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TM Forum’s Catalyst program is always fertile ground for innovation and collaboration across the telecommunications solution and service provider ecosystem. The telco team at Microsoft is participating in four of the latest Catalyst projects that address a diverse set of compelling topics: an enhanced developer experience, gamified customer journeys through a dynamic partner ecosystem and marketplace, the acceleration of 5G site deployment and optimization during the rollout process, and municipal network 5G application requirements.

As described by TM Forum, Catalysts are rapid-fire proof-of-concept projects that bring together diverse groups of TM Forum members to innovate solutions to common challenges, leveraging key TM Forum best practices and standards to ensure scalability, reuse, and reduced costs and risk. Catalysts bring best practices and standards from collaboration programs to life in real-world scenarios to prove the value of these assets. The outputs of a Catalyst project include white papers, case studies, best practices, lessons learned, API specifications, models, frameworks, and reference code.

Organizations can have two distinct roles within a Catalyst:

  • Champions, who define the problem statement to be solved
  • Participants, who develop the solution in accordance with the Champions’ specifications

Here are the four Catalysts that Microsoft is currently contributing to, with descriptions of each project drawn from the overview pages you can visit at the links below.

Developer is king!

Champions: Globe Telecom, KDDI Research

In this Catalyst project, the perspective is shifted to the developers, who operators depend on to provide compelling applications for their customers. By addressing the needs of the developer ecosystem, including APIs, infrastructure, and business models, operators will benefit from a tremendous reduction in time-to-market and cost to introduce new applications. Further, operators could also attract developers to co-create compelling applications that are easily portable. This is particularly beneficial for operators who are running business operations in multiple geographies.

Ready Telco One: Gamified customer journeys enabled by a dynamic partner ecosystem and marketplace

Champions: KDDI Research, Ncell, Orange (Poland)

This Catalyst project demonstrates how communications service providers (CSPs) can continuously adapt offers to match the ever-changing services that consumers use daily. It shows how CSPs can become an integral part of their customers’ lifestyles, creating new revenue opportunities and benefiting from the rapid evolution of service verticals.

An Engagement Marketplace provides a platform to create dynamic, contextual service offers, enabling CSPs to combine 3rd party partner products and services with their own into versatile bundles that can be enriched with 5G network capabilities. Targeting and customer outreach is driven by AI-tools, giving CSPs and partners optimal and effective engagement with the customer base, taking into consideration audience profiles and contextual data including usage and channel interactions. A game-style user experience incites customers to unlock premium services and discounts, and improve their loyalty status, whilst experiencing an optimized AI-driven customer journey that continuously moves from phase to phase and from one outcome to the next.

Time crunching 5G RAN rollout with AI

Champion: Claro Columbia

5G presents new challenges for network executives (CTIOs, CTOs, engineering directors and managers) who will need to at least double capacity compared to 4G due to the cell densification required to reach coverage and market needs. Today’s roll-out methodologies frequently rely on manual processes, email-based communication, and isolated office tools. Digital solutions are required to accelerate efficient deployment, reduce CapEx, and avoid issues such as time-consuming meetings, repeated site visits, and the lack of clear, real-time oversight.

This Catalyst addresses four key use cases to address these challenges:

  1. Speed up site survey processes and automate network inventory resource reservation using mobile apps and images.
  2. Deploy augmented reality, machine learning, and analytics for image interpretation to accelerate site verification during the installation process, thereby reducing costs and repeated work.
  3. Implement robotic process automation (RPA), big data, and analytics to support closed-loop “over the air” processes, reducing manual work and time.
  4. Combine self-organizing networks (SON), single-site verification tools, machine learning, big data, and analytics to speed up the initial cluster tuning phase.

Smart networks for smart cities

Champion: City of Dublin, Ohio, USA

Cities that want to transform their digital future can’t justify the cost and disruption of replicating or modifying resources each time they deploy a new network solution. Existing networks typically don’t support the new requirements for high-bandwidth, ultra-reliable, and latency-sensitive use cases. Smart cities need agile networks capable of rapidly integrating new services with minimal operational complexity.

The smart networks for smart cities Catalyst demonstrates true digital transformation through an open network architecture with TM Forum APIs and an ecosystem of partners to deliver autonomous networking in an end-to-end connectivity service. It showcases an open IoT framework, virtualized applications, automated operations and orchestration between multiple resource domains. By supporting new 5G use cases, cities will enable better citizen services and economic opportunities for cities and new revenue opportunities for CSPs.

You can also register to watch live and on-demand presentations and demos of these and all other current Catalysts at the Catalyst Digital Showcase. The Showcase is a great way to learn more about these projects and to engage directly with the teams who worked together to bring these innovative new solutions and capabilities to bear.

Most importantly, we are always seeking to improve and develop more impactful Catalysts. So, if you do visit the Showcase, be sure to submit your vote for the TM Forum Digital Showcase Award (a.k.a., The People’s Choice). You can also provide feedback on the Surveys page at the Digital Showcase, and via the Survey links on the individual Catalyst pages.

Learn more about Intelligent Telecommunications to see how Microsoft and our extensive ecosystem of industry-leading partners have enabled transformational business outcomes for the likes of Vodafone, Telstra, du, Telia, and Deutsche Telekom.