The double-edged sword of OSS/BSS integrations

…good argument for a merged OSS/BSS, wouldn’t you say?
John Malecki

The question above was posed in relation to Friday’s post about the currency and relevance of OSS compared with research reports, analyses and strategic plans as well as how to extend OSS longevity.

This is a brilliant, multi-faceted question from John. My belief is that it is a double-edged sword.

Out of my experiences with many OSS, one product stands out above all the others I’ve worked with. It’s an integrated suite of Fault Management, Performance Management, Customer Management, Product / Service Management, Configuration / orchestration / auto-provisioning, Outside Plant Management / GIS, Traffic Engineering, Trouble Ticketing, Ticket of Work Management, and much more, all tied together with the most elegant inventory data model I’ve seen.

Being a single vendor solution built on a relational database, the cross-pollination (enrichment) of data between all these different modules made it the most powerful insight engine I’ve worked with. With some SQL skills and an understanding of the data model, you could ask it complex cross-domain questions quite easily because all the data was stored in a single database. That edge of the sword made a powerful argument for a merged OSS/BSS.

Unfortunately, the level of cross-referencing that made it so powerful also made it really challenging to build an initial data set to facilitate all modules being inter-operable. By contrast, an independent inventory management solution could just pull data out of each NMS / EMS under management, massage the data for ingestion and then you’d have an operational system. The abovementioned solution also worked this way for inventory, but to get the other modules cross-referenced with the inventory required engineering rules, hand-stitched spreadsheets, rules of thumb, etc. Maintaining and upgrading also became challenges after the initial data had been created. In many cases, the clients didn’t have all of the data that was needed, so a data creation exercise needed to be undertaken.

If I had the choice, I would’ve done more of the cross-referencing at data level (eg via queries / reports) rather than entwining the modules together so tightly at application level… except in the most compelling cases. It’s an example of the chess-board analogy.

If given the option between merged (tightly coupled) and loosely coupled, which would you choose? Do you have any insights or experiences to share on how you’ve struck the best balance?

Big circle. Little circle. Crossing the red line

Data quality is the bane of many a telco. If the data quality is rubbish then the OSS tools effectively become rubbish too.

Feedback loops are one of the most underutilised tools in a data fix arsenal. However, few people realise that there are what I call big circle feedback loops as well as little circles.

The little circle is using feedback in data alone, using data to compare and reconcile other data. That can produce good results, but it’s only part of the story. Many data challenges extend further than that if you’re seeking a resolution.

The big circle is designing feedback loops that incorporate data quality into end-to-end processes, which includes the field-work part of the process.

Redline markups have been the traditional mechanism to get feedback from the field back into improving OSS data. For example, if designers issue a design pack out to field techs that prove to be incorrect, then techs return the design with redline markups to show what they’ve implemented in the field instead.

With mobile technology and the right software tools, field workers could directly update data. Unfortunately this model doesn’t seem to fit into practices that have been around for decades.

There remain great opportunities to improve the efficiency of big circle feedback loops. They probably need a new way of thinking, but still need to fit into the existing context of field workers.

Digital twins

Well-designed digital twins based on business priorities have the potential to significantly improve enterprise decision making. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must factor digital twins into their Internet of Things architecture and strategy
Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends.

Digital twinning has established some buzz, particularly in IoT circles lately. Digital twins are basically digital representations of physical assets, including their status, characteristics, performance and behaviors.

But it’s not really all that new is it? OSS has been doing this for years. When was the first time you can recall seeing an inventory tool that showed:

  • Digital representations of devices that were physically located thousands of kilometres away (or in the room next door for that matter)
  • Visual representations of those devices (eg front-face, back-plate, rack-unit sizing, geo-spatial positioning, etc)
  • Current operational state (in-service, out-of-service, in alarm, under test, real-time performance against key metrics, etc)
  • Installed components (eg cards, ports, software, etc)
  • Customer services being carried
  • Current device configuration details
  • Nearest connected neighbours

Digital twinning, this amazing new concept, has actually been around for almost as long as OSS have. We just call it inventory management though. It doesn’t sound quite so sexy when we say it.

