Three Approaches to Bringing the Next Generation BSS Solutions to your Company
So, you already know that your company needs more support from the business support systems and enhanced capabilities. You’re looking to support the launch of new services and to upgrade customer service and billing capabilities. Your existing systems are not supporting the market growth, and you want to assist management by choosing the best IT solution possible. You are faced with a choice that has three directions:
Extending the life of the legacy billing
This decision builds on top of or around the legacy BSS architecture and still maintains the legacy BSS at the core. In legacy BSS, enhancements to the core are generally cost-prohibitive.
Sometimes, the legacy BSS is a vendor solution that is no longer supported. It may also be built on a legacy platform, such as a mainframe, and unable to integrate well with modern technologies. Examples of BSS life extensions include – making abstraction layers, modular APIs and stateless user interfaces.
Abstracting user and device facing aspects of the OSS/BSS with a service layer that is compatible with multiple legacy billing is one such example. This setup allows a Service Provider to integrate various BSS platforms that have been used over time, and still provide modern, homogeneous sales, care, and reporting features.
Advantages of the “life extension” approach
Lower upfront investment and reduced disruption to the business.
However, this approach still leaves a complex infrastructure that is expensive to maintain. In the end, this infrastructure will never overcome the core concepts of the legacy BSS. An example of this disadvantage is the case of legacy billing that includes address-based accounts. This approach is not relevant in the world of pre-paid billing. Extending the legacy BSS approach can be considered a “Band-Aid.” it is an interim step only to abstract core CRM, ordering and provisioning functionality out of the monolithic BSS, enabling the eventual replacement of this BSS with a next-gen system.
The case of next-generation BSS
The next-generation BSS migration involves bringing in new modules to replace, rather than simply enhance, the legacy BSS systems. Many times, new BSS platforms are brought in for new use cases that the legacy billing cannot support, as we saw with the billing example above. The plan is usually to consolidate the platforms in the future. However, this consolidation doesn’t always happen, and the new BSS platforms end up adding to the complexity.
The approach of replacing everything doesn’t always work because of the impact it can have on the business or the Service Provider. Finding the right setup that works in time but minimizes risk is critical.
So, what is the ideal way to support growth?
The implementation should be broken into releases. To minimize disruption, releases should be separated by specific BSS functions, consumer products, and services, groups of customers or locations. For example, a multi-service provider could focus the first release on cloud services (product) for all large business customers (customer group) from the technology space (vertical segment).
The advantage of next-generation BSS is its ability to support new products and services while still being fully functional and up to date. However, these initiatives often come with substantial upfront costs, and it can be challenging to identify the right changes to make without impacting the business or not meeting time to market requirements.
1. Top Approaches to Choosing a BSS Solution
Modern BSS platforms need to enable and support the company’s products, services, and customer/partner interactions, and they need to be able to adapt and change fast. Legacy BSS platforms might have been OK in the past but not anymore.
The worlds of Media and Entertainment, Telecommunications and Information Technology are blending to serve our connected digital online lifestyle. This affects the IT industry tremendously. Crucially, all growth strategies are enabled or disabled by a company’s Business Support Systems (BSS) architecture. Sadly, for many traditional Service Providers, this is one of their weak points. The BSS strategy needs to support this vision of re-engineering the business model to enter new markets, launch new products and run a lean and agile business.
2. Build vs. Buy
The decision of “to build or not to build” has become the subject of many discussions when considering a BSS platform. A simple “Google Search” for “build vs. buy” brings up many articles attempting to address this exact issue. The decision to build or buy a BSS solution can influence a variety of factors, including time to market, resource allocation, and product durability.
The typical issues of the debate:
Developing BSS features in-house gives the IT department of the service provider more flexibility and control over the solution. The original developers are the most intimately familiar with their solution, and IT can tailor a solution very precisely to the project at hand. Building the BSS features in-house, however, requires a significant investment and often results in mediocre results due to the necessary level of investment and the need for specialized skills.
You will only manage to create the new BSS platform you need if:
- You effectively define the solution requirements and develop the solution in time to go to market
- The BSS solution will be able to accommodate increasing amounts of customers, services, payment solutions, and more each year
- You regularly upgrade the BSS platform’s speed, functionality, and support to meet new, unanticipated needs
In contrast, buying an “out-of-the-box” solution enables the service provider to leverage the massive investments already made by the BSS vendor and to benefit from a state-of-the-art software stack and up to date solution capabilities. In most cases, service providers buying an out-of-the-box BSS would see better results in comparison to starting from scratch. However, we would like to say that the question of build vs. buy is misleading: The more common and preferable scenario is not to build or buy but a third solution that could more accurately be described as a partnership.
