Cyient Senior Principal Consultant Harish Lalapeth examines the challenges of delivering next-generation communication services to deliver a converged experience
The communication industry is experiencing headwinds of change. The new wave of technology convergence and digital disruption is challenging established value chains and operating models. Delivering next-generation communication services require communication service providers (CSPs) to build intelligent networks that can support converged experiences and leverage synchronised network inventory systems to best utilise network resources.
With smart connected devices expected to touch 2.9 billion units in 2017, CSPs are diversifying product offerings to monetize their network and drive growth. This means the new CSP business model must focus on 'first time right service provisioning to remain competitive and ensure sustained growth.
The one view paradigm: Challenges CSPs face in integrating physical and logical inventories
Closer and more flexible links between inventories help planning, delivery and resolution of network issues. This makes it important for CSPs to integrate their physical inventory (that provides ready for service (RFS) state of the network) with their logical inventory (that fulfils customer services) across data and business processes. However, network inventory synchronisation is fraught with challenges such as:
- Legacy technology systems that are incompatible with or have limited capability to provision next-generation converged services, hampering CSPs' ability to roll out new services quickly
- Multiple disparate inventory sources due to disjointed business processes, leading to high capital and operational expenses
- Lack of defined data ownership standards among business units, resulting in poor data integrity and giving rise to data security and privacy issues
- Data inconsistency stemming from the lack of operational synchronisation across business processes, leading to order fallouts and revenue loss from a longer service provisioning lifecycle or provisioning failures
- Inadequate change history management across network reconciliation processes, leading to discrepancies in data between physical and logical inventories
- Complexity in handling multiple data formats within the existing inventory ecosystem
Gaining holistic visibility into end-to-end business processes is, therefore, critical to accelerating time to market and strengthening next-gen service fulfilment.
Connected inventory: Transform from siloed, legacy services to seamless service provisioning
Connected inventory represents an integrated ecosystem where the operational aspects of physical and logical inventory are perfectly synchronised to offer a centralised view of businesses. Besides enabling agile and accurate decision making, it helps streamline business processes, compress service provisioning lifecycle and accelerate time to market for new value-added services.
An efficiently connected inventory solution should be based on a framework that addresses three critical areas - model, migrate and integrate. The first step should focus on modelling the physical and logical resources, leveraging modelling best practices and industry proven templates. Once modelling is completed, data migration from legacy systems to a connected inventory repository should be undertaken, taking care not to lose any critical service provisioning information in the process.
Finally, the physical and logical inventories should be integrated, leveraging the newly reconciled network information to orchestrate and synchronise data and business processes. Post integration, data quality checks and validation should also be made mandatory to ensure near 100% data accuracy.
Using the three-step framework can help businesses ensure efficient abstraction and easy reusability and extensibility of data, driving much-required flexibility and scalability in introducing personalised offerings for today's digitally-savvy customers.
At a time when 'customer experience' ranks as the single most important differentiator for businesses across industries, CSPs stand to benefit immensely from a connected inventory solution. It can help accelerate time to market with first-time-right service provisioning and improve service efficiency through synchronised data sharing, leading to the better orchestration of orders.
In addition, it can help optimise operational costs at every stage of the plan, build and operate life cycle, and lower total costs by leveraging prebuilt-artifacts. What's more, the solution can help minimise revenue leakage and enhance revenue assurance through inventory consolidation, data consistency and integrated workflows.
Preparing for a mobile future by building agile fulfilment capabilities
According to an Ericsson research report, between 2016 and 2022, the traffic generated by global smartphone usage, including data and voice, will increase ten-fold. This is hardly surprising, given the rapid rise in 4G networks, the proliferation of smartphones, and the availability of rich mobile content services. Almost every category of connected devices is expected to see robust growth in average monthly cellular data consumption by the year 2020.
Such unprecedented demand for mobile data services makes a compelling case for CSPs to adopt innovative ways to ensure efficient service provisioning to acquire new customers and retain existing ones.
With expanding product and service portfolios and intensifying competition from non-traditional entrants, it is also imperative for CSPs to establish an omnichannel presence. Implementing a connected inventory solution is the cornerstone of effective value creation. It helps build flexible, customizable and scalable service fulfillment systems that can meet current and future market demands, enabling CSPs to outperform the competition and ensure sustainable outcomes.
About the Author
Harish Lalapeth is a Senior Principal Consultant at Cyient. He heads the solutions group for communication technologies and operations. Lalapeth has over 23 years of experience in IT and communication industries. Currently working as a thought leader at Cyient, he helps global CSPs improve their operational efficiency by leveraging best practices and Cyient's proprietary solution frameworks. He has been a speaker at multiple forums such as CommunicAsia 2008, ET-ICT Vision 2009 in India, and South Asia Broadband Communications 2009 in Sri Lanka. Lalapeth holds a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Science.