But how can we extend what we already do into digital twinning in other domains (eg manufacturing, etc)?

The end of cloud computing

…. but we’ve only just started and we haven’t even got close to figuring out how to manage it yet (from an aggregated view I mean, not just within a single vendor platform)!!

This article from Peter Levine of Andreesen Horowitz predicts “The end of cloud computing.”

Now I’m not so sure that this headline is going to play out in the near future, but Peter Levine does make a really interesting point in his article (and its embedded 25 min video). There are a number of nascent technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, that will need their edge devices to process immense amounts of data locally without having to backhaul it to centralised cloud servers for processing.

Autonomous vehicles will need to consume data in real-time from a multitude of in-car sensors, but only a small percentage of that data will need to be transmitted back over networks to a centralised cloud base. But that backhauled data will be important for the purpose of aggregated learning, analytics, etc, the findings of which will be shipped back to the edge devices.

Edge or fog compute is just one more platform type for our OSS to stay abreast of into the future.

OSS at the centre of the universe

Historically, the center of the Universe had been believed to be a number of locations. Many mythological cosmologies included an axis mundi, the central axis of a flat Earth that connects the Earth, heavens, and other realms together. In the 4th century BC Greece, the geocentric model was developed based on astronomical observation, proposing that the center of the Universe lies at the center of a spherical, stationary Earth, around which the sun, moon, planets, and stars rotate. With the development of the heliocentric model by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 16th century, the sun was believed to be the center of the Universe, with the planets (including Earth) and stars orbiting it.
In the early 20th century, the discovery of other galaxies and the development of the Big Bang theory led to the development of cosmological models of a homogeneous, isotropic Universe (which lacks a central point) that is expanding at all points

Perhaps I fall into a line of thinking as outdated as the axis mundi, but I passionately believe that the OSS is the centre of the universe around which all other digital technologies revolve. Even the sexy new “saviour” technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), network virtualisation, etc can only reach their promised potential if there are operational tools sitting in the background managing them and their life-cycle of processes efficiently. And the other “hero” technologies such as analytics, machine learning, APIs, etc aren’t able to do much without the data collected by operational tools.

No matter how far and wide I range in the consulting world of communications technologies and the multitude of industries they impact, I still see them coming back to what OSS can do to improve what they do.

Many people say that OSS is no longer relevant. Has the ICT world moved on to the geometric model, heliocentric or even big bang model? If so, what is at their centre?

Am I just blinded by what Sir Ken Robinson describes as, “When people are in their Element, they connect with something fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose, and well-being. Being there provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining who they really are and what they’re really meant to be doing with their lives.” Am I struggling to see the world from a perspective other than my own?

Can you imagine how you’ll interact with your OSS in 10 years?

Here’s a slightly mind-blowing fact for you – A child born when iPhone was announced will be 10 years old in 2 months (a piece of trivia courtesy of Ben Evans).

That’s nearly 10 years of digitally native workers coming into the telco workforce and 10 years of not-so-digitally native workers exiting it. We marvelled that there was a generation that had joined the workforce that had never experienced life without the Internet. The generation that has never experienced life without mobile Internet, apps, etc is now on the march.

The smart-phone revolution spawned by the iPhone has changed, and will continue to change, the way we interact with information. By contrast, there hasn’t really been much change in the way that we interact with our OSS has there? Sure, there are a few mobility apps that help the field workforce, sales agents, etc and we’re now using browsers as our clients (mostly) but a majority of OSS users still interact with OSS servers via networked PCs that are fitted with a keyboard and mouse. Not much friction has been removed.

The question remains about how other burgeoning technologies such as augmented reality and gesture-based computing will impact how we interact with our OSS in the coming decade. Are they also destined to only supplement the tasks of operators that have a mobile / spatial component to their tasks, like the field workforce?

Machine learning and Artificially Intelligent assistants represent the greater opportunity to change how we interact with our OSS, but only if we radically change our user interfaces to facilitate their strengths. The overcrowded nature of our current OSS don’t readily accommodate small form-factor displays or speech / gesture interactions. An OSS GUI built around a search / predictive / precognitive interaction model is the more likely stepping stone to drastically different OSS interactions in the next ten years. A far more frictionless OSS future.

