But that’s the way we’ve always done it!

Have you ever heard that phrase muttered in response to the question, “Why are we doing it this way?” If so, you are probably not alone. In fact, you may have even heard the “Five Monkeys and a Ladder” story, loosely based on social experiments with monkeys, that is used to emphasize the need to question the status quo and embrace new processes rather than holding tightly to existing ones just because they have always been there.

The wireless telecommunications industry is a fast-moving environment where technology changes rapidly. We have moved through 3 generations of wireless technology (2G, to 3G, to 4G) in about 1 human generation. And now, interest in 5G and actual vendor tests are already taking place (prior to any standards). There are other major catalysts for change as well: technologies like NFV, SDN and IoT are reshaping the telecommunications landscape as communication service providers evolve into digital service providers and embrace the new technologies that will accelerate their transitions. But are we embracing these changes everywhere?

As networks migrate to new technology or continue to grow in size and complexity, network management functions typically struggle to keep up. For the most part, operational focus has been centered on diagnostics—ensuring rapid problem detection and resolution. As a result, there have been great improvements in “break-fix” approaches and network availability metrics are at record levels. However, as is often the case, customer expectations are now much higher, and simply ensuring network availability is no longer enough. Services and personalized attention is the new mandate—it is all about the customer experience.

Why does this create a challenge for most operators? Because the existing tools that measure from the bottom up are extremely capable, but also very complex. The user has to be very knowledgeable about both the system they are working on and the capabilities of the tool in order to create value. These requirements significantly limit the size of the user group. Think tier-3 support and engineering.

What is needed? In order to deliver optimized customer experiences—more than just voice and text, but rich digital experiences—DSPs need to take a top-down, customer-focused approach. The goal of a top-down tool is to maintain the all the capability (drill down), but significantly reduce complexity for users. This significantly expands the user group (think tier-1 and -2) and more people are able to create value by using the system (marketing, sales). The built-in analytics of the top-down tool improves the ability to detect performance degradation as opposed to simply finding outages. The top-down approach also improves the efficiency of the highly technical expert who was using the bottom-up tool because most problems can be solved by others (shift left) and they can focus on the strategic problems that truly need their expertise.

New tools that expand the user base are typically readily adopted by new users. The more difficult part is to get the power user to embrace the top-down approach. There are 2 fundamental requirements in achieving this goal. The first and most critical is that, minimally, the capability of the top-down tool must be as good as or better than the bottom-up tool. This is essentially table stakes and there will never be adoption from the power user if this is not the case. The second requirement is to show the power user why the top-down tool is better for them. In this case, the reason is readily apparent. The top-down approach enables a significantly broader user base to drive value with the tools rather than being fully dependent on the power user’s high level of expertise in tool and technology. This focuses the power user on only the most difficult problems and makes them much more efficient and therefore more valuable. The benefits of the top-down analytics are easy to see for the company, but for the power user, the potential increase in their individual value can turn them from a naysayer to a proponent.

At Empirix, this fundamental shift from a bottom-up to a top-down tool is occurring as our customers evolve from using diagnostic-only tools (E-XMS) to solutions that provide customer experience assurance and deep diagnostic capabilities (IntelliSight and E-XMS). The intuitive nature of IntelliSight allows front line care, tier-1 NOC, marketing, and various quality and performance teams to get value that was previously difficult to obtain with diagnostic tools. Yet, since IntelliSight is fully integrated with E-XMS, 100% of the capabilities that core power users have come to depend upon are still available. It is truly the best of both worlds.

As the inevitable shift to the customer-focused, top-down approach continues, any resistance from the power user base should be met with a chorus of “Five Monkeys!” to remind them not to do things simply because that’s the way they have always been done. It’s time to embrace these new changes, and Empirix is here to help your organization accelerate its transformation.

Written by Ron Braun – Ron on LinkedIn | Posts by Ron
Ron is Empirix’s Customer Experience Assurance solution expert for the Americas. He has worked in the industry for approximately 20 years with most of that time spent at a Tier 1 Wireless provider. His extensive breadth of experience including Technology Development, System Engineering, Network Planning, Network Operations and RF Engineering give him the ability to provide valuable insights to an extensive user community. Over the last 8 years, Ron has been focused on improving how customer experience on the network is monitored, enabling Network Operations and Quality Assurance teams to keep pace with rapidly evolving technologies.