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“Service optimization tools” (SOTs) may provide a means for traditional OSS/BSS vendors to re-invigorate their efforts to gain traction in the cellular M2M market, in which they are currently regarded as playing “catch up”. The key idea is that SOTs form a layer between the M2M service delivery platforms (SDPs) that are either built in-house by the mobile network operator (MNO) or are acquired from third-party firms, such as Jasper Wireless, and the MNO’s core network. SDPs are a form of OSS/BSS tailored to the specific needs of M2M services, providing such tools as automated bulk provisioning and customer self-management of devices. However, specialist SDP vendors have largely taken the lead in this market, and the window of opportunity for traditional OSS/BSS vendors to win MNO partnership deals in the M2M space is rapidly drawing to a close.

These SOTs are typically being offered now by newer entrants to the M2M market, such as Evolving Systems, Bridgewater (recently acquired by Amdocs), and Tekelec and focus on specific functionality, as opposed to full SDPs. Examples of such tool functionality could be: ameliorating signaling load from large scale M2M deployment, dynamic SIM allocation, and virtualized identification. ABI Research believes this reflects a natural market maturation process, as well as an inflection point, which potentially could give the traditional OSS/BSS vendors a new opportunity to “catch up” to more established M2M SDP providers.
Fundamentally, as specific new “tools” come into the market to enhance management of M2M devices over cellular networks, it leads to MNOs re-opening opportunities for partnerships and relationships with platform and tool providers. Essentially, this can be thought of as entering into a new partnership with an MNO that already has an existing SDP by providing a new tool “underneath” the SDP to enable it to interact even more effectively with the MNO’s network, in a manner analogous to an M2M application platform vendor providing a platform “on top” of the SDP to enable it to work more effectively with application developers’ software.
Of course, this strategy necessitates that the OSS/BSS vendor actually possess such a tool to offer to the MNOs. It remains to be seen, however, whether the traditional OSS/BSS community will fully seize this chance to become relevant to MNOs for M2M connectivity.