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no 1/2011

[13]

The Magazine of Comarch


Telecommunications
Business Unit

www.comarch.com

IN THIS ISSUE:
Customer Spotlight
Multimedia Polska, a multi-service operator,
has a new consolidated BSS

In focus: BSS/OSS Transformation


Transformation… what do you mean?
How to avoid embarrassing challenges in
projects – a vendor view

Hot topic: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience


Service Quality and Customer Experience – where customers meet
the network
COMARCH OSS SUITE
Strategy, Operational, Fulfillment Assurance
Infrastructure & Support & Readiness
Product
OSS Process Management
Management
Customer

SLA Monitoring

Customer Experience Management


Management
Service

Service
Service Inventory Service Quality
Fulfillment Service Monitoring
Management Management

Inventory
Planning
Service
Management

Activation
Network Inventory
Resource

Management
Performance
Fault Management
Management
Auto-discovery & Configuration
Reconciliation Management

OSS Mediation

Field Service Management

COMARCH BSS SUITE


Market/Sales
Self Care Point of Sale Web Portal Corporate Self Care

CRM

Business Process Management & Workflow


Product Management

Central Product Manager

Operational, Support & Fulfillment Assurance Billing


B2B Gateway

Readiness
Application Integration Infrastructure

Customer Management Corporate Self Care


Customer Order
Management Self Care
Convergent Billing
ESB / Integration Bus

CRM

Service Management Voucher & Top-Up Management

Billing Mediation

Active Mediation

Resource Management
Billing Mediation
Master Resource Management
Active Mediation

Supplier/Partner
B2BGW
BPM

PRM InterPartner Billing

Service Control
Policy Management

AAA
PREFACE 3

“One company - one service” approach?

ransformation seems to be a permanent state of business-driven payment models and commitment to agile

T business development. During the last decade,


telecom business has been transformed by
development and support in specific countries.

technologies like mobile communication, internet, next There are many things that drive transformation, one
generation networks and by global economic changes like of  them are the ever changing demands and needs of end
the digital revolution, the internet bubble, globalization or customers. Currently Customer Experience seems to be
economic downturn. Now, after the phase of geographical what everybody in the telecom industry is talking about.
expansion of global telecom groups, we can observe I  was asked by an industry analysts, what I think Customer
a  consolidation of valuable assets around strong brands Experience Management really is. Is it only a new expression
and service innovation centers. for gathering more and more data about the customer’s
behavior, service usage patterns, and the correlation of
As a software vendor and integrator we see significant such information with more efficient computers to create
changes in the requirements for BSS and OSS solutions new variants of tariff plans or marketing campaigns? Is
defined by communication service providers. there a BSS or OSS product behind it? We at Comarch see
Customer Experience Management as a part of each mature
Currently, besides requests for specific products we receive business. Telecom and cable operators in Europe and US PIOTR MACHNIK
inquiries for specific OSS architectures, congestion-driven are transforming their IT environments and organizations Comarch SA
customer experience management or consolidation of in order for them to be capable of delivering services Vice President, Product
business processes around central product management cheaper and faster while caring for saving their customers’ Management & Marketing
and around a “one company - one service” approach. time and  money, securing their needs for comfort and Telecommunications
professional or personal lifestyles. So from this viewpoint Business Unit
Apart from standard requirements related to functionality, Customer Experience Management is not just a single
performance, compliance with technology and industry product and is far from being merely a buzzword, but it is
standards, we get many requirements for multi-tenancy, rather a way of thinking and a change in business focus that
white labeling, support for daughter companies within can potentially bring huge profits in the long run.
the  whole group, centralized management of resources
(like customer premises equipment (CPE) and SIM cards) In this issue we talk about simple and clear metrics like
and processes such as service creation and service rollout. business efficiency measured in dollars and market share,
Additionally for traditional “license + setup + integration” and time to market measured in days, hours and minutes.
delivery models CSPs request long term partnership options, We will also take a look at customer experience from various
points of view. Enjoy the magazine!

Comarch’s offices in Poland: Krakow


Comarch Technology Review is a publication created by Comarch experts and specialists. It is created (HQ), Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan,
to assist our customers and partners in obtaining in-depth information about market trends and Katowice, Lodz, Lublin
developments, and the technological possibilities of addressing the most important issues.
Worldwide Offices:
Americas
Panama | Panamá
Editor-in-Chief: Katarzyna Gajewska Technology Review is a free publication available United States of America | Chicago
Europe
katarzyna.gajewska@comarch.com by subscription. The articles published here can be Austria | Vienna
Layout & DTP: Jakub Malicki copied and reproduced only with the knowledge and Belgium | Brussels
Photos: www.fotolia.com Finland | Espoo
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names of their producers. Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Muenster,
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4 TABLE OF CONTENTS

WHAT’S NEW
16 The advantages of product catalog-centric strengthened by the dropping prices of mobile

5 News in Brief BSS devices. All of this is pushing traffic in access


In the old times, before barcodes and readers were network to its limits.
CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT introduced, product offering and sales processes in

8 Case Study: small grocery stores were quite simple. You would 36 Thriving as Web platform enabler – “beyond
Grupo TVCable have obtained new flexible just stick a price tag to the product and put it on the dumb” pipes
back office systems assuring smooth order- shelf. The customer would then come in, take the
The advent of the mobile internet has been
to-bill process support product, and get charged by the person managing a great success, but it also appears to have
Being a market leader comes with specific the cash register. Despite the fact that entering opened Pandora’s box. The tension is even greater
responsibilities. Early on, Grupo TVCable realized prices manually was more time-consuming, at least because the real beneficiaries are over-the top-
that adding VoIP services would address the product offer definition was simple and the offer players like Google, whilst CSPs seem to have been
a  growing market need and also entice new was completed in short time. cast the role of “dumb pipe” providers.
customers to sign up for an attractive product
bundle: TV, internet, and telephony (triple-play), but 21 Increase efficiency of order-to-cash 39 How to transform your BSS to achieve the
the introduction of triple-play required new, flexible processes with optimal field service perfect customer experience
back office systems to assure smooth order-to-bill management
We live in a world where communications go far
process support while guaranteeing high levels of
If you ask telecommunication executives, which beyond voice and SMS. A mobile phone serves for
customer satisfaction. process is crucial for their company’s operations, video streaming, navigation, playing music and
probably most of them will answer that it is the e-mail, and the traditional use of voice and SMS

10 Case Study: order-to-cash or order-to-cash-related process. can account for just a small portion of the total
Multimedia Polska, a multi-service operator, Moreover, if you ask, which one is the most time that a handset is in use. The expansion of
has a new consolidated BSS complex and was recently or is currently planned operators’ service offerings into data services has
Multimedia Polska is a multi-service operator, to be optimized or transformed, the answer would a huge impact on the underlying platform.
established via the consolidation of several be almost always the same.
regional cable TV providers. Prior to the merger, BEYOND BSS/OSS
each company concentrated on its own area of 26
How will you benefit from BSS transformation 44 A new era of tagging
interest, (cable TV, telephony and broadband) How can the strategic goal of any communication Since the very beginning of human civilization
acting independently and within its home region. service provider – increasing the market share people have always had a tendency to mark and
As a result of these acquisitions, MMP has – be achieved practically in mature, saturated label things, which at first was motivated purely
transformed into a nationwide corporation, offering markets with significant competition from by the desire to express ownership but later it
triple-play services throughout Poland with the established players and new entrants? evolved into a way to maintain order and facilitate
need of BSS Consolidation. the management of belongings.
HOT TOPIC: AIMING FOR PERFECT
IN FOCUS: BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
46 Telework – an unexploited niche for telecom
12
Transformation… what does this mean??? 31 Service Quality and Customer Experience operators?
Throughout the years of designing and delivering – where customers meet the network With the constant progress of communication
IT solutions for telecom operators I have witnessed Customer Experience Management (CEM) may technologies - mobile telephony, Internet, and
many transformations. Telcos were created seem to be a broad term but in practical terms consumer devices like PCs, laptops, netbooks,
as startups, then formed their own business within the area of telecommunications, it refers to tablets, smartphones - it is becoming more and
model and constructed their IT to support their monitoring the stream of transaction records from more possible for people to work from home or other
business yet in the end (after a few years) they a subscriber’s perspective. Is the call setup time locations outside their central office, distribution
accumulated a backlog of unsolvable problems at an acceptable level? Are there places where or production sites. Telework has the potential to
proving unbearable - so they transformed. setting up a GPRS session takes too long? Was transform working patterns and to positively impact
MMS transferring successful? health, safety and the wellbeing of the people

14 How to avoid embarrassing challenges in involved. Telework has the potential to become an
projects – a vendor view 34
Managing network congestion problems with interesting part of any telecom operator’s portfolio.
Without any doubt, embarrassing challenges automated Configuration Management and
happen in projects, especially in IT. In this article SQM TELCOSPHERE BLOG
I will elaborate on the most common and most Communications service providers have created 48 Six issues about the role of BSS in the M2M
important challenges of this kind. a new customer demand for faster, more reliable business model
services and increased network capacity for
their subscribers with the use of smartphone’s 50 Renewal of a mobile subscription – is it
and tablets. This trend has been additionally simple?

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


NEWS IN BRIEF 5

News in Brief
Vectra selects Comarch Field
Comarch to shorten Service Management
time-to-market – Product of the Year
Polish multi-play operator, Vectra has selected 2011
Comarch BSS for its core billing, customer
management and self-service platform as well as On the 23rd of March 2011, Comarch received
for field force automation software. the Golden Antenna (“Zlota Antena”) Award
for its Field Service Management system,
Currently, the major challenges facing cable which was acknowledged as “Product of the
operators regarding BSS is the result of the huge Year 2011” in the category Telecom Operator
number of products that have to be managed. As Solutions.
most cable operators are now operating in a multi-
play model, they need to handle various types Comarch Field Service Management has
of services (cable, Internet, voice and mobile) in already been implemented by a number of
a  consistent way and with the possibility to create operators including WildBlue Communications
bundles of multiple products. – a satellite internet provider from the US, and
many cable & multi service operators. In 2010,
In addition, multi-channel customer service Comarch started the FSM project for Vectra,
requires a consistent product catalog that needs a  Multi-Service Operator based in Poland.
to be exposed to all sales channels, including CSR,
self care and e-shop. The product has also been recognized in
a  recent Stratecast (Frost & Sullivan) Report
– “Competition between telecom operators has “OSS/BSS Global Competitive Strategies”
forced us to introduce new products increasingly dedicated to Workforce Management
faster. From a technical perspective we were (WFM) Strategies for Changing Markets
looking for a next generation BSS platform which and Challenging Economics. Comarch FSM
would support us in pursuing a strategy of product is designed to support various types of operators was assessed as a solution that efficiently
innovation, streamlining and facilitating the – including fixed, cable and mobile – and is the optimized skilled resources and schedules
creation of new offers. We were also looking for answer to the requirements of modern multi-play using modifiable and adjustable ratings based
a  solution to enable easy creation of personalized, operators. on appropriate business needs.
on-demand offers for specific customers. From
a business point of view, we expected radical Piotr Piatosa, Vice President of the Management Comarch was awarded its first “Antenna” in
improvement of customer service quality and Board and Head of the Telecommunications 1999 for the Tytan Billing System (currently
after the first stage of this project I’m sure that Business Unit, Comarch S.A., claims:- “One of the Comarch BSS Suite). In 2009, a award
Comarchs’ solutions will help us meet our goals. the most advanced elements of our solution for was presented for Comarch Next Generation
Together with Comarch BSS tools we can really Vectra is Comarch Central Product Manager which Service Management, part of the Comarch
become an important player in quad-play services simplifies configuration of offerings associated OSS Suite portfolio, which enables managing
on the Polish market” – Tomasz Żurański, President with particular sales channels and regions. With services and resources in cutting-edge
of the Management Board, Vectra S.A. offers being configured in one place, it is possible telecommunications networks – Next
to radically reduce time-to-market and costs on Generation Networks (NGN). In 2010, Comarch’s
Comarch products being implemented at Vectra the operator’s side. For demanding customers like Service Quality Management System was also
include Convergent Billing, Customer Management, Vectra it is also very important to have Business awarded a Golden Antenna in the category
Self Care, Central Product Manager, Billing Process Management as a part of the solution of Product of the Year / Telecom Operator
Mediation and Field Service Management. All these to allow flexible process configuration and Solutions.
products are a part of Comarch BSS Suite which a  possibility of reconfiguration in the future”.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


6 NEWS IN BRIEF

Comarch Rebuilds OXYCOM, a new systems aggregator on


its BSS around the polish market, chooses Comarch’s
Central Product solutions
Manager
In answering the crucial requirements of OXYCOM, the start-up company has decided Bogumil Butryn, Technical Department Director
modern communication service providers, to build a BSS Platform based on Comarch’s at OXYCOM S.A.: - “The experience and skills of
Comarch has rebuilt the architecture of products. According to the agreement, the Comarch’s professionals enabled us to create a
its flagship product suite – Comarch BSS following modules will be implemented: Comarch customized system configuration that allowed
– to support operators in optimizing IT Convergent Billing, Comarch Service Activation, to run optimally with our new services. Thanks to
architectures and cost savings, unlimited Comarch Billing Mediation and Comarch ESB the training at Comarch’s Headquarters, our BSS
innovation, acceleration of business and (Enterprise Service Bus). systems’ administrators can react dynamically on
shortening of time-to-market. the business needs that are evaluated and we can
The project has been up and running since the expand OXYCOM’s offer. The flexibility of Comarch’s
Products within the Comarch BSS Suite have ending of the first phase of the implementation. portfolio allows us to build new rate models, which
been designed and developed in-house, During this stage, main functionalities and are later made available to our customers online.
meaning that CSPs can count on shorter integrations were deployed, which are perceived by The Software on Demand (SoD) or Software as a
delivery times, as well as better quality and OXYCOM as crucial in order to deliver all its services Service (SaaS) market is growing very fast and
more secure deployment, as compared such as VoIP, Software on Demand (SoD), Software so bearing an updated offer in this area has a
to suites from large vendors that arose as a Service (SaaS) and eCommerce platform. substantial meaning.”
as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Currently, the project is in its second stage, during
All BSS products are based on a unified which further functionalities are developed, mainly Piotr Piatosa, Vice President of the Management
data model for reference data and product focused on automation processes and system Board and Head of the Telecommunications
catalog. This provides a short time to market, integration, which will enable OXYCOM to activate Business Unit, Comarch S.A., claims:- “Thanks to
while facilitating system management and its next advanced services. our products from the BSS Suite, OXYCOM has
configuration. Mass and real-time, rule-based a coherent, well-integrated system that allows
data processing is the core of Comarch’s The key component of the implemented solution them to maintain operational and finance areas
competences. This includes service-agnostic is Comarch Convergent Billing, a modern high of their business. The product catalog for all
and multi-industry rating, charging and billing. capacity and scalable billing system which service platforms is worth mentioning, as also the
contains a Central Product Manager with all integration with existing platforms such as eBOK,
Business process orientation based on the products and rates of OXYCOM’s services. CRM or eCommerce.”
TMForum eTOM means that there are no limits The solution also supports partner data
to workflows and business processes, as they management and inter-partner settlements, Scheduled project completion is planned at the
are delivered out-of-the-box or configured customer relationship management, account data end of September 2011.
during the implementation process. It is management along with a full integration with the
always possible to reconfigure business existing CRM system, thanks to Enterprise Service About OXYCOM
processes and workflows to suit particular Bus - Comarch ESB. OXYCOM S.A. is one of the most innovative
needs of the customer. companies from the news technologies and
Comarch Billing Mediation is a fully scalable communications sector in Poland. Its main
Comarch BSS Suite is already implemented at platform, responsible for data collection advantages are: a rich portfolio of modern IT
KPN - Netherlands, Auchan SA - France, Bite distribution, processing and system distribution. services, a well-trained team and flexibility, through
Latvia and Lithuania, OnePhone - Germany, It monitors the elements to which it is connected which OXYCOM is able to adapt to customer needs.
DTMS - Germany, Belize Telemedia Limited - and generates predefined alarms and notifications. Among OXYCOM’s products can be found solutions
Belize, Cable Onda - Panama and many others. Comarch Service Provisioning is responsible for based on the cloud model, voice communications,
In 2010 the following operators also decided fast and reliable service activation along with as well as systems allowing for savings and IT
to use Comarch BSS Suite: GTS Poland, Fring, complete integration with the existing platforms outsourcing. Thanks to a group of experts, OXYCOM
OXYCOM and five others including Tier-1. which provide services. S.A. is able to meet the challenges posed by the
IT market and suggest a solution tailored to his
needs of any client.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


NEWS IN BRIEF 7

Comarch Self Care version 6.6 has been launched


Comarch has introduced the new version of its Key improvements introduced in Comarch Self Care Pawel Lamik, CRM and Self Care product manager,
Self Care product, with additional functionalities. 6.6 include: at Comarch’s telecommunications business unit,
Comarch Self Care is a web self-service portal said: – “We are devoted to constantly improving
enabling communication service providers to Ability to define additional user relationships and developing our products based on both
reduce customer service costs and increase in residential and SME segments – customer demand and the innovative ideas of
customer satisfaction. It answers the needs of the e.g.  household, family our employees. Our customers – communication
consumer and SME markets, while the Corporate service providers - can now implement a state
Self Care product provides advanced features for User profile advanced management (making of the art self-service portal for end-users
enterprises. it easy for customers to grant suitable rights significantly faster. The new features now
to others) offer even more value to the users in terms of
Comarch Self Care enables consumers and small convenience and flexibility in using the portal.”
businesses to browse their bills and usage, Notifications/escalations – specific alerts can
manage their services, and modify personal be created on the basis of rules or events, e.g. Comarch Corporate Self Care provides online
information without the assistance a call center when a new invoice is created ordering, data management and reporting
agent. It helps service providers get closer to their for corporate customers. It is also a telecom
customers and deliver non-interfering, relevant More automated configuration (added generic expense management solution, increasing the
messages. Comarch Self Care has already overview display and generic contracting, value of a  service provider’s offer. Managers of
been implemented at: Bite Latvia and Lithuania, which allows implementation of the system in an enterprise customer can set spending limits
OnePhone, Germany, KPN, The Netherlands, Auchan less than 10 weeks) for their employees and receive notifications
Telecom, France or 6GMOBILE, The Netherlands. when the limit is exceeded. By making use of
Case management and order basket virtual hierarchies, the company can delegate
improvements – possibility of painless responsibility for the management and control
integration with external workflow engine of costs and services to middle and lower
through ESB management.

