By Richard Ullenius, VP of International Managed Services, CSG International

I’ve spent the last several years with Communications Service Providers (CSPs) around the globe, talking about digital transformation. 

In particular, how to align internal teams, processes and systems to more efficiently support today’s business, while also paving the way to make the roll-out of new digital services faster and easier. 

This is a global issue facing the telecom industry and I expect to have this conversation for many years to come. 

In the midst of these strategy sessions, I see a future emerging, one where the next evolution of the digital transformation will start to materialise. 

It includes a multi-layered, B2B2X world built on an open, interoperable, and virtualised digital services platform, where ecosystems of partners will become a primary model to deliver digital services. 

Even today, CSPs are increasingly turning to partner ecosystems to enhance and simplify the customer experience.

As this model continues to grow, traditional lines of business segmentation will begin to blur, including a blurring between consumers and businesses, as CSPs must be able to seamlessly monetise and track revenue across the consumer and enterprise chain.

A blurring between retail and wholesale capabilities will also take place, as the complex partner ecosystem forces wholesale capabilities such as partner management, complex revenue share and settlement capabilities into the heart of the retail model.

All of this blurring is called B2B2X – a world in which the CSP delivers digital services to any number of end-users, whether enterprise, retail, partner, supplies or end consumers. 

What is driving this change? For one thing, we are now past the era of multi-device, and moving into “multi-connected devices.”

Powered by the increasingly connected world of the IoT, advances are driving innovation and improving experiences across all segments, from health to home security to agricultural productivity to telematics.

The result is that customers now expect to have access to an exciting ecosystem of an increasingly diverse range of services and solutions that come directly from a single aggregator.

European CSPs are taking their first steps in this direction, such as Deutsche Telekom’s recent partnerships to advance voice-controlled smart homes with Amazon’s Alexa or bring cutting-edge IT to Daimler’s cars are examples of how operators are expanding beyond their traditional scope.

While the exciting headlines may be on the “front-end” of creating highly connected cars or smart homes, this shift also has important implications for the “back-office” of today’s CSPs.  

Streamlined visibility and partner integration, and support for complex policy and usage rules will be key.

Real-time balances, real-time data capture and assessment, real-time actions and offers, followed by real-time payment and balance adjustment will also be critical.

In addition to settlement and revenue share models to satisfy partners and suppliers, CSPs will need to create efficiencies within their partner ecosystem.

Adding more partners will require automation and self-service dispute management for quick on-boarding and effective partner management.

All of this change requires a massive undertaking by investing in IT architecture—but no CSP wants to rip and replace complex and expensive systems. 

This is where the right managed services approach can add significant value to create a lean, cloud-based operating infrastructure while also applying internal teams and processes to support overall business objectives in the most impactful way possible.

Managed services has dramatically evolved in the past few years. With the emergence and integration of the cloud, managed services are moving toward full solution offerings designed to address a CSP’s most pressing business-level B2B2X issues.

MSPs used to be about cost cutting, but today they are about making traditional business environments more lean and agile, while driving innovation for new digital business. 

“Leaning” the operating infrastructure often results in significant cost savings for CSPs, which frees up investments to feed back into innovation on the digital side, such as upgrading networks to increase capacity for voice and data traffic surge.

Today’s advanced managed services teams are able to provide CSPs with the highly coveted competitive advantage they seek for efficiently and effectively delivering a customer experience that meets – and exceeds – the demands for the next evolution of the digital age.

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