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Category Archives: Network Management

Smart Performance Indicators — Redefining the KPIs

What is measured, is managed. Are you measuring the right metrics?

While driving, most of us would want to reach our destinations on time. An unexpected congestion on the way can easily turn a nice Friday evening into a frustrating start to the weekend. As the world progressed, it changed a lot the way we planned our journeys. Instead of going with the route that we took yesterday; we listened to the traffic updates on radio, kept ourselves updated with any special events around, based on the evening plans we tried to estimate our start time etc. Sounds better than driving with nothing but rear-view mirror & front view, but still too many things to monitor. Then came the Google Maps — one stop solution to get accurate real-time updates based on multiple data sources, scenario planning capability based on different available options & routes. You are still on the driving seat, but you have all the means to make the right decision. Friday evenings are no more frustrating.

This got me thinking – in our work, aren’t we too trying to reach our destinations — in terms of performance, goals & objectives — on-time every day, every quarter, every year? Having worked at two of the largest Telcos in the world, I thought that the performance management systems, in their current form today, need smarter metrics than just measuring what is easy. On their road to 5G and future technologies, Telcos would need something as smart as Google Maps to guide them to their destination.

With this idea and a small team of talented software engineers & data scientists, we have built — what we like to call it — a machine learning based Smart Performance Indicator framework. Using some of the multi-variate principal component analysis techniques, this framework creates meaningful Smart Performance Indicators out of the available metrics.

Telcos today are sitting on enormous amount of data and measuring thousands of KPIs but –

  • Are they measuring the right metrics?
  • Are they combining several metrics and analyzing their correlations & causations instead of just looking at some simple metrics?
  • They are surely measuring the past performance and comparing it with today’s, but are they looking ahead?
  • Instead of looking at the current values, are they looking at trends and statistics?
  • Are they measuring their KPI responses for an unexpected scenario?
  • Are they able to store enough amount of past historical data to be able to predict the future?
  • And most importantly, are the traditional KPIs learning from the changing trends, anomalies and proactively acting to it?

The traditional KPI dashboards today indicate more about how the network performance has been than about where it is going. The focus is more on short-term operational performance rather than long-term strategic performance. We manage what we measure, hence it has become more important than ever to measure the right metrics, smart metrics. Telcos need to measure what’s important, not just what is easy.

SPI-outcome

Sample dashboards with SPI outcomes

If you are working with a Telco and think that the above problems need to be addressed in your organization, we exactly know what you need. Your Fridays should no more be frustrating, feel free to reach out to me at anshul.bhatt@subex.com

Anshul is an Associate Product Manager in the Network Analytics team at Subex. An IIT alumnus, Anshul has more than 4 years of work experience which includes working with two of the largest telecom operators around the world – Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Reliance Jio – across various markets within India. His stints at Airtel and Jio included Network Planning & Operations, Customer Experience Enhancement, Algorithms and Analytics for Network Performance Optimization & Automation. Anshul has two patents in the field of coverage & capacity optimization in LTE radio networks on his name.

Telecom World Asia 2018: Here we come!

Digitalisation. This is the wave which has hit everyone across geographies and in our quest to help the telecom world embracing it and making it real, we are reaching the ‘Land of smiles’- Thailand.  The 2018 edition of Telecom World Asia is taking place in Bangkok on the 19th and 20th of March and I am excited to be a part of Subex delegation. This year, the conference is revolving around four key themes of digitalisation- wholesale, networks, the digital customer, and Telco 4.0. Let me tell you how and why these themes are close to our heart.

Our product ROC Partner Management is a unified platform which caters to the entire gamut of partner needs of a telecom operator for providing both traditional and digital services and it aligns with the first theme of the conference- “wholesale”. We have two products under the ‘Network’ theme- ROC Network Asset Management and ROC Capacity Management. ROC Network Asset Management is an Asset Lifecycle Management solution which provides standardized processes for managing and optimizing network assets. ROC Capacity Management solution help CSPs to strategize and plan their network expansion & capacity augment investments to improve Customer Experience, increase RoI, optimize Capex, reduce Churn and increase Net Promoter Scores. Hence both these products are aimed at providing capex optimization and customer experience. Our advanced analytics solution ROC insights provide actionable insights about products, risk, revenue and customers and hence aligns well with the themes of digital customer and Telco 4.0.

The conference is going to cover interesting strategic topics such as the future of wholesale operators, the road to 5G, SDN/NFV etc. which are the favorite coffee table discussions at Subex. Overall, Telecom World Asia 2018 looks a very good opportunity for us to share knowledge, network with industry peers and learn how Telco are addressing the digital transformation. Don’t forget to visit us at booth #20 at the conference. Wai Bangkok!

Jnanankur Ghosh

Jnanankur is responsible for the product marketing of Network Analytics and Partner Management portfolio of Subex. He has around 7 years of experience in the IT product and services marketing, and takes keen interest in technology, literature and sports.

..but that’s not my responsibility!

Now that’s something that we’ve all heard at our workplace at some point..and believe it or not, its not entirely incorrect.

