OSS Supply chain – Shift No. 6

Shift No. 6: From Mass-Market Supply to Tailored Offerings.
OLD QUESTION: How should we organise our company’s operations to serve the mass market efficiently while offering customised products?
NEW QUESTION: How should we organise the supply chain to serve each customer or segment uniquely and provide a tailored customer experience?

Laura Ross Kopczak
and M. Eric Johnson in the “MIT Sloan Management Review.”

At first glance, it would appear that the sixth and last in this series relating to supply-chain shifts is all backwards. For an OSS vendor, having a uniquely customised version of their OSS for each customer introduces a nightmare for development and support teams. I’ve even heard stories of exciting OSS vendor acquisition deals falling through because the vendor has unique instances of their software at each of their customers. Upon doing their due diligence, the acquiring company has withdrawn from the deal because the sale, development and support aren’t modular and repeatable.

However, the shift is very much in play at the end-customer level, the level where customers are buying services from the CSP, which in turn buys the OSS from the product vendor. Let’s step through how this works.

Over time, we’ve moved from a scarcity of supply of ICT products / services (ie compute, storage, networks, human resources, etc) to an abundance of supply on almost everything to do with ICT. This over-supply and competitive forces tends to bring ever-reducing costs (commoditisation) and ever-reducing differentiation as seen by the customer.

A uniquely tailored customer experience becomes a key differentiator for the CSP in an abundance regime. But for the reasons mentioned above, tailored solutions have tended to lead to more expensive solutions, not less. No wonder the CSP industry is struggling the world over right?

This is where your OSS/BSS have a massive role to play – in the form of automations. As mentioned in earlier posts, automations tend to require heavy customisation (ie higher configuration costs). The key is to be able to design an OSS/BSS product and / or build processes around them that are highly standardised, modular and repeatable at a code or functional level, but highly unique to customers at the data level.

Collectively, we need to design OSS / BSS solutions that are constrained to be standardised at a functional level so that code changes occur on a “global” basis (ie for all CSPs), but bring out or creative genius on how to model and utilise the data to meet unique customer needs.

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