As we have seen in two previous blog posts it IS a prerequisite to automate the networks in order to enable innovative new offerings, business and services. Operators do have this insight, but as it often involves complex structures, all dependent on each other in various ways, the thought “should we do this? Can we do a total overhaul and go all-in in the process”, easily arises.
It is understandable that this creates a kind of paralysis, and a “wait-and-see” attitude easily wins. You know what you have, but not what you will get. The technicians, who are often busy keeping the networks up and running, raise their concerns and stall the process. Usually as a self-protective measure, but not seldom because they want to maintain their position as “the Masters of the Network”. Consequently the whole process easily comes to a halt.
However, we believe that the risk does not lie in the automation of the networks. The greatest risk is instead to continue to maintain time-consuming manual processes and allow competitors to get ahead with greatly improved profitability and innovation power as a result.
The key is to take into account the concerns that major changes raises and take small steps in the right direction instead of thinking massive overhaul projects. It is both possible and so much better to start “somewhere” than “nowhere”. But where to start then?
Step one is to start automating a small manual task in the chain of processes in a network. Such a task could be:
- A specific service, for example a corporate or private client service
- A part of the network, such as a geographic area
- A specific network layer, such as MPLS nodes, access switches or end-user equipment
- A specific function, such as the rollout of new hardware
Or perhaps a combination of several of these tasks: e.g. Automation of the access switch configuration for end-users in a particular city.
By working in a small scale initially and assisted by a solution that supports this approach, one can achieve a process where the steps with the greatest benefits and lowest complexity are automated first.
An incremental automation enables a network built on modularity, where the implementation of new services can be achieved much faster and more efficient. This facilitates for the marketing and sales department to come up with ideas for new services, which can quickly be realized by the technicians.
We believe that the technicians should minimize the time they spend on routine tasks. They should instead use their technical skills to defining the standardized components, which the sales organization can use to build their offerings upon. On top of that an automated network provides an opportunity to test new services ad-hoc to see which ones are appreciated by the end-customers.
Furthermore, the technicians can use their time to develop the network for the future – including quality, capacity, robustness needs, i.e. aspects that have an actual effect on the perceived quality by the end customers. And thus directly impact customer satisfaction and the ability to earn money on the networks.
Cutting costs and increasing productivity in the telecommunications industry are all about the same things as in other industries, namely automation. The road to more cost effective and innovative company starts with small steps. Take time for the conversion if needed, but the important message is to start now. And to think modular.