Ericsson and AWS recently announced a partnership in moving the BSS portfolio from Ericsson Digital into the public cloud from Amazon. But what does that mean and how can communication service providers (CSPs) benefit from this? We talked to Mats Karlsson, vice president and head of solution area BSS, at Ericsson to understand the implications for the market based on these new possibilities.
Supporting choice is an imperative with cloud
Whether you are asking the end-users or the CSPs, in this era of rapid change, choice is imperative to the customer experience. And this goes beyond offering choice today, to supporting future choices too – because as cloud journeys progress different choices will be made. A 2021 Futurum Research report, based on a survey of 324 CSPs, explored BSS cloud journeys, providing a status overview, and detailing key patterns and different perspectives. One key finding was the decisions that have been made up to this point are likely to change over time and multiple providers’ public cloud is under consideration.
The importance of choice applies to technology stacks, and for other aspects of a service. If the consumer of a service wants the freedom to subscribe and unsubscribe to particular service packages in an agile way, the billing engines and infrastructure architecture also needs to be designed in a way to support this method of consumption. Cloud is integral to underpin the agility and flexibility required. But how to prepare for a cloud-native world – especially when a public cloud is the target setup?
As digital transformation in some commercial industries has shown us in the past decade, the potential benefits of moving from on-prem infrastructure to private cloud and later on to public cloud infrastructure can be significant, once all technical and regulatory requirements have been accounted for. This is a good moment for CSPs to take the next step in their digital transformation journey in order to provide modern services and experiences to their customers.
How the service providers shift to digital
But before we jump into details on how this can be achieved and what it all could entail, let’s check into some of the terms and acronyms. We refer to “digital transformation” primarily when we describe the journey of an organization from their analog ways of doing business and starting to go about their processes in a digital way as holistically as possible. Nowadays this often refers to the last steps of this digital transformation, and invariably means moving technology up into private or public clouds.
Traditionally CSPs were communications carrier companies that offered services such as SMS, voice calls, or data in mobile technology generations preceding 5G. But the offering of services will increase exponentially with the newly unveiled possibilities and many talk of a shift from “communications” services provider to “digital” services provider (DSP). “BSS” is the acronym for business support systems, and they consist of elements that help CSPs with their commercial activities and end customer-facing interactions.
Ericsson and AWS work together to enable BSS to shift to public cloud
Now, two of the leading players in their particular niches, Ericsson and Amazon Web Services (AWS), are teaming up to provide CSPs with BSS in a public cloud. As we said above, customers want choices, and this means services providers need to find a way to provide options to them if they want to keep a competitive edge and exactly this combined offering is an attractive additional option to add to any CSP’s portfolio.
When looking at this partnership from a CSP point of view, this is interesting news because it could aid those who choose to move forward on this road not only to provide cutting edge service and customer experience, but it also helps to secure the market of tomorrow by ensuring the tech stacks and infrastructure, that is used to deliver applications and services, can be operated in an agile and flexible way, and can scale as needed.
Watch the full talk here
Insights from Mats Karlsson
We talked to Mats Karlsson, vice president and head of solution area BSS, at Ericsson, about this new partnership and what that could mean to CSPs. Thank you for taking the time, Mats.
Q: Ericsson BSS meets AWS cloud seems like a promising addition to the portfolio. What are the drivers and focus for this relationship?
A: Correct Chris, we made our full BSS portfolio available on the Amazon cloud. This partnership provides a faster route forward for our CSP customers to move Ericsson Digital BSS to AWS cloud. My recent blog post ‘Ericsson and AWS partner to support CSPs on their journey to cloud BSS’ highlights the importance of cloud and resulting agility in the pursuit of new revenue streams:
“The capabilities of cloud platforms are instrumental in helping service providers accelerate their digital transformations and take advantage of cloud-native software, like Ericsson’s BSS product portfolio. Infrastructure-as-a-Code, autoscaling, and managed cloud services – used in conjunction with new innovations such as AI/ML, serverless computing, and high-performance computing – allow you to react faster to customer demands and reduce the burden of heavy lifting activities on operations and development teams. With cloud capabilities, you can focus your energy on offering innovative new 5G services and monetizing them as quickly as possible. At the same time via enabling better resource utilization, leveraging the cloud offers the potential to optimize CapEx, OpEx and total cost of ownership.”