Comarch successfully delivers its billing cloud to fring,


a global mobile VoIP leader

Comarch signs an agreement with fring, a leader services, in addition to monitoring and reporting real-time AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and
in global mobile VoIP and Video communications, them. The project also involved business partners Accounting), CRM functionalities and services
for a high availability Billing Cloud service. such as G2S and PayPal, as providers of the monitoring.
payment services.
Thanks to the Comarch Billing Cloud, fring has About fring
been able to add fringOut to its services portfolio. – “This is another very important step for Comarch, fring (www.fring.com) is a mobile communication
fringOut lets fringsters call any landline or mobile especially as it concerns our services in the service that gives users internet-rich
in the world from their mobile phone at very cloud model, for such a prestigious customer. It communication from their mobile phones. fring
attractive prices, starting from 1¢/minute. As the proves that our portfolio is both highly rated and members make free video calls, voice calls and
billing service is provided from the Comarch Cloud, trustworthy among players on the telecom market. live chat to friends on the fring network and
the project was completed within a very short We know that real-time billing must be more to other social networks. Users can also make
time. The billing service is provided to multiple fring open to operators, and we are going to meet this almost-free calls to friends and family worldwide
datacenters around the globe. challenge” – highlights Piotr Piatosa, Vice President to any landline or mobile phone from 1c/minute
of the Management Board and Head of the via fringOut. fring leverages the mobile phone’s
The delivered solution covers the entire process Telecommunications Business Unit, Comarch S.A. internet connection to create these communication
of product preparation, allowing defining details experiences. fring is available on all major
of the services offered to customers, providing Comarch Billing SaaS ensures delivering Smartphones (including iPhone, iPod, Android and
and reselling such services over available sales the highest quality services to an operator’s Symbian) on any mobile operator, and any mobile
channels, activating, controlling and billing for such customers. It offers prepaid and postpaid billing, internet connection (3G/4G, Wi-Fi, GPRS, EDGE).

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


8 CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT

Grupo TVCable have obtained new


flexible back office systems assuring
smooth order-to-bill process support
Being a market leader comes with specific a subscriber with a unified bill for all services. This would also
T responsibilities. Early on, Grupo TVCable realized
that adding VoIP services would address a growing
simplify the payment handling process. In addition, having
to manage only one billing and customer care platform
COMARCH market need and also entice new customers to sign up for would lower OPEX for Grupo TVCable, while at the same
PRODUCTS an attractive product bundle: TV, internet, and telephony time allowing it to offer specially priced product bundles
& SERVICES: (triple-play). VoIP telephony provided a viable alternative (packages) to its subscriber base. One final challenge was
to traditional fixed telephony for tens of thousands of the transformation of the BSS domain towards process-
Comarch households. But the introduction of triple-play required new, driven and centralized product management, while still
Convergent Billing flexible back office systems to assure smooth order-to-bill being flexible enough to allow for regional offer and pricing
process support while guaranteeing high levels of customer variations to better suit individual local market conditions.
Comarch Cash satisfaction. Moreover, historically Grupo TVCable’s billing
Desk and customer care systems were decentralized, with each
geographical region managing its own local customer base Why Comarch?
Comarch and billing operations. As the company grew, this setup was
Customer becoming very inefficient and difficult to manage. A new “Prior to implementing the Comarch solution, Grupo TVCable
Management system was needed to bring it all under one roof. operated multiple regional back office instances, with
products, pricing, and billing managed locally in separate
Comarch databases and no centralized control. Early on, we realized
Business Process The challenge – multiple systems that if we wished to maintain the rapid growth of our
Management instead of one customer base, the back office systems must be centralized
in order to achieve transparency, consistency, and data
Comarch With the introduction of VoIP telephony, the concept of and process unification across the entire corporation. Yet
InterPartner usage-based billing became a critical issue for Grupo these systems must continue to allow us to stay attentive
Billing (including TVCable. The company had two options: purchase a to regional customer needs. And this is exactly why we
Reconciliation) dedicated standalone VoIP billing system, or a convergent partnered with Comarch. It allowed us to introduce the level
billing system that would support not only VoIP but also of management control which is necessary to streamline
Comarch Billing all its existing services (CATV and internet) as well as new customer acquisition, billing, and support structure. The
Mediation innovative offerings in the future. Although migration to resulting 25% reduction in operating costs allowed us to
a single convergent billing system initially seemed like a offer more attractive pricing while improving our bottom
Comarch Service grueling task, there were obvious long-term benefits of such line.” – acknowledges Fernando Carrillo, VP of Information
Provisioning an approach. The main advantage was the ability to present Technology at Grupo TVCable.
Mediation

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT 9

An added benefit of having a unified data model and The ability to manage a unified order-to-bill cycle from
a  centralized database is management reporting. The a central location provided Grupo TVCable with the level
solution implemented at Grupo TVCable comes with its own of management control that was previously impossible.
flexible reporting engine which makes it possible to configure Migration and switchover to the new system was performed
and execute periodic and ad hoc reports on the activities gradually, by region, thus unifying all customer account,
of the enterprise, both on a regional as well as a global contract, and financial data across the country and across CUSTOMER
scale. It is now possible to quickly track and report on the the enterprise. Thanks to the underlying Business Process Grupo TVCable,
level of incoming orders, resources needed and consumed Management tool, approximately 40 different workflow Ecuador
during customer installations, technician visits and their processes were configured to simplify tasks and capture
performance, amounts billed, and amounts still outstanding. information which previously was only noted on paper or INDUSTRY
Historical data gathered in the system provides an sometimes not recorded at all, such as information related Communications
important source of information for top management about to technician visits at customer sites. These business
the performance of the company, and helps make better processes range from basic account and contract Grupo TVCable is the
business decisions that will ensure Grupo TVCable’s leading management, adds, moves, changes, equipment swaps, and largest MSO (multi
market position and allow it to offer new innovative products service visits, through more complex resolutions of trouble service operator) in
and services in the future. tickets, and advanced dunning scenarios. Moreover, Grupo Ecuador. The company
TVCable gained a competitive edge as the solution’s flexible was founded in 1986
configuration enabled it to launch new national and regional when the construction
The result – increased operational offers and product bundles with discounted pricing in a of a hybrid fiber co-ax
efficiency thanks to a centralized BSS matter of hours rather than days and weeks. In addition, the cable network linking
solution time needed to connect and begin billing a new subscriber various major cities in
was halved, while the time spent by technicians at customer the country began. In
Preceded by an in-depth requirement analysis, the resulting sites was reduced by nearly 30%. Significant cost reductions 1987, the first subscribers
Comarch BSS Suite implementation provided Grupo TVCable were also achieved by centralizing the IT staff needed to took advantage of Grupo
with a centralized TV, internet, and IP telephony billing and maintain the new BSS solution. Finally, top management can TVCable’s comprehensive
customer care system that was still capable of supporting now obtain accurate, consolidated customer care and billing programming which
regional product offers for the various geographical markets reports in minutes, not days, as was the case in the past. included cultural, family,
in which the company operates. sports, news, movie,
music, and children’s
channels from all over
Billing System Call Center the world. Since then,
the subscriber base
Printhouse Customer Management & has been constantly
Accounting & Taxation Business Process Management
growing as the network
coverage has expanded
Rating & Account Order Trouble
Billing Mgmt Mgmt Ticketing
to reach other parts of
Banks/ Invoices, CDR s, Products/
payments
Services, Prices, the country, and as the
Discounts, Customer
Overdue Bill Callcula- Contracts, CustomerBase product portfolio has
tions & Dunning Data broadened to include
internet access and
Point of Sale InterPartner
Carrier Billing
Settlements &
Cash Desk Reconciliation telephony services.
Today, Grupo TVCable’s
delivers high quality
communication,
Mediation Platform
entertainment and
Billing Mediation Service Provisioning Mediation
educational offerings
to its subscribers
nationwide.
Safari C3 soft Intraway AURIS DAC6000 ACC Microwave E-mail
switch Provisioning (pin codes) Digital TV Analog TV controller Controller
Gateway controller controller

cable Legend:
EMTA modems Comarch
solution
  Figure 1. Comarch BSS Suite at Grupo TVCable

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


10 CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT

Multimedia Polska, a multi-service


operator, has a new consolidated BSS
ultimedia Polska S.A. (MMP) is a multi-service The challenge: a tool for winning price
M operator, established via the consolidation of
several regional cable TV providers. Prior to the
wars

merger, each company concentrated on its own area Multi-service operators face rigorous competition, with
of interest, (cable TV, telephony and broadband) acting diversified geographical intensity. For instance, in some
independently and within its home region. As a result of major cities (or even, in particular streets) multiple operators
these acquisitions, Multimedia Polska S.A. has transformed are present, whilst at other locations, there are none at all.
CUSTOMER into a nationwide corporation, offering triple-play services In order to compete effectively within these areas, operators
Multimedia Polska throughout Poland. aim to vary their pricing and adjust it to local market
S.A. conditions.

INDUSTRY The business need: BSS consolidation Multimedia Polska S.A. was capable of pursuing such
Communications a demanding sales policy, thanks to the Comarch Billing
Consolidation resulted in the requirement for a wave of data System, which grants an operator the ability to define
Multimedia Polska migration efforts from legacy Business Support Systems various “regions”, with independent pricing schemes offered
S.A. is the third largest used by particular daughter-companies, to a single, central to subscribers. Even the smallest of areas can receive its
nationwide cable system capable of handling all regions and services under own tailor-made offer (e.g. a single street perimeter), in this
operator and provider MMP’s jurisdiction. A flexible and complete billing solution way allowing an operator to fine-tune its pricing, and attain
of digital television, was needed to perform the migration seamlessly, and the a  competitive advantage over the competition.
with video on demand, Comarch Billing System proved to be the ideal choice.
broadband and mobile This built-in mechanism enables MMP to effortlessly win
data, and fixed-line and Multimedia Polska S.A. decided to perform the migration from regional price wars so typical of the multi-service industry:
mobile voice (mobilFON). the specific systems autonomously, in order to maintain areas penetrated by intense competition can have a lower
We were the first control and confidentiality of the migrated data. Such an price-tag attached with numerous discounts, whereas higher
operator in the country operation would have been unfeasible without the in-depth margins can be enjoyed in “virgin” geographical regions.
to offer High Definition technical knowledge possessed by MMP’s IT personnel,
Television (HDTV) with and thus Comarch delivered this know-how through profound Multimedia Polska S.A. offers triple-play services including:
numerous add-on product training, delivered as part of its solution. This
modalities, such as video approach proved to be highly fruitful, and the customer’s Cable TV
on demand (VoD) and IT department succeeded in migrating a group of regional
personal video recorder operators into the new, centralized system. Tariff plan set-up Broadband Access
(PVR) etc. and overall configuration were performed by MMP, leveraging
for this purpose, a pre-defined API delivered by Comarch. Video On Demand
The company has been
listed on the Warsaw Telephony
Stock Exchange since
2006.

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CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT 11

The result: “multi-service” product any changes to the contractual terms, allowing MMP to
bundling dodge potential problems related to financial liquidity or COMARCH
customer dissatisfaction. PRODUCTS
Subscribers can select between single and multiple services & SERVICES:
from the portfolio. Since all services are managed by one
central billing system, discount schemes attached to Why Comarch: many technologies, one Comarch
customer orders can be introduced by MMP. Such discounts billing system Convergent Billing
would apply to either single services, or service bundles
offered at more preferable prices in order to encourage Multimedia Polska S.A. is a dynamic and highly flexible Comarch
subscribers to order more. Even complex formulas are operator. Possessing the relevant technical background, Customer
possible, such as discount thresholds for one service MMP uses various technologies to offer its services: e.g. Management
dependant on the consumption level of another service DSL, HFC, WiFi, etc. Most importantly, independently of the
(Cross Discount). Employing this method, the Comarch Billing technologies in use, all services are now managed by one Comarch Billing
System allows MMP to concentrate purely on the needs of its billing system. This helps to reduce costs and improve daily Mediation
subscribers. operations significantly.
Comarch
The Comarch Billing System, used by MMP as a replacement “We value the Comarch Billing System, due to its Business Process
for the various legacy systems of its daughter-companies, simultaneous comprehensiveness and flexibility. This Management
avoided additional business obstacles deriving from platform has seamlessly replaced various legacy systems,
diversification of payment days for particular subscribers, and is currently used to bill all our services. In addition, we Comarch Cash
which had been introduced by previous architecture. Some enjoy the benefits of the new functionality it has provided us Desk
subscribers would pay in advance, while others had down- with, enabling the initiation of successful product bundling
payment plans defined within previous systems. MMP and pricing policy.” – states Mr. Krzysztof Jaskolski, CTO of
needed to maintain this configuration within the new system, Multimedia Polska S.A.
in light of the fact that attempting to unify payment schemes
for all subscribers may have led to customer churn or cash- Moreover, the nationwide scale of MMP’s business requires
flow disadvantages for the operator. Comarch tackled this the operator to maintain adequate technical support
issue by featuring the individual configuration of payment resources (i.e. to perform on-site installation services).
plans – whereby the payment day can be customized for In this way, MMP employs the Comarch WorkFlow task
each subscriber, separately. management system, which is integrated with the billing
platform, also automating the majority of task management
In this manner, data migration was performed transparently efforts, improving daily performance even further.
for the subscribers, and there was no requirement to force

General Ledger Billing System Call Center

Printhouse Overdue Bill Customer Management


Commissions & Business Process
Calculations &
Calculating Dunning Management
Debt Collection
Agency
Accounting & Customer Contacts,
Data warehouse Invoices, CDR s, Products/ Prospects, Workflows
Taxation Services, Prices,
Discounts, Customer
Bank Contracts, Customer Base
Rating & Data
Others
Billing
ESB

Resource
Management NOC /
provisioning

Billing Mediation

Voice Exchanges VoIP Gateways VoD Sources Others


Legend:
Comarch
solution
  Figure 1. Comarch solution in MM environment

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BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION
TRANSFORMATION

Transformation…
what does this mean???

hroughout the years of designing and delivering platforms, employees of different group members will still
T IT  solutions for telecom operators I have witnessed
many transformations. Telcos were created
be organized differently and they will use these platforms in
their unique ways.
as startups, then formed their own business model and
constructed their IT to support their business yet in the end
(after a few years) they accumulated a backlog of unsolvable So what is this “Business
problems proving unbearable - so they transformed. Transformation”?

A question comes to mind… they went through Business Transformation, i.e. changing the way of doing
a  transformation, but what does this mean? Usually they business. Thus, Business Transformation is about changing
would have transformed their aging IT, having it replaced with organization, changing business processes, changing
a new more powerful and flexible package. patterns of interactions and somewhere at the bottom of
TOMASZ OMIECINSKI the whole process, adjusting IT in order for it to match new
Comarch SA And so a second question springs to mind: did that solve realities (where “adjusting” is most often just an euphemism
Senior Manager, the accumulated backlog problem? Well, typically it would for “replacing”).
Convergent BSS/OSS Solutions, have solved IT- related problems, but… problems which
Telecommunications Business were caused outside of IT still remained, regardless of how Business Transformation is much more than just changing IT.
Unit many times IT itself was transformed. Furthermore, if IT was However, changing IT may be the best known and controlled
transformed but business was not changed, then soon element of all transformation aspects. After all, IT has been
enough the old patterns of doing business would start to changed, modified or transformed many times in the lifetime
IDEAS IN BRIEF: imprint old problems onto new IT. of any mature CSP, so they know how to avoid typical
mistakes.
Not all problems So is there a way of solving the unsolvable through
can be solved by transformation? Yes there is. Business Transformation is the Business Transformation is difficult as it requires changing
changing IT correct answer. an employees’ way of working, changing their habits,
re-distributing responsibilities, changing organization
All problems The right time for Business Transformation comes naturally charts (and in turn –titles and positions). This means that
can be solved with the maturity of the telecommunications industry. Telcos the first and most important thing that is needed for such
by transforming were formed years ago, through the course of this time a  transformation is the commitment of the executives, i.e.
business they grew, acquired other telcos or were acquired (some the effective decision makers. When an organization is being
even many times over) to finally end up in multi-technology changed, vigorous disputes are held (“I want my team left
Changing business groups. Nowadays, large telcos are often organized intact”), generating endless e-mail chains that are bound
business affects as multiple companies doing more or less the same things, to occur and could well impact the transformation. Unless
an organization’s but using different means and bravely solving problems that Management is prepared to use all of their executive powers
structure, end to they uniquely and unpredictably bring upon themselves. to firmly tell their employees “We are transforming and that
end processes It is worth noting that even if a group itself standardizes IT means that you are transforming too”.
and IT

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IN FOCUS: BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION 13

