By Shyam Singh, India Sales Head, Optiva • April 27, 2022
Shyam Singh has two decades of experience in telecom products, including BSS, video optimization, and digital commerce. He is a powerful force for his customers and colleagues with his go-getter ambitious attitude, tireless energy and enthusiasm to encourage others to succeed. Shyam derives his energy from his second passions for running, motorsports, and fitness with many marathons under his belt.
The past few years have been life-changing for the world. While the pandemic affected all aspects of our lives, it also taught us about ourselves. Humans have demonstrated resilience and the ability to adapt and move forward. Lockdowns across the world meant we had to take a step back to prepare for what was coming. In response, innovation was unleashed.
Schools, offices, shopping, and so on … everything that moved online and transitioned to digital. In India, people who were previously reluctant or had no digital access started adopting digital devices and went “online.” This doubled the number of people using the internet in India in only two years. Indian smartphone users reached 750 million by the end of 2021, with the main increase in rural and low-income segments.
The government’s digital initiatives drove this dramatic growth. These included cash benefits to citizens through digital payments, the digitalization and online transition of its education system, healthcare services, etc. In addition, the private sector — from service providers, e-commerce platforms, media, and entertainment to banking — increased their usage of online and digital platforms and technology to connect, enable, and enhance their customers’ experience.
New Role In The Value Chain
Even though service providers of connectivity will continue to play a key role in the game of digitalization, their ability to capture market share is being challenged. Investments to enhance mobile and fixed broadband connectivity to align with the coming 5G growth will probably not be enough if CSPs want to capture a larger share of revenue and increase their monetization opportunities. As a result, focus is shifting from offering affordable packages to becoming the central orchestrator or the central exchange in the value chain.
Further, CSPs must ensure their subscribers can consume services with ease, at their fingertips, and that all services work seamlessly across various digital platforms. Because of their significant presence across the customer base and years of providing services, CSPs have the intimacy, trust, and knowledge of their subscribers. As a result, they are betting their subscribers would prefer to buy a complete and centralized package of services from them versus having multiple, one-off providers for different services.
Lessons From Jio’s Ecosystem
One approach on the horizon that is yet to be proven is for CSPs to create a digital marketplace with an ecosystem of vendors. Vendors will retain their business models, and they may act as both supplier and customer to each other. Recent examples of such ecosystems and CSPs include Jio in India and Rakuten in Japan.
Since its launch a few years ago, Jio has grown to a more than 400 million subscriber base, and it has grown even more during the last two years of the pandemic. Its product offering and packaging has been appealing to subscribers who have adopted its new services, which include e-commerce, retail, media, business tools, entertainment, and more.
CSPs Of The Future Have An Eye On BSS Of The Future
When building an ecosystem, telcos are challenged by their legacy systems. These include their business support systems (BSS), which can typically only support a single enterprise shop with a few business models. They simply are not up to the task. The growing need to launch disruptive services, emerging from the internet of things (IoT) and 5G, is driving innovative CSPs toward a gradual transformation of their IT and BSS.
In this process, CSPs are trying to follow a few important principles, including the following:
Ability to leverage the flexibility of cloud – In the Indian market, this is primarily on the private and not public cloud. Several reasons contribute to this, including previous large investments by CSPs in private cloud and the need to leverage it. Additional reasons are positioning with hyperscalers for hosting services, security, and data ownership.
Innovation with flexible commercial models – The Indian consumer market is still working to enable converged offerings and position the “pay more for bundled services” approach to its market. Also, CSPs are searching for monetization capabilities to lay the foundation and support them in monetizing future 5G services.
Enterprise and support for 5G and IoT – Private 5G is hyped in numerous regions, especially with operators searching for monetization flexibility. With winning use cases still unknowns, the support of massive IoT remains the basic requirement.
Digitalization – After achieving identity verification through central verification and digitalization with electronic billing, self care, and payment, the next frontier in the Indian market will be integrating with other services to offer a wide range of non-telco and OTT partner services.
Business agility – Time to market is key in a 5G-enabled network. BSS should provide CSPs with the capability to launch via configurations to enable CSPs to be innovative, competitive, and disruptive in their markets.
Ecosystem capable – BSS systems should be capable of supporting ecosystems that have open and secured access to the northbound interface and internet. Additionally, they should provide easy network integration irrespective of the technology.
While each of these principles is key for delivering BSS of the future, the principles are also interdependent for enabling one another and delivering to consumers and partner service providers in real time.
As we all hope to put the pandemic behind us and apply our learnings for a better tomorrow, CSPs’ learnings are helping them to become one of the most critical players in the digital world. The CSP of the future will be an exchange or payment platform to connect people, payments, and digital services in new and unique ways. Subscribers will have the freedom to select the services they want, how, when, and at what price.
Enablement for this new digital world needs to happen at an accelerated pace, and CSPs must adapt to open integration to allow digital partnerships and onboarding to take place quickly. This is the best path forward for CSPs to maintain their market positions by creating open and varied service offerings — especially in light of the fierce competition from cloud players and the growing metaverse.
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India Sales Head, Optiva
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