New technologies like 5G, plus constantly changing consumer demands, are forcing telecommunication service providers (TSPs) to create and rollout features faster and faster. For relatively recent applications developed with contemporary digital technologies, new features and functionalities can proceed relatively easily. But for legacy applications – typically commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems – rolling out new features can be a slow and tedious process which eventually results in slower rollout of new features to end customer.
Traditionally, TSPs have preferred COTS solutions for core business functions like billing, mediation, customer relationship management (CRM), order management, and others. COTS solutions, after all, are readily available, fulfill standard requirements, and, after their initial implementation, can be customized to serve an enterprise’s unique business requirements, thus reducing dependency on the solution vendor.
However, new feature releases will involve configuration changes. For example, a change in pricing plans or charge aggregation logics will necessitate a change in billing system; localized customizations could change the billing adaptor layer. This leads to problems in an environment where business demands are evolving rapidly, with many TSPs finding it difficult to keep their systems up to date. Moreover, creating multiple development environments to cater to multiple change cycles leads to additional maintenance headaches.
To work with customizations and configuration changes and still deliver production updates faster for a legacy COTS setup, Wipro recommends a comprehensive improvement strategy that is integrated with and centered around a fully automated continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline.
Understand the Landscape
Here’s a good first step toward understanding the scale and size of the problem of rolling out changes to COTS solutions: Analyze the enterprise’s landscape and existing methodology. Wipro’s experience in building solutions for the telecommunications domain has illuminated some of the potential challenges and their impacts, detailed in the chart below. These problems negatively impact productivity and hinder the business goal of faster features rollout.