OK, let’s get started…but how? A second opinion should also be taken into How will the transformation
account, and rather than going for a theoretical efforts pay off?
Gaining commitment will not be possible if there consulting view, it would be better to choose an
is no concrete transformation plan, which must experienced IT partner who would share their 1. It is THE way to free the CSP from the backlog
clearly define to what and how the business will experiences in this area. What we mean is an of problems accumulated throughout the
transform. As it is often easier to setup a new IT partner that has already delivered complete years.
business than to transform a mature organization, business support suites on its own to a number
the creation of such a plan must not be taken of CSPs. An IT partner who has built up its own 2. It is THE way to re-compose business,
lightly. The difficulty is in defining transformation portfolio of best practices and standardized preparing it for new challenges.
plans which grow with the size of the business systems in real-life projects. This is one of
undergoing the transformation. In this context, circumstances where multi-vendor solutions 3. It is THE most comprehensive way to
transforming multi-market & multi-country delivered by multiple integrators truly fail. Multi- effectively invigorate a mature organization
businesses into a single “pan-geographical party deliveries do not allow a party to build to make it competitive and ready to race
business unit” elevates the challenge to yet up practice in running end-to-end business head-to-head with those who have not been
another level. processes, navigating them through various burdened with years of bad experiences.
organizations and effectively supporting them in
So how does one climb such a mountain? Well, different IT systems.
one way is to hire a leading consulting company, Why am I telling you all this?
which would provide thousands of hours of
services. As a result, a detailed report would be What does it take to execute the I am currently taking part in a transformation
filed that would summarize all of the existing transformation? program – a multi-market and multi-country
problems and would hold a list of means to Business Transformation. Comarch is supporting
address them. The report would leave the decision 1. The management’s commitment and it not only with BSS/OSS Suite components, but
to the operator and each of the possible “ways out” readiness to defend the program against provides CSPs with access to experience gathered
would be accompanied with tens (if not hundreds) people who are prepared to go all the way to in previous projects.
of pros and cons to make the decision process a derail the transformation in order to protect
little bit “easier”. After drawing up such a report CSP their old ways. The transformation is tiresome, the amount of work
will not differ from where it started, apart from the is phenomenal (as I said, complexity grows quickly
fact that now it would have a “summary problem 2. Strength and dedication, never minding the with the size of the business undergoing the
report” – which could make it easier to explain to sleepless nights when forming and then transformation), yet I am personally proud that we
people that the problems exists and have to be executing transformation plan. A plan that are the IT partner supporting the transformation,
addressed. has to be sound and robust if it is to result in and it is my privilege to work with people who have
the management’s “GO” call. the right attitude and show admirable commitment
Is there another way? Well, the operator could to actually making things happen. People who
go back to the good old TMF eTOM to decompose 3. Exquisite program/project management skills have prepared the plan and took their executives
its Frameworx (especially the Business Process in order to execute the plan in a controlled message seriously. People who have organized
Framework – in its brand new Release 9 of course) manner, knowing that the transformation will themselves in multiple streams and work tirelessly
taking it apart in order to reconstruct the CSP’s span across multiple levels, and will happen on “seemingly unrelated” paths, all of which lead to
own business like a jigsaw puzzle. One should also in multiple parallel streams that will affect the one common goal. People who have embarked on
bear in mind all of the past experiences in order whole organization. a climb of the “transformation mountain”, no matter
to avoid missing some aspects that have been what it takes.
inadequately dealt with before. Surprisingly as it 4. And last but not least – an IT partner. Yes,
may sound, although multi-market transformations “IT partner” and not “IT vendor”. Business Perhaps in one of the next issues of this magazine
present additional challenges, they also bring Transformation requires an IT partner who will I will be able to present how this transformation
big advantages as they allow to combine multi- be prepared to be there with the CSP in the was actually carried out and how it transformed
party and multi-country experiences into a single long run. A partner who is ready to support the businesses involved. As of now I can only say
business setup. the transformation planning process a long that if you are tired of old problems that reoccur
time before IT delivery starts. A partner with over and over again, regardless of the times IT has
goals that reach far beyond selling licenses or been changed – don’t be scared and go all the
man days of work. way, follow the Business Transformation path.

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TRANSFORMATION

How to avoid embarrassing challenges in


projects – a vendor view

ithout any doubt, embarrassing challenges the users to switch to the new solution which would enable
W happen in projects, especially in IT. In this article
I will elaborate on the most common and most
them to work more efficiently.

important challenges of this kind. What was the root cause for all these issues? It was only
after a few months that we found out that a project owner
The conclusions, which can generally be drawn from this was not defined on the customer side. This is definitely
article, are based on the completion of five large OSS projects the most difficult kind of challenge, as the vendor cannot
for the largest players on the telecom market. These projects really change it. In this case, management was obviously
have consumed a combined total of more than 18 years in not supporting our project, limiting resources as much as
their collective completion. Thousands of man days have possible and handing over the overall responsibility to us.
been invested, with circa two hundred team members, just So, we just presented our expectations concerning project
by Comarch alone. management and put a lot of effort to contact users: Webex
MAREK CIENKIEWICZ sessions were organized to demonstrate system capabilities
Comarch SA and they convinced some users but still, Comarch was
Implementation A lack of a project owner on the the one taking the risk of making technical decisions,
Department Manager, OSS customer’s side influencing system acceptance in a negative way.
Core, Telecommunications
Business Unit Let’s take a look at the first case. After the initial
implementation was finished, the first worrying signs Imprecise definition of project
started to appear during prototyping sessions: future users requirements and scope
complained about a number of functionalities. They said,
IDEAS IN BRIEF: that the system was not designed in a way that would suite The next challenge is, in my opinion, very common and
their current work, and that they would prefer to stick with has been present in a greater or lesser extent in almost all
Defining project their current solutions. This tendency was becoming stronger projects. Project scope is usually based upon the customer’s
owner is the clue and stronger. Nevertheless, as a result of the management’s request for proposal (RFP), the vendor’s offer and results
decision, the next project phases were already defined. of an analysis. Some project assumptions were taken
Precise definition of Unfortunately, the customer had not yet assigned a project from the offer and due to several reasons (lying on both
requirements and manager or a technical manager able to make a binding sides) analysis was not detailed enough. This resulted in
scope decision on the project scope. The project team existed, but misunderstandings regarding the scope of the work and
no clear responsibilities were assigned to customer’s team revealed its full effect during acceptance tests. Questions
Correct project members. As a result, nobody really encouraged the end appeared: is this particular feature “in scope” vs. “not in
organization users to take advantage of our system – and consequently, scope”? Such doubts may seriously endanger system
they did not show interest either. Management didn’t push acceptance.

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IN FOCUS: BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION 15

The reason was simple: imprecise definition of requirements One of the key means to overcome this is to set up a project
and scope – a difficult challenge to deal with. First, you communication plan specifying who can communicate with
must convince the customer to define his requirements whom, when and by what means. Being introduced by a pro-
precisely (which is already a challenge when dealing with big active project manager, the plan guarantees success – at
enterprises): either by doing so in advance, before the project least in project organization.
starts (even more challenging), or by participating in the
creation of the work scope during analysis. Precise wording A project without challenges is not exciting. Therefore it is
in offers is self-evident. not the challenges that we should focus on, but rather the
way to deal with them. Having right means in place and time
A very interesting solution for this problem has a commercial is what we should concentrate on. This is the reason why
nature: the analysis may be ordered separately to the project management methodologies have been developed.
implementation. This offers advantages for both sides. The The Project Management Institute (PMI), PRINCE 2 and
customer gets exactly what it wants for a reasonable price, Scrum are the most common in the IT world. There should
because the vendor does not have to assume a higher be no struggle to introduce changes in the strict approach.
implementation budget for risk coverage – as the scope In one of our projects we achieved very interesting effects
is known. Unfortunately, customers resist to accept this by setting up the base of project management on a formal
proposal, especially at the project start. They prefer to have methodology, like PMI or PRINCE 2, and use Agile/Scrum
a  fixed price for the entire scope and not risk – as they think – elements to a required extent in chosen project phases
wasting money on analysis which could lead to “nowhere”. such as analysis and specific configuration of software
(which were combined into one phase). Such an approach
enables to create a product in a flexible way, fulfilling
Incorrect project organization customer requirements much faster in comparison to
a strict waterfall-like management style. The project team
The last embarrassing challenge, which is wide spread, can reacts quicker to changes and the customer observes the
sometimes be seen in the tiniest elements. Team members progress of product development in regular, relatively short
are not prepared for workshops or testing, the training intervals, of a maximum of two-three weeks. During this
environment is not prepared or firewall rules are not set. time, organizational, reporting and commercial framework of
Questions are answered after a significant amount of time, the project remains according to traditional methodologies,
due to lack of interest or communication issues. Such signs which is beneficial for the customer and us.
can be easily neglected by project managers because they
might think they belong to “normal” issues or depend on
the customer and as such are the vendor’s concern. This
is not always the case. The issue here is incorrect project
organization.

A project without challenges is not exciting. Therefore it is not the challenges that we
should focus on, but rather the way to deal with them.

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TRANSFORMATION

The advantages of product


catalog-centric BSS
n the old times, before barcodes and readers were Challenge 1 – difficulties in managing
I introduced, product offering and sales processes
in small grocery stores were quite simple. You
multiple systems

would just stick a price tag to the product and put it on the The operators that have existed on the market for many
shelf. The customer would then come in, take the product, years may have products defined and maintained in multiple
IDEAS IN BRIEF: and get charged by the person managing the cash register. systems from different vendors. One billing system handles
Despite the fact that entering prices manually was more mobile services, another deals with fixed line telephony
The disadvantages time-consuming, at least the product offer definition was services, and yet another is for cable TV services. All these
of having multiple simple and the offer was completed in short time. systems need to support sales-related applications such
product catalogs as CRM, a self care portal and a point of sale system.
In the telecom business, the situation also used to be much A customer service agent should use the same CRM
How Comarch simpler then it is today. Nowadays, product offers and applications for mobile, fixed and cable TV services, so the
approaches BSS definitions consist of many different elements including sales-related applications need to be able to use all the
transformation in price, target group, distribution channel and offer validity product data that has been scattered across many systems,
terms of a product time. And since an operator often has thousands of products and present this data in a unified format.
catalog-centric created, managed and offered by multiple departments,
architecture managing the product portfolio may become very complex Developing a telecom operator’s business (adding new
and ineffective. This drawback grows even greater, as business models, entering new regions, involving in mergers
What impact can product lifetimes get shorter (e.g. promotions / personalized & acquisitions) calls for the addition of new systems,
a product catalog prices) and the number of product variations keeps growing. databases, terminologies, data structures and new levels
have on customer of information quality. As a result, the operator has multiple
experience The situation can be better pictured from the end-customer’s data models for products managed in various systems. The
perspective. A customer notices an offer about a new old BSS system that handles fixed line services may not be
smartphone with attractive, low monthly fees. He goes to as flexible as the new system that handles mobile service
a point of sale and wants to purchase the smartphone with offerings.
a mobile broadband service. The dealer enters the order
into the system and tells the customer the estimated time If the old and new systems are using different terminologies
when the service will become active. The estimated time to describe the same things, systems cease to “speak the
comes, but the service doesn’t become active. As a result, same language”. In turn, the people working with product
the customer gets frustrated and returns the smartphone to data (e.g. product managers and call center agents), who
the point of sale. Then he goes to another operator’s point need to get an overview of product status, face difficulties
of sale, where he buys a similar smartphone and gets the in obtaining the information they want. This increases the
service activated in one hour. What went wrong? amount of time-consuming manual work, entailing more
costs and errors in the service delivery process. Bringing new
services into the market using a platform with no common

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


IN
INFOCUS:
FOCUS:BSS/OSS
BSS/OSSTRANSFORMATION
TRANSFORMATION 17

language can be very challenging, and may give an edge All these disadvantages are slowing down the operator’s
to competitors. Operators cannot evaluate their current business. This becomes a severe drawback, damaging the
business performance well, if the underlying system does operator’s ability to respond swiftly to changing market
not provide a consistent, single view of the situation. conditions. Apart from time to market on new product
launches, operators need to think about product life cycles
that are getting shorter nowadays. This calls for effective
Challenge 2 – complexity of new management of the product retirement strategy, in order to
product definitions keep maintenance and retiring costs under control. This is
also a relatively new challenge. Back when fixed-line voice
Data consistency is not the only challenge. When a product telephony was almost the only type of service, retirement
manager is designing new products and offerings, he should was not essential, as the same service could have been PEKKA VALITALO
be able to design them effectively, without needing to repeat offered for years. Comarch SA
the same work multiple times using various applications. The BSS Market Analyst,
same should be possible during the implementation of the Telecommunications
product. Challenge 3 – geopardized customer Business Unit
experience
Having many parallel systems for product management can
bring various disadvantages: The problems occurring from the complex definition and Nowadays,
management of products won’t only affect the product product offers and
Duplicated work. Depending on the system, the data management department. These problems can eventually definitions consist
model may be different so one data structure cannot damage the customer experience too. If the product data is of many different
be used for multiple products. This entails product inconsistent, the order management process may encounter elements including
managers’ additional effort at product definition stage difficulties, for example in situations where incorrect product price, target group,
and disables product inheritance. All of this means a lot data (e.g. wrong price) would be presented to the customer. distribution channel
of time is spent making similar configurations instead Additional difficulties may occur from the service fulfillment and offer validity
of re-using existing ones. process. For example, the service activation component of time. And since
an operator’s BSS platform may obtain wrong data (e.g. in an operator often
Complicated maintenance of product data. Managing case multiple database are used) so the wrong product is has thousands of
existing product data and reconciliation of the data activated as a result. This entails dissatisfaction on the end products created,
between products and systems becomes complex, customer’s side. The damaged customer experience may not managed and
leading to increased effort on the side of service only increase churn rate, but also customer service costs. offered by multiple
providers’ staff. departments,
To conclude, operators can no longer afford fragmented and managing the
Lack of consistent product performance data. It may be inconsistent product catalogs. They are too time consuming product portfolio
difficult to get an overview about the products defined in to manage, which is a huge burden for operators struggling may become
different systems. To analyze the overall product portfolio, to optimize their business processes. A centralized product very complex and
the product manager may need to browse data in multiple catalog also shortens the time-to-market, which entails cost ineffective.
systems, which takes more time. savings (products are designed with less manual effort)

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18 IN FOCUS: BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION

Sales Channels

Order Capture Order Capture Order Capture

CRM Self Care Dealer Care

Central Product Manager Order Management


Integration & Specification & Offering Sales Support
Administration Management Order Manager

Workbench Specification Cart Manager


Manager BPM / Order
Orchestration
Product Information Product Offering Recommendation
Publisher Manager Engine

Product Lifecycle Product Catalog Quotation Engine


Management Manager Product Inventory

Initial Data Importer Sales Network Product Configurator


Manager Product Instances

Linking Mapping

Billing System Service Activator

Pricing Algorithms Service Catalog

Rating Elements Service Fulfillment

  Figure 1. Comarch Central Product Manager architecture

and revenue loss elimination (delayed product launches As shown in Figure 1, the Sales Channels group includes CRM,
Operators can result in lack of revenues from the products). It also enables Self Care and Dealer Care applications. This group may also
no longer afford definition of new products and management of the product contain other Comarch or third party applications that are
fragmented and life cycle using a single system. The system services multiple supporting the sales process.
inconsistent stakeholders of the operator (e.g. product managers, sales
product catalogs. and marketing), while using a single, consistent data model The most important element here is Order Capture, integrated
They are too time for product data standardization. with CPM and Order Management. The Order Capture element
consuming to gathers complete order data and sends it to the Order
manage, which Management component. In addition to the basic information
is a huge burden Comarch’s solution delivered from the CPM for the order capture process (e.g.
for operators product and price information), CPM can bring additional
struggling A central product management should cover offer and value to the process by providing sales recommendations
to optimize product specification, product relationship definition, and and price quotations. Integration between CPM and the
their business a possibility to specify which products are exclusive or underlying billing system depends on the billing systems’
processes. sold only as a component of a bigger package. It should capabilities. In the case of Comarch Convergent Billing
also provide tools for defining target customer types, offer integration is performed using pre-defined interfaces and
locations and many other parameters. Central product pricing algorithms as the main tools for sharing information
management should be an integral part of the BSS between systems.
architecture, fully integrated with its other components.
The order gets sent from the Order Management module
Based on these principles, Comarch has designed its to the Service Activator. This module can perform complex
Central Product Manager (CPM). The Figure 1. presents the service fulfillment tasks, consisting of various steps and
logical architecture of the product. Comarch Central Product based on workflows. Such functionalities provide enable the
Manager is located between the Sales Channels, Order operator to flexibly customize business processes.
Management, Service Activator, and Billing System layers.

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The Product Inventory module is used for managing facilitates maintenance and retirement of products. Faced
product instances, which store information about the with an increasing number of offered services and shorter One of the essential
product offerings to which customers subscribed, and service lifetimes, operators must focus on their service processes
subscription conditions. It provides an interface for other retirement strategies. that a central
modules (especially Order Management) to create and product catalog
terminate product instances, and for obtaining information Comarch Central Product Manager enables operators to should enable is
about product instances e.g. by the CRM application in deploy their PLM processes effectively. After a product is product life cycle
the sales channel layer. Example case can be where the defined in the system, it must be made available as an management
CRM application is used to terminate a specific product offer to the customers. Different offers may be targeted e.g. (PLM), which
subscription from a customer or to get current subscriptions. based on the end customer type, geographical location, facilitates
or sales channel (point of sale / web shop). Comarch CPM maintenance
provides a  large set of capabilities for preparing offers such and retirement of
Information model based on SID as definition of: prices, promotions, upgrade rules as well as products.
publication and termination rules.
As the product structures of operators usually depend on
multiple legacy systems managing product data in their own In the stage of product definition, Comarch CPM simplifies
databases, managing this data becomes complex. To enable configuration and allows the existing specifications to
managing products centrally and making them “speak the be re-used easily by providing an advanced inheritance
same language”, consistent data and terminology must be functionality based on a mix-in concept. For example,
applied to product-related information. Only this way product products can be inherited by various versions with slight
life cycle management can be applied effectively. changes, leading to saved time and effort. Multiple products
can be mixed in – thus the inheritance can be used while
To achieve this, Comarch based its Central Product Manager keeping the hierarchies of the products.
on the TM Forum Information Framework, also called
the Shared Information Data (SID) model. The SID model
provides a single information / data reference model and Inbound and outbound integration
a common information / data vocabulary from a business
entity perspective. The model is becoming widely adopted Although the product catalog provides a central point for
among the telco operators, so it means that the integrations managing products and storing master data, it must be used
between systems from different vendors can use a similar in tandem with legacy BSS systems. It should provide various
data model which facilitates system integration. possibilities for inbound and outbound integration with
legacy BSS systems that may not support the SID model.
Comarch CPM provides a Data Importer component that
Product and offer definition supports data migration from legacy systems – the imported
data can be used as an entry point for configuring a full
Operators that have complicated product catalogs scattered product catalog with marketing offers.
around multiple systems can still use these catalogs to
launch new products. But this means product managers The data can also be exported from Central Product Manager
will struggle with duplicated product information, keeping to legacy systems. In such a case, the replication module
fragmented data consistent and maintaining integrated of the Central Product Manager can be used. This is useful
legacy systems. Additionally, legacy systems can limit the in situations where online integration cannot be performed
creativity of product managers in defining products and and data needs to be replicated into the format of the target
offers, whereas a modern BSS with centralized product legacy system.
catalog improves the situation significantly. It enables
product managers to define any kind of associations
and rules in relation to the products. It also ensures Accelerating sales support
product data is available for sales channel applications,
order management, billing system and service activation A customer service representative needs information about
components. Managing product specifications and defining the products that are available to a customer. Presenting
associations in Comarch’s CPM is possible thanks to the information about the products that the customer cannot
specification manager component. purchase makes no sense, because it will lead to situations
where invalid information is given to the customer, and
One of the essential processes that a central product catalog may entail order drop-out as well as reduced customer
should enable is product life cycle management (PLM), which satisfaction.