Q: How can this help a CSP to monetize 5G?
A: When I look at our customer landscape today, I see that there is an accelerated interest in deploying on public cloud, and this development only happened over the last couple of years. To meet the needs of our customers and to offer more choice, we realized our customers needed more flexibility, agility, and speed to cater to the new 5G services of the future.
And the 2021 report by Futurum Research The BSS-to-cloud journey: Powering innovation across the digital value chain, highlights that cost is a low priority item for our customers when embarking on this journey. The focus is on supporting customers, improving experiences and insights in the pursuit of top-line revenues. There’s a data point showing that in the context of cloud, improving customer satisfaction, increasing agility, and supporting analytics top the list of objectives.
Q: Based on your experiences with customers, what are your personal three use case favorites?
A: But there are so many! On the consumer side alone many use cases impacting many aspects of day-to-day life, for example, home working, leisure, and entertainment. I am going to give you four of my consumer use case favorites.
- AR/VR fun: immersive gaming
- Fixed wireless access for private homes
- 3D video experience: video on demand
- 5G stadium immersive experiences
We recently looked at these consumer use cases and their implications for BSS in the two eBriefs: Getting creative with 5G business models and Bringing the heat to stadiums: Monetizing 5G immersive experiences.
And then in the enterprise space there’s so much more to come. We’re literally looking at the very beginnings of a whole lot of new possibilities with the early use cases we are seeing across industry verticals where 5G, cloud, edge, and analytics all combine to transform business operations. We’re also researching and developing BSS needs to cater for the enterprise opportunity and in short, it needs to absorb a lot of the features and functions we are more familiar with in consumer BSS stacks e.g. analytics, recommendations, self-service, real-time billing, The characteristics of consumer telecom BSS stacks will prevail for enterprises.
Watch the full talk here
Q: What are some of the current focus areas?
A: Top of mind for our customers is how to extract the greatest value from current investments and how to plan for the future of monetizing 5G. This is where we are partnering with them to make sure they are well-positioned for the future. It’s no secret that the enterprise opportunity is a massive boon for the Telco industry, our recent Network Slicing report with Arthur D. Little points to an addressable network slicing-enabled revenue for CSPs of roughly $200 billion. So here is where we are focusing on ensuring the right SLAs are in place, open API standards, and looking at slice monetization. It’s crucial our customers can position themselves in the wider ecosystem and prepare their operations to meet this with agility.
I really think the way forward for monetizing enterprise services in BSS is with a platform-based approach, a horizontal layer flexible enough and agile enough so that it can handle any services going forward. The answer lies in getting BSS, OSS, and the network all working together in lockstep with each other.
Mark Newman, Chief Analyst at TM Forum, and Miriam Deasy, BSS Senior Solutions Marketing Manager Ericsson, held a great discussion monetizing the 5G enterprise opportunity in Ericsson UnBoxed Office 2021. Visit Ericsson UnBoxed Office Kick off 2021 – Breakout sessions, and click “Other topics”.
I also joined a recent TM Forum webinar where I spoke with Mark Newman about the business challenges with 5G monetization 👉 TM Forum webinar: Future enterprise billing based on a deep dive on the topic of enterprise billing, this recent TM Forum report has some great nuggets on the opportunities and challenges in this space: Future enterprise billing discusses CSP survey results about the future of enterprise billing and the drivers for new approaches to enabling and monetizing 5G enterprise services.
Q: What are the factors that CSPs are considering as they move forward with 5G, what approaches should they think about?