Using deduction

Eric Raymond proposed that a computer should ‘never ask the user for any information that it can autodetect, copy, or deduce’; computer vision changes what the computer has to ask. So it’s not, really, a camera, taking photos – it’s more like an eye, that can see.
Ben Evans

There’s a big buzzword going around our industry at the moment called “omnichannel.” Consider it an interaction pathway, where a user can choose to interact with any number of channels – phone, email, online, USSD, retail store, IVR, app, etc. Not only that, but smartphones have made it possible to flip backwards and forwards between channels. This can be done either as dictated by the workflow (eg using an app which launches a USSD hash-code to return a URL to current offers, etc) or by the customer choosing the channel they’re most comfortable with.

In the past, process designs have tended to be done within the silo of just one channel. One of the challenges for modern process designers is to design user journeys and state transitions that jump channels and have a multi-channel decision tree built-in. Exacerbating this challenge is transitioning data between channels so that the journey is seamless for customers – each channel is likely to have its own back-end OSS/BSS system/s after all and data handoff must happen before a transaction is completed (ie intermediate storing and transferring of records). Eric Raymond’s quote above holds true for ensuring a great customer experience in an omnichannel environment.

I’m fascinated by Ben Evans’ take on Eric’s quote and how that relates to omnichannel user journeys for telcos (see the link above for a fascinating broader context around Ben’s prediction of computer vision). When the computer (ie smartphone) begins to gain more situational awareness via its camera, an additional and potentially very powerful interaction channel presents itself.

We’ve all heard of image recognition already being available in the purchasing process within retail. Ben’s concept takes that awareness to a higher level. I haven’t heard of image recognition being used within telco yet, but I am looking forward to when Augmented Reality combines with this situational awareness (and the data made available by OSS) in our industry. Not just for customers, but for telco operators too. The design packs that a field tech uses today are going to look very different in the near future.

When phones swallowed physical objects

…after a decade in which phones swallowed physical objects, with cameras, radios, music players and so on turned into apps, AR might turn those apps back into physical objects – virtual ones, of course. On one hand cameras digitise everything, and on the other AR puts things back into the world.”
Ben Evans

Similarly, for years OSS have been like a black hole – sucking in data from every physical (and logical) source they can get their hands on. Now AR (Augmented Reality) provides the mechanism for OSS to put things back into the world – as visual overlays, not just reports.

It starts with visualising underground or in-wall assets like cables, but the use cases are extraordinary in their possibilities. The days of printed design packs being handed to field techs are surely numbered. They’re already being replaced with apps but interactive visual aids will take it to a new level of sophistication.

The small-grid OSS platform

Perhaps the most egregious platform failure is to simply not see the platform play at all. It is also one of the hardest for traditional firms to avoid. Firms guilty of this oversight never get past the idea that they sell products when they could be building ecosystems. Sony, Hewlett Packard (HP), and Garmin all made the mistake of emphasizing products over platforms. Before the iPhone launched in 2007, HP dominated the handheld calculator space for science and finance. Yet today, consumers can purchase near perfect calculator apps on iTunes or on Google Play and at a fraction of the cost of a physical calculator. Apple and Google did not create these emulators; they merely enabled them by providing the platform that connects app producers and consumers who need calculators.
Sony has sold some of the best electronic products ever made: It once dominated the personal portable music space with the Walkman. It had the world’s first and best compact disc players. By 2011, its PlayStation had become the best-selling game console of all time. Yet, for all its technological prowess Sony focused too much on products and not enough on creating platforms. (What became of Sony’s players? A platform – iOS – ate them for lunch.) Garmin, as a tailored mapping device, suffered a similar fate. As of 2012, Garmin had sold 100 million units after 23 years in the market. By contrast, iPhone sold 700 million units after just eight years in the market. More people get directions from an iPhone than from a Garmin, not only because of Apple maps but also because of Google Maps and Waze. As platforms, iOS and Android have ecosystems of producers, consumers, and others that have helped them triumph over such products as the Cisco Flip camera, the Sony PSP, the Flickr photo service, the Olympus voice recorder, the Microsoft Zune, the Magnus flashlight, and the Fitbit fitness tracker.
When a platform enters the market, product managers who focus on features are not just measuring the wrong things, they’re thinking the wrong thoughts
Co-authored with Marshall Van Alstyne and Geoffrey Parker here.

