13 August, 2020

6 major features to look for in a telecom product catalog management system

By: Omar Abdul-Hafiz

What is the first thing that catches your attention when you set down at a comfy table in a fancy restaurant? Is it the silky table cloth? That big beautiful chandelier in the middle of the dining hall? Perhaps. Yet despite the importance of these items and the beauty and prestige they bring to the place, there is something more essential than all of these things. It’s the menu. 

Naturally, the menu is the most vital element in any decent restaurant. Being the primary interface that presents the restaurant’s products to the customer, creating and perfecting the menu is an essential process. It needs to be consistent and appealing so that it intrigues customers’ appetite.

In telecom, much like in the world of restaurants, the product Catalog serves a similar purpose. It is the menu that presents a telecom company’s latest products to its customers. 

Yet in telecom, the concept of a product catalogue is much more complicated than a simple restaurant menu. This definitely has to do with the more complex nature of telecom products and services. And this challenge is expected to grow even more intense with the emergence of 5G and the spread of trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Digital Well-being.

For these reasons, your Product Catalog system should also grow steadily in order to keep pace with the new emerging trends in the telecom world. 

From the value chain to the value fabric

There’s been a traditional concept used to describe the sequence of activities an organization performs in order to deliver a valuable product or service for the market. This concept is known as the value chain. And the problem with this concept is that it suggests that value moves in a linear fashion where value is accumulated from one step to the other until we have a final product or service that is ready to be launched to the public.
This concept, however, falls short in explaining the broader picture within the telecom world where a certain product or service may involve a combination of elements assembled from many sources coming through various directions. For instance, selling an Internet connection to a customer involves multiple things. It involves providing them with a router, an active SIM card, a bandwidth, and so on. Moreover, it may also require a team of technicians to visit the customer’s location to physically install the hardware necessary for this service to be activated.

We can already see, therefore, that the telecom world develops extremely fast and new products and trends emerge a highly speedy rate. Moreover, the “supply fabric” where all the components that constitute a certain product or service are coming from is getting more and more intertwined and complicated. These factors, in turn, make it of the utmost importance to follow a catalogue-driven approach to creating and delivering telecom products and services. And to achieve this, you need to have a Product Catalog system that is dynamic and flexible enough to accommodate all your business and customer demands.

So, what constitutes a good Product Catalog system?

Here’s a brief list of important features to look for when choosing a Product Catalog management system that suits your telecom business.

TM Forum Compliance

Open APIs; these are comprised of two parts: Catalogue-order integration, and catalogue-catalogue integration.

1. Catalog-order integration 

Integration with order management systems (OMS) is essential in the communications industry. CSPs need to be able to provide their customers and fulfil their orders with the products being offered through their commercial product catalogue. Moreover, it is often the case that a CSP will have their OMS from a different vendor than their product catalogue system, hence the need to use standard Open APIs for easy integration between systems of different suppliers.

2. Catalogue-catalogue integration

To provide competitive products, CSPs need to work with other providers in their value fabric to provide products and services that customers want. This type of complex product creation is made possible by catalogue-to-catalogue integrations among service providers. For this to work efficiently, the product catalogue system at each end needs to implement Open APIs standards for seamless integration of catalogues and their respective products, product components, and product elements.
One of the most important features of a good software system, regardless of what it is, is its adherence to international standards. And this fact cannot be emphasized enough especially within the telecom sector. 

With this in mind, it’s important to choose a Product Catalog management system that abides by international standards for telecom systems, most notably those put forth by the TM Forum.

Dynamic templating and versioning

A good Product Catalog allows you to create dynamic characteristic specifications (templates) and populate them with attributes. These templates can later be used, and reused, for creating different types of products and services with ease.

Additionally, a good Product Catalog system naturally comes with full version capabilities. This enables you to version each characteristic (version) of an item independently without affecting the old characteristic versions. 

Component re-usability

Products in telecom are made up of various parts or components. For this reason, one of the most significant features a decent Product Catalog management system must provide is the ability to build new products and services out of old ones. It should allow product managers and business professionals to re-assemble dynamic components in order to create new items that meet customers’ demands with ease and flexibility.

Market segmentation

It’s a trivial fact that not all your customers are the same. They came from different walks of life, varying age groups, and so on, and therefore have varying needs and preferences. For that reason, it is important to divide your intended customers into separate segments and to target them with products and services that cater to the needs of each segment separately.

A good Product Catalog system, therefore, should facilitate market segmentation so you can present your products and services to the targeted customers by dividing them into sub-groups. These sub-groups can be created according to different criteria such as plan usage, demographics, location, and so on.

Pricing scheme flexibility

No less important than creating dynamic product templates is the ability to create flexible and dynamic pricing schemes for these products and services. These schemes should take into consideration a number of factors such as the nature of the product or service in question, the income level of the targeted customer segment(s), taxation, and discounts. Following that, the system should enable you to reflect these details on the Master Rate Plan either on the component-level or on the product offering as a whole. Creating and storing price books for a product or a range of products is another important aspect of handling product pricing. Price books can be used for a certain customer segment or be utilized by a business partner or a group or type of partners. This is particularly useful when integrating your product catalogue with your business partners such as resellers.

Omni-channel support

A highly customer-centric Product Management system should also allow for an omnichannel approach of displaying your variety of product and service offerings. And what this means is that it allows you to display multiple Catalogs simultaneously through all channels, thus giving your customers the freedom to reach and purchase a variety of products through the channel of their preference.

For more information, check out ESKA Product Catalog, ESKADENIA’s powerful TM Forum Compliant product catalogue management system.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About ESKADENIA Software

ESKADENIA® Software is a three-time MENA Award Winner & CMMI® level 3 certified company that is active in the design, development and deployment of a range of software products in the Telecom, Insurance, Enterprise, Education, Healthcare, and Internet application areas. The company is based in Jordan and has sales activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; more than 85% of its sales are exported to the global market. For more information, visit, or contact us at