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Therefore, the CRM system needs to use the available costs, which reduces the risk of bill shock. In addition, the
product and offering data from the product catalog. Quotation Engine is useful for preparing quotations for
Additional information could be delivered from the product business customers, who would like to purchase a large set
catalog to the sales channel applications to facilitate the of products at the same time, as it provides them with full
order capture process. The CRM application should be able transparency of the costs.
to access the information in the product catalog about
available products during customer interaction, together with The advantages of Comarch Central Product Manager from
quotations for the products that the customer would like to the sales perspective include:
contract. In addition, the central product manager should
The advantages analyze the data about customer’s current services and Consistent information about products and offers for
of Comarch provide sales recommendations to the CRM applications, the customer – reduced risk of inaccurate prices and
Central Product based on the customer data (for example current other data inconsistencies.
Manager from the agreements, consumption information).
sales perspective More accurate order management and service
include: A sample scenario will be best to describe how the product fulfillment process – leading to fewer order drop-outs
catalog can support the sales process. A customer goes to and fewer service activation errors.
+ Consistent a point of sale and wants to buy two smartphones: one for
information him and one for his wife. The customer service agent gets a Personalized products, due to flexible product creation
about products list of available smartphones on his screen. After selecting – the underlying platform is no longer limiting the
and offers for the the smartphone, the list of available tariff plans appears on creativity of new product definitions.
customer the screen. Only those tariff plans that can be used with
the smartphones are shown, so there is no possibility of Better up-selling and cross-selling opportunities,
+ More accurate error during the contracting process. Next, the appropriate originating from the recommendation engine
order payment details are chosen. For example, information component.
management such as whether the customer would like to have both
and service smartphones billed on the same invoice. After capturing all
fulfillment the order details, the service agent can provide an accurate Business process optimization
process quotation and the estimated service activation time, based
on the data from the central product manager. To maximize the benefits of switching to centralized product
+ Personalized catalog, associated business processes should be optimized.
products, due to The sales process is also supported by the Cart Manager As the product catalog has an impact on many different
flexible product component of Comarch CPM. It supports the order capture business processes, such as sales, order management,
creation process by exposing an advanced interface, which can be service fulfillment and billing, it needs to support seamless
used by external applications such as CRM or a self service integration of these activities. Composing the end to end
+ Better up-selling portal, providing information about products to the sales process that translates the customer order into service
and cross-selling channel layer. The Cart Manager provides information on fulfillment accelerates the operator’s revenue flow, as the
opportunities products which are available for specific customers, and service is activated with fewer drop-outs or errors.
enables order building using a cart, as in web shops (building
an order is like adding items to the cart). This component
can also be integrated with the external serviceability check Conclusions
systems to verify in real time which service can be installed
at customer’s premises. This reduces the risk of order drop- The operators need to improve their agility when introducing
outs and service activation errors. The Recommendation new products to the market. Multiple legacy systems
Engine functionality of the Cart Manager is exposed to containing product data that is scattered around multiple
sales channels using the same interface. It generates sales databases increases operating costs, increases the risk of
recommendations based on various conditions, to support errors and slows down product development.
the Cart Manager in the Order Capture process.
Having the product data available and manageable from a
Comarch CPM also contains a Quotation Engine that single location accelerates the operator’s business. Not only
can estimate prices for the currently selected products. can it speed up product management, it also reduces the
Customers who are interested in purchasing multiple cost of system maintenance, improves customer experience,
products, either separately or in bundles, can be informed and increases visibility of the business performance.
about the total cost of their order. If the tariff plans are based Centralized product catalog is the perfect answer to these
on multiple parameters (monthly fee, usage fee, initial fee challenges.
etc.), the customer can obtain information about upcoming

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INFOCUS:
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BSS/OSSTRANSFORMATION
TRANSFORMATION 21

Increase efficiency of order-to-cash processes


with optimal field service management

f you ask telecommunication executives, which Order-to-cash in telecommunications


I process is crucial for their company’s operations,
probably most of them will answer that it is the Before elaborating on field service, let’s take a look at the
order-to-cash or order-to-cash-related process. Moreover, standard order-to-cash process. Generally there is no such
if you ask, which one is the most complex and was recently thing as a “standard” process here, as it is unique for every
or is currently planned to be optimized or transformed, the CSP when you look at the details, but on a high level it is
answer would be almost always the same. This is because possible to pinpoint its universal stages:
the order-to-cash process generally affects the strategic
aspects of most telecom businesses: improves time to Order Capture – an order may get captured from
market for new services and, if effective, increases market various sources and channels. A dedicated system SZYMON UCZCIWEK
share. The process is attractive from many points of view then receives a new instance of an event-driven Comarch SA
(integrations, workflows, etc.) and the concept of making it process. From a technical point of view it comes down FSM Product Manager,
efficient and flexible with certain tools is essential. to integrating with a complex IT environment. From this Telecommunications
moment on, the order processing system is responsible Business Unit
However, sometimes there is no time to consider one very for the order fulfillment process.
important aspect of the process. An aspect that is often
covered in one point on the transformation map or presented Order Data Collection – after the process is launched,
as one particular step, but that has remarkable impact the system has to collect all data that may be
on many areas of CSPs’ core activities, such as customer significant for process purposes. This step can be
service or network operations. This aspect is field service, partially executed through manual activities, and often
an area which can be described as all of the activities that involves many interactions with external sources of
have to be carried out at the customers or networks location, information that are necessary to process the order
in order to complete the order-to-cash process and start (e.g. inventory data, customer data, billing history, etc.).
collecting charges for the service. This activity however, is
complex and has to be managed well. Order Validation – it is important to validate all collected
data in order to process the new order properly.

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Order Processing – according to its purpose, the Most of the steps mentioned above relate to a proper
order has to be processed in many departments and order processing engine and flexible integration with the IT
in many supporting systems. The order processing environment. As has been mentioned, the execution of tasks
system is responsible for accurate workflow and for needed to fulfill the order may involve field activity. In such
Mobile workforce all events which may have an impact on the order. a case, even if the workflow is flexible and the system is well
means that Order processing can be related with decomposing the integrated with CRM, it may not be enough, due to the unique
resources are general order into many tasks which are processed in character of field services.
not stored in a many systems.
warehouse or
based in an office. Order Verification – this step plays a significant role The unique character of field service
in ensuring the efficiency of the process, due to the
reduction of redundant activities. Field service (e.g. on-site installation) is often treated as
part of the general workflow in the process and is managed
Order Completion – is one of the most delicate steps the same way as do other manual activities. Field service is
of the process. It influences the entire business of the different from other activities performed during the execution
company and the way it is perceived by the customer. If of a process, this is due to the fact that it is related to the
this step involves any kind of field service activity, then mobile workforce, performed in the field and executed
not only the company specialist but also the customer at the customers or networks location. Mobile workforce
plays an important role in the execution of the task. means that resources are not stored in a warehouse or
based in an office. When something in the service has to
Service Installed – after all activities in the process be changed, changing it may pose a challenge if you don’t
(especially on-site ones) are executed, the new service have proper tools. A service is executed in the field, so there
is provisioned and the customer may enjoy its new is an additional and crucial aspect – driving time (equal to
services. a technician’s working hours spend on route) and driving
costs (vehicles, mileage, carbon footprints and many others).
Customer Charging - when all data is sent to the Without any dedicated processes, this time and cost may be
rating and charging systems, payment for the service really significant (see the section related to costs). Probably
is calculated and the order-to-cash process is then the most important aspect is that all field activities are
completed. performed at the customers or networks’ location.

PROCESS START
Customer Call

Trouble Ticket
Resolution
YES

NO NO YES
4. Inform customer 7a. Inform
CRM about manual 5b. Inform
7. Service
activation
customer about
intervention customer 6. Contracting problem and
and expected 5a. Notify customer: about request expected time 8. Customer
1. Find Service not possible (auto) Home install premise Service
2. Select 3. Check & time of response of response YES
Customer suggest “another data ordered? installation OK?
package reserve service” scheduling
in CRM YES NO

YES
Check & Reverse NO Reservation SA Request Activation
Request OK? OK?

OSS Process Result SA


OSS C. Resource
Result
A. Feasibility D. Service activation
Feasible? YES Reservation
Check Process Process Process

Home Visit Home Visit


Result Result
NO

B. Schedule manual
intervention

FSM I. Local Exchange Process II. Customer Installation Process

Order Execute Order Execute


registration task registration task

  Figure 1. Example of order-to-cash process supported by CRM, OSS and Field Service Management systems

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New Service Call


Visit reservation
Real time scheduling

Dispatching

Automated scheduling
Schedule optimization

Technician On Route

Routes optimization
Location based scheduling
Task Execution

On-line schedules
Task details
On-line completion reports Order Completed

  Figure 2. Optimal field service delivery process and tools for supporting the process

Network location aspects include access keys, procedures 20%, its technicians must always be on time (with only
and run services, whereas customer location aspects 15 possible minutes of delay, if no green option was
include appointment time, a possibility of a customer not chosen by the customer or in a set range of time when
being found on-site, and most importantly - customer the green option was selected).
experience. Because of these three main differentiators of
field service, tools which are implemented to support the Warranty – if it is a service call within the warranty
organization in field service management, should consider: period.

Driving time - should be supported by a GIS system. The Technician skills matched with order parameters – so
more aspects of geographical information are included that field work orders are assigned to the appropriate
in routes calculation (i.e. traffic information), the more technicians.
efficient will the solution be. Moreover, routes should
be calculated globally for the whole department. It is Task duration – calculated based on history data (may
not crucial to prepare the most cost-effective route in be changed by a technician on site).
the context of only one technician. It should be optimal,
taking into consideration all tasks and all resources. Real-time management of any changes in the field
which may appear; if not supported by proper tools
Task priorities – some customers or tasks should be may be unexpected.
attended to quicker than others because of their value
to the company or their impact on services. All these things in the order-to-cash process are essential
for its efficiency. But how to measure the exact impact and
SLA – a very important factor for customer service. If a what specifically affects field service management in the
CSP needs to achieve a customer churn rate lower than order-to-cash process?

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It is all about KPI’s elements of the process. So why wasn’t it registered as


something important by the service providers and resolved
To have full knowledge about the situation and efficiency many years ago? Maybe the cost of field service is not high
of the order-to-cash process, you can use metrics which enough or savings from dedicated tools are not significant
describe how the company handles this part of operations. enough? Or maybe the cost of technology is higher than the
There are many KPIs used for this purpose, but let’s focus just benefits? The answer is very short – none of the above. I will
on some of them and examine what influence field service try to support this answer with real numbers presented below.
has on them:

Process time – if the order-to-cash process is Cost inefficiencies don’t have to fly
automated, it can be completed quite quickly, in under the radar
minutes or even seconds. If there are some manual
back office steps, it can be measured in minutes, but if Although in industrialized countries services are a major part
it is field service, it has to be measured in weeks. First of their economies, the main improvements in productivity still
of all, an important strategy to boost performance is relate mainly to improvements in manufacturing. However, the
to limit field service to the minimum, by automating problem of service performance (especially field services) is
tasks performed on the network. In many cases it is remarkable. Even mid-market service providers, for example
not possible to fully automate it and field intervention is with 150 field employees, can waste about 1mln EUR.
required. In such cases well implemented field service In Figure 3 you can see a calculation made by Comarch, based
management can reduce the process duration from on an experience in delivering field service management tools
Maybe the cost weeks to days or even hours. and market research. Savings include all ingredients of TCO
of field service is for dedicated tools. How is it possible and why is it still not
not high enough Process cost – operational expenditures of automated resolved, even in companies which have been on the market
or savings from processes are generally low and still the main cost for over 100 years? Researchers from British Telecom in their
dedicated tools will be field service. Because it can’t be off-shored, book “Service Chain Management – Technology Innovation
are not significant people, vehicles, petrol are a significant part of the cost for the Service Business” claim that this is a consequence of
enough? Or process, and can be only reduced by lean management an uncompetitive regulated market and a result of high profit
maybe the cost supported by dedicated systems. margins, leaving little room for the operational inefficiencies
of technology is to “fly under the radar”. But the situation has changed and
higher than the First time fix rate – a crucial KPI, which has impact not now the market is becoming competitive and customer-
benefits? The only on the process. If the process is not finished during centric at the same time. So to cut costs, maximize resource
answer is very the first visit, then the costs of order completion are performance and customer experience improvements in the
short - none of the significantly larger and the cost of repetitive truck rolls area of field service, the following aspects are required to:
above. is really high. But, there is something more to it. This KPI
is deeply correlated with customer experience. First call Improved technician productivity and efficiency due
resolution is crucial for customer satisfaction. Without to providing them with mobile access to task details,
skilled technicians, provided with mobile access to all optimized scheduling and routing, as well as accurate
important data and without reactive rescheduling, it is resource management.
impossible to achieve its improvement.
Dispatchers equipped with automatic tools for
Correction costs – similar as in the Process Cost KPI scheduling - a real-time dispatcher management board,
but with a negative impact on customer experience. GIS support and direct contact with technicians, thanks
to mobile access provided for technicians.
Time to market - the time in which the service is
launched – a major aspect of the order-to-cash Advanced scheduling methods which enable the
process. The period of time when the process was not calculation of schedules while considering every
completed should not be charged to the customer’s aspect of field work orders, including even the most
bill considering the customer was not serviced. This complex SLA rules.
is regarded as a more complex process. In this case
the service provider bears not only costs of resources Easy access to information - when technicians know
but also costs of not holding prospective income from what to do and can check their current task list while
services. in the field, the customer knows the exact time of the
technician’s visit and the CRM is seamlessly integrated,
These are not all the possible KPIs, but if the process is tasks are completed on the first visit and customers are
related to on-site activity, these are the most important satisfied.

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The proper
management
of field service
becomes a
necessity and the
process has to be
comprehensively
supported by tools
which really make a
difference.

  Figure 3. Calculation of cost savings after implementation of dedicated tools for field service management
(fsm.comarch.com)

Conclusions

As order-to-cash is a crucial process for every telecom mileage has to be reduced, due to costs and requirements
service provider it should be organized as well as possible. for sustainability regarding these processes. Therefore, the
At the same time it is one of the most frequently executed proper management of field service becomes a necessity,
processes, so any improvement in it has to be multiplied and the process has to be comprehensively supported by
by thousands. One of the aspects of the process is field tools which really make a difference.
service. As cost of work still increases in OECD countries,

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BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION
TRANSFORMATION

How will you benefit


from BSS transformation

H
ow can the strategic goal of any communication and OSS in recent years, operators need to monetize
service provider – increasing the market share these investments. Their goal may be set on customer
– be achieved practically in mature, saturated intimacy or product leadership, and their network may
markets with significant competition from established have the required capabilities and potential, but in terms
IDEAS IN BRIEF: players and new entrants? of BSS architecture, many service providers are still in
the world of product silos and fragmented processes.
Enabling sales- First of all, no company can grow without protecting Hundreds of big and small applications forming the overall
driven product its existing market share effectively. This task can be IT landscape make business goals difficult to reach and
innovation achieved by management of customer satisfaction and seriously constrain the operators’ ability to reinvent their
loyalty, competitive benchmarking, and ensuring high offerings dynamically. They hinder attempts to leverage
Delivering a quality of service. The second task - increasing the market relationships with customers and partners in new ways.
personalized share and entering new markets - can be much more Overall, this situation can lead to stagnation and loss of
customer challenging as it requires a comprehensive, bottom-up market share to rivals.
experience transformation. At one end of the spectrum there are
mergers and acquisitions – rare, but spectacular events.
Moving operations At the other end lies continuous marketing innovation Enabling sales-driven product
and customer – regular shipments of small yet bright, differentiating innovation
interactions to the ideas in areas such as product, pricing, market segment,
Web distribution, and promotion. This kind of innovation plays Customers, especially in the enterprise segment, expect
a pivotal role in enabling growth, but does not require the customized products and services - well aligned to their
Focusing on development of products from the pages of a science ICT needs, budget, and corporate goals in general. Thus,
exploring market fiction novel. It’s often more than enough to fix a small selling mobile subscriptions at a discounted price may no
segments and difficulty in a customer’s everyday life, increase availability longer be a viable market strategy when the product is so
niches and convenience of using a telecom service provider’s commoditized and it’s hard to differentiate one operator’s
products, or improve customer experience. offer from all the others.
Leveraging
partnerships to Communication service providers often have a vision Imagine an eco-friendly company as your potential
maximize returns about how to approach these tasks, but there are ways customer. Given that all operators can offer a similar price,
on core assets to improve the effectiveness of executing them. Having network quality and customer service, how can you win
already invested so much in next generation networks this opportunity? It’s by making your offer unique – aligned

