When and how should you automate BSS processes? A lively debate

Image credit | Zapp2Photo

A debate about how and when to automate BSS processes is bound to be lively and so it proved. On 9th July, a team of experienced panellists gathered online to discuss the merits and the risks.

An early conclusion was that COVID-19 has changed things. While it has not changed the direction of travel for many things – automating BSS in this case – it has certainly given the change a boost. Cerillion, the cloud BSS provider supporting the debate, saw Monthly Active Users of their mobile app grow by 150% during April, as if to make the point.

Automation is not just about automating processes, it is vital to rethink the processes as you consider the different pieces. As Richard Doughty of Cerillion says, “automation is the means to an end, not an end in itself. As such, never automate a process for the sake of it, because if you automate a bad process you end up doing the same (bad) thing over and over again.”

Chris Lewis, of Lewis Insight, made the point that telcos have had to change, dramatically, over the past few years and have gone from being ‘inside out’ organisations to ‘outside in’ ones. They have had to become part of the communications ecosystem, driven by what their customers want from them. No longer is it possible to impose their processes and products on customers.

This viewpoint was reinforced by polls that we conducted in the run up to the event. The first of these asked which channel is likely to be the most popular for customer interaction in the future. While social media, messaging and automated chatbots were popular – more popular than they would have been a few years ago – the consensus is that telcos, or any digital first company, needs to be prepared for ‘any of the above’.

BSS and their accompanying processes have been at the centre of competition since the 1990s. It has been a focal point in the digital transformation journey and now automation provides a new focus in the bid for efficiency and cost reduction.

One moment sticks in the mind of George Glass, CTO of the TM Forum (champion of digital transformation). Discussing a new product with the mobile team at an incumbent telco (some years ago) one of the team started describing how he saw the new mobile bill looking. He was stopped, by someone who went on to become CEO, and was told that customers would get one bill for all their services, there would no longer be a bill for each product. Unless, of course, they wanted it, in which case they should have it.

That is the kind of change in thinking that is needed, says Glass. Automate, for sure, but make the process about the customer and do not automate bad processes.

Our thanks to Cerillion for their support, particularly Richard Doughty for a practical and common sense presentation and to our other participants George Glass and Chris Lewis.

It was indeed a lively debate – you can watch the recording here.

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