The telco service management challenge: knock down those walls!

With today’s telcos needing to do more than just sell carriage services in the face of ever increasing competition, it is only logical that they move into selling their customers managed services and applications that complement traditional carriage services. In the consumer and small business customer segments this can be done quite easily. But in the Enterprise world, this can become a lot more complex – often resulting in a lot of duplication, higher costs and a poorer customer experience. All this at the very time that they need to be extracting better profits from new business and providing their customers with the best experience possible – in the face of more aggressive competition.
In many cases, the need to move into manage services is strategic move commercially, but a tactical one operationally. For many carriers, this lack of long term thinking about how they adapt their operating models to support non-traditional services not only creates immediate problems in terms of cost duplication, poor customer experience and limitations on scalability, but can create operational rigidity in the long term that get harder and harder to unwind.
These issues are often driven by a lack of understanding of many of the new platforms that support these new managed services. The result is that Operational teams will often establish dedicated teams with platform specific understanding to support the service offerings, resulting, in many cases, in the duplication of service management activities. The more managed services products, the more the duplication – resulting in a lot of dis-jointed processes, systems and tools.
Now this is all fine when customers buy one product or solution at a time… But when customers or the market starts to demand greater integration across product and solution sets, the underlying disparity in service management becomes a very visible problem. And the longer these problems go unaddressed, the much harder it is down the track to rectify the problem.
So how to fix the problem?
Knock down those service management walls!
As solutions converge more and more over time, having different service management approaches for different product sets becomes an anachronism. The need to have a more standardised approach to service management becomes critical. And this is more than just the use of some form of service management framework like ITIL. It requires a drive towards to standardisation of systems, processes and tools around that framework – including everything from how the service desk operates, to how customer and operational reporting are managed, through to the customer portal systems used. No more walled gardens to support each product individually. When it comes to service management, the product needs to fit the business, not the other way around.
The more consistency across products and solutions in terms of service management approach, the more successful a carrier will be in controlling costs. While there will be some efficiency in terms of systems and IT costs, the biggest savings from this approach will be around labour. Through standardising the way teams perform each activity, an organisation can reduce duplication across product offerings, and improve labour productivity.
But it’s not just about cost – a more standardised approach to service management can mean a much better experience for customers – through standardising customer portals, Service Levels and Help Desks, for example, across products and solutions, customers will have a much more consistent service experience.
A more horizontal (across products) approach to service management also makes it easier to bring products and solutions together to create new market offerings as they start with similar service attributes making integration less of a headache. Think of it like building a brick wall with bricks that are all the same size – the result is a more robust and resilient service offering.
Now while the above sounds all nice and lovely… to re-orientate a business to this approach can be quite a challenge – especially if the business has a large set of managed services, each with their own approach to service management. So we are certainly not saying that such a transformation is trivial – far from it – for many organisations, it may require wholesale changes to how they run their business.
In a future post, we will talk about some of the approaches we have seen organisations take in such a transformation – with varying degrees of success.
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