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to this company’s values. Providing a conveniently How do such situations occur, with a complete history of
packaged “environmental protection solution” - for customer transactions - usage data, payments, service
example consisting of an online conference product and channels interactions, orders, trouble tickets, leads and
a  pack of mobile subscriptions for a predictable monthly campaign data being stored in the service provider’s
fee and with an estimated overall CO2 footprint. databases? With regards to personalization of products
and customer relationships, this data should be treated
Bundling existing products into a tailored solution as a “treasure chest” and leveraged for the highest level of
during the sales process makes your offer stand out customer satisfaction.
and increases the probability of converting a lead into
a  customer. But there are still some questions that need What makes this treasure so hard to be effectively used by PAWEŁ LAMIK
to be answered. Does your sales force automation system product management, sales, customer service and loyalty Comarch SA
support selling ad hoc solutions based on products teams? It’s the fact that the data is scattered between CRM Product Manager,
defined in the billing system? Can your fulfillment rely numerous data stores, applications and processes. Telecommunications
on integration and mapping of products to customer- Without an IT architecture built around a centralized Business Unit
facing services and in turn to resource-facing services, to product catalog and capable of utilizing 360-degree
ensure fast and faultless delivery? Is your billing system customer information such negative customer experiences
able to put exactly the same solution name, price and are more than likely to occur repeatedly.
solution item structure on the invoice as in the agreement?
Unfortunately, for many service providers – even market But personalization of customer dialogue based on
leaders – the answer to these questions is no. a 360-degree view and analytics is only one of many
promising possibilities. There are also opportunities in
We spent a lot of time and effort to develop a solution that policy management, pricing, bundling and service delivery.
would help you solve these challenges. Our Comarch BSS Take policy management as an example – regulators have
Suite is now fully equipped with features that let you easily taken care of some aspects, such as bill shock prevention.
define and sell customized packages made of existing But customers expect not only more transparency in their
products, and offer them to specific customer segments. service usage and spending profile. They also seek flexibility,
Such customer-dedicated solutions are instantly available to tweak thresholds and rules, both on a per-subscription
for use in the CRM sales and ordering, as well as fulfillment basis, and within broader units such as a   household
and billing modules. Thanks to the centralized product or a company. Other examples of innovations through
management concept of Comarch BSS, such ad hoc personalization include on-demand quality of service Without an IT
product bundles are consistently handled across the (QoS) adjustments, dynamic pricing based on network architecture
solution – from lead, through order, to invoice – in terms of characteristics, or pick-and-choose TV channel packages. built around
naming, pricing and business rules. These opportunities also create multiple difficulties for a  centralized
service providers in terms of OSS-BSS data and events product catalog
integration, configuration management through different and capable of
Delivering a personalized customer customer service channels (including self-service), or utilizing 360-degree
experience setting up dynamic QoS-driven pricing schemes. customer
information
Personalization of product features, customer service and Comarch BSS enables a service provider’s employees to negative customer
marketing communications has a strong, positive influence access and leverage a 360-degree view of a customer experiences are
on customer experience and loyalty. This potential often relationship. As a centralized system with configurable more than likely to
goes to waste. First of all, there are countless examples of business rules, Comarch BSS helps you personalize occur repeatedly.
customers disappointed at being treated in a standardized, customer experience by differentiating product offerings,
mediocre way. Imagine you make heavy use of your mobile process flows, service levels, and marketing activities
internet service, and receive a loyalty offer for contract based on customer preferences and trends. In addition, by
renewal where you can choose between a pack of free using flexible data and functionality access rules, you can
airtime minutes and a pack of free text messages, but empower your partners - resellers, dealers and telesales
nothing else. Since you’re mainly using your phone for - with the same information and tools your employees
downloading content, social networking or playing games use, thus increasing coherence of customer experience
online, and only occasionally to call someone or send an across various channels. Comarch BSS also provides an
SMS, such an offer will be unattractive to you, but may advanced, user-friendly self-service portal for end users
even be annoying. An ideal offer would take your profile into as well as telco managers working for your customers, to
account and include additional options of free data traffic manage their personalized service profiles.
or free downloads packages.

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Moving operations and customer Focusing on exploring market segments


Today, interactions to the web and niches
the innovation and
differentiation is in Customer self-service and online selling have the potential Deeper coverage of a market segment or vertical
the effectiveness to reduce a significant portion of a service provider’s industry may bring new potential revenue sources for
of tackling the key repetitive, day to day sales and customer service tasks, communication service providers. So does becoming an
challenge of turning including exchange of paper documents and costly face expert in a given field, or finding a lucrative market niche
your web portal into to face or phone-based interactions. Most individuals before competitors do so. Best of all is be the only player
a robust sales tool; and companies are used to searching, buying and even there. Since such strategies require high organizational
when this happens, consuming products online, not to mention fostering their agility and strong IT support, it’s no wonder they are
it becomes not only relationships with other people on the web. An information frequently best executed by market challengers – small,
a significant source portal was the first step in a service provider’s online yet innovative service providers. They have the required
of leads and orders presence. flexibility to change their business model when their
but also a preferred competition changes theirs, and to outsource the boring,
customer service Opening internal systems to customers and partners is the low-impact business areas to third parties, while remaining
channel. next step. It is a proven method for service providers to in charge, staying close to their customers, and inventing
reduce the cost of customer service and billing. It enables remarkable products.
them to offer customers better pricing transparency by
allowing them to browse their bills, service usage data and Can your company enter new markets and address niche
detailed charges. This way, customers know what they are markets as quickly and cost-effectively? Not with the
paying for, which leads to higher customer satisfaction. burden of organizational silos and fragmented internal
But providing such capabilities to customers is now applications. These are flexible but inefficient, and require
becoming more of a best practice then a novelty. Today, a lot of error-prone manual work, with maintenance
the innovation and differentiation is in the effectiveness of costs steadily increasing and ever longer innovation
While major tackling the key challenge of turning your web portal into lead times. While major business and IT transformation
business and IT a robust sales tool; when this happens, it becomes not may be a suitable way for some operators to overcome
transformation may only a significant source of leads and orders but also a these hurdles, to others it may well be unacceptable
be a suitable way preferred customer service channel. Among the issues of for various reasons. They prefer an alternative path –
for some operators security, usability, performance, licenses or flexibility, one rolling out new services through deployment of adjunct
to overcome these of the toughest challenges service providers face in this solutions managed by standalone business units, affiliate
hurdles, to others matter is user adoption. companies or joint ventures. There are multiple benefits of
it may well be this approach, including reduced financial and marketing
unacceptable for Comarch BSS offers a user-friendly set of self-service tools risk, faster time to market and minimized total cost of
various reasons. for your customers and partners, making it easy for them ownership, dynamically tied to business growth. Fixed
They prefer an to order, receive bills and manage subscriptions online. mobile convergence for SMEs, managed mobility services
alternative path With the Comarch solution, thanks to channel-dependant for multinational corporate customers, cloud computing or
– rolling out new product offering rules and pricing, motivating customers a multi-tenant M2M service enablement platform are just
services through to use the online channel is going to become easier a few examples of services rolled out this way recently.
deployment of than ever. User adoption and partner productivity is also
adjunct solutions improved through dedicated self-service portal features for Thanks to its centralized product and customer
managed by users from different customer segments – residential, SME management as well as flexibility in shaping business
standalone and corporate. Centralized order management eliminates rules and processes, Comarch all-in-one BSS Suite
business units, delivery bottlenecks and enables effective orchestration supports innovative service providers in effective
affiliate companies between order capture, fulfillment and product exploration of valuable market segments and niches. It
or joint ventures. management capabilities, supporting fast provisioning of can serve both as an end to end BSS solution for MVNOs
communication products and first-class customer self- wanting to implement new business models as well as an
service. MVNE gateway for network operators and enablers who
want to apply and automate advanced, multi-sided B2B
interaction schemes in order to exploit the capabilities
offered by Next Generation Networks.

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Leveraging partnerships to maximize The complete set of OSS/BSS tools delivered by Comarch fulfills From our
returns on core assets the requirements of 2.0 partnerships and helps to achieve perspective, the
higher operational efficiency through integration, automation strategic building
Maximizing return on core assets such as customer billing and flexibility. Communication service providers looking for blocks to sustain
relations, customer data and the huge network, OSS/BSS more agile win-win co-operation models can leverage the fact EBITDA growth
and IT infrastructure expenditures requires improvement that Comarch is both a software and service vendor with a are service
of both operational efficiency and transformation of stable financial condition, diversified product portfolio and a innovation, strong
supply and sales channel partnerships - on multiple global presence. customer focus,
levels. The resulting 2.0 partnerships are all about sharing and operational
– data, resources, and infrastructure, but also risk and efficiency. We
responsibilities in the value chain - in unprecedented ways. Conclusions like working with
On the network level, where there’s an almost exponential vendors whose
growth of data traffic, network performance is becoming In the face of high network, IT and business transformation solutions help us
a competitive issue. This is especially true in case of spending, ineffective BSS environments disable efficiency reach these goals
mobile operators. Although LTE and large fiber network and innovation in the delivery of differentiating services with increased
deployments make it possible to provide enough capacity, and customer service. Modern BSS solutions enable productivity and
they are extremely expensive and therefore not feasible efficiency and innovation needed to monetize these lower IT costs.
for all players. Network outsourcing and sharing have investments and to strengthen communication service
become viable strategies for service providers to optimize provider’s position on mature, saturated markets. Comarch Robbert Noorman,
operational costs and it’s not a niche trend (according BSS supports marketing innovation of communication manager Innovation
to Gartner, by 2012, 80% of Tier 1 CSPs will be involved service providers with its open architecture, customer- & ICT
in advanced intra-industry alliances, similar to those centric approach, centralized product management,
undertaken by airlines). built-in business process manager and rule-based KPN Managed
configuration on various layers. Mobile Solutions
In terms of what the network carries, a vast portion of
traffic is generated by content and applications delivered
by OTT (over the top) players – mostly internet companies
having a direct relationship with the customer regardless
of the network he or she is using - as opposed to
traditional telecom services. Communication service
providers treat them as new competitors, and not without
good reason; as Gartner reports, by 2014, over the top
players will have captured almost 10% of consumer mobile
voice minutes in developed markets. Operators will be
better off entering partnerships, not only in the internet and
media industry, but also in other transforming industries
such as utilities, payments, or medicine. As a result, old-
new requirements will appear across network core and
transport, service delivery and BSS/OSS layers alike.
These will include convergent, network access method-
independent service delivery, fulfillment, assurance and
billing, cross-partner integration and multi-tenancy. Since
the lines between a customer and partner are blurred,
products go far beyond basic connectivity services, and
the definition of the role of a service provider in the value
chain is blurred, legacy OSS/BSS product catalog, service
inventory, revenue sharing, or partner management
capabilities will usually prove to be insufficient.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


30 IN FOCUS: BSS/OSS TRANSFORMATION

It’s time to transform


your BSS!
OPTIMIZING INNOVATING ACCELERATING

Optimizing architecture for ucts, configurations and business processes, Accelerating time to market for
lowering costs or modifications of the existing ones, calls for faster business results
a modern, consolidated BSS.
IT departments are forced to optimize costs. The changes on the telecom market are hap-
One way to do this is to reduce the number of Innovating without limits for pening faster than ever, and the pressure on
redundant IT systems used for similar activi- a winning product portfolio IT departments to keep pace is increasing.
ties. Therefore, a good way to optimize costs Shortening the time to market from a mere
is IT consolidation by using the same sys- Communication service providers must be buzzword often becomes a nightmare.
tems in various domains, e.g.: able to introduce new products and enter
> pre-paid and post-paid as well as mobile new markets easily. An example here can be One of the biggest problems with the time
and fixed customers on the same plat- entering the M2M market, strengthening an to market is that legacy systems force you
form operator’s multi-service offering or simulta- to configure new products in various places,
> retail and wholesale domains on one plat- neous use of various business models such with different rules. This involves a complex
form, with the possibility of sharing infor- as reselling, enabling or two-sided. IT de- process of testing, limits the possibility of
mation partments play a significant role in this area managing the entire process of a product
> interconnect, roaming, revenue sharing, – they need to ensure that IT systems used launch, and does not allow for obtaining con-
M2M and MVNOs on a single platform in their company empower innovation. BSS is sistent product performance data.
one of the crucial elements here, so it should
Apart from the time and cost savings it also not create any limitations or block innovation, This calls for the architecture to be transformed
brings more flexibility, shortens the time to but support it in the best possible way. so that it includes centralized product man-
market, and can be an additional driver of agement and unified order capturing for all
transformation. While innovation is best expressed by add- sales channels. Such a change lets you con-
ing new products to the offer, the majority figure products in a single place, which radi-
Another way to optimize costs is to eliminate of pre-existing products must still be main- cally decreases configuration time. In addition,
revenue leakages. This can be achieved by tained. So the total number of products to product life cycle management lets you bet-
gaining more control over processes, qual- maintain is continually growing. BSS must ter organize processes connected with design-
ity and revenue assurance tools, as well as be able to support the growing number of ing, implementing and terminating products.
reducing the amount of manually performed products and at the same time eliminate the
tasks by automating certain processes man- need for creation of redundant products by Another key condition for quick introduction
aged by various departments across the or- mechanisms such as personalized pricing of new services to the market is pre-integra-
ganization. and promotions. tion of BSS and OSS that lies in a common,
standard data model. Such a model empow-
Cost optimization also requires flexibility Innovation also requires constant develop- ers the user, by allowing a uniform view of the
in launching new products designed by the ment of existing IT systems. Whole new inte- network and service layer. Pre-integrated BSS
marketing department and expected by cus- grations and systems have to be added to the and OSS provides the ability to ensure high
tomers. This means introducing new products BSS. Such development can be supported by quality of service and thus better customer
without expensive, risky and time-consuming applying Service Oriented Architecture using experience. Additionally, this approach allows
system upgrades. The need of IT departments open interfaces to help limit the overall com- automating many processes and in turn ac-
for cost-efficient introduction of new prod- plexity of the solution. celerating the business.

Go to:
http:// transform-your-BSS.comarch.com
Download series of white papers on BSS transformation
by Comarch.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming
IN FOCUS:
for Perfect
BSS/OSS
Customer
TRANSFORMATION
Experience 31

Service Quality and Customer Experience


– where customers meet the network
ustomer Experience Management (CEM) may seem CEM and SQM – alternatives or
C to be a broad term but in practical terms within the
area of telecommunications, it refers to monitoring
complementary solutions?

the stream of transaction records from a subscriber’s SQM perceives service data through network data while
perspective. Is the call setup time at an acceptable level? CEM directly monitors the stream of subscriber transaction
Are there places where setting up a GPRS session takes records. Are these two different approaches redundant or
too long? Was MMS transferring successful? These are the complementary? Are they two alternative ways to achieve
typical questions a CEM system tries to answer. the same objective? If we already have CEM, is SQM still
necessary and vice versa? How can we benefit from one
Service Quality Management (SQM), on the other hand, integrated SQM+CEM environment? MALGORZATA
deduces the quality of services from network-related KWATERA-KNAPEK
data. Typically it integrates with a lot of performance data The first important difference can be already seen in Comarch SA
sources, both high- and low-level. SQM correlates all these the name itself: CEM concentrates on Experience while OSS Solution Manager,
different types of information upon the service model in SQM concentrates on Quality. Experience means that the Telecommunications
order to calculate service-level KQIs from network-level KPIs. subscriber needs to use the service so that the operator Business Unit

CEM is reactive
by nature. It can
OSS Console OSS Web GUI BO Universe OSS Portal help detect and
or another 3rd party BI
solve issues before
Comarch OSS Suite a  customer calls
CEM the hotline but not
NGSA SQM with SLA before the issue
appears. SQM
Data Integration Layer can at least try
to be proactive,
because it can
PM solution PM solution PM solution
have the necessary
performance data
before problems
occur.
Network MSC HLR
BTS LTE BS

VLR NodeB

  Figure 1. Integrated SQM+CEM+NGSA environment

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


32 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

can measure it and deduce problems. Shortly speaking, performance indicators. Of course, we can introduce priorities
IDEAS IN BRIEF: something needs to go wrong first, so that the operator and rules to treat rural areas differently than airports and
can react and draw conclusions. Better experience for business centers. We can also prioritize cells by traffic level,
What are other customers comes from lessons learned. CEM is which is also measured by SQM. Yet both possibilities entail
the principal reactive by nature. It can help detect and solve issues more configurations and more complexity in rule definitions.
differences before a  customer calls the hotline but not before the issue The first one also requires a high level of quality of inventory
between SQM and appears. SQM can at least try to be proactive, because data, on which SQM will rely when applying these rules.
CEM solution? it can have the necessary performance data before Again, in CEM it comes naturally: in highly used areas of the
problems occur. Customers experience problems, because network, a lot of experience records will be gathered and
Are SQM and CEM something went wrong in the infrastructure, at least in naturally the concerned cells will get higher priority. In the
two alternative some cases. This means that, at least in theory, it should new commercial center traffic will be higher on the opening
ways to achieve the be possible to predict and prevent them. day: CEM will take this aspect into account by design,
same objective? while SQM will need to learn that some cells should have
Now let’s take a look at Quality. SQM can measure quality also an assigned higher priority, either by updating inventory
If we already have in areas where there is very little experience. Even in cases information or by generating a threshold violation due to
CEM, is SQM still where bad customer experience is a result of the customers’ traffic which in some cells exceeds everyday values.
necessary and vice own errors (for example terminal misconfiguration), SQM can
versa? help: it is sufficient enough to collect KPIs together with the It is clear that SQM and CEM are not alternative solutions:
cause of the problems, e.g. user authentication failure. On the only together can they create integrated quality and
How can we benefit other hand, SQM relies on service models and associated experience management environment where customers
from an integrated KQI definitions. Defining CEM indicators is easy and they will meet the network. Only by having both of them we can
SQM+CEM usually reflect the real perception of the subscriber quite well. understand how customer problems map onto the network
environment? The design and fine-tuning of SQM service models may take and vice versa. Only SQM can provide root cause analysis
years. Calculations are complicated and multi-dimensional. necessary to understand from a network level, why problems
The models need to be verified against reality every day. detected by CEM occur and where and how they can be
What is the point of having “all services in green” in SQM if fixed. On the other hand, CEM ensures everyday verification
the customers still experience problems? This can happen of the SQM service models and enables filling in the
with SQM, a little change in calculation algorithm or threshold so-called “experience gap” between customer perception
level can immediately influence the service state. and measured quality. Thanks to this fine-tuning of service
What is the point of models, SQM can be really proactive and the two systems
having “all services From SQM perspective, in principle, all cells in the mobile sum up to really improved customer experience.
in green” in SQM network look the same – they will provide the same
if the customers
still experience
problems?

