Catalysts are proof-of-concept projects developed collaboratively by TM Forum members. 

Catalysts were centre stage at DTW in Nice this month, including a number that were already close to commercial deployment. In visiting these “commercial” catalysts, the challenge for “traditional” technical catalysts was very clear, the lack clear business cases and routes to new markets. With their focus on proving technology and integration they miss the opportunity to prioritise what is commercially important. After DTW 2018 we blogged, on this need, which we still believe needs to be better addressed.

I’ll be back

Amongst the catalysts was the hugely enjoyable Skynet, which built on last year’s Bladerunner catalyst and won the Outstanding Catalyst Depicting Business Assurance Awareness. This focused on the management of roaming 5G network slices to support remote healthcare. On show was a powerful story, based around an Ebola like medical emergency, including powerful vendor capabilities like inter-carrier QoS assurance and real-time settlement.

Skynet could improve upon its already strong story by better defining the business case that underpins it. By putting more emphasis on understanding the potential customer, and their willingness to pay, catalysts can better direct immediate technical steps and provide a future roadmap beyond just another catalyst. In Skynet the real time QoS and settlement between carriers are powerful capabilities, but they are potentially tied to a use case that might not use them. Medical emergencies are occasional and globally distributed. Will customers (UN, governments or NGOs) help CSPs pre-invest in global infrastructure for this use case or will they instead use best efforts solutions, with simple offline billing, on an as needed basis? How could catalyst technology influence this decision?

We began with a vision — to transform healthcare delivery and make diagnosis a simple and hassle-free process.

Enabling affordable and quality digital Health ecosystem for more than 1bn lives” catalyst” had an easily understandable business case. This system, based on a $1100-1400 mobile health testing device HealthCube and a CSP health application, was already live with Jio in India. This had a very clear business case and model, effectively a Deliveroo for health tests. Currently a medical test at a central clinic costs 500 rupees and requires someone to lose working time visiting a clinic. The new service costs 50 rupees, with the clinician coming to you personally and with the CSP owning the VAS health applications associated with the device. Compelling and real business value!

We look forward to an increasing focus on business case and commercial model in future catalyst projects. Even better we would like to see CSP’s thinking about how they take more catalysts to market in the near term not simply as a laboratory curiosity. We explore how CSP innovation can be improved in our recent reports Cloud native: A revolution postponed and in OSS sea change