end automated service management, and ensures scalability and adaptability as operator portfolios keep changing and growing, and as new subscribers are added. Automation reduces the number of tedious, manual, repetitive tasks, and allows agents and sales people to focus on real customer demands more, and this, besides better productivity, also increases employee satisfaction.

Automation greatly enhances operator CX by supporting contextual conversations over customer care channels, offering faster and more relevant solutions to customer queries, with 24/7 availability via self-care and chatbots. It also improves customer experience by enabling operators to craft offers based on user preferences and habits. Rapid, personalized service is becoming a basic requirement from customers, not only in the B2C but increasingly in the B2B segment as well. This automation and personalization feature supports enterprises as they go through different phases of digital transformation to serve their customers better, improving customer satisfaction, loyalty and customer lifetime value.

Emergence of new technologies such as 6G, cloud computing, Web 3.0 and advanced biometrics will redefine service providers operating environment, necessitating cutting-edge features and capabilities across BSS tools entasked with supporting new delivery and monetization models. From low-code technologies to establishing complex billing hierarchies, devising custom support programs, improving self-service capabilities and enabling real-time profitability and ROI analysis, modern BSS is, undoubtedly, the cornerstone of operators B2B success and a tool every operator must adequately invest in.

Etiyas Digital Business Platforms is a modern BSS solution that features advanced data analytics, AI, and business intelligence capabilities across 3 key BSS layers: experience, engagement, and enablement. Etiyas cutting-edge AI methodologies include natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics, which enable smart decision-making throughout the customer journey, ultimately driving customer and employee efficiency and satisfaction.

Etiyas Digital Business Platforms offer a comprehensive portfolio of modular, cloud-based components including CRM with campaign management and loyalty management, CPQ, product catalog, revenue management, order management, and omni-channel customer service management, including self-care. With an API-driven, full-stack, microservices-based architecture, Etiyas Digital Business Platforms boast unparalleled agility and scalability, enabling CSPs to quickly and cost-effectively achieve digital transformation.

The Digital Business Platforms suite is compatible with 5G networks and can be integrated component by component or deployed as a complete replacement to a legacy system. Using standardized, open APIs allows not just easy integration and accelerated digital transformation, but also easy operation and monetization of platform-based business models, that is a market necessity for sustainable future growth.

To learn more, visit Etiya Digital Business Platforms.

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Why Modern BSS Is Crucial in Driving Operator CX and B2B ... - The Fast Mode

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