The year ahead: Five key telecoms trends to look for in 2020
As we cross another year off the books, we look towards what 2020 will bring the telecoms industry. As 5G continues its roll-out and operators continue to transform their businesses both operationally and tactically, Paul Hughes, Netcracker Technology’s director of strategy, says the ever-growing expansion of automation, intelligence and computing power to the edge are revolutionising the way customers interact with their communication service provider (CSP) operators and services, and the way the devices interact with the network.
As operators continue their move away from siloed operations and leverage an integrated data management environment across networks, systems and devices, the power of both the data and the processes becomes increasingly evident, for everything from service ordering, orchestration, billing, device management and customer experience. Let’s take a look at four specific areas that will be positively impacted data management in 2020.
The new platform economy will drive new revenue streams
5G may symbolise network speed in many people’s minds, but it is the underlying capabilities beyond that which represent a vast potential upside. For many operators, it will accelerate a new platform economy, where the industry will witness operators working with vertical industry and ecosystem partners.
This implies, however, that operators’ BSS systems will be able to handle multi-party compensation models which encompasses partner management, contract management, settlements across diverse range of partners. As such, we can expect continued investments in BSS by 5G operator to ensure that they realise maximum benefits from the platform economy.
OSS/BSS transformations – Time for microservices
Operator digital transformation investments have been remarkably consistent over the past few years, and looking ahead, this trend doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing. In 2020, we as an industry can expect to see next generation BSS investments as the lead for digital transformation projects that continue to impact the operator community.
This investment will play into the entire business process, supporting the entire customer lifecycle through discovery, shopping, ordering, billing, payment and rewards & loyalty management. As the platform economy drives new economies of scale, existing operations and business support systems (OSS and BSS) infrastructure need to be automated and event-driven.
Operators must ensure that any digital transformation strategy automates front-end and back-end workflows of customer service requests enables zero touch provisioning and gives the customer self-service capabilities across the channel they prefer. Operators should also future proof investments by using state of the art microservices software architectures that segments key functionality block and makes them available as individual components.
This will create greater flexibility later on in the development cycle, helps amortise the transformation investment over a longer period of time, and gives the operator to evolve more quickly than with a traditional monolithic architecture.
5G-enabled private enterprise networks
For enterprises, the ability to have a dedicated net private 5G network brings a new option for local area networks (LANs) that will avail new advanced use cases. Today, we already see Private LTE networks are in place, and as long as regulatory issues don’t stand in the way, 5G private networks should start to emerge in 2020 and 2021.
A 5G private network will eliminate the need for wired technologies, create the ability to connect a vast number of small devices, create a dedicated network slice for either a temporary or localised activity, and provide the option for customers to actually build their own network. As mentioned in the above prediction, the importance of network and service control, as well as viable revenue models, are something for the industry to pay close attention as the business models become more solidified.
Automate, automate, automate
As trite as it may sound, it is one of the key focuses that virtually every operator will prioritise. As mentioned above, the move is from partially automated processes to fully automated simplified service orders, service modifications, delivery, and customer management. All of this will be done to benefit the end customer, with faster service provisioning times, real-time access to service, account and billing information.
From a network perspective, the evolution towards closed-loop automation becomes a critical differentiator, as it moves the network management away from manual intervention and towards an intelligent software-centric approach. This reduces time-to-resolution (TTR), and in turns helps improve the customer experience.
From a customer-facing perspective, self-service and chatbot/digital assistants are already helping eliminate customer calls to the contact centre. Customer service automation will bring valuable data into the customer service workflow, allowing customer service representatives (CSRs) the ability to either provide scripted responses to the most recurring support scenarios or realise the specific issue and escalate it in cases where it may be needed. This helps eliminate time spent on similar responses for common or time-related situations, and allows faster TTR.
The intelligent edge
As mobile devices become more powerful, multi-access edge computing (MEC, the ETSI-defined network architecture concept) brings new strength of service to the end user. By bringing cloud computing capabilities and an IT service environment to the edge of the mobile network, customers can reap the benefit of the decentralisation.
While still early days, 5G network slicing enterprise related use cases will likely be the first to start to take shape. Increasingly, many of these enterprise applications will rely on 5G’s ability to enable edge computing.
Bandwidth intensive and ultra-low latency services including internet of things-generated services and data will be stored, processed, analysed, and acted upon close to or at the edge of networks. By enabling data aggregation and processing at the edge, companies can not only achieve bandwidth savings but can also reduce latency, improve reliability and enable personalisation.
The author is Paul Hughes, director of strategy at Netcracker Technology.