In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, Interview Series, I was joined by my colleague here at Futurum Research, Ron Westfall, and Jason Keane, Head of Digital BSS Product and Solution Line at Ericsson for a conversation around moving BSS journeys to the cloud, and what to consider from the platform prospective with insights from our recently released research report The BSS-to-cloud journey: Powering innovation across the digital value chain.
This is the second of two events connected with that recent research into BSS-to-cloud journeys. Ron and I were joined a few weeks ago by Ericsson’s Head of Product Domain BSS Customer & Partner Engagement, Rick Mallon and BSS Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, Miriam Deasy for a conversation about cloud transformation and digital engagement — you can watch (or listen) to that conversation here: The BSS-to-Cloud Journey: Powering Innovation Across the Digital Value Chain.
Our discussion was far-reaching and included the following:
- Why BSS journeys to cloud are underway, what’s in it for customers, and the complexity of the cloud journey. Jason shared insights on the increased pace of demand, faster time to market, as well as the closer alignment between the commercial and technical reality of legacy systems that aren’t agile enough to do what’s needed today. We then moved into customer benefits as well as the complexities of cloud journeys and how to think about most effectively starting down that path.
- The diversity of cloud approaches across the Ericsson customer base and the nuances of how Ericsson caters to this massive amount of variation and how that impacts software development as well as deployment of BSS-to-cloud journey initiatives.
- Cloud and cloud native, Ci/CD pipelines, and what level of readiness needs to be in place on the customer side for cloud native software, as well as what’s involved in supporting customers’ success.
- Myth-busting the hype surrounding cloud and what impact, if any, that has on cloud transitions and digital transformations to live up to their promises.
- The advantages to a multi-vendor strategy using different cloud providers versus using all services of just one provider, and how to think about that as organizations are strategizing their BSS-to-Cloud journey, including key considerations like avoiding vendor lock-in.
- Some day-to-day challenges customers experience and how integrating BSS with OSS and packet core are essential and how to think about measuring success as it relates to the BSS-to-cloud journey and what ‘completion’ really looks like.
It was a terrific conversation and if you’re exploring migrating your BSS to the cloud, one you won’t want to miss. You can watch the video of the conversation here:
Or stream the audio on your preferred podcast player here:
Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.
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Shelly Kramer: Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast Interview Series. I’m your host, Shelly Kramer, and we are broadcasting this interview on LinkedIn Live today and we’re really excited to be bringing this conversation to you. Today we’re going to be talking about moving BSS cloud journeys forward, how to make that happen, how to think about platforms. And I’m thrilled to be joined today by my colleague, Ron Westfall from Futurum Research, and also Jason Keane is joining us. And Jason’s the head of Digital BSS Product and Solution Line from Ericsson. So he’s got, I think, a lot of information that you will find very helpful. Welcome gentlemen. It’s great to see you.
Jason Keane: Thank you.
Ron Westfall: Good day.
Jason Keane: Yeah.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. So this is the second of two events connected to a research report that we partnered with the team at Ericsson on. Our research was into BSS to cloud journeys. And we had a prior conversation that I will link in this show notes in case you’d like to reference that. But today what we’re talking about is the fact that the cloud journey is by no means simple. We understand that. And I think that personally, when it comes to making any kind of transitions, the partners that you do this journey with make a huge difference. And that’s one of the reasons we’re talking with Ericsson. So what I want to talk with a little bit is Jason, cover for us if you would, why BSS journeys are happening right now. What’s the impetus for that?
Jason Keane: Many reasons, but I suppose if I go back to the business reasons which drives the technology, what our customers are seeing, and what we’re seeing from our customers is the pace of commercial demands have increased. What we mean by that is consumers now and businesses now expect products and offers and services much, much faster than they have traditionally seen. And of course, BSS being the monetization engine of Telcos, NORTH network has to move just as fast. We need to be able to capture revenues, and capture them faster. I suppose from a cloud point of view and a transformation point of view, what we see is we see that to enable that faster speed, we have to digitize the whole engine and the whole layer itself. And by enabling the cloud and moving this, we can get quicker offers and get better revenue back from our customers.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: But we also see that when we actually move to cloud, not just from a commercial but at a technology layer, we actually see that by modernizing the application stack, and modernizing the BSS itself, that we see huge efficiency gains in how people operate their business on a daily basis, how they can upgrade software more effectively, and how they can actually move forward in a much more finance sensible manner than they currently have. If I just give you a brief example, if we look today in the portfolio and applications out there in BSS, a lot of these have heavy investments over many years, they’ve grown up with the business and they consume significant financial resources to manage, to maintain, to customize.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: Problem we see now though is that the rate of change is so fast that the investments that you have to put into these products to keep them up is no longer sustainable. And then with 5G new technology, they have to scale. Quite frankly, the business isn’t there, it isn’t there, important so.