OSS Console OSS Web GUI BO Universe OSS Portal


or another 3rd party BI

Comarch OSS Suite


NGSA SQM CEM
with SLA

PM

Network MSC HLR


BTS LTE BS

VLR NodeB

  Figure 2. Integrated SQM+CEM+NGSA+PM environment

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 33

It is clear that
SQM and CEM are
not alternative
solutions: only
together can
they create
integrated quality
and experience
management
environment where
customers meet
the network.

Correlation

  Figure 3. MMSC device latency (red) vs. MMS sending time (brown)

A look from solution architecture management tools and partially use integrated PM for
perspective areas in the network where dedicated PM does not exist. In order to
A hybrid approach may also be considered a step-by-step guarantee a real
Figures 1 and 2 present two possible functional architectures migration from a scattered network-oriented performance improvement
of an integrated SQM+CEM environment implemented upon management environment to integrated PM+SQM+CEM, in customer
Comarch OSS Suite. where customer and service finally come into focus. experience, it is not
sufficient enough
Figure 1 shows SQM+CEM+NGSA (the last being Next Finally Figure 3 presents an example of a report that enables to only implement
Generation Service Assurance that in this context receives to correlate increased MMSC device latency (measured CEM, whereas pure
and manages the alarms created by SQM and CEM), by SNMP protocol) with increased MMS sending time SQM will never
implemented over an existing distributed performance (in  regarding to transaction records). be able to have
management architecture, where every technology is already real customer
covered by a dedicated performance management tool. This perspective. Only
is a relatively fast and cost-effective path towards SQM+CEM Conclusions together can they
environment, which enables achieving quick wins while give the best
keeping old investments alive. As we have seen, in order to guarantee a real improvement results.
in customer experience, it is not sufficient enough to only
Figure 2 shows a different approach where the entire implement CEM, whereas pure SQM will never be able to have
performance management architecture is built from scratch real customer perspective. Only together can they give the
in order to form one integrated PM+SQM+CEM+NGSA best results. “Together” means also interacting, integrated
environment. Bringing benefits such as maintaining and and freely exchanging data. And here’s the next challenge,
managing all KPIs in one environment, having all performance because usually CEM and SQM areas are handled by different
data in one place (for faster and more productive reporting) departments and different processes in the telecom operator
and one consistent GUI for all users. organization. Only will overcoming these processes and
organization challenges make it possible to take a big step
Of course, a hybrid approach is also possible, where towards better customer experience.
SQM+CEM work partially on the basis of existing performance

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


34 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

Managing network congestion problems


with automated Configuration Management
and SQM
ommunications service providers have created do so either by accepting the differences or by rejecting
C a new customer demand for faster, more reliable
services and increased network capacity for
and pushing the engineers to update the configuration.
All of this creates an additional workload, which limits
their subscribers with the use of smartphone’s and the operator’s possibilities to manage massive network
tablets. This trend has been additionally strengthened rollouts. Additionally, also the output quality of the network
by the dropping prices of mobile devices. All of this is is very often different from what was requested.
pushing traffic in access network to its limits. Apart from
issues associated with finding new business models for The second issue relates to the quality of the services
increasing revenues, operators are also investing in the perceived by customers. When an operator is doing large
rollout of their 3G/4G network. How to manage rollout, so network rollouts, the standard way of performing drive
that the millions of Euros spent actually entail an increase tests is not always the most reliable. Additionally, together
in network &  service quality? with standard coverage and population KPIs, strategy
JAKUB decisions regarding site locations should take into account
KAPUSTA-ZALUSKI the impact on service quality. However, currently only a few
Comarch SA Resource inefficiency and service operators have systems in place allowing for providing KQIs
Telco Consulting Manager, quality – two main challenges with aggregated services, based on specified criteria. So
Telecommunications the decisions are purely based on standard coverage KPIs.
Business Unit Each operator can manage massive network rollouts to
a certain extent. Aside from a huge investment, the main
limitations are observed in resource efficiency and the Transforming the OSS
capability to manage both positive and negative impact
IDEAS IN BRIEF: on service quality. One of the ways of improving resource In order to mitigate those problems operators must
efficiency is by automating the configuration management transform both their OSS and organization. As this is
Increasing network process. already happening, there are different strategies on the
and service traffic market to manage the process. Some service providers
So far, a typical approach is that the planner works with focus on outsourcing as a strategy to eliminate in-house
Automating a planning tool and the output is provided via a file- problems and enable flexibility in their rollout activities.
configuration based interface to the configuration department. The Such a strategy looks good, but in fact, in order to
management as a latter is then responsible for providing the configuration successfully implement it, a change in the IT landscape is
key element to the network. This means that the input from planners also necessary. Other operators choose to address only
is combined with the current network information (input OSS transformation, by improving tools and capabilities.
Quality of services from operations or ticketing systems). In fact, this means
perceived by manually re-planning the network, very often without tools
customers or consistency checks that are available for planners. Automating configuration management
As the configuration is then integrated in the network,
planners have to also compare the exact implementation Figure 1 illustrates the direction, in which the
effort with their plans, and manage changes. They can transformation of the OSS should head in order to improve

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 35

network quality and operations efficiency. There are two A  Service Quality Management (SQM) solution delivers
elements of the solution: automation of configuration information, that is used by several departments - starting
management and constant monitoring of service quality. from operations and planning departments and ending
on management. The use of the solution in the planning
Automating configuration management is a key element department is an interesting case. There are two main
as it brings planners closer to the network and improves processes which can be used. The first one corresponds
the quality of the rollout and integration. With such an with measuring network quality and pointing out areas Automation and
approach planners have full control over the network, and where services are not fully seeing to the capacity of the good control over
the error rate in configuration requests is significantly network. Such information can be used to trigger network service quality
decreased. Additionally, through feedback from the optimization processes or plan a network upgrade in are one of the
network, planners can easily control the implementation a  specified area. The second process is an automated one, most important
of the configuration requests and immediately react on allowing for comparing the service quality before and after elements of cost
discrepancies. Such a solution also allows seamless network upgrade. This example can show planners how management.
introduction of a self-organizing network (SON) strategy, their changes influence services and can steer the planner
with central configuration management and automated towards more efficient network design in future.
site configuration delivery, which retains the planners’
control over the process and the network.
Conclusions

What about Service Quality Automated configuration management and service quality
Management? management solutions are key components on the road
to manage increasing network and service traffic. As this
In order to fully benefit from the automation, it is also trend will stay strong and customers will demand more
important to implement a tool and processes that and more capacity for their services, it is very important to
will measure the impact on service quality. Every keep the network cost under control. Automation and good
process needs measuring and a constant improvement control over service quality are one of the most important
strategy – the same applies to configuration management. elements of cost management.

Service KQIs &


Network Planning Planning DB Network Planning Service Impact Customer
KPIs Customer
Tickets
ite t
d s ou
s
ate ab

Customer
tiv ck

Planning & Operations Service Quality


ac dba

Network Plan
Inventory DB Management
e

Customer
Fe

Tickets

Configuration DB
Network
Configuration Operations Reconciliation
Fault Automated
Configuration Operations Fault Performance
Management Management Management
Management
u lts
Fa

lts
ork

rk Fau
tw

wo
Net
Ne

Network Network

  Figure 1. OSS transformation

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


36 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

Thriving as Web platform


enabler – “beyond dumb” pipes

he advent of the mobile internet has been a great customers who finally pay the costs. When looking more
T success, but it also appears to have opened
Pandora’s box. The problem is that the surge
closely at the surge of data consumed by end-users, it turns
out that the majority of data is consumed by relatively small
in data consumed by users is not compensated for by an user groups. These groups are either peer-to-peer application
IDEAS IN BRIEF: adequate growth in revenue. This is mostly due to the fact riders, YouTube addicts or alike. What does this mean for the
that in order to promote the mobile internet CSPs have average user who probably only needs email access or basic
The solution for introduced flat rates. The tension is even greater because web browsing services when he/she is on the go? Well, it is
CSPs is to become the real beneficiaries are over-the-top players like Google, likely that they will pay extra to cover the costs generated
a Web platform whilst CSPs seem to have been cast the role of “dumb by high data usage profile users. “Paying” can mean literally
enabler pipe” providers. As a result, CSPs are seeking a way out, in both covering the costs and the receiving of a poor quality
order to be able to fill the gap between increasing costs of service (QoS). We will most likely pay money. This is due to
End-users have and flat revenues. As a remedy, a concept has emerged the fact that flat rates are calculated according to the rule of
different needs and that exposes service delivery platforms to third parties, average, which means that the majority of users pay more,
thus a different including the community of developers, has emerged. The so high data usage users can pay less. Suffering from a poor
perception of what concept is closely related to the idea of operator application QoS is even more evident, as inevitably, when accessing the
the Web is stores. internet, each of us has recognized that the real bandwidth
is far smaller than advertised by the CSPs.
CSPs provide Critics of this approach argue that telco operators lack the
something more competences to provide a platform for developers, and that
than a technical the API provided is too limited to be attractive to developers. Selling more than just “dumb pipes”
oriented QoS Moreover, the problem is that the only platform which really
network holds any significance for developers is the Web itself. The solution, which is expected to solve both CSP and
end-user problems, is shifting the role of telco operators.
Freedom means Instead of selling Mbps, operators will be able to sell service
the ability to enjoy End-users inherit CSPs’ problems and application enablement. This means that application
applications connectivity with the appropriate QoS is tuned to a
without counting From an end-user perspective we might say that problems service. From the end-user perspective it is the services
the consumed encountered by CSPs are exactly that: their problems. and application, with embedded connectivity, which are
kilobytes However, this belief is slightly naive as it is always the purchased. Embedded should mean that connectivity costs

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 37

are included in the price for the service/application. For package or access to social tools, for example, unlimited
the end-user it enables maintaining unconstrained access use of Facebook or alike. An example from the opposite
to their most favored applications/services without the end of the spectrum could be a peer-to-peer applications
need to count minutes or kilobytes. For CSPs it enables package. The idea is designed to enable end-users to
receiving compensation for network costs according to the decide for themselves what it is they want to use, as we
application/services network usage profiles. An example all have different needs and thus a different perception of
service package can be an email and basic web browsing what the Web is.

LUKASZ MENDYK
Web Comarch SA
OSS Product Manager,
Web
Enablement Telecommunications
Business Unit
QoS, Authentication,
Autorisation,
Accounting, payment

Network Service Platform

Network

  Figure 1. Web Enablement platform

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


38 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

As CSPs are to sell CSP as a Web Enabler CSPs vs. the Over-the-top players
User Experience
enablement rather The question, which may arise, is how to implement the idea The idea presented above - of CSPs playing the role of a
than just being without granting telecommunication operators too much web enabler - is attractive as it allows both competition
“dumb pipes”, it power. If the only way to use applications and services was and cooperation with the over-the-top players while in each
should allow them via an operator’s application store, it would probably mean case gaining a profit. Competing means that CSPs endeavor
to have a fare that operators would have a monopoly -acting out the role to create their own developer community. Cooperation on
share of revenue of gate keepers. Being a true enabler must mean that third the other hand is treating the over-the-top players much
generated by the parties have a choice as to whether they want to leverage the same as developers, which means that they are treated
customers of over- an operator’s application store or whether they prefer to use as application providers. But in this scenario over-the-top
the-top players. alternatives. In the case of the latter, the operators should players are likely to have direct access to customers which
only provide a network enablement, or more precisely, the distinguished them from just individual developers. As CSPs
discussed network QoS required by a third party service or are to sell User Experience enablement rather than just being
application. This is expected to enable different business “dumb pipes”, it should allow them to have a fare share of
models as some developers may chose revenue sharing, revenue generated by the customers of over-the-top players.
leveraging operators application stores with a built-in This is because the proposed mechanism would allow CSPs
charging and billing functionality, while the others may chose to be compensated according to the added value they bring
to pay purely for network QoS enablement. The role of CSPs to the end-user applications. For example, in case of an end-
service platform is depicted in Figure 1. user application, whose value is based mainly on network
ability to carry the content with appropriate QoS, the CSPs
should get a relatively high revenue share. Video streaming
Selling User Experience– business applications are an example of this. On the contrary, in case
models of an end-user application, whose main value is not based
on connectivity but on some other business logic (where
Retailing QoS by operators will require the technical connectivity is not intensively used), the CSPs’ share should
capabilities of traffic shaping and policy enforcement, which be relativity lower. In either case CSPs may receive adequate
may be challenging. The envisioned practical approach compensation for network related costs. For us - as end-
is that when an end-user acquires a “basic browsing” users - it seems to be a perfect solution as everybody
package and all online applications, which confine to the receives a fare share according to the value they bring.
assumed “basic” QoS, the providers of these applications
will not require additional enablement. However, if the
Over-the-top application is data intensive, for example video streaming, Conclusions
players and CSPs in order to guarantee appropriate user experience, the
don’t have to be third party application will need the appropriate network Over-the-top players and CSPs don’t have to be bitter
bitter enemies. QoS enablement. This, in fact, means that CSPs provide enemies. They can cooperate or at least compete on fair
They can cooperate something more than a technical oriented network QoS, terms where each party is compensated for the costs it
or at least compete instead enabling good user experience. Depending on the endures and receives revenue share according to the value
on fair terms business model, the costs of the enablement can be covered it brings. This is also good news for end-users who, after
where each party either by the price of the application paid by the end-user, all, always pay the final bill. If the role of web enabler was
is compensated or in the case of Ad supported usage of the application, the to be taken over by CSPs, and connectivity costs covered
for the costs owner of the application will cover the costs. In addition, an by applications, this would allow end-users to retain the
it endures and end-user can purchase the “video streaming” package to freedom which flat rates provide. Freedom means the ability
receives revenue cover the costs of the required enablement. to enjoy applications without counting consumed kilobytes.
share according to At the same time heavy usage users don’t have to add to
the value it brings. In conclusion, the overarching idea is that each party is paid the bills being paid by modest users or broaden the CSP
according to the added value it brings to the ecosystem. At revenue-costs gap. It also dispels the CSPs’ frustration
the same time, end-users should have a choice regarding caused by thriving over-the-top players being the only
what they pay and what experience they receive in return. winners, while CSPs suffer the costs.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT
HOTTOPICS:
TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 39

How to transform your BSS to achieve


the perfect customer experience

e live in a world where communications go far poses a new challenge for the operators: the revenues from

W beyond voice and SMS. A mobile phone serves


for video streaming, navigation, playing music
mobile data services are no longer covering the costs of
network maintenance and network capacity investments.
and e-mail, and the traditional use of voice and SMS can Flat rate data offers are evolving into more complex products,
account for just a small portion of the total time that a where the various services can be rated and charged
handset is in use. The expansion of operators’ service differently. But the question is this: are the billing systems
offerings into data services has a huge impact on the currently used by operators fit for the new charging models?
underlying platform. Offering more data services not only
entails additional network capacity investments, but also The increasing complexity of charging models does not only
calls for extra capabilities to be added to the BSS platform. mean an operator has to face redefining rating rules. The
The operator must be able to charge for the new types of underlying BSS platform must also have enough capabilities PEKKA VALITALO
services and adapt quickly to competition, while keeping to process the growing number of event data records. It must Comarch SA
the customer experience intact. be able to differentiate the amount of data and the service BSS Market Analyst,
types that the customer is using, in order for the operator Telecommunications
to charge properly for the service usage. As mobile data Business Unit
I already have a billing system – why services are becoming increasingly popular, the existing
transform it? BSS platform that has been capable of simple data session
charging, is facing bigger challenges. This is true especially
The increasing availability and choice of smartphones, their now, when operators have started to cut down on all-you-
wider capabilities and the reduced prices of mobile data can-eat data plans and introduced tiered levels of data
offerings have led to wider use of mobile data services. This quotas per month (including service-specific data quotas).

