Modernizing BSS Platforms: An AWS Q&A With Sean Casey

If telcos want to become more like tech companies (i.e., evolve into techcos), then they need to embrace tech methods of doing business. That includes adopting SaaS and AI, according to Sean Casey, CSG senior vice president of product management.

At MWC Barcelona, Sean sat down with Robbie Belson in the AWS Studio to discuss the journey of telcos to techcos. They explore:

    • How telcos can leverage AI and SaaS to modernize their BSS platforms and become more like tech companies
    • CSG’s product ideation journey, including how CSG and AWS built a product in just four weeks
    • Integrating generative AI (GenAI) into BSS solutions and the customer signals driving this change
    • Practical advice for telcos looking to embrace SaaS and move quickly to innovate and drive new experiences for their end customers

You can watch the interview below or scroll down further to read the conversation.

The transcript has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

LEVERAGING AI IN WAYS THAT DRIVE VALUE

 

Robbie Belson

We really want to unpack this journey, particularly as you integrated generative AI into your BSS solution. Let’s talk about the customer signals. Why now?

Sean Casey

Obviously, everyone’s talking about AI right now. Everyone’s trying to find use cases in which they can drive value to their end customers. So for us, it was a natural progression, considering how many customer touchpoints we have, to focus on GenAI and see how we can do some things that automate activities and drive additional value.

Robbie 

The opportunity here was to find ways to make more actionable recommendations to customers, right?

Sean 

That’s exactly right. Using AI we can actually act like a care representative that’s the best expert in the system, knows everything in the catalog, knows everything about the customer, and can have a conversation with that customer to make a recommendation. It’s really unique and compelling.

Robbie 

So you hear these customer signals, opportunity to integrate generative AI, and then what, AWS is a phone call away and then you started building?

Sean 

Pretty close to that, yeah. We heard from our AWS account rep, and they asked us if we could do a demonstration for Mobile World Congress. Turned around in four weeks and had the use case built out. Really cool, used a lot of different technologies. Amazon Bedrock, Sage Maker, machine learning (ML), GenAI, Amazon Lex for example, from a chat perspective. We were able to pull it together in four weeks and have a really cool use case to demonstrate.

Robbie 

I love the breadth and depth of services you leverage. What was the magic formula here?

Sean 

Really motivated developers when they get to work with really cool products and technology and a great company to partner with.

Robbie

It seems clear—services are something you clearly value, and being able to select the specific opportunity and technical feature that’s right for you. Are there cultural elements in cloud partners that you really look for as you build this out as well?

Sean

Oh, for sure. And that’s how we think about our customers as well. When you build a SaaS product, it’s about a relationship. You don’t just turn a software product on and disappear for the next four years. When you build a SaaS product, you want to help [your customer] grow their business, and that’s what we see in AWS. AWS is effectively a SaaS infrastructure provider with so much more now with the managed services that you guys provide. We have a great partnership because we’re continuing to innovate and invest with AWS, and you’re making things easy for us to do. We didn’t have to go build our own large language model. We could just plug into Bedrock and fire and move on.

AUTOMATING AND PERSONALIZING CUSTOMER TOUCHPOINTS

 

Robbie 

I’m sure it’s not only early days for leveraging generative AI not only in the context of Ascendon but across your entire product portfolio. Any early insights into what that might look like beyond Ascendon?

Sean 

We have so many customer touchpoints across our products. And every time that we’re thinking about a touchpoint with that customer, how do we make it more personal to them? How do we take something that a human has to do and actually automate it based on the years of learning that’s going into these large algorithms? We’re looking at things like Bill Explainer where we can actually walk a customer through a bill, explain the charges to them and any differences from month to month. Looking at operations—a lot of manual activities take place in operations today, where someone’s reading data and making a call. All of that can be automated through AI.

Robbie 

And as one such example you mentioned Bill Explainer. If I had a bill that had a data cap of say 15 GB, and I only consumed like 5 GB that month, I went to bed early every night. So you would make that recommendation to leverage a plan that best met my needs.

Sean 

That’s exactly right. If you think about that, a lot of our customers have people employed specifically for retention strategies, right? They’re working to build a retention strategy, and training specific care agents on how they execute on that. But a lot of times they’re evoking that when it’s too late. With AI, we can actually predict that early, have the conversation without any training at all and actually grow that lifetime value of that customer as a result.

THE JOURNEY TO CLOUD

 

Robbie 

So if you’re providing practical advice to telco customers who are looking to embrace software as a service for the first time, what might you share with them?

Sean 

Move now, move quickly, because the benefits are going to be there. You have to get there. If you look at it, that’s why technology companies have grown so fast, because they’re embracing those types of concepts. That’s allowing them to move fast and break stuff. On the telco side, [it has been] very slow to do that. If you start to embrace cloud and SaaS, you can operate more like a technology company. Becoming a techco, right? Which is a big trend we’ve seen here at Mobile World Congress. And help [our customers] actually move very, very quickly to innovate and drive new experiences to their end customer.

Robbie 

I feel like we’ve covered a lot here in just a few short minutes—exactly like the dev cycle required to build the generative AI experience in the first place!  Is there any question I didn’t ask that I should have?

Sean 

No, I mean, I just think for us, our journey to AWS has been really unique. We actually were running in a private data center in the United States. And we had a European customer and were looking at the cost to expand and run that. Fortuitously, I happened to be at a customer that had AWS presenting to them and I just said, Wow, this is going to change everything. So we cancelled our strategies to build out another private data center, ported straight to AWS. We were the first true cloud-native, multi-tenant SaaS solution from a BSS standpoint to be on AWS. And it’s been a great journey since. A lot of customer adoption, really seen a change in the minds of customers in the last three years as they’ve really started to embrace this, it’s a really exciting space for us to be in.

Start a Conversation of Your Own

Sean Casey and other CSG experts have plenty of advice for telcos on how they can evolve into techcos. We’re not just talking about the evolution, though—we’re helping CSPs do it, step by step with SaaS, AI and other capabilities. Take your next step.

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Modernizing BSS Platforms: An AWS Q&A With Sean Casey