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Communications Reimagined
Industry insights for 5G evolution and transforming digital experience.

Balancing Agility and Stability in Mission-Critical Systems

Jean Lawrence
Senior Director Product Marketing, CAGBU

The challenge of greater IT and business agility is addressed by TM Forum's Open Digital Architecture, which we have embraced in our DX4C solution.

It’s a classic communications service provider dilemma: how do I attain the agility to respond quickly to change while simultaneously ensuring I have robust, scalable systems that power my communications business?

The answer is getting easier thanks to newer approaches to designing systems, such as the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA), for which we have been an advocate along with CSPs champions like BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Telenor.

Service providers have so-called systems of record, which are the powerful applications that handle everything from charging for service to fulfilling an order. These systems are deeply entrenched in a service provider’s IT ecosystem, accomplishing mission-critical, revenue-dependent tasks. As such, they tend to evolve in a careful, risk-averse manner over long time frames.

At the same time, service providers have systems of engagement that provide customer- or employee-facing experiences. They need the agility to create and tailor these experiences frequently. For example, a service provider may want to create a new agent desktop window, a new digital assistant skill or a new recommendation.

Historically, service providers have been agility-constrained by the inability to change experiences without impacting the underlying systems as the two have traditionally been quite tightly coupled. Meanwhile, their webscale and over-the-top competitors, which don’t face those constraints, have quickly rolled out new experiences and in many cases disrupted service providers’ customer relationships, revenue streams and profit margins.

The ODA addresses this fundamental challenge by decoupling the experience layer from the systems of record and thereby delivers much greater IT and business agility. This enables service providers to change experiences at digital speed while systems of record may evolve on their own timeframe. No need to rip and replace: reap the benefits of modern experiences while leveraging existing systems.

Open APIs are fundamental to this architectural approach. The TM Forum has defined more than 50 APIs that expose the systems of record and facilitate interoperability.

Oracle has embraced the ODA and is a signatory to the Open API and Open Digital Architecture Manifesto. By adopting the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture and Open APIs across our applications portfolio, we are providing operators with the business and IT agility to compete in fast-changing markets.

Oracle’s Digital Experience for Communications solution is uniquely built to align with the TM Forum’s ODA using the DX4C Industry Fabric. This is critical to providing both IT and business agility and helps applications act more like microservices: service providers can design the customer and user experience by picking and choosing the underlying components and assemble them into an integrated experience. Similarly, DX4C uses TM Forum Open APIs to maximize interoperability. These open APIs are the language of DX4C’s Industry Fabric architecture as evidenced by the face we have achieved certification on five open APIs in areas including product catalog management, party management and account management.

In addition to delivering agility by decoupling the systems of record and engagement, the DX4C Fabric, in adherence with the ODA, is designed to manage and intelligently master the flows of data between the systems within a service providers’ IT environment. Data management can be very complex when you consider customer data, product data, order data, asset data – across multiple systems. DX4C normalizes data across the enterprise using industry standard data models. This ensures that data is both accurate and consistent across all participating apps. Service providers can then apply intelligence to that data to drive more better customer interactions. Normalized and validated data is presented to business intelligence platforms to provide executive dashboards as well as to the experience layer in real time, where AI and ML can make the experience smarter, more personalized and relevant.

Continuing its decades-long tradition of contributing the TM Forum industry standards, Oracle is currently participating in a catalyst project focused on further developing the ODA. Led by Vodafone, Orange, Telenor and China Unicom, this catalyst advances business operating systems and features a contribution from Oracle in integrating cloud native applications – namely Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) – with SaaS applications like DX4C – with pioneering work in developing an ODA SaaS proxy to facilitate such smooth integration between SaaS and cloud-native components. In tandem with these innovations, Oracle Communications is adopting Open APIs across its DX4C, monetization and orchestration portfolio including BRM.

This agility imperative is even more critical as we enter the 5G era. The stakes are high: service providers must embrace solutions and operational models designed for agility, or risk spending heavily on network investments only to be marginalized by disruptors. Previous eras were primarily driven by clear use case requirements, but the paradigm has now shifted. With the wide-open possibilities of 5G, no one yet knows the future killer use cases and so maximizing the ability for service providers and their partners to quickly explore new opportunities and deliver new services and experiences is more important than ever before. And this must be done against the backdrop of quickly and constantly changing customer expectations and vertical industry requirements.

The TM Forum Open Digital Architecture brings to life the capabilities of Oracle’s DX4C Industry Fabric so that it accomplishes the twin goals of maintaining stability of mission-critical systems of record and delivering the agility to rapidly provide modern, connected digital experiences.

To learn more about digital transformation in the 5G era, read “Attaining Agility and Beating Disruptors at Their Own Game,” and watch our new video about increasing agility and monetizing new business models.

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