Shelly Kramer: No, and I think that that’s really the lesson that a global pandemic has taught us. In that our ability to pivot quickly, to be agile, to scale up, to scale down is needed to serve our customers, to serve our employees. And that’s really foundational business resiliency, and business continuity. And as I said, there are many things that have been negative about navigating a global pandemic together, but I think that’s really been good lessons for us. And it doesn’t seem like there’s ever a good time to spend a whole bunch of money updating legacy systems, but the reality of it is, this isn’t nice to have, this is tied to real world dollars, real world efficiencies, and will make an absolute impact on the business moving forward. Ron, I know you have thoughts on that naturally.
Ron Westfall: Well, you bet Shelly, and I think to pivot on Jason’s point, there is definitely, I think a sea change in terms of the mindset across the ecosystem. It’s not just the operators who understand that they have to adapt their traditional business processes to the cloud environment, it’s also in terms of working with their partners, it’s also in terms of working with their customers particularly on the enterprise side. And so, yes, the pandemic really did help usher in some of these plans that have been sitting on the desk and gathering dust and suddenly it’s like we got to dust these off. Now we really had to act, and now we had to plan for post-pandemic situations, and I think this is encouraging. I think this is definitely giving the impetus for the operators to really play a central role in the digital ecosystem, the digital value chain. And so I see this as a positive for the entire ecosystem.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I think one of the ways that we talk about this is that BSS is ultimately the monetization engine of investment, right? And it really is, I think. Any thoughts on that in terms of, beyond, have we touched on already the financial benefits, the operational benefits, that sort of thing. You want to speak to that a little bit, Jason?
Jason Keane: I think as I said in the opening, the BSS as you correctly note, it is the monetization engine. When you create the offers, you could invest billions into a 5G network put all the technology, but at the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. What happens is you need to create a commercial offer, you need to expose and exploit the network assets to generate money for the business. And I think what you have with a fully cognitive BSS or digital BSS, you benefit from quicker time to market. You can create the offers quicker, you can stand them up, you have the flexibility within the system, you scale, as Ron has noted, you can actually scale out. And we see this in the pandemic. The ability to scale rapidly for new demand is essential. But also resilience.
It’s no longer… you need to also be able to scale for resilience because if you look at the commercial demands, you have to be able to provide reliable services. We’ve become very intolerant of outages particularly as we all work from home and everything else. It has a big impact from us. But then if we look a little bit further, it’s not just those commercial benefits. Underneath it as well, the actual operators themselves will benefit from the inherent cloud technologies you have with automation, orchestration. And it really comes on to, if we look at the newer technology, like the 5G, huge thing with 5G is it provides so much potential for new business offerings, onboarding of partners to deliver services via network, creating new services so it’s a vital layer. It should modernize it quickly to adapt.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s one of those things that, once you have a taste of what modernization feels like, there’s no going back. We’re so hamstrung by the limitations of legacy systems. And I use this sometimes an analogy is, I have a late model car that’s powered by tons of smart technology. And I laugh that I don’t think I could hit something if I tried because if I’m backing out of the driveway and I don’t see a pedestrian, or if I don’t see a car coming, my car will shut itself down. Or if I’m approaching a stop light and my car feels like I’m driving a little more quickly than I should be to allow me to stop, I can feel my car engaging the brakes.
And the point is, I’m not going backwards. I’m not going to get in a car that doesn’t have those things anymore because I’ve realized the maximum benefits. A car, of course, it’s safety and of course I pay more for that, but in the long run, the cost versus the benefit is one that I find that’s worth it. And I think this is very true when it comes to BSS modernization. It’s like once companies realize the true benefits of this, it’s like oh my gosh, I can’t believe that we managed to wait this long before we were able to do this, or before we made doing this a priority.
Jason Keane: Yeah. And I think just on that, it’s important to note in the same way that you bought the most recent car where it had all these features, there was a cost to doing it, right? There’s a cost to it.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.