Recent posts have discussed the small-grid OSS concept. In effect, it’s an OSS platform that brings OSS developers and OSS users together into a single platform / marketplace / ecosystem.

As the link above shows (it’s a really interesting read in full BTW), there are many potential pitfalls in taking the platform approach. However, perhaps the most egregious platform failure is to simply not see the platform play at all.

The OSS industry has barely tapped into the platform play yet but like other industries, like Uber to taxis, OSS is primed for a platform disruption.

So far we have some service / NFV catalogues, mediation device and developer forums, as well as ecosystems like Esri, Salesforce, etc but I can’t think of any across the broader scope of OSS. Are you aware of any?

Virtual satellites

Last Friday the post, “Managing satellites,” discussed how the satellite OSS concept provides core OSS to work on Telco networks / eTOM models, whereas ITIL / ITSM has become increasingly prevalent for the tools to help service managed service contracts.

Does this concept resonate with you regarding management of virtualised networks in terms of satellites for the virtualised components and Core for the more physical activity management? Service catalogs, Service establishment, service reporting, SLA management, contracts, Service chaining and automations are natural candidates for “satellite” management as they are tied to logical/virtual resources.

There have been many discussions about OSS being superseded. This potential for disruption is particularly true in the “satellite” space.

However the “satellite” service management approach doesn’t tend to do the physical work done by the core. This includes CAD / GIS designs of physical networks,  planning (augmentation, infill), ticket of work,  field work management, physical resource management, DCIM and more.

The fully virtualised management tools may works for OTT (over the top) providers but not so well for providers that have significant physical assets to manage.

This could be true for BSS too. Satellites do service level billing and aggregated reporting for managed service customers but bill runs, clearing house and other business / billing functions are done by the core.

You can read more about this principle in the Aircraft carrier analogy.

The satellite model also bears comparison to the split up of telcos into REIT and DSP business models with satellite and core being more easily split.

Can you see other benefits (or disadvantages) of the satellite vs core OSS model?

Incident play forward

Earlier this week you may have read, “Incident playback,” a post about storing the context around incidents and being able to learn and refine responses using that context.

Today I’d like to take the concept a little further.

When talking about context, I wasn’t just referring to other live alarms, but also having data feeds such as performance metrics (eg CPU utilisation), change windows (with linkages to change management tickets / documents) and any other useful data streams that could be presented on a timeline.

Taking the playback concept and then projecting into the future, the tool could become invaluable as a scenario and network planning tool. It could use data such as capacity threshold analysis on a given area of network and predict capacity exhaustion and identify network design weaknesses in certain scenarios.

I’d see this tool presented across at least three panes:

  • A geospatial pane (or logical network map) showing capacities and alarms;
  • A data log pane, similar to an alarm list showing details relating to the selected device or devices; but most importantly
  • A timeline control pane, allowing the operator to play forward, pause, back, etc just like a movie player

Sounds like a big challenge to create. Do you think the benefits would likely outweigh the effort? Would such a tool be useful in your environment/s?

The problem with virtual reality

In the past I’ve written about a cool tool called AugView that lets you augment what you see in front of you with a spatial representation of physical assets, such as conduits, cables, etc that are actually hidden underground.

At the moment there are two limitations that restrict the usefulness of tools like AugView. The first is finding geo-positioning hardware (eg GPS units) that are accurate enough. That hurdle will be overcome soon enough.

The bigger challenge will be the accuracy of the data. Many cable and duct records go back decades and lead-in cables in particular have not always been recorded with great spatial accuracy. This could prove to be an almost insurmountable challenge for some operators being able to equip their field workers with VR tools.

I wonder whether the seismic processing technology used in mining exploration could be adapted to finding underground infrastructure. The benefits don’t seem to outweigh what would undoubtedly be an expensive audit process though do they?

Can you envisage a scenario where they might? Can you think of other tech that might do it more cost effectively? Ground penetrating radar? Other?

