Telco innovation: 13 examples of harnessing OSS for super-charged experimentation

We know the modern digital marketplace is evolving and proliferating at mind-blowing speeds.

Everything you know right now, and all the knowledge you have collected over your career, is diminishing in relevance at an increasing rate.

The same is true of us as individuals as well as us as the telco industry and the companies within it.

It’s not that telcos are failing to innovate, but the telco business model is struggling across the globe because we’re not innovating fast enough to replace the diminishing relevance of our knowledge / skills / products / etc.

This incredibly insightful article by Dr. Peter Diamandis, “Experimentation Drives Success,” discusses how leading organisations embrace experimentation for their success. His article blew me away, partly because so much of it resonates with my own thinking, but also because it has some additional call-outs that I hadn’t considered before.

He starts by citing Jeff Bezos, who once said:

Our success at Amazon is a function of the number of experiments we run per year, per month, per day.

It made me contrast the culture of experimentation at Amazon compared with the culture of testing that’s prevalent at telcos. Whilst they sound almost identical, there’s a really important distinction between those two highlighted words:

  • Testing – This word engenders a mindset of increased costs. Testing costs money in setup, infrastructure, services, etc. Therefore it should be kept to a minimum. In telcos, it tends to be relevant only from a technical perspective – functionality, resilience, volume / capacity, etc – as evidenced by the types of tests that tend to be conducted (eg FAT, SIT, UAT, PVT, security, etc)
  • Experimentation – This word has an entirely different aura to it. This approach allows experimenters to make a “commitment to ceaselessly test bold ideas, new business models, products, and processes.” It also fosters imagination to, “reduce costs, gather valuable insights and make informed decisions before scaling”

Further, I thought it might be worthwhile extrapolating the key takeaways for telcos from Peter’s inspiring article. Even more specifically, it’s worth highlighting the potential role of OSS for leading experiment-driven innovation across those 13 takeaways:

  1. Leveraging OSS/BSS as Experimental Engines: OSS/BSS provide an ideal platform for telcos to run experiments on
    1. Our OSS/BSS have their fingers on the pulse of the entire telco organisation, as shown in the diagram below. Therefore, they have all the tools and data at their disposal to run advanced business experiments against.
    2. To further assist with this, all OSS and BSS tools should have application logging built in that allows developers to understand what parts of the code base are being used by customers (or not) and which parts of the code base are being used efficiently (or not). UI heat-mapping is another tracking method that allows application design experiments to be run quickly
  2. Living on the Customer Edge: Constant experimentation keeps telcos closer to market realities. Running experiments that leverage the real-time data and analytics capabilities of OSS/BSS can facilitate much better understanding of customers and markets
  3. Establishing an “Experiments” Group. Appointing a “Head of Experiments”: This is a fascinating concept. Where we previously considered Test Managers or Testing Centres of Excellence (COE), the Head of Experiments has a broader mandate to go beyond the pure technical tests and actually validate (or invalidate) business-level hypotheses. This individual or team can prompt continuous experimentation that leverages the OSS/BSS, collaborating with all business units to generate wide-ranging experimentation. For more costly experiments, its hypothesis and potential value to the company should be convincingly presented by the Experiments Group before executing an experiment.
  4. Prioritising Imagination and Experimentation over Expertise: An expert can predict why something may fail, but experimentation and imagination can uncover how it might succeed. OSS/BSS can enable a culture of experimentation, empowering teams to innovate and explore new frontiers. Hire individuals familiar with Experimentation and a data-informed mindset – hire for Imagination and Experimentation, not Expertise and Experience. Expertise alone is not sufficient and relentless Experimentation is essential for progress by shifting the focus from seeking expert opinions to gathering real evidence.
  5. Secrecy during Early Experimentation: In early stages of testing new ideas or services, running experiments in stealth mode can prevent unnecessary external scrutiny or loss of face for telcos. OSS/BSS can facilitate such secretive experiments due to their internal nature
  6. Rewarding Successful and Unsuccessful Experiments: Recognising and rewarding successful and unsuccessful experiments can incentivise more experimentation. OSS/BSS, especially when backed by test automation harnesses, can be leveraged to track and measure the these experiments at scale
  7. Creating a Learning Organisation: Telcos should strive to foster a culture of learning, where risks and failures are seen as opportunities for growth and improvement. OSS/BSS, by providing valuable insights, can facilitate this learning process in safe environments (including non-PROD).
  8. Large Telcos Can Experiment Too: Large, mature organisations often face challenges when it comes to adopting a culture of Experimentation: namely higher costs, regulatory barriers, and a fear of failure. The size and complexity of the OSS/BSS stacks at large telcos make them prohibitive to perform comprehensive testing of each component and interface, especially conducting enough testing volume to perform adequate combination / coverage checks. However, small experiments (in smaller markets, products, policies, environments) as an input that traverse end-to-end  through multiple components and interfaces through their OSS/BSS before scaling globally, can mitigate risks and costs.
  9. High-level Experiment Awareness: Elevate the Experimentation conversation to your recurring executive staff meetings. Have your teams report on the experiments they ran and what they learned. Reward the effort, but don’t penalise the failures
  10. Encouraging Management to Ask Great Questions: An innovative organisation is driven by great questions that can lead to significant opportunities. Leveraging insights from sophisticated OSS/BSS can inspire such questions
  11. Utilising AI as a Thought Partner: AI can recommend potential experiments to run, their design, and parameters to measure. This integration of AI with OSS/BSS and test harnesses can further enhance experimentation capabilities
  12. Running Internal Innovation Competitions: Internal competitions can encourage innovative thinking and experimentation. Telcos can use the ready access to widespread data sources from OSS/BSS as platforms for hosting innovation hackathons and tracking their results
  13. Understanding the Role of Experimentation: Experimentation is more than just testing and trial; it’s about cultivating a mindset of discovery, enhancing performance, and embracing the unknown. OSS/BSS can provide the necessary infrastructure for this explorative journey

Can you think of any other ways that OSS/BSS can facilitate innovation by experimentation? I’m sure there are more than just this list of 13.

If this article was helpful, subscribe to the Passionate About OSS Blog to get each new post sent directly to your inbox. 100% free of charge and free of spam.

Our Solutions


Most Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.