Jason Keane: Once you make that cost, you have those benefits, it’s very hard to go back. And this is what we see in the technology spaces. Maybe you can maintain that older car for longer, but it gets more expensive, you get less out of it, it drinks more petrol. Maybe I make the investment to make the transition to the newer technology yeah.
Shelly Kramer: Well, and to extrapolate that out, I have 15 year old twins who are learning to drive. And as a parent, when we grew up, my first car was not in any way a fancy car. As a matter of fact, my first car was one of those where you rolled the windows up and down by hand and things like that. I have a couple of children who are older and who’ve already grown and gone, but even their first cars weren’t super late model cars. And I think about from an investment standpoint, when I think about from a safety standpoint, it’s like oh my gosh, I’m so accustomed to this being my norm in terms of smart technology, and the latest technology that the thought of my young people being in cars that don’t have any of that safety technology does stress me out a little bit.
So it is a similar analogy it’s that, why would I want to go back? There’s no real benefit. And whether you’re talking about the safety of your family, or whether you’re talking about protecting your business investments, and your ability to scale and drive revenue and all that thing. So moving on, I wanted to talk a little bit about, you have a vast customer base, right? Everybody has a vast customer base, and everybody, every customer has unique needs, and there are nuances involved in every situation. So when you approach this, Jason, how do you account for the massive amount of variation across the customer base, and prospects in your product development? How do you approach that?
Jason Keane: Well, the first thing we have to do is we recognize and we do acknowledge that there’s no one size fits all. It’s funny, every customer is unique, but every customer wants commonality as well. And if we look for example across the HyperCloud providers, such as Amazon, such as Microsoft Azure, Google, and others, every one of these, we see communities, we need to run in this environment and that’s okay. The question for us as Ericsson, how do we provide the maximum amount of support for our customers? Because we can’t certify, and we can’t check every single benefit of every single cloud, it’s simply too.
What we’ve done is we look at what is the core technology that’s driving this stuff? In cloud native, essentially it’s Kubernetes which is a container orchestration system. When we look across all the cloud providers, this is what they’re using to manage these cloud workloads to make sure the parts, the individual components themselves work. So what we’ve done in Ericsson of course is we’ve taken Kubernetes and we’ve shifted our platform using that orchestration. We’ve written our software to be as generic as possible towards Kubernetes, of course certifying with our own Kubernetes distribution, but as generic as possible, such as a customer, if you receive, and you want the software, it will work in a generic instance.
Key question for you then of course, is each cloud has its own benefits, own advantages, how further you go to make that suitable for you? Because one of the things with moving to cloud is that it took a much broader aspects and about how you’re going to lifecycle this product, how you’re going to upgrade it, how you’re going to make it high-performance for you. And then you took a much broader stream of software delivery, pipelines CI/CD, and all of the aspects of that. But from an Ericson point of view, we want to provide you with the tool sets to get you going, to make sure the products stack and behave themselves. And then from a customer point of view, we customize the unique advantages of your cloud, and your instances.
Shelly Kramer: Right. I think that’s really…I think that’s important. And from a selling standpoint, as a customer, I never want to hear, we have a one size fits all solution. I mean that’s not really what I’m looking for, Ron, a lot of times I think people tend to approach a transition like this as a big bang, let’s just go whole hog and jump right in. What do you think about that?
Ron Westfall: Well, I think we’ve learned some valuable lessons. I think that’s pretty much been discarded as an approach that any operator is going to seriously consider. And I think what is important now is what can be characterized as a step-wise approach. That is the operator really needs to have a blueprint, a plan as to really how to proceed with their cloud journey. And I think one thing that we really found out from our study, our survey is that the operators as they proceed with their cloud journey is that they gain more knowledge. They gain more awareness about how to really make a hybrid cloud implementation work better. How to really get a better outcomes from their cloud journey.