Traditionally most organizations have been created with a vertical structure having clear demarcation of responsibilities and identified handoff points for communication and information interchange between verticals. This was thought to be the most optimum way of assigning limited resources within the organization while allowing for specialization within verticals. Think of this organization as an architectural structure with three key layers:

 

  • Apex of the structure represented by executive management and strategy layer of the organization
  • Pillars represented by different verticals within the organization
  • Strong base represented by organizational infrastructure which acts as a common foundation

While efforts are made by every organization to eliminate ‘silos’ in functioning, the inherent nature of this structure results in unidentified hand-offs, ineffective information sharing during hand-offs and compartmentalized view of processes leading to challenges in measuring, improving and most importantly identifying ownership of cross-functional processes. In many instances, different verticals end up shifting accountability of such cross-functional processes at the expense of progression. The pace at which technology, markets and customer demands are changing in present times demand a level of agility within the organizations to respond and keep pace with the market and competition. This places an enormous stress on the organizational structure, particularly on the handoffs between verticals.

Managing millions of dollars’ worth of Network Capex within a Telco is a cross-functional process which experiences similar issues of ownership, handoffs between verticals and lack of a common, centralized view leading to ineffectual Capex tracking much less calculating effectiveness of these Capex investments or return on investments. Typically, Finance is the identified owner of Capex investments in a Telco but most Finance teams struggle with deployment of Capex in the network and more importantly tracking and calculating the return on network Capex investments as they are heavily reliant on Operations team for this information.

Solving this Network Capex conundrum calls for a two-pronged approach, creating a cross-functional Network Capex Assurance team and enabling a supporting technological component to create a Network Capex Control framework. Lets have a closer look,

Network Capex Assurance Team

A cross-functional team which acts as the owner of Network Capex investments within the Telco – typically lead by the CFO or CTO. This team delivers critical insights and drives actions to enhance capital management practices in all phases of the business and comprises of representation from Finance, Planning, Procurement & SCM, Deployment, Operations and IT. The key responsibilities of this team would comprise of,

  • Custodians of Capex management processes
  • Capex planning and validation
  • Ensure data integrity across supporting systems
  • Capex tracking and analysis
  • Standardization & Reporting

Network Capex Control Framework

An enabling technological component which supports the Capex Assurance team in delivering their responsibilities by providing a centralized end-to-end view enabled by Network intelligence. Key insights from the framework would cover,

  • Centralized view
  • Standardized processes
  • Utilization and effectiveness
  • Capex & Opex optimization
  • Insights & Analytics

Enabling strong capital management practices is much more than operational or process changes in the organization; it is a fundamental change in the outlook of an organization. Embracing this change will enable agility, data integrity and measures for optimization, better equipping Telcos to respond to the rate of change in the industry..and that should be everyone’s responsibility!

Parag Sagalia

Parag is a seasoned professional with rich experience in Telecommunications B/OSS space. In his current role, Parag leads the Consulting practice for Subex Network Analytics portfolio in Emerging Markets helping Telcos identify, manage and optimize avenues to achieve efficiency in Network Capex investments. He plays a key role in Product positioning & differentiation strategies, Functional & Technical solutions and Consultative selling.

With experience in diverse roles over the past 12+ years, ranging from mission-critical Network management, Business Analysis, B/OSS Delivery & Project Management and Consulting, he has successfully led transformation programs at Telcos helping them achieve business goals of automation, operational efficiency and improved cash flow.

The Pot of Gold at the End of the Network

Along with a thawing of the ground, March brought St Patrick’s day, a traditional Irish day of festivity in which everything Irish is celebrated. It’s also a great excuse to make green cookies and for the kids to dress up as leprechauns wearing shamrocks. In Irish mythology leprechauns are mischievous characters who love to play practical jokes, and keep a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow. It takes a shrewd person to trick a leprechaun into giving up his gold. The search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has become a popular way of describing the search for wealth and reward at the end of a journey.   In the world of network management there are rainbows everywhere, since networks are often full of stranded or underutilized assets at the far edges of the network.  Assets that are of great value, but hidden from view. The assets are hidden because they have been moved or not properly registered in inventory or Fixed Asset registers, and so they have become unusable since no one knows where they are.   The knock effects of this are felt throughout a service provider.

Finance

Don’t know the value of assets in the network so cannot provide accurate financial statements

Marketing and Sales

Don’t know what services the network can support or predict the cost will be for implementing new services

Network Management

Can’t manage the network optimally because assets cannot be re-purposed to augment network hotspots

Order drop out from inconsistent and unreliable records

These challenges not only affect the individual functional areas, but can result in open warfare between the groups. Network managers feel they must request ever bigger budgets to compensate for the extra demands being put on the network by new marketing initiatives, and finance fear they are being asked to throw money into a black hole with no possibility of understanding the return on investment. Without cross functional visibility of the companies network assets then suspicion and mistrust can develop between groups, which can cripple a company. Finance need to know if the assets they are purchasing are providing value to money, and marketing need to know if they can confidentially sell new services that will bring in extra revenue. Network managers want to know how they can provide the service required with ever tighter budgets.

By utilizing automated network discovery network managers could re-build, or even create, an inventory that would give them a true picture of what was available in the network. A network discovery tool that could also understand how those assets were being utilized, which services were running on them, and how the network was connected together, could provide a way to optimally utilize every asset to provide a robust network for the least possible cost. When combined with an asset tracking and life cycle management tool such as Subex ROC AA then network discovery can give unprecedented level of visibility of where assets are located, how they are being used and what value they are bringing to the company.  ROC AA with network discovery can uncover the pot of gold hidden at the end of your network.

Resources : pot-of-gold on Free pictures

Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years as a BI and Analytics consultant, and more recently as ROC Product Manager for Subex Ltd. He has designed and deployed solutions for global companies in many sectors including Insurance, utilities and telecommunications. Mark holds a BSc Hons in Computer Science from Manchester University (UK).

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