Faster Time to Market: The One Constant Requirement from BSS

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This article was first published in The Fast Mode.

For years telecom vendors have been trotting out the ‘faster time to market’ line like a mantra. It doesn’t matter if they’re selling network equipment, BSS, apps, or cloud services, the ‘faster time to market’ promise is always in the marketing department’s list of benefits and promises.

Can everyone enable and faster time to market? And what are we comparing this promise of newfound speed and agility with? Faster than you currently have with your current systems and processes. Faster than your competitors?

There’s a lot of ambiguity around what faster time to market is. Also, the term agility is also thrown around much too lightly. Go to the website of any telecoms vendor and you’ll see agility up there as a promised deliverable regardless of what you’re buying.

In order to get a clear view of what agility and fast time to market actually mean Qvantel recently partnered with the TM Forum and commissioned a survey and report to look at what CSPs actually want from BSS and what their investment plans are.

The research drilled down a level and looked at the plans of agile CSPs and compared them with the rest. For agility and time to market a definition was needed. In this survey, TM Forum defined an agile CSP as being able to launch products and offers in less than a week.

The findings showed that 81% of CSPs want faster time to market, with only 17% saying that they’re happy with the present speed that they can get new offers launched. When we look at the most agile CSPs (those with time to market of 1 week or less), over two-thirds (67%) still want to speed up time to market, with just 33% happy with their current speed.

With nearly half (49%) of CSPs rolling out more products and offers in 2023 compared with 2022, the goal is more offers delivered in a shorter time frame. There’s increasing pressure on IT teams as a massive 91% of CSPs said that they have missed out on business opportunities due to not being able to launch products fast enough.

When you consider that CSPs are looking to sell more and more ‘beyond connectivity’ services this is a bit worrying as the strategic business goals of a CSP could be held up by legacy stacks. With this in mind CSPs are investing to bring their BSS stacks up to speed to enable increased agility and deliver a faster time to market.

Of all CSPs, the top five investment areas are catalog-driven BSS, open APIs, microservices architecture, no/low code configurability, and a separate stack for specific business lines. These CSPs have a time to market of anywhere between one week and two months.

However, when we look at the investment priorities of agile CSPs (those with a time to market of one week or less), we get a different picture. The majority of agile CSPs have already invested in catalog-driven BSS, open APIs, and cloud infrastructure. Catalog-driven BSS and open APIs will continue to be an area of new investment. At present, only 8% of agile CSPs have invested in no/low code configurability, but a massive 78% of them have this in their next three priority investment areas. It’s little wonder that the TM Forum report called out no/low code configurability as the ‘next big thing’.

It’s interesting to see the implementation of separate stacks feature fairly high up the investment list of CSPs. With an increased focus on generating new revenues from B2B, 5G SA along with the opportunities to enter new verticals and sell a wide range of services (from ICT to healthcare to entertainment) that are delivered over 5G and fibre networks, it makes sense to take a step back and look at using a new greenfield stack to support these new areas.

This also gives CSPs the opportunity to try out the new cloud-native, no/low code systems in a low-risk environment and have them up and running quickly as there is no initial data migration and integration with legacy stacks to consider. Then once these new greenfield stacks are up and running CSPs can gradually migrate customers off legacy onto the new stack.

Ever since the early days of 2G back in the early 1990s, telecom vendors have talking about enabling faster time to market. Back in the 1990s, the classic example was how quickly could a billing system support ‘friends and family’ pricing where a customer would get discounted calls to five nominated numbers.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then and telecoms offers and products have become more complex and sophisticated. However, fast time to market as a requirement from BSS still endures. As we can see from the requirements of those CSPs who can currently get new offers and products launched in one week or less, time to market is only going to increase in importance.


Tero Nieminen


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