And as a result, satisfaction actually increases. So it’s really a part of human nature. There’s that fear of the unknown when you’re embarking on a new mission, on a new journey, but as you proceed and you learn okay, this is something that is valuable, this is something that we’re gaining a lot of insight on how to make our customers more happy, more satisfied. And as a result, the operators themselves become more satisfied because of their cloud investments. So I think that’s something that we really won’t hear much in our conversations into the foreseeable future is, hey, we did a dramatic, big bang approach in order to really get a cloud benefit from our BSS transformation.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. And I think just also approaching and understanding that this transition is complex and as any digital transformation is, right? And it really involves the entire ecosystem for delivery. You’re not just changing the infrastructure, or the applications that you’re using. You’re changing the whole way that the internal technical organization behaves. Again, very similar to any digital transformation initiative, and really understanding that… making sure that’s understood throughout the organization and having a culture that embraces innovation and change and really addressing that is, and understanding that the end result is so worth it. It’s going to take a little time. Everybody needs to be patient, but that it is very much it will deliver. So I think that’s important. I want to touch here on cloud and cloud native and talk a little bit about CI and CD pipelines and readiness and that thing, Jason?
Jason Keane: Sure. So I think… Well if we start, the concept of cloud is quite mature. It’s been out in our industry for a very long time, so it’s not new to people, but cloud native is a little bit more. And actually this is maybe some of, one of those clouds that it takes time. You’ve mentioned assignments. This is not just change of the underlying computer, the infrastructure layer. So cloud is concept design, but cloud native is much more, it’s where you actually design not just your applications, but your business process and your commercial process to support that. Well, it means basically if you look at it, in a cloud native world, you have a few key attributes. You have ability to deploy quickly, to scale quickly, maximum to configuration and flexibility towards the business. You can upgrade on the fly without any interruptions, you can take on new business models quickly, you can adopt your software. It’s a fundamental shift how people are working.
And I think where maybe some of the issues we see at the moment is that if people aren’t prepared to do that either for commercial, not on marketing investment, not for the technical investment, they struggle. And when we look at there’s a few common things, I mentioned, one of the core technologies that you have is Kubernetes. It’s well-known, it’d been no debate in the industry, this is the kind of orchestration, but Kubernetes is just an execution environment. It manages, and it orchestrates containers. But to get the software in there in the first place to upgrade it. You need much more frameworks around it. So we hear things like CI/CD pipes, which are basically software ways to continuously integrate. As you bring in a new feature, make sure it works and continues to deploy, get it out there in the field.
And these frameworks are not simple. You actually have got to set them up, test them, mature them over time. So when we talk about cloud, and cloud native, cloud native is… cloud for example, we’ve done it, we’ve taken applications, we’ve stack them into virtual machines we’re familiar with, but cloud native is much more, it’s much more end-to-end. And I think maybe some of the challenges that we see between, I think runs in the research data, the engineers are much more apprehensive about where they are in their cloud journey versus the executives, because maybe the executives thought, hey, this is just an infrastructure update and the engineers are going, we have to do so much more. So it’s part of the challenges, and that’s conflict.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I’m laughing because I’m thinking about a lot of times I wear a lot of hats within our organization. One of them is making sure things get done, and making sure that promises made are promises kept. So I’m laughing because I think about somebody out there selling something. Sure. It’s no problem. It’s great. And then I’m the one who has to make it happen. So I very much feel your engineer’s pain because it is the engineer’s pain because it is, when you are the folks who have to make things happen, it can be a little anxiety inducing, but that again is really the benefit of working with the right partner. And one of the things that we talked about in the LinkedIn Live conversation that we had, and again, for anybody just joining us, I will be sure and link that prior conversation with Rick Melon and Miriam DC in our show notes for this show.
But one of the things that we talked about was just, part of the key to success is really working together to establish a timeline for this change, for this migration that you really stick to and work together every step of the way to not only develop the timeline and the strategy, but then to execute it. So I think that that helps alleviate engineer’s fears a little bit along the way. Ron, some folks might say that the hype surrounding cloud makes it difficult for cloud transitions and transformations to live up to their promises. What do you think?
Ron Westfall: Well, I think that is part of the reality. I don’t think it’s unique necessarily to BSS to cloud journeys. I think what is important is the takeaways that we’ve already learned. For example, we’re already seeing the operators successfully partnering with major cloud providers in order to fulfill their significant needs. For example, we see Telefonica Germany partnering with AWS in order to effectively transition their 5G core workloads in order to take advantage of cloud economics in order to make that 5G service more successful, and meeting their customer needs. And I think what is also important in terms of understanding what is real in terms of the cloud potential, is the fact that the operators are fundamentally committed to this. This is now a question of how to proceed with the journey and so forth. So I think we’re past what the operators are going to do in terms of whether or not they’re going to commit to cloud.
