The Changing Face of Change

By: Scott St. John

B/OSS is dead. There, I said it.

What we once knew, and what some of us slightly-disturbed industry professionals who were married to the concept loved, is no more. It is deceased. Kaput. Fini.

There was a time when OSS and BSS systems worked well too. A time when these systems helped communications service providers (CSPs) rise above complex, disparate network management systems and swivel-chair provisioning. They saved them from never-ending inventory spreadsheets, relentless trouble shooting, and costly truck-rolls. Want that all on one bill? No problem, Mr. Customer. But that’s all behind us now and it’s time to move on.

We shouldn’t really lament the loss either.  It’s a time to remember the past and celebrate the future. What is emerging today is transformative. Prodigy arising from androgyny. A phoenix from the ashes.  A butterfly from its chrysalis. Spring, my friends, is upon us.

I know what some of you are thinking as you read this: “I have millions invested into my support systems, thousands of man hours, and, in fact, it is still working.”  And you would be partially correct. However, I’m not suggesting your OSS and BSS isn’t “there,” I’m just saying it doesn’t “work.”

It no longer works because the game has changed. Or, perhaps more specifically, the problem has changed. Many of the challenges we’ve faced in the past have been overcome by the blood, sweat, tears and capital investment from an industry dedicated to growth and innovation. Pat yourselves on the back. Well done.

However, the problem facing CSPs today is much different. In fact, it’s not that the problem has changed but that change has become the problem. Or perhaps the rate of change is the problem now.  CSPs around the globe are now facing a dynamically changing landscape inside a coliseum of intense competition. CSPs today are facing a lion’s den brimming with over-the-top (OTT) and under regulated competitors, virtual operators, unfettered content, and hoards of bandwidth-hungry consumers. While OSS and BSS systems may have become the soles of their shoes, CSPs are looking for, and would benefit more from, armor and sword.

For some time now, Pipeline has covered this dynamic landscape and has coined the term Communications and Entertainment Technology as (COMET) to help define the space. But, while some technology providers have been on a billion dollar buying spree to expand their footprint, others have been building strategic alliances to address a bigger technology swath, and a few select companies are doing a little of both.

A horse of a different color

In July of last year, Sigma Systems announced the acquisition of Tribold. But unlike the many acquisitions Pipeline covers, this one was different. Instead of being another Borg-style assimilation of a smaller company by a dominant force for the good of The Collective, this acquisition seems to be a near- perfect union of technology and strategic alliances for the betterment of CSP customers. The new Sigma Systems emerges from the acquisition bigger, better, stronger, and uniquely positioned to capitalize on the issues facing CSPs today.

From a technology perspective, the new Sigma Systems combines traditional OSS functions such as fulfillment with next-generation product collaboration, design, catalog, and roll-out capabilities. But the new, combined solution goes even further. The company’s “idea-to-install” concept fully embraces the trends weighing on CSPs today, like cloud and mobility. This approach is fundamentally different than legacy systems and can change the way CSPs view and leverage support systems by making them dynamic, driven by the business, and the central repository of information for all products and services. This means CSPs can integrate the system throughout their IT environment, including CRM and customer care platforms to provide a better and more accurate view of the customer which help CSPs improve the customer experience.  One of the key reasons for this is that the Tribold acquisition provided more than just technology. Tribold’s long-standing strategic alliance with Microsoft added unique spin to an already compelling technology story.

Pipeline has been covering Microsoft’s headway in the COMET space since it first announced its Mashable Ecosystem strategy in 2011. Since then, Microsoft has become an integral component to its partners’ successes and it’s becoming the de facto platform on which the leading technology innovators can build carrier-grade and carrier-specific products. In particular, the Microsoft alliance adds value to Sigma Systems in a few essential areas, the first of which is its emphasis on cloud services and cloud-enabled OSS systems.

“We see a growing trend for operators to host applications in the cloud and those applications need to be bullet-proof, with proven global support,” Catherine Michel, Chief Strategy Officer at Sigma Systems told Pipeline. “For Sigma and for customers who want to run our products in the cloud, Windows Azure is the cloud platform of choice.”


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