Upstream marketing and the big moves in OSS

Upstream marketing focuses on innovation. It tries to answer two questions: where the market is moving and what customers will want next.”
Scott Thompson
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As indicated in yesterday’s post, I have a series of posts coming up shortly that will look at the customer experience and how OSS might look at doing things better.

Another perspective on the same message is how that ties in with upstream marketing. I’ll start with a couple of high-level views today, but they’ll evolve in the upcoming series of posts.

Where is the market moving?
The OSS market is highly dynamic and highly fragmented, possibly in an attempt to be all things to all organisations. Added to that, I also believe that we’re on the verge of a major inflection point that will impact our industry. But to pick the two most important trends out of the torrent of change is a challenge. Network virtualisation is building steam and will require a completely new type of OSS to support it. Closely related, network virtualisation will reach critical mass through the requirement for speed and flexibility from the enterprise sector. The enterprise sector has not typically been able to afford sophisticated OSS, but virtualisation will only thrive if a sophisticated, affordable OSS platform can help to operationalise the benefits of virtualisation. For this reason, OSS and network virtualisation are inextricably linked. If and when an affordable, virtualisation-optimised OSS appears, enterprise represents a far larger market than currently exists for broad-spectrum OSS.

What will customers want next?
As per the leading statement in the paragraph above, customers want a vast array of things from their OSS, but again, I’ll focus on just two. When it comes to OSS, it seems to me that complexity is the root of all evil. Almost every complaint I hear about OSS can be sourced back to complexity, so the reverse is clearly what customers want. Simplicity, although they’ll still caveat that with the need for flexibility. The second follows directly on from the increasing influence that IT/Enterprise will have on the OSS market into the future. The nature of this type of customer will determine what they want next. Whereas the OSS of the past have been built upon the telco-led principles of TMF’s eTOM, etc, IT/Enterprise will want functionality / terminology that aligns with what they use such as ITIL, etc.

There are so many other valid upstream elements that could make it into a more comprehensive list. And each one of us will be swayed by what we’re seeing within our customer base, stakeholders/peers, etc, so I’d love to hear your perspective on what the future of OSS will look like.

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