It was seemingly no secret that Ericsson and WeDo work together but a recent press release states the two firms will “partner in business assurance” and that their “new solution will enable near (sic) real-time response to the risks with highest impact”.
The announcement emphasizes that WeDo’s RAID software will be combined with Ericsson’s ‘Risk and Business Assurance services’. This revelation is underwhelming; we have to guess what the combination will mean in practice. The likeliest answer is that telcos will buy software made by WeDo but they will be helped to implement it by Ericsson employees. And if you think I should be more sparing with using quote marks to signify occasions when I doubt the meaning of what is written, check out this part of the press release:
…operators will be able to leverage on a unique value proposition delivered by the solution that is based on a “financial benefit first” (sic) approach.
Pardon? What exactly is a “financial benefit first” approach? Maybe it is unique, but that claim would be more interesting if somebody stated what was unique about the proposition without using quote marks to explain themselves. The next part of the press release does not elaborate.
It will address a wide range of risks related to key business and operational processes across operator domains, such as product, customer and partner management, order management and provisioning, as well as QoS/experience driven billing and partner settlement. This drives focus and actions towards the use cases that affect digital revenue streams and margins the most.
Somebody swallowed a telecoms marketing textbook and these are the words they regurgitated. The reader should be led to the intended conclusion but this blizzard of words left me pointing in many different directions without telling me which way is forward. I think the two businesses were trying to say their product and/or service is good at prioritizing stuff. But they do not say how it prioritizes stuff, or what stuff is getting prioritized. It is ironic that a promise to ‘drive focus’ towards the ‘most’ important of a ‘wide range of risks’ has failed to explain which risks are most important or how this can be determined.
However, there was one concrete promise in the announcement:
The solution also comes pre-integrated with Ericsson OSS/BSS and is powered with proven methodology and assets that deliver on digital ready controls and corrective action accelerators to assure revenue streams from day one.
Ericsson will sell WeDo’s software, having already ensured it works with Ericsson’s OSS/BSS systems. That probably is a good way to increase revenues for both firms, but I am not sure if it is a healthy sign for the business assurance market. Selling business assurance as an add-on to OSS/BSS implies a lack of confidence in the value generated by the business assurance part of the equation. Assurance systems check OSS/BSS systems. Does it make sense to buy them as a package? I have previously argued that some customers will object to the pre-integration of assurance software on principle. Rather than reducing risks, they may decide that a cosy relationship between the thing that does the checking and the thing that is being checked would be an additional source of risk. In short, how does the customer know the assurance tool is not ‘pre-integrated’ to ignore known issues with the OSS/BSS systems?
Internal company politics may also obstruct pre-integrated business assurance solutions. Suppose I work for a little-respected, under-funded, badly-treated business assurance department (there are many of those). I probably struggle for attention and respect when I find things wrong with the big OSS/BSS systems run by departments with bigger budgets than mine. Would I be glad to have my team using a new assurance system supplied by the same business that is already biased towards the needs and interests of those bigger departments? Using the same vendor diminishes my political leverage instead of enhancing it.
Though the words are grand, this was not a good press release by Ericsson and WeDo, and they will run into trouble if they do not sharpen their message. I worked in telcos long enough to know how hard it can be to explain the merits of business assurance to somebody unfamiliar with the concept. Some people succeeded by lying and exaggerating. Others just used metaphors and wooly words in the hope that a bewildered listener might agree without understanding what they had agreed to. Speaking in plain language and being truthful is the hardest choice, but it is also the easiest option if you want to be consistent over time. I assume Ericsson and WeDo intend for their partnership to last. If so, they should move on from this press release and refocus on constructing a new message that might work.
Maybe this is proof of my stupidity, but I prefer simple language that states: who does what; what things do; and why the rest of us should care. When I worked inside telcos I had to sell myself to a skeptical audience every day. It would be impossible to survive without applying the mirror image of that skepticism to the businesses that sold things to me. It is early enough in the marriage of Ericsson and WeDo for them to sit down as partners and to hammer out important details that explain to customers what is supposed to be unique and compelling about their combination of business assurance products and services. But they have not done so yet, and they should not expect much patience from experienced practitioners working in this field.