By: Chun-Ling Woon
We’ve been talking about product catalogs for a decade and, during that time, many service providers have implemented a centralized catalog stack and lead-to-quote-to-order functionality that is improving agility and time-to-market for new services. Using a catalog-centric solution, service providers design, define, configure, price and deliver new products to customers faster and more reliably than ever. Products are quickly customized, priced and sold via multiple outlets and on-line channels. Availability and eligibility are rapidly validated against operational resources and orders can be customized for each customer across any variety of channels.
In today’s digital services environment, an automated multi-channel quote-to-order-to-install solution based on a centralized catalog and data architecture is table stakes. However, for operators competing with over-the-top providers, monetizing that multi-channel environment is becoming exceedingly difficult. Adding more partners and more products is adding cost for digital service providers (DSPs).
Even with sophisticated order-to-cash catalog solutions, existing manual processes used to bring partners into the catalog and push product to customers are becoming unwieldy and expensive. Likewise, customers are bombarded with so many product choices and bundles that they get tired of looking and give up.
In short, it takes more than a catalog.
DSPs are anxious to start generating revenue by bundling partner elements into product and service bundles. But, in order to do that, they will need real-time, agile, digital IT solutions that enable effective product design and sales processes that support digital business models. In order to serve multiple customer channels and integrate disparate partner ecosystems, DSPs need to adopt a strategy and structure that enables a hybrid, distributed operating model. Otherwise the processes and systems remain the same, and they were never intended for this.
As DSPs scale operations to support thousands of small partners rather than a few dozen large partners, the painstaking manual processes currently in-place stop working. Partner products and components including infrastructure, data, applications and content are all being provided as-a-service from the cloud. But getting partner resources from the cloud to the catalog to the customer requires more than catalog integration. Order management, CRM, billing, fulfillment and assurance systems all have to be part of service composition.
To deliver a unique service instantiation to every customer, OSS/BSS must scale to dynamically manage thousands of partners and automatically accommodate each unique customer instance. Adding thousands of product variations means more data captured, correlated, analyzed and transferred. Increasing the number of transactions, sources and destinations of data requires dynamic processes and intelligent automation. As the IT and network infrastructure grows, and evolves (Information Centric Operations, SDN and NFV), and the number of products being offered by DSPs increase, existing OSS/BSS solutions must either scale or be supplemented with intelligent, autonomous IT systems.