Reduce Network Angst and Improve Customer Delight By Leveraging Intelligent Asset Management Strategies
Recent breakthroughs in technology have created myriad opportunities for telcos. Not just to modernize and enhance their existing offerings, but also to deploy new products and services that keep pace with the evolving needs of consumers and businesses.
These market forces have compelled telcos to deploy and provision a significant stack of costly network assets while wrestling with a range of external factors that include workforce shortages, talent gaps, and supply-chain disruption. Meanwhile, they must not lose sight of targets that include growing revenues and shareholder value, demonstrating resilient business growth, and maximizing customer satisfaction.
The rush to perfect and deploy the latest network technology in the field has compelled operators to make smart CAPEX investments to stay competitive. Currently, telcos around the world are in a race to deploy mass-market 5G—the crucial wireless network infrastructure with potential speeds of up to 100X those of 4G. Clearly, it provides the foundation for tomorrow’s always-on digital economy by enabling new business models and services.
“Hindering their ability to meet deadlines on time and on budget is a patchwork quilt of modern and legacy systems. No operator can afford to sunset their legacy systems and rebuild from scratch. Rather, they must turn to innovation and specialized technology to integrate the old with the new.”
Integrating Old and New
There is immense pressure on telcos to compete by delivering a real-time service experience that meets the expectations of today’s consumers. You may have noticed technical crews installing the latest fiber optic cable in your neighborhood. The surge in demand for broadband services that accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic forced telcos into a continuous cycle of network capacity expansion to meet the growing demand for video conferencing and digital content from bandwidth-hungry, home-bound workers and consumers alike (think Netflix, online gaming, and Apple FaceTime).
But it’s not just what is being deployed; it’s where the deployments are taking place and the type of infrastructure that is also changing. The rollout of 5G requires many more transmitters in the form of small cell technology, which, unlike their 3/4G predecessors, are highly concentrated with much greater density (using multiple-input and multiple-output, or MIMO, antennas) in urban settings.
“Implementing a rigorous maintenance strategy with supporting systems can protect against unplanned outages that create major problems for asset owners and operators—and can lead to regulatory intervention, penalties, and even fines.”
Once deployed, along with a much greater software component, these assets require continual management and monitoring to optimize performance and ensure resilience. Powerful tools have emerged to deliver reliability-centered maintenance, preventive maintenance, workforce management, capital project management, overall equipment efficiency and mobility.
While many telcos are successfully mastering these new technologies and solutions, it is often their back-end systems that struggle to keep pace with the furious cycle of innovation. Hindering their ability to meet deadlines on time and on budget is a patchwork quilt of modern and legacy systems. No operator can afford to sunset their legacy systems and rebuild from scratch. Rather, they must turn to innovation and specialized technology to integrate the old with the new.
Key Operational Drivers
As operators ramp up their network upgrades and rollouts, they should aim for these key performance indicators:
- Maximize asset uptime and minimize outages (in other words, asset performance management or APM). As new network assets are deployed, the need for these assets to perform reliably and safely becomes paramount. Implementing a rigorous maintenance strategy with supporting systems can protect against unplanned outages that create major problems for asset owners and operators—and can lead to regulatory intervention, penalties, and even fines.
- Tightly manage maintenance budgets to increase margins. Managing a maintenance budget too loosely can lead to margin erosion across the entire enterprise due to the high cost of unplanned machine replacement and third-party technical assistance. Other factors such as inefficient maintenance employee utilization and costly spare parts management can also quickly consume an annual maintenance budget, which then impacts the business operations budget and the bottom line.
- Implement robust ROI oversight when investing in new equipment (asset investment planning, or AIP). One of the key considerations when investing in new equipment is to ensure that the new asset is operated in accordance with the OEM’s warranty. Considerable savings can be made through stringent management of warranties and implementing tools that measure the ROI of replacing any fleet asset.
- Maximize control and visibility of project delivery across the entire value chain. Look for ways to harmonize or integrate the various tools used to manage the many stages of a project—tendering, commercial, estimating, engineering, procurement, manufacturing and fabrication, planning, cost control, construction, installation, and commissioning.
“These market forces have compelled telcos to deploy and provision a significant stack of costly network assets while wrestling with a range of external factors that include workforce shortages, talent gaps, and supply-chain disruption.”
The Pressure to “Delight”
As they work to transform their asset management, telcos should look to other parts of their business for inspiration. Take customer service, for example, which has been transformed by technology catering to the needs of today’s demanding consumers, who expect to communicate with telcos using their chosen channel and at a time that’s convenient for them.
One of the ways for telcos to manage these processes is by leveraging the same technologies that have been used to great effect in customer service—artificial intelligence and machine learning. By using smart, automated workflows and real-time data, operators can offer intelligence-powered self-service appointment booking and send automated reminders along with key information such as the technician’s name, estimated arrival time (ETA), and even the ability to track (much as one would an Uber), cancel or reschedule to improve the customer’s experience.
By eliminating operational silos and creating unified field asset management systems, operators can more quickly attain their efficiency, productivity, and sustainability targets. And, more importantly, they will be better positioned to deliver moments of service that delight their customers.