A: With 5G network performance and attributes, CSPs are well-positioned to generate substantial revenues. In addition to existing business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) business models, there are further revenue opportunities to be realized by charging the companies that are providing 5G-reliant services, widely termed business-to-business-to-X (B2B2X), where X can be a consumer, a business, or a public agency.
To do this, there are three approaches CSPs can take to monetize this greater functionality:
💰 Network developer — CSP-led B2B or B2C
💰 Service enabler — third party–led B2B2X
💰 Service creator — CSP-led B2B2X
The factors CSPs are looking at include: how to bring more speed, agility and responsiveness into their operations and how to make the network open for new business models. Essentially, a 5G network offers more attributes of value (or currencies) to play with. Our customers are looking for more opportunities for customization and want to ensure they can handle multiple go-to-market models for both consumers and enterprises. This is the essence of the flexibility and agility that mandates continued progress with BSS-to-cloud journeys.
Watch the full talk here
Q: The war for talent is a challenge in many industries. If technicians and engineers seek to support cloud-native applications and services in the future, what changes are required?
A: There is a need for changes in skills, in ways of working, and in the surrounding culture on both sides of the software delivery process. As we at Ericsson shift to cloud-native software delivery methods there needs to be corresponding changes on the customer side. In recent months some of our engineers have blogged about day-to-day realities and changes needed – spanning culture, ways of working, and decision making to support BSS-to-cloud journeys on the customer side.
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us about the BSS to cloud journey. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?
A: The shift to cloud is massively important to achieve efficiencies and modernize BSS stacks to support better customer, employee, and partner experiences. On this journey we walk side by side with our customers supporting their cloud choices along the way. We recently worked with Telstra on its Prepaid Transformation with Ericsson Digital BSS, specifically the implementation of cloud-native microservices-based Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and a catalog-driven architecture with Ericsson Charging, Ericsson Order Care, and Ericsson Catalog Manager. Telstra’s traditional CRM experience was replaced with a digital and customer-centric experience in an integrated end-to-end pre-paid solution allowing Telstra to have a simplified product set up and enable faster time to market, while also boosting customer control and convenience. This is made possible through continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), with TMF-aligned Open APIs, used extensively to enable integration and shorter time-to-market. If you’d like to watch a description of that transition to cloud from Telstra’s perspective take a look at Telstra, Australia: Prepaid transformation
What did we learn?
To conclude everything, we learned we can say that cloud-native BSS can help communication service providers to embrace being digital service providers and attract more customers by offering agile and flexible services. As far as 5G monetization goes, speed is relevant. As the 5G potential goes way above SMS, voice calls, and regular data, CSPs need to brace for the variety and volume of known and unknown services that are yet to be made available. If a service is going to be successful, it needs to be able to scale up quickly, and if it’s doesn’t take off it equally needs to be downscaled just as fast.
Mats Karlsson bio
Mats’ current role is Head of Solution Area BSS within BA Digital Services, fully responsible for the business of Charging, Billing, Mediation, and Product Catalog. Before BSS, he was heading up Ericsson OSS business.
Mats has held several senior managerial positions within the company since the start, more than 30 years ago, e.g. Senior Project Manager, responsible for the development of the Japanese standard mobile system, Senior line manager, responsible for the development of server and payload platforms within Ericsson.
During a long period of time, Mats has been reporting to the Ericsson CTO, being mainly responsible for driving product and network architectures across the Ericsson group, as well as ensuring Technology Strategy Execution, having the Chief Architecture responsibility for the Group.
Mats has also been in charge of the Portfolio and Architecture function, reporting to the head of the Business Area, driving portfolio management activities and Portfolio architecture evolution within the Business Area, and also leading the establishment of a new Business Area.
His profile is characterized by solid experience in both product development and business responsibility. For many years Mats has also been involved in driving and defining Ericsson Technology Strategy as well as Strategy on Group Level.
Mats holds an M.Sc. in Applied Physic and Electronics from Linköpings Tekniska Högskola in Sweden and an M.Sc. in Telecommunications from Aston University, Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Photo credit: All images have been provided to us by Ericsson for media usage.