Netcracker is making a strong push that:

  1. CSPs need to innovate more disruptively and think beyond their comfort zones, and that
  2. Netcracker’s BSS and OSS portfolios have the capabilities to support ecosystem and advanced commercial business model innovation.
  3. Netcracker can offer this solution as modules and configuration to on-site clients, or, it can offer the entire solution from its “aaS” cloud – ideal for transient ecosystems.

Demonstrating “the art of the possible”

At this year’s analysts conference, hosted in London, Netcracker demonstrated a derivative of work already being done for an Asian client, demonstrating how they can support complex ecosystems, cross-promotions, ad-supported services and other staples of digital commerce today.  In Appledore’s opinion, the specific scenarios demonstrated may reach too far, but clearly Netcracker wanted to stretch far, in order to demonstrate the “art of the possible”, and to eliminate any suspicions that telco-BSS cannot handle these complex, multi-party scenarios.  Moreover, Netcracker delivered senior customer management to speak on behalf of their successful BSS transformation projects, which derives from best practices and process that Netcracker refers to as “blueprints”.  We discuss this more deeply in an upcoming “sister” blog.

In the live demonstration built around an upcoming global sporting event, Netcracker showed how various ecosystem vendors, some CSPs, others retail establishments or actual sporting venues could add accounts, post products, services and promotions, and how the system could calculate the complex interactions. In this particular demonstration, sales generated loyalty points which could earn users awards discounts and free merchandise.  The goal was to realize alternate forms of funding, increase total spend and reward loyalty.  Beyond that, it allows CSPs to broaden the base of the services they monetize.

A “call to arms” to innovate more

Appledore believes this use case illustrated important capabilities, combined with the “call-to-arms” that the industry must innovate more, and adopt the norms of its competitors – e.g.: ad-supported or ad-subsidized communications services.  We also confirmed that Netcracker’s software could provide on-boarding, rating, discounting, cross-promotions, and support an arbitrary set of counters (aka ”buckets”) necessary to track loyalty, rewards and the progress toward various discounts.   It was not clear that all of these were being supported in a single, real deployment, although maybe that doesn’t really matter so long as they could be.  Finally, Netcracker showed that their system supported guided self-care, a necessity for this to scale efficiently and to encourage the largest possible community.

Clearly Netcracker’s message was that the industry must abandon yesterday’s limited billers, and think beyond the limits that legacy technology has shackled the industry with.  Having been down this path on all sides of the analyst-supplier-CSP world, Appledore heartily agrees.

In terms of commercial and delivery models, Netcracker stated that the functionality can be delivered in various ways to best suit individual customers or events / communities.  For example, it can be the delivery of models and functionality to already-installed Netcracker deployments; the sales of those modules needed, or the operation of the solution for a community from the Netcracker Business Cloud “aaS”.

Appledore recommend that CSPs:

  • Consider – and experiment with — business models beyond “simple fee for service”
  • Demand “charging” systems that are actually commerce platforms, supporting rating, discounting, multiple buckets/counters, cross-promotions, multiple ecosystem members, B2B ad wholesale relationships, settlements and stored value.
  • Insist that real-time rating, discounting and balance management operate across all accounts as needed, with an economically viable cost per transaction.
  • Expand their monetization horizon beyond simple monetary charges – e.g.: subsidize plans with ads and promotions, reward loyalty, and generate revenues from partners and non-telecom products/services.
  • Implement infrastructure capable of flexible multi-party and ecosystem relationships.  We advocate against purchasing any specific use case, since such solutions are likely to be limiting, and none of us can see the future with precision.
  • Insist on solutions that allow members/ecosystem members to self-serve, from onboarding to product definition, commercial terms definition.
  • Focus on innovation viability – specifically the efficiency and flexibility of service creation and modification, re-use of [micro] services, and ability to easily modify and extend capabilities.