Both Enterprises and Service Providers are attempting to find ways to handle increasingly complex technology environments. Better access to data and new tools to improve services and increase revenue are constantly being developed and adopted. While this is of course advantageous, it also creates a snarl of technology that is challenging to untangle.
The theme of finding sanity amidst all this complexity came up over and over again in the recent North American Service and Network Operators (SNO) meeting (a smaller conference within the larger Center for Information Technology and Architecture [CTIA] conference). The conference’s attendees were a powerful lot, consisting of service operators such as Time Warner, Bright House, Charter, Verizon Wireless, Yahoo, Google, Intelepeer and Century Link. The objective of the discussions was to foster open dialogue between colleagues/peers about some of the approaches they take to ensuring that customer experience is always platinum.
Phil Bronsdon, CTO of Intelepeer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of the tools his organizations uses to maintain high levels of service. They use a complex combination: several open source tools, some paid tools, some in house tools and some vendor-specific Network Element Management System (NEMS) tools. It was clear that while this works, there were challenges correlating the data received from those tools, as well as cultural challenges that needed to be addressed before the environment could become fully integrated.
Time Warner presented on the Knowledge Management role in the Network Operation Center (NOC). This forward-looking ideology involves moving tribal knowledge into a more usable format, and adopting appropriate platforms within the organization in order to make this process work. Knowledge Management is key to getting increased productivity out of the NOC. Coupling Knowledge Management platforms with Predictive Analytics tools seems like the next step in this process, as actionable interfaces become more prevalent with software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).
The day progressed right into my talk about monetizing services by moving NOCs to SOCs (Service Operation Centers). This is the logical move to make when you are working to improve service levels. With a SOC, business intelligence can be extrapolated from the user device/applications all the way to the services/applications being provided on the network. Some key benefits include:
- Increasing productivity from multiple groups across the organization
- Reduction in mean time to response (MTTR) and root cause analysis (RCA)
- OPEX reductions
- Over the top (OTT) revenue sharing
- Increasing the ease with which actionable information can be accessed
I’ve always taken a crawl, walk, run approach to large technological challenges. By traversing this somewhat conservative path, I find it’s easier to mitigate challenges and get ahead of any issues that might arise, handling them before they impact customers.
To be sure, the tremendous amount of data we now have access to are reshaping the way we conduct business, not just in the Service Providers space, but also in Enterprises. And this makes providing excellent customer service both more viable and more challenging. However, even in this crazily complex environment we are now dealing with, sanity can be found.