I think we’re well past that. And I think now what is actually very beneficial for all the players involved, not just the operators, but their partners, their clients, and so forth is, how to proceed in that stepwise fashion to optimize the cloud experience. And that I think is a very critical takeaway is that it’s about delivering the best experience to the customer. Doesn’t matter if they’re enterprise or if they’re a consumer, but clearly the cloud is going to play an essential role in enabling that optimal experience. And that includes, for example, the flexible billing. It includes the ability to have a very agile customer interface that allows the customer to meets what they really need in a very rapid fashion or in a real-time fashion. So I think this is very important to understand in terms of, what about hype cycles, why is there’s so much confusion out in the market, about how clouds can be optimally leveraged.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Absolutely. So I want to shift a little bit and talk about the advantages to a multi-vendor strategy, using different cloud providers compared to using one provider in all of their services. Jason, what do you think about that?
Jason Keane: Maybe going back where as [inaudible] we see the demand coming in from our customers mixed bag on-premise, off-premise. But if we look at just the cloud providers, the HyperCloud providers, the locally, they all offer their own competitive advantages to be fair, they offer their own unique selling positions, and we have to recognize that. So what was interesting in the similar data that we in the research did, we saw that in the service, 72% of people believe they would go with Amazon, but in the same breath, 60% would also go with Azure, and Google.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: Hybrid is our world. Right? So I think, we asked the question, why? Why wouldn’t you pick one like Amazon, or why would you pick one like Azure, Google or whomever? I think we have to recognize that each cloud provider does offer their own advantages. Perhaps maybe if you take Microsoft, they come from the Windows world is where their primary footprint was. So there may be stronger in the IT space,
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: Purpose maybe Amazon who are popular with developers, but he in day from a business point of view, it’s key that each declare… okay, they’ll offer their own benefits, but did you have a common approach? Did you recognize that a hybrid cloud strategy is going to arise? That if you pick one, I believe you do, but you probably don’t want lock-in. They will have their benefits that you have the flexibility. And this is before we even talk about commercials, who’s cheaper, who’s more expensive. So I think what I see, I think a multi… at least from a visioned point of view, you need to accept for now that it will be a multi-vendor strategy for cloud. Then of course, the question for you is how do you make sure they connect, and they invest in a meaningful manner to that I’m no going too deep into one and then get stack with the business.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Absolutely. I think that makes perfect sense. And nobody wants to be locked in. I think that’s really the thing when it comes to your technology stack today. And knowing that change is inevitable, and where we’re in a mode of continuous learning and again, business is just changing so rapidly technology is changing so rapidly. And I think that it’s incumbent upon decision makers to say, I need to make a decision, work with somebody that can work with me across any cloud solution provider that I may pick. And also that we can shift if I decide to change my mind. I think that’s super important. Ron, do you have any thoughts on that?
Ron Westfall: Yeah, I think the survey had a surprising note and Jason touched on that, and that is a doubling amongst the operators, and considering AWS one to two years from now. And that I think definitely validates the idea that the operators are strategically committed to a multi-cloud strategy. This is to prevent that dreaded vendor lock-in, and so clearly follow the data, follow the evidence. And that is a clear indicator. And I think we’re seeing all kinds of examples of how the cloud operators are working with the Telco side to make this happen. For example, AWS and Ericsson are partnered in terms of enabling managed IOT services. And also we’re seeing, for example, Microsoft Azure investing heavily on the Telco side, they recently acquired the firm networks Mettaswitch just to advance that goal. And I think what’s also interesting is that we see Google cloud gaining more interests, more attention, first of all because you can characterize them as an SDN, I’d rather not, that they really are the inventors of Kubernetes.
And so, and that’s actually going to be very critical, you know, how the operators maximize their Kubernetes capabilities in terms of not just a container management, but also container orchestration. And I think it’s also indicative that Google has a optimal Edge Cloud implementation, arguably in terms of the YouTube assets and the operators have a lot of real estate that’s well-suited for these Edge Cloud implementations. And also the survey indicated the IBM cloud has a lot of interest amongst the operators. And that’s an, I think, a do part to their obviously aligned with Red Hat and that definitely helps with hybrid cloud implementations. So this is all very encouraging. There’s plenty of great multi-cloud strategies for the operators to pursue. And this is good for the industry.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, I thought it was really interesting to see IBM cloud at, in our research IBM cloud at 55% of respondents indicating they plan to use, or strongly consider using within one to two years, and 55%. Microsoft Azure 61%. That’s a pretty big showing on the part of IBM, same thing with Oracle. Oracle’s at 45%. We’re really seeing Oracle double down on cloud. And you’ve just written about that recently as well, Ron, but it’s really exciting to see that there’s a lot of options out there. And, and of course the important role that multi-cloud plays.
