My last blog The telecom event horizon attracted a lot of interest and comment. Whilst it was not my intention, the reader might have been left with a feeling of inevitable telecom doom; no apparent way to change things and a fatalism about the inevitable result. Nothing can be changed!
However, there was an underlying positive message in the blog. Telecom operators have all the piece parts to deliver service and value to others. Future services will still need to be assured, designed, implemented, charged, optimised, installed (the list goes on) and at the low level functional level these services already exist and will continue to largely work as they already do. Similarly telecom operators have a WAN advantage with distinct and unique capabilities in the management of distributed and mobile networks that others will struggle to replicate.
The challenge for telecom operators is that all of these advantages are currently bound up in a linear and static customer business relationship, backed by a heavily manual and siloed operational model. This model is at odds with the business and operational models of large web scale competitors and innovative software application developers. With this existing business and operational model being attached to new technical capabilities (virtualised network, IoT and 5G) the danger is that nothing changes for customers. Customers still gravitate to buying the minimum connectivity capability from a telecom operator and bypassing them where ever possible.
The Quantum Telco
Whilst being in danger of stretching astro-physics analogies too far, I think they can usefully highlight what needs to change. Hawking radiation escapes a black hole due to quantum effects at the event horizon (the spontaneous creation of particle/anti-particle pairs). Telecom operators can similarly be made to radiate value if they can participate in lots of spontaneous, small (quantum) scale transactions across the customer/telco boundary. The very fixed business model where a set of services are ordered from a black box of telecom does not provide this and requires change. Instead what is required is a business and operational model that is fully exposed to the customer across the whole service lifecycle allowing the ongoing and flexible interaction between a customer and a telecom provider. Interactions need to be dynamic, automated and orchestrated with all aspects of a telecom service, whether traditional BSS, OSS or network being part of the exposed service.
By unbundling the functions bound up in telecom OSS, BSS and network and making them capable of independent orchestration (by the customer or the telco) we can enable new valuable services with sticky customer relationships and operational automation.