From a skyrocketing demand for data to the advent of new technologies, the telecoms industry has seen a tidal wave of change in the past few years. As a result, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) now face a significant challenge to keep pace.
This is not just to meet the needs of their existing customers, but with Hyperscalers like Meta and Google eyeing traditional CSP territory, evolution is essential to ensure they are not displaced. One of the biggest drawbacks for CSPs looking to adapt to the new landscape is the limitations of their existing IT infrastructure. Legacy systems lack the agility needed to embrace new business models that are an essential part of staying competitive.
In this article, Alen Muslic, Chief Strategy Officer at ZIRA reviews the drivers for change across the industry, explores the IT infrastructure upgrades needed, and looks at the essentials for ongoing wholesale success.
In our last blog, we gave seven reasons for CSPs to seriously consider adopting a Marketplace model. Now, let’s take a look at how. Alen Muslić, our Chief Strategy Officer, explains why, despite its disruptive potential, Marketplace implementation is becoming a seamless process that is easier than you might think.
A shift in business model impacts every aspect of a CSP’s Business Support Systems (BSS). Billing, agreement management, fulfillment, product catalog, partner and customer management – there is no aspect left untouched. This can make the idea of adopting a new business approach a daunting one. However, at ZIRA, we help customers make the move to Marketplace models in a simple and non-disruptive way using Marketplace enablers.
Marketplace enablers allow existing BSS systems from ZIRA to be adapted to serve customer and supplier partners, and direct customers. They facilitate connections across the ecosystem and transform a traditional B2B sales model into a rich web of B2B2X connections. Once Marketplace enablers open up the opportunities, the next step is to ensure that each avenue and interaction has full BSS support to allow CSPs to fully capitalize on them.
Enabling multiple partner journeys
For CSPs to effectively leverage the benefits of a Marketplace model, they need to have the flexibility within their BSS capabilities to support multiple partner and customer journeys. The processes for direct customers will be well-established, but supplier partners and customer partners in a Marketplace context are different.
Customer Partner Journey
As discussed in our article on adopting a Marketplace model, CSPs can unlock numerous opportunities by being able to support a B2B2X business model. However, to take advantage of B2B2X channels, CSPs must ensure they can manage the entire end-to-end process for both the direct and end customers in the B2B2X chain. They need BSS systems that fulfill all the functions that are part of a traditional CSP model and additional support to manage onward sales channels. They need support in place to facilitate agreements on pricing. And they need to be able to deliver order management, enable billing, and deliver aftercare services, even if they do not directly interact with the partner’s end customers.
CSPs looking to take advantage of B2B2X revenue streams must have the additional BSS infrastructure in place for this strategy to be a success.
Supplier Partner Journey
Another way the Marketplace model will enable CSPs to become more competitive is through Supplier Partners. Broadening their offerings and integrating offerings from partners to expand their portfolio presents an opportunity to open new revenue channels. Although this offers a range of benefits, each additional Supplier Partner introduces more complexity that needs to be managed. To make the most of these relationships, the CSP needs to ease friction for the partner at each stage of the journey to allow the relationship to grow. This means making it easy for a Supplier Partner to integrate new services into the product catalog, manage and confirm partner agreements, and set up a seamless flow that allows the Supplier Partner to fulfill agreements brokered via a Marketplace model.
It is a more complex ecosystem to navigate than traditional CSP models, and having the right BSS systems in place to automate and streamline where possible is essential.
Each type of partner requires a different kind of support to enable smooth interactions that inspire long-term collaboration, and CSPs need to put in place flexible BSS systems that can cater to these needs.
Managing additional complexity
Managing different types of partners is not the only consideration for CSPs. There are also different requirements for different services. For example, fiber requirements differ from traditional telecom services. Wholesale BSS needs differ from direct-to-customer. How can we navigate the customer journey for partners who are buying and selling? How do we deal with B2B2X tickets raised? How can we manage the additional complexity of billing? Here, ZIRA supports CSPs with BSS tools that can automate as much of the process as possible to drive multiple benefits. Automation allows a CSP to manage significantly more partnerships and capitalize on a much broader range of opportunities. It minimizes bottlenecks for partners and customers to deliver a seamless service. Mapping out the journeys, and defining automated workflows that improve user experiences and lighten the workload burden of CSPs, is at the heart of what ZIRA offers customers looking to make the most of a Marketplace model.
Standardization is key to success
One of the reasons ZIRA can help CSPs migrate to a Marketplace model in a seamless way is through a commitment to standardization. ZIRA’s BSS modules all align with Open Digital Architecture (ODA). ODA is a common framework designed specifically for the communications industry to allow more efficient and effective collaboration. The role ODA can play in making Marketplace adoption easier is an excellent illustration of this.
ODA-based BSS modules give CSPs the flexibility to adjust internal processes to accommodate a Marketplace model with minimal disruption. It also uses Open APIs to make it easier to collaborate with others in the ecosystem. New partners can use Open APIs to easily ‘plug in’ to a CSP Marketplace, reducing both friction and the timeframe for collaboration.
Finally, implementing a Marketplace model may be something that can be achieved in a short timeframe, but this is not the end of the story. It is not enough to build a Marketplace; it then needs to be actively managed to deliver continued success. Incorporating new products from supplier partners, and adjusting to accommodate customer partner needs – all of these things need to be addressed by the CSP. This is much easier when all parties are using the same standards. With ODA set to become the industry standard, enabling a Marketplace utilizing the ODA framework will make the ongoing management of Marketplace business opportunities substantially easier.
By using BSS solutions that work with industry standards like ODA and Open APIs, CSPs have the flexibility to adopt new business models (like a Marketplace) with relative ease and reap the rewards of the opportunities they present.
You can read more about how ZIRA is championing the benefits of ODA here.
Open Digital Architecture in practice: Implementation
Disruptive business models can be achieved without causing disruption to business operations. While the transition to a Marketplace model may seem like an immense undertaking, with the right approach, and by making use of standardization, it can be achieved seamlessly.
The evolution of the competitive landscape means there is a real need for CSPs to open the door to as many revenue opportunities as possible. A Marketplace model offers an easy-to-adopt option that is filled with potential, and that will allow the CSPs taking advantage to retain their competitive edge.