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Intelligent BSS/OSS: The key to unlocking 5G’s value for CSPs

Intelligent BSS/OSS: The key to unlocking 5G’s value for CSPs

Communication service providers (CSPs) are investing in BSS/OSS modernization to drive down costs, improve network operations, and deliver new, innovative services to customers – and they’re laser-focused on the enterprise segment. As the major cloud providers take their piece of the 5G digital service pie, this investment is more important than ever.

The good news is that the number of monetization opportunities in 5G is expanding rapidly. Exciting new use cases, such as drones, AR-based shopping experiences, and factory automation, will drive the value CSPs can tap into in 5G. Foundational to this opportunity will be harnessing the power of automation, analytics, and AI in next-generation BSS/OSS systems. 

The enterprise value is in the use case

Tapping into the enterprise opportunity won’t be easy, especially since 5G use cases have so many complex moving parts. CSPs must run intelligent, automated and secure networks to transport data. They need compute resources distributed across devices, edge locations, and any cloud environment to process the data. And they need applications to make the data usable for a business-defined purpose. Finally, the enterprise experience must feel seamless and unique to its own set of KPIs. 

Take power line inspection drones, as an example. A utility provider will likely want a solution that includes the drones, along with guaranteed 5G connectivity; edge compute power and analytics to crunch the video data; AI to spot anything that needs fixing; a user interface to visualize the data; and the ability to integrate the inspection app with other apps in the business – maintenance scheduling, for example. Similarly, a factory owner will want a complete automation solution that includes video analytics, process control software and ultra-low latency connectivity.

The 5G market is made up of thousands of niche use cases like these, each with its own applications, services, customer segment and network requirements. While this scenario is far from the straightforward connectivity packages CSPs sell today, the unique value CSPs will deliver through automation and AI will help them ascend the value chain and capture their share of the enterprise 5G pie. This all maps back to continued investments in BSS/OSS and AI since legacy systems simply cannot address the complexity these 5G use cases present.

CSPs must overcome the limitations of legacy BSS/OSS

The BSS and OSS that many CSPs run today were built for different times. They’re monolithic, on-premises software applications whose functionality is fixed, with siloed, standalone, and static processes, and long upgrade cycles. 

BSS are typically designed for a model in which the CSP is a connectivity provider, with a direct, one-to-one relationship with the customer. Order management, billing and charging are based on a limited set of fixed, packaged bundles available to customers. 

Anything more complex – an enterprise customer requiring a private wireless network, for example – must be negotiated individually and likely billed through the CSP’s professional services division. Integrating a “digital storefront” that allows customers to seamlessly order a private wireless network, or a 5G network slice, or a drone inspection solution, simply isn’t possible with legacy BSS. 

Ditto with OSS. While there’s been steady progress towards automating network and service operations, automation has been implemented as separate ‘islands’ and many traditional OSS systems still work in siloes with standalone and partially broken processes. They also lack the benefits of end-to-end automation and lifecycle management, such as shorter time to market, shorter resolution times and improved operational efficiency.

That was OK when there was one single network serving a mass market of customers. But the enterprise 5G vision depends heavily on organizations being able to get their own high-performance slice of the network, with adjusted Service Level Agreements and complete with no-downtime guarantees. Manually managing hundreds or thousands of these – to stringent SLAs – would be very costly and eat into a CSP’s profitability. 

Rise above the legacy: Simplify, Automate, and Open BSS/OSS for 5G and beyond

For CSPs to capture the value of enterprise 5G, BSS and OSS need to move from monolithic, rigid and functionally limited systems to systems that can easily flex and adapt to emerging enterprise-led use cases, be deployed on any cloud, and orchestrate services and network slices across multiple domains, all in a multi-vendor and multi-edge environment. 

They need to work in a world where CSPs aren’t selling just connectivity, but a whole array of building blocks (managed network slice + sensors + edge compute + AIOps, for example) that can be integrated into business applications to create thousands of niche enterprise-driven 5G services. 

Since a CSP is unlikely to provide every component of a complex solution (like a drone inspection service), refreshed BSS /OSS need to make it easy for ecosystem partners to combine these building blocks with their own parts of the solution. This is best achieved not through cumbersome partnership agreements and manual integrations, but as on-demand, orderable, slice-based services delivered in any cloud. 

In short, BSS/OSS need to evolve into something that provides new benchmarks in flexibility, speed, zero-touch automation, on-demand availability in any cloud, use case based pricing, and open APIs. 

5G-era requires business intent-driven operations

According to Nokia research, we found that only 11 percent of CSPs have the correct systems in place today to monetize 5G and CSPs forecast that 60 percent or their new revenue will come through B2B2X models. 

We also found that CSPs are beginning to make the leap to next-gen 5G-era OSS and BSS. For example, Sunrise is using Nokia’s Digital Operations software to modernize and consolidate its OSS, while through the 5G Verticals Innovation Infrastructure, Nokia and Telenor 5G are showing the potential of 5G innovation. In Japan, KDDI is deploying new cloud-native monetization capabilities as it moves into offering 5G network slicing and network-as-a-service APIs for its ecosystem partners to consume.  

CSPs like Sunrise, Telenor and KDDI are stepping closer to what we think of as “business intent-driven operations” - the ability to translate an order like “I want connectivity for drone inspections” into a seamless, on-demand service that’s delivered, managed and charged for by the 5G-era BSS and OSS. 

It may take some effort to get there from today’s legacy OSS/BSS (how to make the move is a topic in its own right), but with a $2tn enterprise 5G opportunity up for grabs, CSPs understand they need the right partners to help them tap into the value enterprises and new use cases represent in 5G.

Hamdy  Farid

About Hamdy Farid

Hamdy Farid is the Senior Vice President of Nokia’s Business Applications unit and loves to talk with CSPs and Enterprises about how they can unlock the value of their network investments through secure, intelligent automation. Born in Egypt, Hamdy graduated in computer engineering from Alexandria University, before moving to Canada to tap into the early 2000s tech boom. Today, Hamdy lives in Ottawa with his wife and two teenage children in a trilingual English-Arabic-French home. When he is not shopping on Amazon, he enjoys cooking and motorbike racing.

Connect with Hamdy on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter

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