With knowledge comes power

You’ve got Amazon knowing everything about purchasing, Google knowing everything about what people do on the Internet, and Salesforce knowing everything about the revenue side of a business.”
Scott Raney

The big question for CSPs as they make the transition to the more modern Digital Service Provider (DSP) business models is, “what big thing can they know everything about and use to help their customers be more efficient and profitable.

Telcos were most profitable when their services supported business. The telephone was used to create leads, close deals, control supply chains, etc. With e-business models, that has shifted to online marketing, analytics on marketing (amongst other things), digital supply chains, etc.

Telcos are no longer providing the tools that organisations value most (except perhaps mobility access to all the more important content and apps).

OSS have the potential to become enormous customer insight engines on behalf of the CSPs, but only if they’re taken beyond being seen as operational tools only.

Photos in the field

With the ubiquity of smart phones, when field workers are on site, they often photograph assets to show the state of the network before and /or after their site visit.

Many organisations with OSS also have Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools that allow them to store digital assets (images, video, audio, etc) in a central repository where they can be searched, managed, retrieved and shared. Perhaps not even a DAM as such, but centrally accessible file storage.

Today’s concept is to create an app to store the photo from the phone to the DAM and then easily link to the asset in the OSS inventory manager (eg a URL from the DAM being loaded into an applicable field in the OSS), also allowing notes on that asset to be amended into the OSS.

In theory, such an app could be configured to interface into any inventory manager, making it saleable to any customer, vendor or OSS integrator.

It’s common for an image to be stored somewhere other than in the OSS, and have a hyperlink stored in the OSS. It’s just painful to store hyperlinks against specific inventory items, especially in large volumes. This app would remove the pain point by acting as the glue between phone, DAM and OSS.

A couple of other thoughts:

  • Using geo-tagging within images to help correlate with fixed assets in the OSS
  • Using asset identification tools (eg RFID, NFC, QR codes, etc ) to determine the asset
  • Aligning DAM / inventory content with virtual reality tools
  • Enforcement of image naming conventions on the DAM
  • Generating design packs and subsequent as-builts with mark-ups on top of photos from in the field

Have you come across anything similar during your travels in OSS? What other important features would such an app need?

Managing property with OSS?

There’s a slight problem about being passionate about OSS – you see everything In relation to OSS problems, solutions, analogies, etc.

l was talking with Simon, a great friend of mine recently about a new role that he’s taking on. He will be responsible for technology in the facilities used by the large bank that he works for. Those facilities include branches, offices, data centres and more, The conversation started out on the challenges facing facilities managers including energy efficiency, occupation rates, meeting room utilisation rates, cost per desk, workforce efficiency, utility allocation / billing and many other KPls.

The tech he has been considering in this space was wide and varied but primarily came down to additional types of sensors that will ultimately reduce costs for his employer. Many of these sensors sound very cool (no pun intended re. HVAC sensors). As you can imagine, the executives at the bank don’t fund cool, they fund cost-out projects,

The same is true for OSS but that’s not the overlap I was thinking about on this occasion. It was how sensor networks in buildings collect vast amounts of data, aggregate it, process it, analyse it against a particular metric or theme and then provide insights based on that benchmark. We then got onto the topic of circulating (another HVAC pun) the benchmark results for the purpose of gamification and competition between different parts of the organisation.

You can see why l consider existing OSS capabilities as being well placed for servicing the IoT space can’t you?

Then we got onto the topic of blockchain and smart contracts so my OSS-coloured glasses kicked in again but that’s a story for another day.

PS. Yes, in the pre-IoT days, we managed buildings through software like BMS (Building Management Systems), PAGA (Public Address General Alarm), physical security (eg ACS – Access Control Systems) and other tools not to mention environmentals but the IoT buzzword is taking it to another level.


10 ideas – nascent technologies

“Which 10 nascent technologies will impact and be impacted by OSS in the future?”

