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AI-Based TM Forum Innovation Pioneer Project

Maximizing the value of TM Forum assets using AI and machine-readable models

June 11, 2024

The TM Forum is a global industry association for telecommunications and digital service providers. It provides a collaborative platform where members can work together to solve complex industry challenges, drive innovation, and create new business opportunities. Members of the TM Forum include Communication Service Providers (CSPs), technology suppliers and Integrators (like Levio) to form an 800+ member organization. The TM Forum's work is crucial in helping the telecommunications industry innovate, adapt to rapid technological changes and manage customer expectations.

The Innovation Pioneer Project Collaborators

The Pioneer Innovation Project at DTW24, led by Levio, with the support of TM Forum and CSPs members (Champions) including Bell Canada, BT, Zayo, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Crown Castle, Ethio Telecom and with the support Concertia Technologies, and Evergent Technologies (non-CSPs), joined forces to transform static TM Forum assets into machine-readable format to make them easily consumable by any type of projects such as digital transformation. Because this project targets all the TM Forum, anecdotally, there are more CSP champions than non-CSPs participating.

The Challenge: The Breath and Value of TM Forum Assets are Constrained by the Time and Effort Needed to Process Them

TM Forum assets in their current state require a significant investment in time and effort to extract some value due to the number of documents required to absorb before reaching an understanding of their scope. Often, CSP teams focus on one asset (like Open APIs) within an asset and are adding knowledge as they find out other related documents.

This is further complexed by the absence of relationships and links between documents, thus making it increasingly difficult to leverage industry best practices, making changes, and sharing improvements. Since the documents are not in a machine-readable model, trying to link their own assets and build relationships is almost impossible.

The result is the equivalent of trying to understand a whole puzzle by looking at just one piece. The perspective one gets is only a small part of the full solution. In this context, the puzzle is a metaphor for the Enterprise, symbolizing its complex nature, with various interconnected parts representing different pieces of a whole.

Members also experience further limitations as the asset contribution process restricts multiple members from simultaneously proposing changes to assets.

The Objective: Utilize Document GB921E using Business Process Management Notation Processes

To identify and improve relationships, the project leveraged the existing TM Forum assets eTom, TAM SID, ODA (Open Digital Architecture) Functional Framework, open APIs, and metrics, using Machine Learning and AI, to deliver a machine-readable based model based on industry standards like Archmate, TOGAF and Business Process Management Notation (BPMN).

The project team performed an impact analysis using BPMN on one of the examples in the document GB921E. The “Order to payment” process was selected.

This process simulation was done using the “generic” “Order to payment” TM Forum process as documented in the GB921 document.

To demonstrate how the Business Process Simulation could be applied in the Enterprise, the team used a fictional company called “Eurocom.” Eurocom is a B2B company offering wireless antennas to CSPs in multiple countries across Europe.

The “Order to payment” business process was simulated using the base of the current Eurocom “Order to payment” process. Three scenarios were developed to find out which is the best to support the business objectives. This Eurocom “Order to payment” process was linked to similar TM Forum business process level 3 from eTOM showing how it is possible to maintain the link with industry best practices.

By using the “Order to payment” process using BPMN and the impact analysis, the project could detail how members can take advantage of this foundation to create machine readable models with their own assets while maintaining a link with TM Forum assets.

Since every enterprise is different, a maturity model was developed to define the appropriate adoption roadmap. This roadmap aligns the maturity level of each enterprise concerning their architecture modeling and MODA adoption, identifying the entry point for using ODA-as-a-model in the enterprise.

The Solution: Apply AI and Machine-Readable Models to Improve TM Forum Asset Utilization

The solution proposed by the project team was to develop a series of assets to demonstrate the value of using a machine-readable model to help solve business problems.

Assets created during the project.

The initial work done by the MODA project was used as the foundation of the Pioneer Innovation project. This project ingested and classified the TM Forum assets and generated them automatically when an updated version needed to be published to members. This project done previously was for TM Forum internal use only.

The Pioneer Innovation Project pushed the envelope even further with the creation of 6 distinctive use cases which target all TM Forum members. Here is the list of the Use Cases.

  1. Using machine learning and AI to identify relationships between all TM Forum assets. The project was able to identify over 28,000 relationships. Since the machine learning and AI are still prone to errors, over 1,200 relationships were manually validated in the time span of 6 weeks. More information
  2. The Business Process Simulation was created for the fictional Eurocom company to demonstrate simulation of business processes to manage risks and aid in decision-making. More information
  3. The traceability and impact analysis use case that was demonstrated between TM Forum and Eurocom assets which performed a comprehensive impact analysis across models. More information
  4. The open API creation and management was done to generate customized versions of APIs directly from the organizational model, enhancing integration and functionality. More information
  5. The reusable asset service was demonstrated to leverage the Industry Model through a standardized interface and to maintain continuous updates and enable contributions back to TM Forum. More information
  6. The ODA Maturity Model will provide a tailored roadmap with actionable steps to enhance these areas, leading to more efficient processes, better decision-making, and ultimately, a higher level of maturity. More information

Benefits and Outcomes: TM Forum ODA-as-a-Model Tool, and Understanding Relationships to Lower Time to Value

Benefits of the TM Forum ODA-as-a-Model Tool

The benefits of applying AI and machine-readable models are numerous and include:

  • A simplified search to identify and analyze each asset, including a deeper understanding of the relationship between each asset based on the TM Forum meta model
  • Creation of consistent process flows
  • Transformation of business processes, data models, applications, open APIs beginning from a platform independent model to a specialized model to define solutions
  • Execution of simulation / real world scenarios to improve decision making and strategy development
  • Generation of code to ensure consistency from design to execution
  • Production of documentation directly from design
  • Clarity on how to link TM Forum assets to enterprise assets
  • A clear use case of how to use ODA-as-a-model to members to accelerate the creation of their own Enterprise model

The outcomes of the Innovation Pioneer Project include greater visibility of TM Forum assets, time reduction and speed of market. In our project, our outcomes measured were as follows:

  • 50% increase adoption of TM Forum assets by members
  • Reducing time required to leverage TM Forum assets from months to days
  • 50% increase in member contribution to TM Forum assets
  • Reducing time required managing and opening APIs from weeks to days
  • 12% reduction in total project delivery time
  • 40% decrease in time to market

In a collaborative effort, we see our Innovation Pioneer Project as a success and are eager to highlight it at DTW24. However, the full capability of the ODA-as-a-model is realized when TM Forum asset relationships are combined with the knowledge and needs of the Telco industry.