So beyond BSS itself, what about connecting to the rest of the technology stack? Right? We know BSS is not an island. It has to be tightly integrated with OSS and packet core. Can you speak to that just a little bit, Jason?
Jason Keane: I think if we look at the 5G space, right? They’re picking because it’s new. It’s what we see at the moment is of course, you’re correct. If you look at how now the BSS, it talks directly to the 5G core, it enables new features for monetization like slicing which is something we launched from Ericsson to prove it and get it going. But the rate of change of features coming out of 5G is to have new standards coming out, Release 17 comes later this year, is the core will need to be updated very quickly to enable at the same point in time, going back to where we opened, the BSS is the monetization there. You don’t introduce features just for fun. You want to get your return on your investment.
So what we see is we see that basically as you upgrade your core, you’re probably going to upgrade your BSS in parallel, to enable those new features. You don’t have to, but to enable those new features to get that return, you want to do it. What does actually create is that you now actually create an interdependency between your BSS, your charging function, and your actual core itself. So some operators are requesting that we connect these in one pipeline, such that it’s an automatic upgrade.
And from an Ericson point of view, we recognize the end-to-end part of this portfolio is important. So for our customers we want to say, if you have our core, and you have our BSS, and you have our OSS, as we upgrade we will move the whole lot together to try and simplify that or simplify it. It’s complex thing, but try and make that happen for you to realize your investments faster because you’re right, we don’t exist now. And even northbound, if you want to take from the BSS stack, we also integrated enterprise systems. So they also need to be adopted to understand a new revenue stream. So it’s, it’s quite a complex piece to be put together.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, it is indeed. So I love to focus on customers as part of these conversations. Can you speak a little bit about some of the day-to-day challenges you find your customers facing that you could share with us?
Jason Keane: Sure. We touched on there earlier regarding the engineers and the negatives? One of the key challenge that’s coming up, I suppose, is expectation. It’s most people want to do this. I’m also just going to bring back what Ron said, in essence, we need to focus on where we’re bringing business value. If you go to the thing, you will lose it. So for example, what we regularly see with first of all, customers started cloud native journey across their entire suite, which is just the big, right? And it’s… you’re going to struggle because it takes a lot of money to change how your organization works.
So what we see is we see that, first of all, people if they go too broad, they struggle. The engineers get swamped on what to and not to do, the executives are displeased because it’s not going as they thought it’d go. So the first thing is to maybe focus on an area. And we touched on an area, talking about customer customer experience. That the customers of our customers, their experience now. Maybe you pick the layer that needs to move fastest, which is like your customer experience, your individual experience platform to orchestrate.
Maybe you start with that cloud native because that will need to adapt as new offers come in, that will need to provide a better UI, a better way to do things. And when I look at the most successful projects and we’ve had… we have a customer, one of our customers who started with the DXP variance the Digital Experience Platform because that solved the biggest improvement. They went cloud native, they went to adapt to customer experiences that they needed very quickly, get quicker time to market, quicker onboarding, and that in itself gave a good return on investment, which then built momentum for the rest of the business. So if you go too broad, you run into it. But I think as Ron has said to you is that if we actually focus on an area you’ll benefit more.
Shelly Kramer: But I think if that we find that when it comes to any kind of introduction of technology into the business, it’s about focusing small, generally speaking, and having great success. And before you know it, my experience has been that before you know it, even those skeptics are watching the results that you’re able to deliver. And all of a sudden, you’ve got this avalanches of people going, wait a minute, I want a piece of that. So it can be really exciting, but you do, to me, that scattershot approach is not the way to go. It really is about focusing on where we can deliver the best results, the quickest, and then have this use case throughout the organization. And that’s really what gets the excitement going and helps you move this forward.
Jason Keane: And I think some of that, maybe just one more challenge is this is not just a technology project.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: Not just a platform modernization, it’s what is this doing for my business? How can I move faster and quicker? And I think that’s where to focus. Like any typical business transformation. You drive it from the ground up, it’ll struggle with.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. So how do we, how do we measure the success of this BSS journey to cloud?