  1. Cloud delivery and related services models that allow carriers to reduce their OSS CAPEX load and outsource aspects of operations. The other important aspect of cloud delivery is web-scaling of infrastructure for efficient, but resilient OSS platform architectures
  2. Network virtualization for on-demand resource allocation and associated reductions in power use by CSPs, an area where OSS has barely scratched the surface
  3. Network security has the potential to share information on a much larger scale than currently. Fear is a driving force in budget allocations and network security threats are on the rise
  4. Big Data and analytics are already widely used by CSPs but flexible, data driven application models appear to be the only way to keep pace with the rapid change thrust upon our industry
  5. Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics will be the only way that operations teams will be able to keep up as we see a touchpoint explosion. The associated rise in actionable events won’t be able to be handled without machine assisted decision support
  6. Service chaining, orchestration and automation are already important but will become increasingly important due to the touchpoint explosion and the increased complexity of virtualised networks
  7. Wireless sensor networks / IoT aren’t exactly nascent despite recent hype. Telemetry networks have been around for decades. The change will come from a rapid increase in sensors for the consumer / retail market (rather than business market) and the need for multi tenanted operational solutions to monitor and manage them, not to mention supporting the building of third-party apps on them
  8. Self-organizing Networks (SON) has primarily been focussed on mobile networks but the concept extends to all network types if the OSS will support it
  9. Blockchain will potentially represent the solution to a number of current OSS problems, including data integrity and automated contract handling (eg SLAs, QoS, delivery times, etc). More on this in future blogs
  10. Telco-led ecosystems in loT, health-care and more will leverage the power of the value fabric and the power of innovation that come with it. Essential for delivering value to the varied needs of the long tail of customers (ie all customers other than the top-100)

Another 10 ideas

In yesterday’s post, “Just 10 ideas“, I talked about James Altucher’s “Idea Machine,” of coming up with 10 ideas every day, regardless of whether they’re good or not. I took a slightly different twist on the concept and posed a series of 10 questions, which in turn will probably have at least 10 idea responses. That’s 100 OSS ideas.

Today’s post lists another 10 questions to jump-start your (and my) idea machine, as follows:

  1. What are the 10 reasons why the term OSS will be irrelevant / redundant within 5 years?
  2. What are the 10 reasons why OSS will fundamentally change the world of communications and digital industry within the next 5 years?
  3. In what 10 ways can OSS better utilise spatially-relevant data?
  4. What 10 unexpected data sources could provide fundamentally different insight generation from your existing OSS?
  5. Communications and Digital Service Provider (CSP / DSP) business models are evolving almost faster than we can keep up. What 10 reasons can your foresee OSS facilitating these changes?
  6. What 10 reasons can you foresee OSS hindering these changes?
  7. What are the 10 most frequent reasons why customers contact CSP / DSP call centres? Hence, what are the 10 most important functions / insights / capabilities that front-line staff (eg call centre operators) need at their fingertips from OSS to be able to respond to customer requests?
  8. What 10 ways can you interact with your OSS that don’t include keyboard, mouse or touch-pad?
  9. What are the 10 most ridiculous things you’ve seen whilst working on OSS projects? But more importantly, what did you learn from them?
  10. What should be the first 10 events scheduled at an OSS Olympics?

Tomorrow’s blog will have a closer look at the last one – OSS Olympics.

Just 10 ideas

You can’t trust the old style of thinking anymore. You have to come up with a new way of thinking. A new way of having ideas. A new way of interacting with the outside universe.”
James Altucher.

I’m currently reading James Altucher’s latest book. It has nothing to do with OSS but it has a myriad of ideas to ponder for OSS exponents.

He speaks about ideas being currency in the modern world and hence the need to be an idea machine.

l love the concept. It’s part of the reason why l founded PAOSS – to force me to generate more ideas about OSS and share them with the world (or at least the sub-set of the global population that reads PAOSS).

There’s just one problem. James suggests coming up with 10 ideas every day. Sounds like a challenge worth taking on though.

I’d love to get your assistance on this one, to help provide a little push to get the PAOSS idea machine moving faster.

