ZTEsoft Introduces ZSmart 9 BSS Platform but Comes Up Short in Meeting Operator Digital Transformation Demands

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• ZTEsoft launched its ZSmart 9 BSS suite at TM Forum Live! 2017, including new omni-channel, DevOps, and continuous billing capabilities, aimed at driving operator digital transformation.

• ZTEsoft faces portfolio development and marketing challenges in showing the ZSmart 9 BSS solution aligns fully with operator digital transformation strategies and also meets their specific omni-channel and billing requirements.

At Tl Forum Live! 2017, ZTEsoft unveiled its ZSmart 9 BSS solution. The new BSS solution is designed to meet emerging operator digital transformation requirements, including fully automated scaling that adapts to traffic fluctuations and omni-channel customer interaction capabilities, which use social media and instant messenger (IM) platforms to deliver personalized experiences across different touch-points. The ZSmart 9 platform also offers support for DevOps research and development (R&D) methods and smart cloud maintenance. In ZSmart 9 billing, the new miniature bill run capability is initiated upon arrival of each call detail record (CDR), instead of performing a bill run at the end of a billing cycle. The approach enables capabilities like real-time notification, credit control, and updated accumulators, allowing additional runway for the operations team to correct errors before the end of the billing cycle. However, the ZSmart 9 BSS solution is missing essential characteristics needed to drive operator BSS transformation.

So what does ZTEsoft’s ZSmart 9 BSS solution require to succeed? A few things quickly come to mind:

• ZTEsoft needs to align its ZSmart 9 BSS portfolio development and marketing with the industry-wide objectives of the TM Forum’s Digital Maturity Model (DMM). The DMM provides an industry-supported model enabling operators to evaluate their digital maturity and plan their digital transformation across their entire organization. By endorsing the DMM, ZTEsoft assures operators the ZSmart 9 platform already fits into their digital transformation strategies and counters early backers, Huawei and Amdocs, from using DMM support as a differentiator.

• ZTEsoft needs to promote its offline channel support capabilities, such as community-sourced tech support and enabling online customers to capitalize on in-store discounts, to further differentiate the ZSmart 9 BSS solution. With the inclusion of social media and IM platform support, ZTEsoft gains little to no differentiation as key rivals like Netcracker, Huawei, Amdocs, Ericsson, and Nokia already deliver social media inputs into their omni-channel solutions. However, most rivals either neglect or pay scant attention to offline aspects in their omni-channel experience marketing, giving ZTEsoft an opportunity to further separate ZSmart 9 from the rest of the pack.

• To sharpen its ZSmart BSS 9 messaging, ZTEsoft must detail which software products and customer segments would benefit from a parallel release plan, presumably in compliance with a DevOps framework. Without a clarified message, ZTEsoft diminishes relaying the benefits of its new software release schedule and hands competitors an opportunity to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about ZTEsoft’s capacity to adapt rapidly to a new software release strategy.

• ZTEsoft also needs to demonstrate that the new miniature bill run feature avoids creating additional complications in the bill preparation and presentment process. The continuous update capability offers granular insight into postpaid bill applications, especially for premium customers, although related risks include increasing the complexity of managing CDRs and saturating customers with too much information by boosting the frequency of real-time notifications.

• To bolster its digital ecosystem clout and expand the ZSmart 9 platform’s addressable market, producing use cases of successful DevOps implementations is critical. Without DevOps credentials, ZTEsoft risks sidelining its BSS portfolio in driving operator digital transformation on a collaborative organization-wide basis, i.e., enabling operators to avoid the pitfalls of limited, ad hoc transformation attempts.

The new ZSmart 9 BSS platform addresses key operator pain points including automated scaling, DevOps, omni-channel, and continuous billing priorities. However, without enhancing its digital transformation and DevOps messaging and addressing the platform’s omni-channel and continuous billing concerns, ZTEsoft curtails the ZSmart 9’s capacity to fulfill the full range of operator BSS and digital transformation needs.

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