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Inventory Management

  • 1.  Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 16, 2019 03:59
    Traditional Inventory Management powered by Oracle , Amdocs , Netcracker , Ericsson have been very long and combersome projects , majority of them with little declared success .

    The reasons for this has been multiple vendors in the telcos with inventory distributed all over by vendor , technology , domain , region.

    The core of blockchain is decentralised and immutable.

    Could this technology be the answer to telco's age old problem of inventory management.
    #Blockchain
    #ZeroTouchAutomation

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    thembinkosi ndebele
    MTN Group Limited
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  • 2.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 18, 2019 05:51

    Hi Hembinkosi Ndebele,

     

    Greetings from NMSWorks SW!

     

    You have made an interesting observation in which many OSS vendors have implemented with little success in implementing inventory related projects.  The key reason is multi-vendor and multi technology domains and integrating them together with accurate logical inventory is a challenge and many such projects have failed with many Telco's and your observation is correct.

    We have done some implementation with high success with Auto Discovery across a variety of multi-vendors and domains. The crux of the issue is getting the logical inventory for the Transmission network (Layer1) which is always a challenge. Once we have a clean and accurate inventory (across all layers) it will help in live fault monitoring and will help in quick provisioning and thereby efficient activation.

    We have done work on the above and have proven results. In my opinion using Blockchain is way to go for having an accurate inventory across all layers.

     

     Best regards,
    Arun Jacob



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    Arun Jacob
    NMSWorks Software Pvt. Ltd.
    www.nmsworks.co.in
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  • 3.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 19, 2019 05:54
    Hi -

    The use of block chain and decentralized inventory is an interesting idea.

    Based on probably too many years working in OSS area, my personal conclusion is that the key reason an inventory project succeeds or is "just okay" is commitment to clean data.   (Side bar I say "just okay" because the project rarely fails it is just sometimes decide its "good enough").

    The reality over time is if the effort is put into getting good data, the ongoing operations will help ensure the data remains good.  If a user of the finds an error, it tends to reported and fixed.  This leads to better data and trust in the data.  If the data quality is suspect, finding an error tends to lead to it not being reported or even if it is reported it may not be corrected (since fixing bad data is actually hard since it is usually many pieces of interconnected bad data).

    So its always people, process and systems.   In the case of inventory, people and process drive success much more than the inventory system technology.

    To end a story from a colleague that was working at a CLEC a few years ago.  They grew by acquisitions.  Inventory data quality was terrible.  Then they purchased some network from (a then existing) US Regional Bell Company.   The data was 99.9% consistent and sample tested at 100% correct.  Good data leads to better data!

    Regards,

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    Corey Clinger
    Ericsson
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  • 4.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 19, 2019 05:55
    One of the key problems with inventory management is getting to a normalised data set and establishing a key data point to link the myriad of systems together.

    This applies equally to on net as well as off net inventory. Off net inventory (leased circuits) for telecoms operators are renowned for being difficult to reconcile, as billing systems, supplier invoices, inventory, provisioning and cease processes are disparate / rarely linked.

    We have had significant success in standardising data sources using computer vision and natural language processing. Rules based modelling and machine learning can then be applied to the data to identify revenue opportunities (for live circuits that operators are paying for but customers are not being billed for) and cost savings (for circuits ceased by customers but not ceased with suppliers). Additionally processes can be automated to speed up the reconciliation process, using Optical Character Recognition and Robotic Process Automation.

    I'd be happy to have a conversation to share some insights on this area, where we have developed great capability.

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    Gareth Lyon
    NTT DATA CORPORATION
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  • 5.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 19, 2019 05:55
    ​Hi, in fact there are many cases of on time, on quality and on budget  inventory implementations, and from several vendors.

    In my humble opinion (after 20 years in this area) key success factors are:

    - clear purpose, scope and release management --> never forget the ultimate business goal and do not indulge in perfectionism;
    - modeling is not modelism --> data must be useful and valuable to run processes and create value and of course those data, accurately selected to be in our wanted inventory system, must be as accurate as possible;
    - do not over rely on network discovery. many have already commented about troubles and cost of it. the 2 cents I would feel valuable to add are:
    - discovery cannot replace well designed processes to ensure data quality and reliability, because not all data stored in the inventory system, which are relevant to business processes outcomes, can be discovered from network;
    - new technologies can for sure help identifying resource and service topologies, and their dynamics, to be documented in the inventory system, through AI/ML and Big Data (Data Driven Inventory Management).

    Last but not least I would suggest to not underestimate the role which inventory will have with NFV, 5G and network slice management; its capabilities shall be evolved but it will be still central for a full scale / carrier grade deployment of next virtualized networks and services.

