Understanding Frameworx Views

 Frameworx, NGOSS  Comments Off on Understanding Frameworx Views
Mar 312011

TMForum Frameworx(NGOSS), defines 4 views. These are different perspectives for looking at a service providers’ challenges and how to solve them.

First one is the “Business View”. Business View, focuses on the business and try to define and scope the business problem/ business case  to be solved. A business problem may be “implementing trouble management in order to increase operational efficiency”, “adding self ordering capabilities to the current order to cash process” or just “Decrease the OPEX”.

Business View’s main stakeholders are business analysts and sponsors(mostly managers). Business analysts will;

  • Capture the requirements
  • Define the use cases
  • Define the processes to fulfill these use cases
  • Define the business objects, manipulated by these processes.
  • Generate business workflows.
  • Define the roles

In constructing a business case, the main activity for the business analyst would be defining the process descriptions and their information/data requirements. Here, business analyst can find all the relevant information from eTOM, Business Process Framework. For this reason, eTOM is mapped to the Business View. The case documentation (and also eTOM) references to business entities to be manipulated by these business processes.  SID defines the business glossary. From this perspective, SID is also involved in the business view.

Business view is technology neutral and does not point to any technology specific topics.

The second view, “System View” looks at the business problem from more technical perspective. However, it is still technology neutral. IT Architects and Enterprise Architects are the main actors looking from the System View. SID is the main player in here. But the “I” part of it. It providers an Information Model explaining how several business entities are related to each other. SID uses UML to explain those associations, and cardinalities between the business entities.

The “D” part, data model will come at the next view, “Implementation View”. Implementation View is the view that the developers and system integrators look from. Here it is technology (J2EE, .NET, CORBA, DCOM etc.) and application specific (IBM x, HP y,etc.) areas that is the main concern of these stakeholders. Data Model is also in here, a solution specific look at the data that was defined in the system view. The Interfaces that are required for communicating with other applications are defined in here. The Data Model is also used to define the structure of these interfaces (and the databases).

Finally, the solution is developed/customized and ready to be deployed on the site. Here, “Deployment View” begins. IT Operators deploy the solution on the servers and start monitoring them. They manage the whole life cycle of the solution. In the mean time, business users are using the system and providing feedbacks about the efficiency of the solution.

It is important to note that Business View and System View are not “visible” when we went into the production environment.  What we will see would be workflows that represent business processes and  databases /technology specific distributed objects that represent the business entities.  For this reason,  the “hidden” views (Business and System) are called logical views while the “visible” ones (Implementation and Deployment) are called Physical Views.

Mar 212011

Service Delivery Platforms are around for several years now. Even there is no standard definition of  them, a Service Delivery Platform (or SDP) , would be a platform that a telecommunications service provider uses to deliver and manage telecommunications services over standard interfaces. The SDP concept was defined by several vendors in several different ways. TMForum saw this inconsistency and started the “Software Enabled Services Management” standard which defines the main deliverable: “Service Delivery Framework”. I will explain this in a later post.

Service Delivery Platform’s main idea is exposing the service providers’ internal capabilities to the outside world  to increase revenue. Outside world consists of, end users, third parties, over the top service providers and other service providers. By involving more parties into the value chain, eventually, new services will emerge and increased service usage will lead to revenue growth.

What internal capabilities does a CSP has? SMS, MMS, Third Party Call, Status information, Location Information, Ring tones are the most popular ones. So, I have a service named SMS. It is running quite OK. But what stops me from delivering a, “if Location is X, send an SMS” type of service? This will first increase my service diversification allowing up-sell opportunities and  second increase service usage. There may even some other combinations where the CSP cannot imagine but third parties are dreaming of.

So SDPs are good. But how do they work?

All the NE’s that we encounter in the CSP network, expose some kind of northbound interfaces to communicate with the outside world. SMSC’s uses SMPP, MMSC uses MM7, IN can use PARLAY (or propriety). We take those services and abstract them under a standardized structure, typically web services. After that, internal applications, or 3PP’s can consume those.

