The perfect BSS

Why is it so frickin’ hard to make a great telco business support system (BSS)? There are roughly 400 BSS vendors in this space serving about 2,000 mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and 800 mobile network operators (MNOs). A few behemoths—Amdocs, Netcracker, CSG—stand out for being, well, ginormous. But that leaves another 397 that are also vying for your business. But none of the products are great. In fact, they all kind of suck. We still don’t have the “Salesforce” of BSS—the one vendor that’s the de facto winner of BSS. Why not?

Why does BSS suck so much?

There are a lot of reasons why BSS sucks. To start, there’s not a standard definition of what goes into a BSS. It starts at CRM and ends up sprawling everywhere, largely via customizations and integrations to other systems. The incumbent vendors want to keep it this way, though. More sprawl equals more chains binding you to their solutions, making it hard to upgrade, or even worse, swap off of their products. 

But these solutions aren’t doing the job. Telco leaders are frustrated with their BSS. Here are five reasons why:

1. Sky-high pricing

Everyone hates the huge cost of implementations from the major vendors, which runs in the millions to tens-of-millions (and billions if you’re AT&T).

2. Poorly-designed interfaces

The interfaces were an afterthought, and designed for human-only keying. They are difficult to learn and hard to modify for use cases outside of what they were designed for.

3. Difficult integration

It’s a months-long (and expensive) struggle to connect BSS systems with existing infrastructure or third-party solutions. It’s almost as if the vendors don’t want to integrate with each other! Your data is held captive in their databases, making it difficult to extract insights.

4. Outdated technology

Many BSS vendors are behind the curve and dependent on old technologies. Most still aren’t truly cloud-native. They are behind on industry innovations, trapping your organization in the past.

5. Lack of flexibility and customization options

Too few customization options make it challenging to adapt systems to specific business needs and processes. Asking for changes to meet evolving requirements results in way too much effort and additional cost.

I do see vendors out there trying to solve these problems. They are modifying their products to be cloud native, or reducing them to micro services, adding low code/no code functionality, even adding AI chatbots for customer service workflows. But no amount of TMForum ODA/API additions will solve these problems. BSS has to be reconceived from the ground up.

That’s why Totogi, where I’m acting CEO, believes there’s room for one more vendor to improve the BSS market. Say hello to #401.

You deserve a killer BSS

So far, no one has created a BSS system that customers love. If someone did, the telecom industry would go nuts for it! So the Totogi team sat down and brainstormed, asking ourselves: what would be the perfect BSS? In a nutshell, we tried to come up with a way to make it cheap, but customizable. Easy to install and upgrade. Built on a modern tech stack—AI-first and public cloud-ready, of course.

Instead of offering yet another modular, pre-built system, we wanted to build something that would start with headless backend APIs that offer core BSS functionalities. Doing so would eliminate the predefined frontend—providing unprecedented flexibility in developing user interfaces and experiences. You could customize it to your heart’s content, and also create applications that serve a wide variety of use cases like MVNO, IoT, enterprise, and others we haven’t even thought of yet.

No longer would you need to force-fit your business processes to the predetermined fields and workflow of a BSS. You could use AI to write code dynamically based on your unique requirements. This strategy would pivot away from outdated, one-size-fits-all solutions and enable the creation of a personalized, efficient BSS tailored to each operator’s specific workflows and needs. 

By embracing cloud-native design principles, these dynamically generated BSS solutions would offer global scalability and performance. By using AI-first, we could use the advancements we’re seeing in every industry to speed application development, user interface improvements, reduce bugs, and accelerate features—effectively eliminating the need for change requests and a legion of programmers.

Taken altogether, this innovative approach would be a game-changer in the telecom world. This product would not be just a step forward; it would be a leap into a future where MNOs and MVNOs are equipped with agile, customized solutions that are easily changed, maintained and deployed, setting a new paradigm for how BSS functionality is conceived and delivered. It would be the perfect BSS.

I think we can have the perfect BSS

Sound good? I might be working on something just like it! Come to my talk at the MVNO Summit at MWC on Wednesday, February 28, 4 – 6 pm CET, in Hall 8, Theater 4. I’ll be taking the stage, talking up Totogi and our new approach to BSS. We’re solving the myriad problems of traditional BSS by using AI and the public cloud. Totogi will be unveiling a new offering at MWC that incorporates advanced AI concepts in its attempt to build the perfect BSS, and you’re not going to want to miss it. So make a plan and attend my talk.

See you at MWC!

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