    BR,
    Ferd.


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    ferdinando pagnotta
    Ericsson Inc.
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  • 6.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 20, 2019 09:28
    My two cents... It has been a while since I managed an inventory project, but one of the lessons I learned early on this space was that most companies treat inventory as a technology problem, when, at its core is mostly a people and processes challenge. No matter how flawless is the technology in place, if people don't use it appropriately is just a matter of time before it becomes so unreliable that, for the purpose of the business decisions that it is supposed to support, it is almost equivalent to not having an inventory at all.

    Blockchain could be seen as a tool to enforce procedure and create reliable traceability, after all, its core value proposition is to enable trusted interactions between untrusted parties, however, it is likely that if this level of enforcement is needed, the problem is not the tool or technology use it but the organizational structure and incentives of the stake holders to be conducive to the desired business outcome.

    Regards,

    Alfonso Miranda

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    Alfonso Miranda
    Bell Labs Consulting
    Alfonso.Miranda@Bell-Labs-Consulting.com
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  • 7.  RE: Inventory Management

    Posted 17 days ago
    I think you hit the nail on its head! I was also intrigued by the blockchain application in supply chain/inventory management area. I believe technology is only as good as the people deploying/using it.

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    Prabhuram Natarajan
    Comcast Corporation
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  • 8.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 21, 2019 03:39
    In my view, no. Blockchain has different goals and use cases to Network Inventory.
    If the challenge is cost/effort required, use appropriate open framework toolsets, and devops process. Vendors can be there at least initially - you do not need to look for big names necessarily, look for their knowledge of the problem area, and ability to deliver. The real issue is scaling inventory database, so my hint is to look away from RDBMS.
    If the challenge is lack of trust between actors, repudiation, and need to distribute (slice) the data, plus the need to keep full history of transactions, use blockchain.

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    Sergey [Last]
    Australia
    Senior Domain Architect
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  • 9.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 21, 2019 09:26
    ​Hi Thembinkosi / Et All,

    A very interesting discussion here and an interesting take on using "Blockchain". In its very core as Alfonso rightly pointed out its a "Habitual Change" and a change that needs to be Forced with into the behavior of the Ops teams. Like a popular quote goes "The world starts to make sense when you force it to".  Since Information is key we need strong enforcement.

    On an organization level, its key to have a strong OSS/BSS level with Strong API integrations between systems. Issue is that this is missing in most of the cases where data between "FAB" process is not in sync & are in silos.

    Are there any practical implementations of "Inventory" management anywhere done? Anyone with such experience?

    Regards
    Ram

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    Ram Prakash J
    Vodafone Group
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  • 10.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted Mar 21, 2019 10:23
    Hello Ram and All,

    Its good to have an accurate inventory tool with standard API support in integrating with any 3rd party systems. We have done large Inventory implementation with large telecom companies with greater accuracy and we strongly believe inventory is a foundation of an OSS tool which will enable a reliable Assurance system coupled with a seamless fulfilment reducing Go To Market Time enabling profitability. We can touch base to take this conversation further

    Best regards,
    Arun Jacob



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    Arun Jacob
    NMSWorks Software Pvt. Ltd.
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  • 11.  RE: Inventory Management

    Posted 19 days ago

    Hi All,

    Today, the socially-active customer is more conscious and demands well-sourced and authentic products. Therefore, the retailer has no other choice than improving the visibility of the movement of inventory from production to sale.

    The enhanced visibility across the entire retail supply chain can benefit all the stakeholders involved in the system.

    The blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the retail supply chains by managing the supply data, autonomous transactions and chain-of-custody information. The blockchain enabled system can help build trust among the retail supply chain stakeholders.

    check our article at LeewayHertz.

    This article puts light on why Blockchain is so important :-

    • Challenges in the retail industry 
    •  Implementation of Blockchain Technology in Retail Operations
    • Benefits of blockchain based retail solution
       



    Blockchain solving these problems. If you want to explore more about blockchain and development then visit my company website LeewayHertz.

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    Akash Takyar
    LeewayHertz
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  • 12.  RE: Inventory Management

    TM Forum Member
    Posted 18 days ago
    Hi

    Inventory and Accurate Inventory is key in all areas - Telecom Network, Retail, Fleet / Product movement, Manufacturing and others. We at NMSWorks takes care of Accuracy in Active Inventory for Telecom Operation in Real time with resultant accuracy in Service Assurance and Fulfillment w.r.to OSS/BSS.

    regards
    zain

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    ZAINUL ABIDEEN
    NMSWorks Software Pvt. Ltd.
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