This process is called the “service exposure” step in SDP terms. There are however, other steps that I should mention.

Typically SDPs have a “service creation environment” . Here is where the service components are gathered and service logic is applied. Service Creation environments can be used by the service provider itself, or they can be exposed to third party providers. These environments also allow service developers to to test the designed service before going online.

After, the service is created, it is deployed on the SDP application server to serve to the service requests. This is the step of “service execution”.

Whether they are atomic services such as “send SMS”, or complex ones that require database queries, web service calls etc, SDP services should be exposed in a secure manner. To achieve this, SDPs come with Policy and Access gateways, to secure the service access and enforce some policy rules.

SDPs also need to include Service Management capabilities to on board the services, to monitor them and to apply any changes  required. SLM comes into play where certain service levels are needed by the managed services. SDPs that does not have OSS capabilities would expose NBIs to other OSS components such as Fault and Performance Managers. For BSS integration(CRM and Billing), ESB’s come into play. SDPs have also rating and charging capabilities.

Another component of SDP is WAP/WEB Portals or Storefronts where the users are able to enter a wap  or web site to browse content and hopefully, activate new services. The key in here is the consistent and customized user experience. For the mobile part, these portals, render the content for the user’s device to ensure the best quality display on that specific device. They keep a device repository to find the device properties, such as screen size, color depth etc.

Suppose a ring tone service will be delivered. The service is designed and ready to be deployed. This is a content based service and the content is typically delivered by content providers. Here, a content management solution should come into play.

What a huge scope isn’t it? Lots of components and integration work. That’s why SDP projects are multi-million dollar projects which require a long implementation period. Most CSP’s, therefore, prefer to implement SDPs in a phased approach. They start small, such as implementing just the storefront side and continue growing their platform step by step.

SDPs bring agility, increase service diversification and increase CSP revenues.  However, only a small percent of the CSPs use them in full power. These expensive tools are demanding but definitely promising.

Introduction to CEM

 CEM, OSS/BSS Transformation  Comments Off on Introduction to CEM
Mar 042011

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a relatively new term that entered to the telecommunication service provider’s  jargon. Customer Experience Management is managing all the interactions of the Customer with the service provider. These interactions could be made over all available channels that are defined in the Customer Interface Management process. Call center, e-mail, Web, WAP , Stores could all represent those different channels.

CEM focuses on the customer and his/her experiences. It focuses on monitoring, measuring and improving the customers experiences.

Each interaction that the customer experienced, will create a negative or positive perception in his/her mind. Obviously, an overall good perception will ultimately lead to higher ARPU and lower customer churn.

When first introduced, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) aimed to improve the “relations” of the provider with it’s customers. However, CRM became a sales/product oriented tool and mostly forgot the relationships part. Today’s CRM focuses how to sell more to the current customers by analyzing their transactional behaviors. Buy this, take the other 20% off, today is your birthday so your first product in your cart is 10% off, here’s a coupon that you can use for your purchases $500 or more etc. The aim is simple: To sell more to the existing customers. Some initiatives include basic user satisfaction surveys after a sales experience but these are very primitive. Also, features such as remembering my birthday and sending a happy birthday email may indeed generate a negative experience sometimes.

CEM is a holistic approach to look to the customer from a 360 degree perspective. It addresses pre-service and in-service needs of the customer and it is not a “single tool” solution. Rather, it is a cross organizational culture where all the shareholders should commit to. It may and will include several OSS/BSS components to monitor and act upon the customer interactions.

Monitoring all the customers in the organization is not feasible. That’s why CEM initiatives rely on segmentation. Ofcourse an overall enhancement can be applied to all of the customer interactions however, features like real-time monitoring and analytics will require resources. Because of this, we see that most service providers who implement CEM start with corporate and VIP customers.

CEM will require a shift in company culture. CEM will require a shift in the way of working. It will, for sure, bring transformation of some kind but this time not for reducing OPEX and CAPEX, but understanding the customers.