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


40 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

Then there is a question of another type of differentiation The operator’s billing platform should support the customer-
IDEAS IN BRIEF: between pricing models – i.e. prepaid versus postpaid. centric approach, by enabling the creation of convergent
Offering both prepaid and postpaid services can pose offers and personalized services. The operator should be
Why you need to a challenge for operators. When the products are rated able to provide any combination of services in a bundle, and
transform your and charged on different systems, maintenance of both constantly improve the customer experience. Customer data
current billing systems becomes much more complicated and expensive becomes a valuable asset that should be leveraged through
system than having a single, convergent platform for handling both up-selling and cross-selling.
prepaid and postpaid services. The same also applies for
How a modern different types of services (for example one billing system
convergent for mobile services and another billing system for xDSL Things to look for when looking for
billing platform services). The ideal billing solution should be able to charge a convergent billing platform
can help all the services, regardless of the underlying network
you improve technology. Additional problems may occur when introducing Support for numerous business models
customer new charging models, because the legacy system may The operators that have been in the market for a long time
experience while not be capable of supporting them (for example, the billing may have modified their business models during the years of
keeping costs system used for mobile data may not be able to handle data operation, or added new ones. Perhaps the focus has been
low services efficiently enough). mainly on business customers, and only later expanded
to individuals, or vice versa. Perhaps the sales model was
What Complexity of charging and pricing models is however just based only on direct selling at first, and later it was extended
features and one side of the coin. Due to heavy competition, telecom to involve resellers too. Business models evolve. This is why
functionalities operators are also forced to shorten the time-to-market for operators need to have a single, convergent BSS platform to
you should look new services. Delayed service not only entails additional support as many business models as possible. Each time
for in an ideal work, but also potential loss of revenues. Short time-to- the business model changes, the existing BSS platform
convergent market also has another advantage: if an operator is the first should be able to support it.
billing solution one among its competitors to introduce a given service to
the market, this service is in unique position, which provides A truly convergent billing system should be service-agnostic,
a strong competitive advantage. and able to be used in any business model with rating,
charging, billing and invoicing for any services offered. That
The challenges described above are pushing the operators kind of platform should also show versatility, which means
Are the billing towards transforming the billing platform into a more the system can operate in a diverse range of configurations
systems currently convergent one. The benefits from this transformation include with different providers.
used by operators not only business and revenue growth, but also the ability
fit for the new to react faster to market changes, improve the customer Ability to reduce the time-to-market
charging models? experience and reduce operating costs. If an operator’s products are defined in multiple systems,
those systems can be used to launch new products and
charge for their usage, but sooner or later the restraints
Towards customer-centric BSS will become too severe. Operators may find that their
current BSS platform does not support modern products,
The revenues The relationship between an operator and its customers that configuration of individual products takes too much
from mobile data has shifted in favour of the customer and evolved into a time, or that system maintenance becomes too expensive.
services are no more customer-centric model compared to a couple of The current process of product and offer introduction may
longer covering the years ago. The times when the customer and operator had already include activities such as duplicating product
costs of network a simple relationship (e.g. the customer used a fixed line information (the same information is entered multiple times),
maintenance and telephone service and received an invoice once per month) struggling to keep the fragmented data consistent, and
network capacity are over. More stakeholders have entered the market and the maintaining the integrated legacy systems. The amount
investments. service that a customer purchases from an operator acts of work in these areas can be significantly reduced with
as a channel for additional content. The operator also has a single convergent billing platform.
more business partners than before (e.g. content providers,
interconnect partners, resellers) and they must be managed If we take a case of a greenfield operator in rollout phase
efficiently too, but the main focus stays on the end customer of its services, short time-to-market may even be more
(regardless of whether it is a business customer or an important as it speeds up the start of the revenue stream.
individual). A convergent billing system should also provide convergence
on the prepaid/postpaid level and on a service level.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 41

This provides a foundation on which the greenfield operator configuration differences between prepaid and postpaid The ideal billing
can construct a large customer base, without limiting the tariff plans. Consequently, only the core of the billing system solution should
available payment options. should be aware of the difference between a postpaid be able to charge
and a prepaid event. All other elements of an operator’s IT all the services,
Legacy systems that are still in use in many telecom systems and telco network can be completely unaware of regardless of the
businesses may limit product and offer definitions or rating this difference. This results in a very clean implementation of underlying network
and charging scenario definitions. By transforming the logic for these systems. technology.
billing system into a convergent platform, product managers
will gain an opportunity to define and apply many kinds of Easy integration with other IT systems
associations and rules to the products and their charges, To support transformation towards a convergent billing
which will make their work a lot more efficient. platform, it is necessary to integrate existing IT systems
with the platform. Such development can be supported
A truly convergent billing system has a modular and object- by applying Service Oriented Architecture with the use of
oriented construction, which enables fast and simple open interfaces, which can help limit the growth of the total
implementation of new services. Definition of new services is complexity of the solution. A convergent billing system can
possible thanks to the parameterized services and business support the innovation of operators through the inclusion
rules, and does not then require modifications of the of features such as an open architecture, customer-
application code (hard coding). centric approach, centralized product management, built-in
business process manager and rule-based configuration on
Standardization various levels.
Whether an operator needs to fulfill almost the complete set
of eTOM processes or just a subset of them, a convergent Multiple levels of convergence
billing system should come with a suite of out of the box Convergence exists on multiple levels. Prepaid and postpaid,
integrated applications to match the individual operator’s multiple underlying network technologies within a single
needs. This enables the operator to avoid the challenge of platform, many different customer types, all services in one…
integrating various software solutions from multiple vendors. these are just some examples. Having a separate platform
for each of these issues would significantly complicate an
Providing multiple types of operation operator’s daily operations.
possibilities
Also, some operators have their business model based A convergent billing system allows operators to price and
on a strong outsourcing strategy, enabling the operator invoice distinctly different services together, with new
to focus on the most strategic subjects instead of system combinations created quickly to reflect market changes. Operators may find
maintenance. Thus the development and operation efforts of A unified customer account enables an operator to view the that their current
the billing-related activities should be able to be outsourced big picture easily, spotting cross-service relationships and BSS platform does
to the BSS vendor. buying patterns that show new business opportunities. not support modern
products, that
One platform for both prepaid and postpaid Easy introduction of new charging models configuration of
services As mentioned earlier in this document, network capacity individual products
In legacy billing solutions, the operator often maintains investments and maintenance costs are increasing more takes too much
two separate systems for postpaid and prepaid services. If rapidly than the revenues from data service usage. In time, or that system
similar products are offered in postpaid and prepaid models, addition, a small percentage of subscribers are using most maintenance
there may be a lot of duplication. Thus having one solution for of the network capacity, thus causing network problems for becomes too
both types of offers has great advantages (such as cost of other subscribers and influencing their customer experience. expensive.
ownership and flexibility). Additionally this change will cause This is why policy management has become a very popular
all event types (voice, data, SMS) to be rated and billed by the concept. It was used for network throttling before, but now
same convergent billing system. Furthermore, the extra work it is becoming more common as a tool for providing value-
caused by duplicated product catalog and customer data added services and segmenting data services. For example,
records, as well as all other problems associated with mixed the usage of Facebook via smartphone can be offered with
prepaid / postpaid offers, can be eliminated with a single a  cheaper tariff than the usage of YouTube.
convergent platform.
Operators should have policy management capabilities in
A well-chosen convergent billing system enables postpaid their billing platform, to be able to offer personalized services
events to be rated in real-time if needed, reducing the and tariffs to their customers, while removing the unlimited

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


42 HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience

There is no excuse data consumption plans and differentiating service types. A these delays are visible to the end customer. For example, if
for delays in convergent billing system enables operators to control and a prepaid service is not charged correctly and a customer’s
system operation, charge the subscriber services basing on the service type, prepaid account is charged much later than when the
especially if these instead of general data consumption only. This provides service was used, the customer may become confused
delays are visible to operators with new business opportunities, reduces the about the actual available balance on their account. Another
the end customer. network investment and maintenance costs, and improves issue is when service performance is too low and a service
customer experience. cannot be used by a customer. This causes a negative
customer experience and leads to revenue loss.
Better performance of the billing platform
The increasing volume of transactions (for example, from From the hardware perspective, efficient data processing
data services that are charged based on a service type) puts is crucial. An efficient data processing engine in the billing
a lot of pressure on the billing platform. It must therefore be system can handle more events with similar hardware in
scalable and support a high volume of transactions. There a  given time, than a less efficient tool (where more hardware
is no excuse for delays in system operation, especially if is needed to reach similar rating performance). A convergent

Product Managers IT Billing Managers Finance Backoffice

Product System Customer


Management Management Management
GUI GUI GUI

Product Catalog Manager, Comarch Convergent Billing


Product Inventory
Business Process Management Existing Systems
of the Operator

Customer
Data Access &

Specification & Offering Resource Collection


Management

Information Reporting DMS/Archive


Management Management Management
Management
Inventory
Sales Billing Account Receivables Billing Inquiry, Dispute
Management Price Management Management & Adjustment
Support MNP

Payments
Product Instances

Product Catalog Customer Product System


ESB / Integration Bus

Specification Configuration G/L


Product Offering
Repository

Product Specification
Financial Data Pricing Algorytm Output Definition Service Usage
Distribution Channel Data Warehouse
Product Promotion Customer Bill,
Product Offering Price Reports Rating Element Customer Bill Applied Customer
Collections Billing Rate
Printing

Rating & Pricing Processes Output Formatting Central Log


Billing Processes Manager
Data Processing

Product Lifecycle Product/Service Transactional Bill Format /


Bill Calculation Dopcument Process
Management Rating Render Scheduler
Production
Product Information Online
Publisher Charging

Active Mediation Billing Mediation

Fixed, Cable IP, IMS, NGN 2G, 3G, 4G

Multi-Service Network

  Figure 1. High level architecture of Comarch Convergent Billing

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


HOT TOPIC: Aiming for Perfect Customer Experience 43

billing solution should include a high-performance rating The system can be used for both prepaid and postpaid The customer
engine, and in this way it should reduce hardware costs. events. From the implementation point of view, in the system experience is the
Additional savings on hardware can be reached by there is almost no difference between a postpaid tariff plan strongest focus
consolidating the separate legacy billing systems into and a prepaid tariff plan. When introducing new tariff plans as it becomes
a  single convergent platform. for the products, the logics from the old tariff plans can be the most efficient
re-used. For example, extending a prepaid tariff plan into a weapon in the
Apart from high performance of the billing platform, efficiency postpaid tariff plan is a straightforward operation, because constant fight for
can be increased by automating mass data processing. both tariff plans can use the same configuration rules and a customers.
A convergent billing system provides tools for configuring single database that contains the accounts and tariff plans.
and scheduling processes (one benefit of this is that billing
procedures can be performed during the night when the When it comes to data processing, Comarch Convergent
system is not overloaded with regular user activities) and Billing also shows very high performance. It contains two
real-time updated graphs and charts about the process internal components for data processing – one for mass
status. It should also be possible to issue detailed reports data processing and one for real-time processing. Both
about, for example, errors. components use the same administration application and
configuration rules. The efficiency of the system makes it
process even the most complex tariff definitions quickly and
Comarch Convergent Billing overview accurately.

The business challenges that have been presented in this In addition to the key functionalities such as prepaid and To use the business
document, can be approached with the Comarch Convergent postpaid billing, the system supports multiple types on wired opportunities,
Billing solution. The solution is a high capacity, scalable and wireless networks. It also contains a built-in business the underlying
billing system which can be used in any service provider process management functionality, supports a wide range of billing system
business model including fixed, mobile, broadband, satellite additional processes relating to core functionalities, such as of the operator
and cable TV operators, as well as multi-service and MVNOs. mediation, payment processing, dunning and G/L integration, must be capable
The solution enables fast and simple implementation of new and has a modular architecture, providing various interfaces of enabling new
services offered in the process of business development, to external systems. types of services
and can operate in a diverse range of configurations with and bundles and
different providers. The key benefits of the solution can be summarized ensure a short
as shorter time-to-market for new services, reduced time-to-market
In order to streamline the management of complex products, maintenance costs, convenient adaptation to new business for the services,
it is recommended that Comarch Convergent Billing is used models within the same platform, and improved customer while at the same
together with an additional module for product management: experience. time providing cost
Comarch Central Product Manager. This module handles savings.
offers and product specifications, defines relationships
between various products, and specifies which ones are Conclusions
exclusive or only sold as a component of a bigger package.
It also defines target customers, their locations, and many The telecom business has become more customer-centric
other parameters. Comarch Central Product Manager is an than ever before. The customer experience is the strongest
integral part of the overall BSS architecture, and can also focus as it becomes the most efficient weapon in the
be integrated seamlessly with other components of the constant fight for customers. Despite the challenges of falling
Comarch BSS Suite if needed. revenues from voice services, the operators get additional
business opportunities from providing new, personalized
Comarch Convergent Billing solution can also be used services to their end customers. Customers also appreciate
together with a Product Inventory module that manages the the smooth operation of the services they are using, and
product instances. The Product Inventory module provides an pricing transparency – customers must know what they are
interface for other modules (including Comarch Convergent paying for.
Billing) to create and terminate product instances, as well
as fetching the product instances to be used in the billing To use the business opportunities, the underlying billing
system. system of the operator must be capable of enabling new
types of services and bundles and ensure a short time-to-
The logical architecture of the Comarch Convergent Billing market for the services, while at the same time providing
module is presented on the Figure 1. cost savings.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


44 BEYOND BSS/OSS

A new era of tagging


ince the very beginning of human civilization Over the recent years, traditional barcodes, called 1D
S people have always had a tendency to mark and
label things, which at first was motivated purely
barcodes, have been slowly but successively replaced by
their improved successors, 2D barcodes. These, as compared
by the desire to express ownership but later it evolved into to the 1D’s capacity of a dozen or so digits, can store several
a way to maintain order and facilitate the management of thousand of characters, which makes it possible for the
belongings. With recent technological development new producer to put much more machine-readable information on
ways of tagging have emerged, not only providing new, more the packaging, than just the product’s identifier.
convenient ways of putting order numbers onto physical
objects, but also enabling the creation of completely new
functionalities, going far beyond original intentions.

GRZEGORZ WACHOCKI The beginning of things – traditional


Comarch SA barcodes
R&D Department Manager,
Telecommunications Let us begin with traditional and ubiquitous barcodes, the
Business Unit invention of which was mainly driven by the need for having
groceries labeled by something which is easily recognizable
by machines. They are completely illegible for the human
eye, but a cashier equipped with an electronic reader can   Figure 2. 2D barcodes are created on the base of the
easily and quickly count the total price of even the biggest same idea as the traditional barcodes but can store much
supermarket cart filled up with the smallest articles. more data

2D barcodes can One step further – RFID


store several
thousand of Another technology that was originally used for product
characters and identification is RFID (radio-frequency identification). However,
can store much the technology has evolved from its original use and is
more than just the currently quite a powerful tool. The idea behind it was to store
product’s identifier. data in a small silicon chip which transfers it to a  reader in
the form of an electromagnetic radio signal. This can improve
the shopping experience, as the cashier does not need to
read articles in the cart one by one because it is possible to
pass the whole cart through a gate equipped with a special
antenna that detects all the tags at once. Shopping can really
  Figure 1. Traditional 1D barcodes be as simple as that, theoretically at least.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


BEYOND BSS/OSS 45

Composed of a small silicon chip and an antenna, RFID that it is an RFID tag, and thus enable a new range of
tags, in contrast to barcodes, can be applied to virtually any possible applications. This makes it possible to tag, read and QR applications:
objects, such as clothes, thickets or credit cards.. identify not only physical but also virtual objects, such as
an electronic business card or your fly ticket which exists Marketing &
only in your phone memory, iyou do not have a physical advertising
Entering the mobile market ticket but you can still enter the aircraft. Communication
between the two NFC-enabled devices means that two NFC- Information
Together, with the boom of smartphones over the recent enabled handsets can exchange data in an y manner. This distribution (e.g.
years, these technologies have become very popular on can include sharing local network configuration, exchanging when printed on
the mobile market due to embedding of these readers contact data between devices or even making money business cards)
into handsets e.g. a camera with an appropriate software transfers between two tapped phones - though in this
piece for barcodes and NFC technology for RFID. The case some confirmation from the user would probably be Links to resources
mentioned NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology is necessary. located online from
a communication protocol designed for portable terminals the real world
allowing them to read RFID tags. It also provides new features
based on a radio communication channel, which is designed Logistics and
to work only on very small distances – a few centimeters at transportation
most. Integrated in a mobile phone, the technology enables
not only to read RFID tags attached to objects but also Providing context-
makes it possible for the phone to imitate a contactless based information
RFID tag or to communicate and exchange information with about products/
another NFC device. services/places

Indoor navigation
A world of possibilities – how are
tagging technologies used? Tagging of goods

There are numerous possible applications of such


technologies, now embedded in a small phone that everyone
carries in their pocket, which are way more interesting than NFC applications:
shopping and check-out improvement. Next-generation
tagging is one example. It enables the label to store Electronic tickets
additional data related to the product such as its description,
as well as a command for the handset to display a web site Mobile payments
or launch an application that helps the user to configure   Figure 3. RFIDs may have many forms, from a simple and micro-
the product or service he or she is just about to buy. Indoor sticker ,as viewed in the picture, a key ring or virtually payments
location is another example. It can replace the old-fashioned anything that may be an embedded inductor/antenna
or just simply a really small silicon chip. There are also
“you are here” marks, on maps, with an advanced easy-to- Mobile promotional
available ones that can be implanted into the human body.
use system which can show the person’s location on their coupons
smartphone screen, as well as direct the user to a chosen
destination. Copying data from a business card (encoded in Conclusions Loyalty programs
one of the mentioned technologies) with the use of a phone
without the risk of making an error in unfamiliar foreign Initially intended to simply attach identifiers to products, Indoor navigation
names or long phone numbers, is yet another element on the RFID and barcodes triggered the appearance of new
the long list of possible benefits of tagging technologies possibilities and solutions. This in turn has made ‘next Quick retrieving of
utilization. generation tagging’ even more attractive and therefore, has information and
increased their popularity. configuration to
The solutions provided by the NFC technology alone can the mobile phone
be even more amazing when you consider the various Will everything in the world be soon labeled with RFIDs? (e.g. for WIFI service
communication modes (RFID reading, RFID simulation, Well, maybe not everything, but certainly some products, configuration)
and communication between two NFC-enabled devices). such as those requiring complex or personalized instructions
The first one is not very surprising as it allows the phone of use, will soon be equipped with a chip. This will improve Access
to read the RFID tag exactly the same as any other reader customer assistance and enable new functions such as authorization (e.g.
and take corresponding action according to the obtained multimedia guidance put on a pill box, providing dosage buildings, cars)
value, but the remaining two are much more powerful. RFID information adjusted for the particular person who will be
simulation implies that the phone can imitate (simulate) using it.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


46 BEYOND BSS/OSS

Telework – an unexploited
niche for telecom operators?

ith the constant progress of communication uninterrupted coverage, as well as satisfactory levels of

W technologies - mobile telephony, Internet, and


consumer devices like PCs, laptops, netbooks,
throughput, packet loss, average jitter and delay during an
important video conference?). Quality of service is still a major
tablets, smartphones - it is becoming more and more challenge mobile operators need to address. On the other hand,
IDEAS IN BRIEF: possible for people to work from home or other locations investments in LTE and the advent of 4G technologies looks
outside their central office, distribution or production sites. promising in this context. Perhaps the extreme, 100% location-
Working from home Telework has the potential to transform working patterns independent flavor of telework with guaranteed reliability could
could save you and to positively impact health, safety and the wellbeing of be offered by mobile operators to companies and become
those 1-2 hours of the people involved. Telework has the potential to become a  small yet growing revenue stream.
commuting time an interesting part of any telecom operator’s portfolio.

