The Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (Etom): Introduction, Purpose And Benefits

The Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (Etom): Introduction, Purpose And Benefits

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The Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM): Introduction, Purpose and Benefits

The Telecommunication industry operates in a dynamic market where the key to success is adaptability with agility. In the traditional scenario, Telecom Service providers delivered end-to-end services to their customers. They used to control almost the entire value chain. However in the present liberalized marketplace, they now have to face challenges like stiffer competition, higher customer expectations, falling market share and growing price pressures. To respond to these challenges, Service providers have to go beyond self contained boundaries. They have to broaden their business relationship with suppliers, partners and customers and work out outsourcing arrangements. Even though the Service providers worldwide encounter different regulatory environments and have different strategies to stay relevant in the industry, they have similar needs, challenges, risks and struggles to remain profitable in the face of unprecedented churns in the market.

The increased complexities of competing in a deregulated environment led to identification of a clear need for the Telecom industry to define and understand its business processes in order to tackle the growing market pressures. The industry needed a standardized process view for suppliers and partners so that they can build enterprise systems that combine third party and in-house developments. To realize these needs, a framework or a model was required that focused on the business processes used, the linkages between processes, the identification of interfaces, and the use of Customer, Service, Resource, Supplier/Partner and other information by multiple processes.

Since the 1980s and ‘90s, Telecom companies used few models to express the system and functional requirements. Models like Telecommunications Management Network (TMN) and Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security Management (FCAPS) were the most popular. However these models were very network-centric. The need of the hour was a process driven and a customer centric framework. To address this need, Enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM) was developed by TeleManagement Forum (TM Forum), an international consortium of communications service providers and their suppliers.

The eTOM Business Process Framework serves as a model for categorizing all the business activities performed by the service provider. Each area of business activity is defined in form of process components which can be broken into different levels of detail. These process components can then be positioned within a model to show organizational, functional and other relationships. They can also be linked to process flows facilitating end-end modelling. The eTOM can be used as a blueprint for categorizing and standardizing the activities performed by the service provider.

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So it can act as a starting point for development and integration of Business and Operations Support Systems (BSS and OSS respectively). Service providers can consider it as a reference standard while redefining their business processes or while making working agreements with suppliers/partners.

The purpose of the eTOM is to set a vision for the industry on how to compete successfully by having an approach that takes into account the business processes involved. This includes ensuring integration among all vital enterprise support systems. Exploitation of information from every corner of the business has become essential for success in the future. We live in an e-business environment where automation has become vital for increasing revenues, reducing cost, enhancing productivity and managing the customer relationships in a much better manner. The eTOM business framework helps in end-end automation thus assisting e-business in the market.

According to TM Forum, the benefits of eTOM framework for service providers are immense. It serves as a foundation for the development of business processes. The eTOM framework gives a standard structure, terminology and a classification scheme for describing business processes and constituent components. It also provides a foundation for managing IT applications in terms of business process requirements. It helps in identifying areas for cost improvement, performance enhancement and reusability. Since eTOM framework facilitates standardization, off the shelf applications can be easily integrated without the need of much customization.

For Suppliers/Partners, it serves as an excellent marketing/sales tool as more and more service providers try to become eTOM compliant. The eTOM framework outlines potential boundaries of process solutions to align with the customer needs. It also highlights the required functions, inputs, and outputs that must be supported by process solutions. It helps in identifying different processes delivering same business functionality and thus helps to eliminate duplication. The eTOM framework also helps in revealing gaps, if any, and helps in reducing solution variances as well.

The range of benefits that eTOM offers to the industry has made it the most widely accepted business process architecture. It has been adopted by the International Telecommunications Union-Telecommunications (ITU-T) as an international recommendation. The framework has been continuously evaluated for improvements so that it stays appropriate in the changing market scenarios. It is on account of the above mentioned benefits that eTOM promises to be a great tool in hands of the industry to help it adapt to and compete successfully in the dynamic telecom market.

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