Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 9
This Month's Issue:
The Changing Landscape
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Open to Change

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By Chris Couch

It’s a Web 2.0 world, but too many telecommunications providers are stuck in the last millennium.

Today, as new interactive applications engage consumers and promise to deliver fresh revenue streams to carriers, there is a growing disconnect between the bright new service possibilities of the digital age and the unwieldy back-office systems of a bygone era.

Telecommunications carriers badly need new revenue sources to drive growth in an era when phone and video services have become commoditized and competitors have put pressure on pricing flexibility. New business models that play to the growing popularity of digital services and interactive applications are the obvious answer. But carriers are stymied from seriously pursuing these opportunities because of built-in cost structures that create huge risk in introducing new business models.

The culprit is easy to identify: Legacy business software that supports modern telecommunications operations hasn’t kept up, technologically, with the rest of the world.

Legacy business software that supports modern telecommunications operations hasnít kept up, technologically, with the rest of the world.


collaboration that unites multiple parties in a shared instance of commerce.

Consider the enthusiastic 18-year-old who uses her smartphone to sample a new song recommended via text-message by a friend. Her friend learned of the group from an intelligent recommendation agent while

Retrofitting incumbent back-office environments to support new business models costs too much in both investment capital and time. Try as they may to make the numbers work, carriers are confounded by an economic dilemma: The promise of new business models is outweighed by the risk associated with reworking back-office environments to support the needed billing, application, and service components tied to new business pursuits.

That’s unfortunate. In the real world, outside of the big data centers that run the modern telecom sector, innovation is flourishing and interesting things are happening. New ways of doing business are being invented by the week, often with a new model of

searching over a wireless data network for a Google map mash-up displaying customer reviews of nearby coffee shops during a visit to a friend’s hometown. Both parties are participants in a new symphony of commerce that borrows from very successful models implemented on the Web. And all of it plays out beautifully over modern telecommunications networks from an external standpoint. But when it comes to sorting out who gets billed what, the legacy business systems that originally were designed largely to manage static monthly services become confused and overwhelmed.

In a world where creativity is thriving, prevailing telecom back-office systems are

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