#3 – Success will follow the brave who embrace the greenfield approach to BSS transformation

BSS transformation is a necessary, but also challenging endeavor for operators. The inherent difficulties associated with such a transformation have led many to prefer a step-by-step approach, which ultimately does not consider the holistic view and may even add to the complexity in the long run. To address these challenges and to maximize the impact on operational efficiency and customer experience, Northstream predicts a significant uptake in operators who take a greenfield approach to BSS in 2018. Those who successfully revolutionize their BSS will be in prime position to serve their customers and set themselves apart from the ones who continue with incremental change.


Through digitalization OpCos continuously seek to employ technology to provide the best customer experience and conduct their operations as efficiently as possible. A key area for such transformation is Business Support Systems (BSS). Over time, this has led to layers of legacy systems and processes, resulting in an increasingly complex IT-environment and fewer successful BSS transformation projects.

Many operator projects are initiated with lofty goals and optimistic timelines, but end up failing for various reasons. Some never reach an agreement with vendors, in other cases the scope is unclear or the agreement is unrealistic and renegotiated so many times that it no longer resembles the original vision. To manage the risks, operators often adopt a step-by-step “safety first” approach to BSS transformation that minimizes both the organizational and operational disruption. However, without a holistic view and the willingness to take difficult decisions, the benefits associated with the transformation are significantly reduced and in some cases even add to the complexity rather than reduce it.

There are operators who have attempted a greenfield approach to BSS transformation, with varying degrees of success. It is a challenging undertaking that requires C-level management ownership of the transformation (not just support), tight scope control and forming a true partnership with shared incentives among all stakeholders, including the supplier. When these success factors have been in place, our experience is that operators that have embraced the greenfield approach went through a far less painful journey and achieved the business goals quicker than those who are taking the step-by-step approach.

Even with the challenges, there are several successful cases of greenfield BSS transformations, such as Virgin Mobile in the UK and SALT in Switzerland. These initiatives had a strong vision of a greenfield methodology: biting the bullet once and transforming business and IT in one single step by building a target BSS (IT and business) and migrating the customer base in one go. Painful and complex as that can be, the results have been solid and the transformation goals have all been achieved.

In 2018, Northstream expects several large frontrunner operators will initiate or deliver greenfield BSS transformation projects that will significantly improve customer experience and operational efficiency. These projects will set a precedent that any operator can achieve similar results – but only if the factors for success described above are in place.

Of course, there will be both operators who take a step-by-step approach and those who take a greenfield approach, with successes and failures on both sides. However, we believe that the only ones who will realize significant efficiency improvements and deliver an improved customer experience will be those who take the greenfield approach.

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