Providers turn retailers with CDC strategy

Ari Banerjee/Yankee Group
12 Mar 2009

Amid tight competition in today's communications space, the only way service providers will gain a long-term market position is by creating and assembling products and services spread across different systems, and distributing them efficiently across their networks. Ubiquitous connectivity enables the convergence of wireline, wireless and broadband as well as content services, and it demands that service providers start acting more as retailers.

To do this, service providers must have a platform flexible enough to blend services from internet players and bundle non-traditional services with their typical service offerings. The biggest bottleneck that most service providers still face is launching complex products and service offerings, which takes between six and 12 months because of their organizational and back-office issues.

Existing product and services definitions as well as information, which are spread across different systems, need to be rationalized. There must to be congruence between the commercial products that are launched and the underlying network resources that support those products to minimize or eliminate fulfillment errors.

The centralized dynamic catalog (CDC) strategy can address this challenge by effectively connecting OSS and BSS. CDC solutions go beyond the product or service catalog because they must manage, create, launch and provision all products and services in the service provider's portfolio.

CDC streamlines and orchestrates service providers' overall product strategy. It also provides end-to-end capability, enabling quicker product launch and minimizing fulfillment errors - which are critical in ensuring customer stickiness and reducing customer churn. Close alignment with and seamless integration between the enterprise product catalog (EPC) and the service and resource catalog is the basis for a horizontal CDC strategy.

These solutions will provide links between commercially offered products and technical products, services and resources in a common repository to enable a closed-loop provisioning process from order generation to order fulfillment. This common repository will also provide different views addressing the needs of different groups of carrier users such as product managers, network operators, OSS team members and BSS teams. It will address major challenges such as launching products and services faster, launching and managing them in a standardized way, and addressing definition inconsistencies these are spread across different systems.

Automated commercial off-the-shelf EPC systems can reduce the limitations that traditional manual management creates, such as communication bottlenecks and product structure complexity. An EPC will bring order to the service provider's operational system by removing inconsistent product definitions and product structures. It will also enable versioning and access control mechanisms that will enhance auditing and control capabilities for effective collaboration across the entire organization.

Close the gap between OSS, BSS

EPC acts as a central repository that is shared among billing, CRM and content revenue management applications. It brings order to the chaotic product and service management process that is so inherent in service providers' OSS and BSS environments and provides a structured way to help product managers make bundling decisions.

EPC solves the problem of managing commercial products that are ready for ordering. However, achieving seamless service fulfillment requires a deep understanding of the technical components of commercial services. To achieve seamless customer fulfillment lifecycle management (CFLM), complex dependencies among value-added services, access and devices need to be understood. Because of siloed and disaggregated OSS deployments in most OSS scenarios, there is no real-time correlation between logical and physical modeling of network inventory that underpins the commercial products offered or provisioned to end subscribers via service activation and CRM systems.

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