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Category Archives: Asset Assurance

Asset Assurance – Translating Visibility into Capital Savings

As one of the largest capital line items in every operator’s budget, Network Capital Expense continues to drive large numbers every year.  Re-purposing fixed line and backhaul assets, moving to complete IP backbones, migrations to newer technologies (e.g., LTE), and demanding more throughput from the same asset footprint have all contributed to consistent pressure on capital, regardless of previous years’ growths and efforts.

 

Each year, network capital planning and budgeting have repeatedly been baselined on factors that include:

  1. Growth planning and projections
  2. Network maintenance and replacements
  3. Decommissioning and retirement
  4. Previous year expenditures

Each of these factors contributes valuable intelligence that help planning activities determine and set budget levels, but critical gaps are also created in the process that strand capital indefinitely.  Gaining visibility into the available capital assets, and acting on that knowledge are the primary keys to actually preserving capital, creating peak utilization efficiency, and generating the highest level of free cash flow in the business.  But what aren’t operators doing today?

The ability to understand what capital is stranded in your network is based on visibility.  ERP systems consistently lack views into deployed assets; similarly, inventory platforms have a good (yet almost always incomplete) view into what is deployed.  What isn’t known are factors around capacity and utilization rates, lost or vacant assets, or status of all “tagged” assets.  This, coupled with a clearly orchestrated and managed retirement and resale process, positions the operator to not only “connect” data from ERP and Network sources, but to also act on that data in a way that is poised to saved the average operator tens of millions of dollars in capital expense and increase free cash, all in the first year of such a program.

Without the ability to act, no realization of optimization and savings should be expected from any program – this is the difference between mere reporting visibility, and a program to drive the data through a lifecycle that culminates in tremendous operators gains.  This is a unique set of capabilities for any operator, and it forms a program Subex calls ROC Asset Assurance.

Introducing ROC Asset Assurance

Your network has a story to tell you about wasteful Capex practices which are likely reducing your Return on Capital.   If you are like most Operators, you may not be listening.

Much of the Telecom Industry’s recent focus has been placed on CEM and related analytics.  Certainly, customer acquisition and retention programs are critical as these drive revenue.   Network augments and migrations to new technologies are an unavoidable “price to pay” and the lion’s share of management’s attention is placed on squeezing as much revenue traffic onto pipes and spectrum as possible.

Trouble is, EBITDA margins are being squeezed for reasons that I’m sure you are all too familiar with.  Amongst many Operators with whom Subex has spoken recently, there is a growing recognition that network costs must be better managed, but also a frustration that lack of visibility and insights undermine the ability to do so.

As I said, your network has a story to tell you—in fact, many stories.  What’s more, it will give you critical information that your ERP or Asset Tracking system simply can’t.  Without this information, your ability to optimize Capex throughout the asset lifecycle can be significantly eroded.

Can you answer:

Where are my assets?

ERPs are important for managing vendor relationships, driving supply chain process and tracking warehouse inventory. Once an asset leaves the warehouse, responsibility for tracking and managing the asset typically shifts to technical OSS’s (e.g. Network Inventory).  Data quality within technical OSS’s is notoriously poor.  As a result, assets can become stranded, under-utilized and/or lost.   Consequently, Operators spend Capex that could otherwise be avoided if existing assets were effectively harvested and redeployed.

 

The Asset Lifecycle and Relative Positioning of ERPs vs. Technical OSS

When are my assets generating returns?

A critical capital management objective is minimizing the cash-cash cycle.  This is the interval between paying cash to a vendor, and receiving cash from a customer once an asset becomes productive (i.e. carries revenue traffic).   Each extra day in the cycle increases your cost of capital.  Reducing the cycle requires that you know the answer to:

  • How much time elapsed from the purchase of an asset until deployment in the network?
  • How much time elapsed from deployment of the asset until it became productive?

Equipped with such time-to-value analytics, finance can better hold Network Operations accountable for any excessively long intervals.  Network Operations also has the actionable information it needs to identify and correct inefficient deployment and service delivery processes.

Where did my assets go?

A very common dysfunction is mismanagement of assets once they are decommissioned or retired.  Some assets remain powered but unproductive, contributing to excessive energy costs.  Others simply disappear (whether moved, shelved or pilfered) and are no longer available for re-provisioning or salvage.  A recent PwC survey found that “one half of wireline operators and over one-third of wireless operators indicated that less than 50% of their assets are currently catalogued and managed.”  Network Intelligence enables Operators to track movement of assets in the network and provides an early alert when an asset has been removed and does not reappear elsewhere.

What assets do I need?

A critical component of avoiding unnecessary Capex is having accurate and timely Network Intelligence to guide the budgeting, forecasting and planning process.  This is especially important for portions of the network which are most sensitive to traffic growth.  It is essential to monitor resource utilization and equip planners with metrics and trending to ensure assets are purchased when needed, where needed and for the right purpose.

Introducing ROC Asset Assurance

Drawing on our industry leadership in Data Integrity Management, Capacity Management, Network Discovery and Analytics, Subex is launching ROC Asset Assurance to harness Network Intelligence throughout the asset lifecycle and do for Asset Assurance what Subex has famously done for Revenue Assurance and other business optimization areas.   Look for more exciting details on ROC Asset Assurance in the days and weeks to come.

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