The Path to Becoming an Agile Operator

By: Jesse Cryderman

To the outsider, telecommunications is typified by two things: acronyms and Y chromosomes. To the insider, there’s so much more. There are buzzwords, like CEM and cloud and Big Data. Each of these feeds into a tech trend that is shaping telecom and its future, but also forms the basis for a lot of marketing fluff. One word that matters more than ever and hasn’t been exploited— yet— is agility. We often talk about “accelerating innovation with new services” or ”faster time to market,” but what we really mean is the ability to move quickly and change directions easily. Hashtag: agility.

In today’s competitive climate, network operators must be more agile than ever to navigate the fast-changing digital services landscape. In the past, agility meant releasing a handful of new offerings from a cache of legacy capabilities on telecom timelines— every 12 to 18 months. It meant finding new ways to engage with a customer base with relatively static demands at well-defined end points.

Today, agility has taken on a whole new meaning. Operators must deliver new digital service offerings to nomadic users with fickle tastes on cloud timelines. It means the ability to trial an OTT video service in a new market to ascertain whether or not it can compete with the market leaders before a national roll-out. It means adopting Silicon Valley’s fail fast mentality and freemium service models. In fact, in a world where connectivity is becoming a commodity, agility is the new competitive differentiator.

There are many tools and strategies available on the market that can help operators become more agile, and truly compete with Google, Facebook, and Amazon. There are also some good examples from leading operators who exemplify agility. In the quest to become an agile operator, there are some best practices that can effectively guide companies through the transformation process.

Network agility

To reliably deliver complex products and services, operators have to optimize network performance and manage their infrastructure in real time – dealing with on-the-fly customer service changes flawlessly and immediately. It can be done, but operators must add new technologies like Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) into their infrastructures. These technologies enable real-time infrastructure network programmability, quick reassembly of virtualized network functionality and more efficient use of cloud resources.

At the same time, operators need an efficient, effective way to manage the resulting hybrid network of physical and virtual elements. This way they can smoothly migrate to a fully next generation infrastructure in the future, and quickly roll out and activate networks, today and in the future. A key element of this management is pervasive visibility— that is the ability to see into all elements of the network, applications, and services in real-time. As more and more services “go virtual,” and more and more functions migrate to the cloud, this becomes increasingly important.

Service agility

Operators must keep pace with the customer’s increasing demand for new, more innovative products. To personalize them according to customer wishes, and to launch and deliver them without service problems. They need to take a catalog-driven, component-based approach to product development and third-party collaboration. One that puts marketing – instead of IT – much more in control. This lets you securely expose your systems to more effectively collaborate with OTT players, content owners and other partners, expanding your service ecosystem and developing new business models. You’ll also want to turn up these services on demand with dynamic charging and billing for each user instance, whether for mobile services, IPTV, cloud, or any other service mash-up.


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