Remote working, along with other digital factors such as the growing popularity of professional gaming, have created a huge demand for superfast fiber broadband. So much so, that the US government has introduced President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill to ensure that all Americans have access to the Internet–an understandable move considering how intertwined access to the Internet is with economic prosperity.
The Infrastructure Bill is just one of the catalysts that has inspired action within the telecom sector. Another driver is consumers’ extremely high expectations. Operators must focus on providing the best service possible to consumers and they are on the clock. “What have you done for me lately?” is the consistent consumer sentiment.
"Organizations that choose a constant innovation approach can also regularly demonstrate ROI and use that as evidence to justify past and future investments. It is an approach that eliminates the risk of wasted resources present in “big bang” projects."
The approach telecom operators take to meet these demands will dictate who will be the long-term winners of this race. Naturally, many service providers are investing heavily in innovative, next-generation technology solutions. Research by McKinsey supports this approach and says, “the future will belong to companies that put technology at the center of their outlook, capabilities and leadership mandate”.1
However, investing in next generation technology should be viewed as only one piece of the puzzle to reach success. Companies must create a long-term innovation strategy that is made up of smaller incremental gains.
A more reasonable approach is to grow the physical network, WHILE decreasing time to revenue. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) can do this by innovating in a series of smaller gains that move the organization towards an overarching long-term goal. Along with decreasing time to revenue, this allows operators to demonstrate value on the journey towards their long-term goals.
A Better Blueprint
For optimal success, telecom organizations should view innovation as the product of a rolling deployment of technology. The best way to do this is to identify an area of the business that is currently feeling the greatest pain point. For example, if an organization is finding inefficiencies with field crew and contractors, it could start by deploying a new mobile solution for construction. If successful, the same technology could then be incrementally rolled out to other areas of the business.
Approaching a project in this manner gives organizations the opportunity to evaluate their solution, slowly refining it with each new deployment, thus creating a personalized “blueprint''. Since the life cycle of a business is interconnected, it’s important to ensure that foundations built can be used across different operational areas of the business.
Adopting an incremental gains approach also allows organizations to assess suppliers rapidly, as output and impact of solutions can be measured early on in a partnership.
Incremental Innovation Approach
Organizations that choose a constant innovation approach can also regularly demonstrate ROI and use that as evidence to justify past and future investments. It is an approach that eliminates the risk of wasted resources present in “big bang” projects.
Network operators need to be able to look back in a year's time and see the progress the business has made and also the impact it is having on customers and revenue.
The City of Westerville, in Ohio, is an exemplary organization when it comes to using an incremental innovation approach. As a municipality that owns its own data center and fiber network, they serve residential users and businesses, attracting large companies with affordable, high-performance broadband.
The city has ambitious growth plans and are consistently upgrading their technology to improve network reliability and support new services. Examples include the deployment of network troubleshooting that rapidly identifies the location of fiber faults, speeding repair with greater field crew efficiency. They have also rolled out fiber planning and development tools to optimize the use of expensive fiber resources and are continually streamlining their recordkeeping process, enabling field technicians to capture network status anywhere in the field on mobile devices. The Westerville team’s philosophy of constant technology innovation is delivering better services to their customers, consistent operational improvements, and impressive cost savings.
Another way they are demonstrating incremental success is by moving away from paper maps and towards digital solutions that can run online and offline, thus maximizing availability. Using digital solutions allows operators to integrate data across all areas of the business, which in turn creates a holistic overview of increasingly complex network assets.
Maximizing overview of complex assets means that network changes can be visualized clearly and managed effectively. Over time, operators can build on success by innovating in other areas, continually evolving to match customer and business needs. In that way, organizations will be able to demonstrate regular, tangible progress that can help them increase market share and profit.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wade Anderson is Vice President of IQGeo. He is responsible for the sales and support of IQGeo’s OSPInsight software that provides a fiber network management solution to ISPs, governments, and corporate operators. He joined IQGeo after a senior product manager role at Microsoft, and CTO at a technology startup. Wade has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Computer Science degree from Brigham Young University. For more information, visit www.iqgeo.com and www.ospinsight.com. Follow them on Twitter @IQGeo_software and LinkedIn @IQGEO.