Benefits Of Buying a Next-gen Bss Solution
This decision will allow you to focus on your regular job instead of diverting resources to a project you have no expertise in, eliminating resource allocation and budget issues associated with a proprietary solution. It is recommended to follow this list of issues when you’re making your choice.
- Keep it simple by buying a BSS platform that offers more advanced, pre-packaged functionality with less effort than building a BSS platform from zero.
- Get the best solution by working with an established BSS expert that invests in innovating and enhancing their technology day after day, to launch new services.
- Benefit from a customized solution (like seamless application integration) without the overhead, resource drain, or long-term investment of people and resources.
- Decrease your project time with a ready-to-implement BSS solution that requires no time spent on additional development/upkeep.
9 Criteria For Selecting A Bss Platform Solution From A Next Gen Bss Vendor
Pay attention to the details and create very tough selection criteria
- Multi-tenancy support is essential to delivering modern BSS features and capabilities securely, in a flexible way, and efficiently to your customers. The best BSS solutions will enable you to build self-service portals for all your customers (consumers and businesses). If your next-gen BSS platform doesn’t offer this functionality – consider this a deal-breaker.
- Single Sign-On (SSO) and UX so that admins can log in once to use the entire BSS platform. Multiple sign-on makes the next-gen BSS solution look like an afterthought, causing UX and stickiness to suffer. You can’t slow down your customer service department or ruin the customer experience for the benefits of self-service features.
- Complete Customization will be crucial for your business processes. Every element of the BSS platform should be accessible, modifiable, and extensively documented. This can include SSO, added features, or comprehensive security features that are built-in to the platform.
- Data Sources. You need to be able to work with the broadest possible range of data sources, databases that are traditional and also NoSQL, MongoDB, Hadoop or Redshift, maximizing flexibility and market leverage.
- The right solution will provide programmatic access to all security functions, reducing or eliminating the complexity of customization. Additionally, security should be multi-level and should include:
- Highest levels of data security including procedures, and tests so there is Security at the Process-level
- User management, authentication, and permissions for the entire solution to create Security at the System-level
- Functions relating to granular control over exactly what data within the data sources are viewable by specific users to build Data-level security
- Control of access to BSS components for Object-level security
- Data Governance to control user access and define specific platform permissions on a need-to-know basis is critical for implementation. Your BSS solution should allow you to limit access at the user-level, or limit access to a feature in its entirety.
- API-First Design – your BSS platform should include the tools that give developers more options to manage, enhance and customize their solution. This can consist of integration (seamlessly integrating the solution into existing workflows), visualization (creating and customizing new displays), and your company branding.
- Scalability – a BSS needs to be scalable to fit long-term As customer/subscriber and user numbers grow and the number of services and service combinations increases, the right BSS platform ensures performance never suffers.
With so much to consider, from maintaining focus on core activities to benefiting from the best BSS platform (without having to handle upgrades and support), in the debate between build vs. buy it’s easy to see why most service provider IT decision makers choose to buy a solution from a specialized vendor. Deploying the right third-party BSS platform delivers the features the market demands without the complications.
Buying a new modern BSS from an expert is a partnership, not a one-time transaction
The decision to use a next-gen vendor BSS is more similar to a partnership than to a “one time purchase.” The BSS vendor and the service provider’s team work together to set up the BSS with each company’s customized business processes. They continue to collaborate as new services are launched, new bundles are created, and new needs arise.
Does this mean that the service provider will be dependent on the BSS vendor for every change or customization? Not at all! The service provider’s IT team will have complete independence and control over their deployed BSS. They will own their BSS from end to end and can develop it on their own.
The newly acquired BSS should have an open platform that enables easy access via commonly used APIs, ensuring the BSS software is flexible enough to integrate with the existing systems seamlessly. Moreover, for the truly complex deployments, the BSS vendor should provide the professional resources needed.
Furthermore, the relationship between the Service Provider and the BSS vendor is for the long term. The features introduced in the BSS platform should be built in an “API-first” approach, enabling the implementors to quickly and easily incorporate these features into the BSS solutions that were previously deployed.
Communication between the BSS vendor and the Service Provider team needs to be ongoing so that they can adjust development, support and project management efforts accordingly.