Mobile telephony Have you ever woken up and experienced that “Oh no, not Telecommuting – how does it differ from
and mobile Internet again!” feeling, knowing you’re about to spend an hour in telework?
offers more a  huge traffic jam, nine hours in the office, then again an hour
freedom in terms in a traffic jam? If you did, perhaps you’ve heard of telework The less mobile category of telework, where daily commuting
of choosing the – the idea of working remotely and substituting work is eliminated (but not necessarily all work travels) and an
location of work travels and commuting with telecommunications. Working employee is mainly working from a single location (e.g. home
from home could save you those 1-2 hours of commuting office) is called telecommuting. Telecommuting supported by
Billing can be split time, gasoline expenses as well as spare the world a few fixed-broadband services creates interesting opportunities
- some services kilograms of daily emission of CO2. Some people tend to work for operators, their corporate customers and the employees
are billed to the more productively outside of the office – experiencing less of the latter. Let’s take Nordic countries as an example -
employer, some distraction and being motivated to prove, that their boss’s telecommuting is quite popular there. There are operators who
billed to the decision to let them work remotely was correct. Can anybody offer a special type of triple-play service: a large enterprise
employee work remotely? Of course telework is not for everybody. If signs a contract and DSL lines are installed at the homes of
your work requires your physical on-site presence (e.g. such selected employees (telecommuters). The employer pays.
jobs as chef, working at a carwash, selling tickets at the Thanks to the DSL line, an employee can access company
train station or running a farm) – working remotely is not systems via VPN, send e-mail, attend online meetings and
necessarily for you. so on. But for private use he can sign an agreement with the
same operator and order IPTV and/or VoIP services. These
services are activated on top of the DSL line serving as a base
Employees save Telecommunications support telework service. The private person pays bills and can manage his
time, get more subscriptions (e.g. through a dedicated self-service portal),
choice and work Since there would be no telework without modern without the access of that person’s employer to the information
arrangement telecommunications services - let’s find out how they can be regarding those private services. The company can only see
flexibility. useful in typical telework arrangements. Let’s start with mobile Internet access DSL line parameters and statistics (preferably
services. Mobile telephony and mobile Internet seem to offer through a corporate self-care portal).
more freedom in terms of choosing the location to work. It
could be relatively static like home, but it could be also a coffee
shop, a park, or even such a dynamic location as a train or Split billing – how to do it well
plane. For most of us however, it would be very inconvenient
to run an online meeting, not to mention a videoconference In terms of BSS, a feature which enables the described
from, say, a coffee shop. This is due to limited privacy as well scenario (some services paid by the employer, some by the
as potential quality issues (can your mobile provider guarantee employee) is called split billing. There are different possible

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


BEYOND BSS/OSS 47

ways to handle this. ADSL subscription installed at an Service providers gain a new niche for their triple-play
employee’s home can be paid by his employer. ADSL costs services - a cross-selling opportunity at a lower subscriber
can also be taken off the employee’s gross salary - this way, acquisition cost. The environment is less polluted.
in some countries, an employee is saving a percentage Opportunities for people to participate and remain in
of tax from the bought amount. A company may also pay employment extend. Employees save time, get more choice
completely, partially or not at all for private IPTV and VoIP and work arrangement flexibility. They also gain more
for an employee’s subscriptions. Optionally, an employee convenience – if they switch their employer, they can retain
with ADSL from his company may sign a direct agreement private services from the operator (by just transferring the
with the same operator and have IPTV and VoIP usage billed DSL line onto themselves or onto the new employer) – thus
separately on his private account. avoiding service provider switching hassle. PAWEŁ LAMIK
Comarch SA
Except for billing, there are more areas to consider – product CRM Product Manager,
management, pricing, agreement handling, customer order Conclusions Telecommunications
capture, product terminations and transferring, dunning, and Business Unit
campaign management, just to name a few. A CRM / billing Telecommuting works well in all-IP fixed broadband
solution must support management of both residential and networks. Services like VoIP, VPN, videoconferences and
business customers, customer roles (payer, owner, user) in online meetings enable virtual teams of teleworkers to
the context of subscriptions, linking of products on separate collaborate effectively with their “on-site” colleagues and
customer accounts during product ordering, and of course prove that physical presence in the office during work hours
splitting charges. In reality, a typical telecom’s silo-based may be overhyped. Mobile operators, introducing mobile
architecture with its legacy CRM, billing and delivery systems broadband based on next-generation networks with high
has a low capability of covering these requirements and quality of service, have a great opportunity to support the
is not able to meet the expectations regarding support for growing trend, virtualizing workspaces and transforming
the  telework scenario described above. workers into teleworkers. Telework supported by a flexible
BSS platform also enables the introduction of innovative
marketing offers to companies and their employees.
Win-win game
Maybe sometime soon you’ll wake up an hour later than Employers can
Assuming an operator does have a modern BSS solution in usually, and instead of driving to the office, you’ll just go to reduce office
place. What are the key benefits of telecommuting service another room, sit down, switch on your laptop and perhaps maintenance costs,
availability? Employers can reduce office maintenance your TV set to set up a videoconference with your virtual as well as increase
costs, as well as increase productivity and loyalty of their teammates. After all, the telecommuting motto says: work is productivity and
employees (by allowing them to work remotely while something you do, not something you travel to. loyalty of their
financing their DSL line and other necessary services). employee.

Salary

ADSL can also be paid from gross salary John Smith:


IPTV/VoiP usage is billed separately to residential customer and a Bricks
Corporate customer:
the employee R Us teleworker
Bricks R Us

Billing account: Billing Billing Billing account:


Customer care department John’s private bill
Company pays for ADSL Invoice sent to end-users
subscriptions installed at homes for the part for which
of employees. the  company does not pay
Company may also pay completely
or partially or not at all for private
Non-bilable account: IPTV and VoIP subscriptions of an
John Smith as employee
an employee
(teleworker)
Private IPTV/VoiP subscriptions are using
ADSL line activated under company
Subscription hierarchy

  Figure 1. Telecommuting

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


48 TELCOSPHERE BLOG

Six issues about the role of BSS


in the M2M business model
Mobile operators need a completely new BSS for M2M because M2M is a totally different
business model.

The M2M business model is mature and well-known by


operators, although the facts that the technology is relatively 2. EDRs correlation, intelligent de-duplication, and
cheap and that the telecom market is quite saturated offer enrichment with e.g. location context.
new opportunities for growth. Final charging and invoicing
are not the main issues, and very often the existing billing 3. Bulk SIM activation and management.
systems for the enterprise segment are good enough to
fulfill a standard M2M business model. I don’t recommend 4. Fraud prevention to support M2M policy assigned to
using retail BSS; I know a case when an SMS campaign was specified SIM or data source.
addressed to air conditioners. The end user is different, the
PIOTR MACHNIK processes are different and the ARPU is different. 5. Workflow processes and automation of logistics and
Comarch SA selfcare.
Vice President, Product Operators can consider cooperation with specialized service
Management & Marketing partner or buying a new charging or billing solution for M2M 6. Control Tools and integration gateways.
Telecommunications when:
Business Unit At Comarch we provide a solution for managing this business
1. They would like to be more independent from area called the M2M Platform.
M2M aggregators, have direct contact with end
customers(usually corporates or enterprises which are
their customers in a purely telecom business sense), M2M charging and tariffs are flat
and deal with many aggregators instead of having one and  simple
strategic partner reselling the communication pipe to
M2M devices and dealing with end customers. It depends. When operators come to vertical business they
have to think in categories of value adequate for specified
2. The cost of upgrading the current billing system is vertical markets. The charging policy for an M2M business
unacceptable. The current billing system doesn’t evaluates simple tariffs (including monthly or annual fee),
recognize the difference between traditional mobile usage-based charges beyond thresholds (like 100kB/month),
subscription with ARPU at 20-40 EUR, and M2M with and more specific use cases such as:
ARPU at 1-5 EUR.
1. Quantity of transmissions for toll road or periodical
3. The current billing system doesn’t support hierarchical maintenance of expensive electrical equipment.
billing or charging scenarios for B2B and B2B2C
business models. 2. Completed data transfer from a number of machines
(terminals) in a specified time frame for utilities or real
4. The current solution consists of numerous modules, is estate business.
too complicated, and incapable of adopting new tariffs
and products or of integrating with non-standard M2M 3 Direct (from end terminals at customer premises) or
infrastructure. drop-in (from concentrators) mode of transmission for
RFID like ZigBee.
Of course basic set of M2M functions shall include:
4. Uni-directional/bi-directional transmission for upgrades
1. Subscription management (hierarchy, access and media downloads (as in the connected cars
technology and procedures). business case).

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


TELCOSPHERE BLOG 49

5. Content-based policy (short notification of and unified business applications framework is a key 5. Specified roaming agreements for international
alarms, and big file transfer for online security for communication operators who want to increase use (logistics, carriers, global vendors of moving
business cases in eHealthcare diagnostics their share in the global M2M pie. goods) or multiIMSI, MultiMSISDN.
platforms like Comarch iMed24 traffic
management for electronic readers such Aggregation of M2M services and co-operation with 6. Users are different and demands are different.
as Amazon Kindle). For example ECG on-line many M2M service and vertical partners, could be In voice and internet it’s quite simple. We talk
examination is a precise sequence of both side the best way to increase the profitability of an M2M or we download content and we pay for it. But
notifications and big media files downloads business. When they stay offering pure network in M2M we can have, for example, a case of a
when blood sugar check consist of few very service they could lose customers to service company which leases fitness machines, trucks
small checks in specified time of the day. aggregators. or bulldozers. The benefit of a customer is in
using M2M remote diagnostics for significant
6. Risk-share and revenue-share model based In my opinion the best strategy for Telco Operators is: reduction of costly on-site maintenance and
on real revenue transfer scenarios. E.g. increasing productivity of the equipment and
operators can secure M2M transmission to Offering direct B2B services trough direct sales profitability of the core business.
the big bulldozer but they would pay when the channel for mass and global M2M connectivity
equipment works (and earns a real money). like automotive, navigation, global logistics and Most of companies, including Vodafone, KPN and
asset management. Sprint have dedicated smart M2M business units or
The important features of the charging system for specialized teams within their enterprise business
M2M are: hierarchy management and location, Find strategic vertical partners for B2B2C model departments.
automation and self-configuration of many for selected services and offer differentiators
subscriptions, user-defined pricing and flexible like eHealth or connected homes and work.
offering (typical for enterprise segment), mass Is there a difference between M2M
process and subscription management (such as Leave a middle and small business and non and RFID and NFC?
bulk SIM card management and activations). strategic market segments for partners and
developer communities securing revenue share RFID is one among others technologies that could
from intelligent connectivity management. be used to establish M2M communication. RFID is
Operators will become M2M perfect for short distance communication (100-
technology vendors and vertical 300m), for monitoring fuel tanks, containers,
platforms’ operators The M2M business model is based automation of distribution processes in big fashion
on SIM cards so it’s the same as factories and stores, and so on. Technologies such
It’s similar to handset manufactures or the internet pure retail telco as RFID ZigBee have been developed specifically for
USB dongles market. The M2M chipset and device enterprises, in contrast to GSM or GPRS which was
manufacturers and service providers market is In theory yes, because everybody can buy M2M SIM originally developed for voice and the transfer of large
mature. It has its own established leaders both in cards but the M2M business model and processes volumes of data. ZigBee is much more efficient than
technology and business. The telecom operators’ are different. It’ is similar to the business model in the SIM-based M2M in terms of power consumption,
business is to support this market with intelligent enterprise segment. The main differences between ‘plug & play’ features and integration with automatics
connectivity, special quality of service (QoS), high traditional SIM-based retail and M2M are: including SCADA, MODBUS or intelligent buildings
automation of processes, self care applications, systems. RFID technologies are dedicated to small
and open, real-time APIs or B2B gateways to the 1. The importance of bulk SIM management and distances and relatively small data transfer (ZigBee
communication medium and data. SIM logistic processes. 250kB/s in 2.5GHz). When we have to secure long-
distance transmission between moving assets we
Operators could monetize existing assets and 2. Specified SIM cards adequate for industry ought to use a SIM-based M2M communication
benefit from hosting applications, managing purposes (more life cycles longer than 12 years, channel. When we have to arise security level of the
international communication, increasing as opposite to 3-5 in retail telco, tolerance for transmission we have to consider Bluetooth or NFC.
membership of loyalty programs, remote upgrade high and low temperatures because of outdoor Of course, mixed architectures consists of unlicensed
management, and the option of ad-hoc look-up use). spectrum transmission and GPRS concentrators
to remote intelligent terminals. Communication are possible and, for example in smart metering,
service providers could play a significant and direct 3. Special policy: no voice, usually small portions are very popular and cost-effective in terms of
role in those M2M areas which will have become of data exchanged in specified time periods. communication costs and energy consumption.
standardized in the next few years (such as the
eCall automated emergency call service during 4. Dealers, resellers and aggregators; A long-
car accidents, connected vehicles and automated tail revenue share model in contradiction to
traffic control). M2M standardization is a very hot retail account sales to enterprises; web will
topic in organizations such as ETSI, GSMA and OMA. be a major customer contact channel in this
Standardization in field of open sensor networks business.

Comarch Technology Review   01/2011


50 TELCOSPHERE BLOG

Renewal of a mobile subscription


– is it simple?
I subscribed to a mobile service almost one year ago. The end date of this subscription is
approaching. We are hearing about how customer satisfaction is important for operators, so
let’s see what effort the operator has made to try and renew the contract.*

The first call from a call center agent arrives 3 months before the data services as well (which my current subscription also
end of the contract. includes)?

Agent: “Hi, would you be interested in renewing the contract And why not send the offer details to me by e-mail so that
today?” I could have a closer look at the offer details? If the offer is
Me: “Please call me again in 2 months (one month before the end complex, not everyone wants to make the decision right
of the contract).” away.
Agent: “Ok”
Would the customer appreciate getting a personalized offer,
Fine, it seems as though they are interested in keeping me as a based on his previous service usage profile? The amount on the
PEKKA VALITALO customer. invoice does not say much about the subscriber’s service usage
Comarch SA profile.
BSS Market Analyst, 1.5 months before the contract ends, the next call arrives from
Telecommunications the call center agent. One month before the end of the contract, the call center agent
Business Unit calls again.
Agent: “Hi, we have prepared an offer for you. Because the
average amount of your invoice has been XXX, we would like to Agent: “Hi, have you checked the offers on our website.”
offer you some new attractive pricing. Which services have you Me: “Yes, one offer looks interesting and I am interested in it.
been using the most? Voice or SMS?” However I checked the offer conditions from your website and
Me: “I have used voice services more than SMS” I have a couple of questions. Do you speak English? No? Ok,
Agent: “Do you usually call numbers in our network, or also please have some English-speaking agent call me and discuss
numbers of other mobile operators in the country?” these issues and the agreement”
Me: “Yes, and also to numbers abroad. And what about mobile Agent: “Ok. An English-speaking person will call you soon”
data service? Can you send me the offer by e-mail, so I can have
a look at it without making a decision right away?” When negotiating a new subscription during a telephone call, I’d
Agent: “Sorry, I cannot send any e-mails from the call center. You rather agree to a new contract in English, since I’m not a native
would need to make the decision based on the information that speaker of the local language.
I’m telling you over the phone”
Me: “Ok, so I’ll check the offers on your website before making any There are still 2 weeks until the end of the contract, and still no
decision. Please call me back later” call from the English speaking call center agent. It looks like I
When the operator is calling to subscribers and proposing them need to check what the other operators are currently offering.
new offers in this way, it does not seem to be a very smooth
operation. The issues that I have complained about in this blog post should
not be too difficult for the operator to handle better. It would at
Why are they asking if I have been using more voice or least increase customer satisfaction and reduce the churn rate.
SMS? Shouldn’t they already see this from their CRM
systems, and not simply look just at the final amount of the * The above blog post was written in February. I got no additional
invoice? telephone calls from the agent, so three days before the contract
expiration I finally went to the point of sale for renewing the
Shouldn’t they see from my service usage profile that a big contract. Service was good and the contract renewal took less
portion of the invoice amount comes from calls abroad? than 5 minutes.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the
Instead of just voice and SMS, why are they not offering me author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comarch.

Telco Sphere blog - a place to share ideas on the developments in the telecom world:
telcosphere.comarch.com

Comarch
ComarchTechnology
TechnologyReview 
Review   02/2010
 01/2011
M achine-to-machine (M2M) traffic can provide
additional revenue sources for operators battling TELCO OPERATOR M2M PARTNER
against reduced revenues from voice services. The number of
connectable machines is 5 times greater than the amount of
humans (source: ETSI), and the number of machines currently External Systems
connected is extremely low.
Self Partner’s
Comarch Management administrators
As the level of M2M traffic increases and M2M devices Existing BSS M2M
become more common, the price of individual M2M hardware Platform Platform
components falls, boosting M2M popularity even further. In
Integration M2M Partner
addition, the declining price of data services facilitates more
Existing OSS Systems
M2M business scenarios. Scenarios that a couple of years
Platform
ago were deemed useless, due to high costs, now present
an attractive business opportunity, with telco operators able
to attain a new revenue source by offering M2M connectivity Integration
services.
Underlying Network
Services
The Comarch M2M Platform for mobile network operators and
M2M enablers supports rating and charging, and also provides
tools for actions such as performing mass operations on SIM
cards, and integration with inventory and a self service portal.
The platform contains a B2B Gateway for secure web service
integration with a partner, thus enabling self management
and provisioning functionalities that partners can utilize via
their systems. This platform can be added to the existing MNO
infrastructure in the same way that MVNE platforms are added The Comarch M2M Platform is designed to support
to support MVNO business. mobile network operators and M2M enablers with their
M2M business operations. In addition to rating and
Comarch M2M Platform – Benefits:
charging, the solution contains other functionalities
such as mediation, provisioning, self-service (including
Single platform for various types of M2M services:
self-provisioning) and partner management, depending
service-agnostic data processing for multiple types of
industries
on the requirements of the M2M enterprise. With this
solution, the operator and M2M enabler are able to
Able to process vast amounts of data control resources (such as SIM cards) and manage
workflows.
Increased automation and cost efficiency

Enhanced cooperation with business partners

Flexible integration with external systems: standardized More info is available at:
interfaces, modern and open technology http://m2mplatform.comarch.com/
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