While splitting, it is imperative to separate technology, but it must be done right.
IT separation is complex but essential for companies to operate independently. CSPs have certain levels of separation already established between wholesale and retail businesses. This separation reflects the natural market split between retail (customer-facing) and wholesale (network-facing) activities. Indeed, this also reflects in the systems architecture typically used in the telecom industry: BSS (Business support systems) for customer-supporting systems and OSS (Operational support systems) for network-supporting systems. However, considering the restructuring as just a BSS and OSS separation will be a mistake.
Figure 2 is a simplified application map that illustrates the separation’s typical degree of impact on various application domains.
Figure 2: Impact of structural separation: Application domains
Here are some capabilities critical for a successful structural separation:
Product lifecycle management: ServCos will need a strong product lifecycle management capability to experiment and continually innovate new products and services rapidly.
B2B gateway or wholesale API: These interfaces must be in place for capabilities like ordering, raising faults, or viewing reports to be made available by NetCos to service providers or ServCos.
Inventory management: Significant redesign and integration are required to support EOI standards. One tricky legacy issue that an integrated CSP faces is data replication between BSS and OSS systems. This restructuring gives a window of opportunity to let the network data sit close to the network finally. This will enable services to be truly network-agnostic and allow the network to determine the best way to implement the ordered services.
The other capabilities that would also need a significant redesign to support EOI standards are customer information management, sales and service order management, revenue management, workforce management, and business intelligence and reporting.
We propose an IT architecture transformation roadmap to execute the split as seamlessly as possible.
Starting with typical IT applications, the IT architecture needs to transform gradually to an end state where both units have their own independent IT landscape. The ServCo should be able to service its customers independently, while the NetCo side should be able to serve every customer similar to the ServCos, irrespective of its pre-association.
The disintegration of IT systems is a complex exercise. CSPs should take it as an opportunity to future-proof the IT foundation for the two business entities. It will require changes even to the applications retained on the corresponding NetCo–ServCo side.
Figure 3 depicts a typical end-state architecture and a roadmap to reach there gradually.
Figure 3: Sample roadmap for IT system separation
As CSPs seek to reimagine their business models and become the custodian of digital experience, structural separation can play a vital role in facilitating increased agility, cost optimization, rapid product innovation, and unlocking exponential value. However, success is going to take a lot of work, and following a well-defined strategy and a clear roadmap of gradual transformation is where the road begins. We recommend a three-stage approach, as illustrated in Figure 3:
Stage 1: Implementation of Chinese walls – The start could be a simple Chinese wall to separate access to processes and data, stabilize the businesses, and gain the users’ confidence to transform gradually.
Stage 2: Multitenant architecture: Separate the middleware and orchestration components to prepare the foundation for independent setup.
Stage 3: Equivalence of inputs: Go in for a clear-cut division that resulting in completely independent IT stacks for each unit.