Service Management (Fulfilment and Assurance) Consolidation Update

In previous articles I’ve reviewed the consolidation of the service fulfillment space amongst small and medium sized companies:

As a reminder on the definitions:

  • Service Fulfillment systems support processes that ensure service providers give requested services to customers in a timely and correct manner, so called Order-to-Cash cycle.
  • Service Assurance solutions monitor service performance based on the customer’s view, not the network manager’s view, based on defined key performance indicators (KPIs), key quality indicators (KQIs) and service-level agreements (SLAs).  These solutions help service providers connect network, service performance with the end-user experience, so called Customer-Assurance cycle.

Although Service Fulfillment and Service Assurance play complementary roles, there is a disconnect between these two functions in service providers’ infrastructure.  In my experience the actions of fulfillment can be responsible for some of the toughest service assurance issues, e.g. a USB modem would not work because the SIM was configured for the phone data service not the modem data service.  Fault finding took several days of technician’s time, when an integration between the fulfillment and assurance systems would have immediately highlighted the problem.  And given the increasingly real-time nature of service provisioning, it would appear a natural integration.

I’ve updated the Service Management Landscape to include the latest M&A action, as well as adding in some of the Service Assurance companies.  Service assurance is frequently grouped with probes and network assurance (an unfortunate legacy mindset from the days of when the network was the service); but my focus is on those companies that report on the status of a customer’s service.  This is a broad area, which is starting to include business intelligence, but again I’ve not included those companies in the list; rather those focused on services up to the level at which a customer experiences those services.

An interesting statistic is in the past couple of years as I’ve tracked this market over 50% of the companies have been acquired.  What’s particularly interesting is the acquisition of service assurance companies is by large network assurance suppliers, and for service fulfillment its the large CRM/billing suppliers.  So the divide between assurance and fulfillment looks set to continue for some time to the detriment of operators and their customers.