  1. What are the 10 biggest problems you face or our industry faces?
  2. What are the 10 things that you’d like to get better at?
  3. Our thinking is often constrained by the complexity of the challenges, so which 10 complexities would you like to snap your fingers and remove?
  4. Which 10 nascent technologies will impact OSS in the future?
  5. Which 10 technologies will be dead in 5 years or less?
  6. Which 10 technologies do we need that haven’t been invented yet?
  7. Name 10 ways in which machine learning will impact our industry
  8. Which 10 ways can we use to overcome the OSS skills shortage?
  9. Which 10 laws of nature don’t apply to OSS?
  10. Which 10 analogies from other industries can you apply to OSS?

Perhaps you’d like to throw some other lists of 10 at the PAOSS community and I for philosophising over?

Hmmm. I already have another 10 in a list so let’s continue with this tomorrow.

Segmentation of one

SMSes and push notifications have eight times higher response rates from consumers compared to emails. Thus, sending relevant and targeted push notifications would not only have higher response rates for the brand but also improve the shopping experience for the customer.”
Nameet Potnis

It’s been a bit of a “marketing” week here on PAOSS. The theme continues today. That number above is a big one – 8x. Did it jump out at you too?

Let’s work back from something important here – marketing nirvana, aka segmentation of one, aka completely personalised marketing messaging for every single potential customer. The question here is how does OSS provide the pathway to marketing nirvana?

A few key points:

  • 8x the response rate from notifications (see here)
  • 60 percent of retail browsing happens on mobile devices, those devices only account for 15 percent of dollars spent (see here) leaving lots of upside potential for m-commerce platforms
  • The next billion people coming online will experience the internet for the first time through a small device they carry in their pocket – their smartphone (see here)
  • The three notes above point to the potential of mobile platforms and the apps that reside on them
  • The combination of mobile platforms and apps also provide unparalleled real-time personal choice and locational data collection potential
  • Through ownership (leasing rights) of spectrum, CSPs monopolise the mobile networks, but not necessarily the mobile platforms or apps
  • CSPs tend to have massive subscriber bases
  • Via the value fabric, network platforms (mobile, cloud, access, etc), DPI tools and their broad subscriber bases, CSPs have access to statistics relating to significant portions of a digital supply chain
  • CSPs tend to be inherently trusted for the accuracy of their billing (if not necessarily the technical implementation of the bill runs and related data)
  • Wireless sensor networks / IoT via CSP networks have the ability to further enhance the data collection story

Through the combination of OSS, BSS and mobile network analytics, CSPs hold most (but not all) of the cards on which to deliver marketing nirvana to their business customers. Mobility platforms and application delivery frameworks are two of the missing cards. The operational tools that deliver insight and systematisation from the collected data is the card that completes the unbeatable hand.

The Service Operations Centre (SOC) is one of the next big trends sweeping the CSP industry, but I wonder whether that concept is falling a step short? Is the SOC concept delivering visibility to customers of the health of their digital supply chain rather than giving them the marketing tools to help them fill that supply chain?

I must note that these concepts do tread on thin ethical ice in relation to the Big Brother effect. The CSP‘s customers wear the biggest brand risk if they’re sending spammy notifications, but there would be a collateral damage risk for the CSPs too by association they’re providing their customers with the tools.

Hat tip to Tim for the heads-up on the m-commerce link/s above.

Hat tip to Frank for his thoughts on the risks to CSPs in delivering “marketing nirvana” tools to their customers

Changing of the guard

Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.”
Marilyn Ferguson

lt’s an exciting time for spatially-based OSS.

The tools that underpin them such as GIS and CAD have moved off the desktop and onto mobile devices. Sensor networks, geo-positioning and augmented reality technologies are also making significant advances at more commercially viable price points for mobile solutions.

But perhaps the most significant reason is not directly related to the tech at all.

It’s actually a changing of the guard in the workforce. The field workforce that maintains our outside plant (OSP) networks is refreshing. The older technicians who were more comfortable with A-0 paper diagrams and less familiar with technology are retiring and being replaced by Millennials who have grown up immersed in tech.

This refresh brings with it an opportunity to test completely new types of OSP OSS on these willing guinea pigs.

Our opportunities lie in the ability to get real-time information to and from the field via OSS tools.

The added benefit of these real-time communications links is in improving data quality – the bane of the existence of many OSS practitioners. It provides the ability to add feedback loops to improve data quality in the OSP networks that rarely have programmatic interfaces.