Jason Keane: Every organization will have their own metrics. I mean if I just go back to being blunt at the end of the day, what you want to measure is an improvement. Whether it’s, I have a quicker time to market, whether I can launch my offers quicker, whether I’ll have a lower cost to run my operations, there’ll be money metrics towards this. And I think the key thing for me, when you talk about measurement, you need to start with a vision. Where do I want to go with my business? How does my application stack support me? How fast does it need to move? And then if you pick, for example, you say, okay, today ending my customer onboarding time is five minutes to completion, maybe I invest, make it 10 to five seconds as part of digitizing. They’re the kind of metrics. I don’t think you can measure one big metric and go, we’re now entirely in cloud native.
That’s probably a bit over ambitious. Like to focus, I break it down because what helps the engineering teams, and what helps the business, this is what we’re doing. How do we all to achieve this goal? For example, improving customer onboarding time. Can we get it from five minutes to five seconds or whatever the number is? So I think that’s really how you measure. And realize that this doesn’t stop because if you’re moving, your competition are also moving, right? So maybe you’re five seconds, but your competition is three seconds. I don’t know. So it’s… I think you will get by, by realizing that the core of your business process have moved much faster, much more reliable and much more scalable than you ever have before. And that metric is unique for every business.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. And I think to your point, understanding that done is not really a thing, and I look at some of our, I look at… which I don’t say to make anybody nervous, by the way, but when it comes to business transformation, it is a constantly evolving, constantly changing thing. As you said, your customers are changing, your competitors are changing and evolving. And so I look at some of the data from our research and we asked people how much time they felt from today, it would take them to be complete.
And while a number of people, a number of engineers indicated they thought it would be one to two years, 46% of engineers thought it might be one to two years, but yet 30% of engineers and developers surveyed said that it’s going to be two to three years. And I like seeing that. And I like seeing that 35% of senior executives believe that it was going to be two to three years. I mean this is a process and that doesn’t mean that you don’t start it and have some great results early on in the process, but it is kind of a continually moving, evolving transformation that I think is important for people to understand as they go on this journey.
Jason Keane: I think it’s important to recognize even with that legacy stuff will still exist.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Jason Keane: We still have technology out there that’s 20 years old doing its thing. It’s reliable. It’s good. The question for you as a business though, is do I invest further in that, or just let it serve its purpose and die off and move forward. So it’s, that’s I mean, it’s really hard to say when do we complete, I think like any transformation, you have to make your business decision that works, leave it alone, but for the future, I’m going to invest over here, yeah.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Right. One of the things I tell anybody that I’m interviewing with a view toward joining our team is that if you don’t love change, you won’t love working for, and with me and you won’t love working in this industry because that’s really what, that’s what we’re in the business of all day, every day. And that’s really what we’re talking about here. So we’re going to wrap up this show and I think there are the pragmatic route forward, as you’re thinking about your BSS cloud journey is really pretty simple. You want to throw it out there for us, Jason?
Jason Keane: I would try. I would say your vision, focus, start small, mature yourself to this cloud native journey. It is literally a journey, mature yourself, get your early wins and build the culture and confidence in your organization to get forward.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. Ron, you have anything to close us out?
Ron Westfall: Well, that’s an excellent point, Jason. It’s hard to top that. I think it’s about innovation. I think there’s an opportunity in the post pandemic era for operators, for example, to extend security policies, and quality service policies to the work from home workforce. And that is have innovation and billing make what was formerly a consumer bill now an enterprise bill, and have this result have very creative bundling and so forth. And also I think a broader OpenAPI interactions is another indicator of progress. That is the operators using the OpenAPI is not only to improve their inner working with partners and improving customer satisfaction, but also improving their internal interactions, particularly for example, the DevOps side. So I think these are some takeaways for us in terms of what do we need to look at, and what can an operator do to really shine and under the digital 5G era.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. I agree. Solid points. Gentlemen, thank you so much for hanging out here today and having this conversation. It’s always an interesting one and I know that it’s something we’ll continue to talk about. As I indicated in our show notes, we’ll link the research report that we did on BSS to cloud journeys, we’ll link prior conversations, and we hope that if this is on your radar screen, that you will take some time and take a look at some of the research and some of the information that we’ve shared. And I think you’ll find it useful. And with that, we’ll see you next time.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”