This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Wade Anderson, Vice President of SME, IQGeo
The increased reliance on the internet across all major industries has seen the telecom sector grow exponentially over the last decade. This reliance has been fueled further by the pandemic – with people now requiring reliable, high-speed internet to work away from the office, thus leading to a high demand for superfast fiber broadband. Given the direct connection that internet access has to economic prosperity, the US government has recognized the importance of internet access and introduced President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill to ensure every American high-speed internet.
This Bill has been one of many catalysts for action within the telecom sector as they race for funding to rollout fiber networks. With any opportunity comes fierce competition. Operators need to deliver a strong fiber service in a timely manner to ensure they don’t lose potential market share and revenue to competitors that can plan and construct fiber infrastructure more efficiently.
Operators must prioritize short term successes in their strategy
As competition intensifies, how telecom companies tackle the new demands will dictate success. Many organizations are putting their money into innovative, next-generation technology to reach their goals – which makes sense. McKinsey has found that “bolder, at-scale investments in technology are significantly more likely to support a successful transformation than those that are smaller in scope.”
While investing in innovative, next-generation technology is a good idea, telecom companies need to create a long-term innovation plan that consists of smaller, incremental gains, rather than a high-risk ‘big-bang’ investment.
Rapid network expansion is not an easy task and should certainly not be underestimated. After all, in no other industry are organizations required to change so much to meet rapidly evolving demands. The key to reducing time to revenue is to develop a culture of innovation that outlines smaller goals that can quickly deliver impact and value over the course of the journey.
Laying the foundations for ongoing innovation
To maximize success, operators should view implementation of new technology as a rolling deployment. You can kick-start this process by identifying an area of the organization that is experiencing the biggest pain point. For example, if you are facing inefficiencies due to a lack of mobility, a new mobile solution for construction could be implemented.
Organizations that create a constant innovation culture will be able to effectively demonstrate the performance of a solution, and can then go on to use said solution in other areas of the business, thus benefiting from the individual solution and also the collection of all these smaller incremental gains.
This approach also allows organizations the opportunity to perfect their solution. Starting with one pain point, deploying a solution and then refining that solution for the next pain point allows the opportunity to create an “innovation blueprint” that works across the organization.
As the whole lifecycle process is interconnected, it’s important to ensure that the foundations laid can be used across different operational areas of the business. This flexible and agile approach supports the different priorities of individual departments and operational areas while drawing together the full network lifecycle.
A further benefit of this lower risk approach is the way in which it allows for failure. There is no guarantee that any given solution is going to be successful and identifying a deployment that isn’t working early in the process mitigates costly consequences. The incremental approach enables organizations to assess the output and impact on an ongoing basis, providing much better technology agility than a big bang approach. Waiting 12 to 18 months to evaluate the impact of a solution creates a huge risk, as if the approach hasn’t been right for the business and the output isn’t what you anticipated, all the resources invested could be wasted.
Customers want to see value for money
With the increased demand for superfast fiber broadband, there is a huge opportunity to acquire new customers and drastically increase revenue. To obtain maximum value from this opportunity, operators cannot stand still. They need to demonstrate consistent value to current and potential customers.
Operators that favor a “constant innovation” approach will also be able to consistently demonstrate value internally, thus showing that implemented solutions are worth the investment.
The City of Westerville in Ohio can provide a good example of the impact that incremental innovation can have on an organization. As the first municipality to own its own data center and fiber network, they serve residential users and businesses, attracting large companies with affordable, high-performance broadband. The city has set highly ambitious growth expectations for itself and is consistently upgrading their technology to improve network reliability and support new services.
Examples include the deployment of network troubleshooting that rapidly identifies the location of fiber faults, speeding repair with greater field crew efficiency. They have also rolled out fiber planning and development tools to optimize the use of expensive fiber resources and are continually streamlining their recordkeeping process, enabling field technicians to capture network status anywhere in the field on mobile devices.
By focusing on consistent incremental innovation, The City of Westerville is able to deliver better services to their customers, consistent operational improvements, and impressive cost savings.
Some operators who have championed the use of technology for years are already reaping the benefits. Many of these companies are ditching paper maps in favor of digital solutions that have the benefit of functioning online as well as offline, therefore increasing availability. Digital solutions also provide operators the option of integrating data across all areas of the business, thus creating a complete view of network assets – which means that network changes can be tracked and managed effectively. Over time, operators can incrementally digitalize in other areas of the organization, allowing them the ability to consistently meet consumer and business demands.
There is a huge opportunity for operators to increase market share and revenue in the next few years. Those operators that are able to seize the opportunity by creating a culture of constant innovation to consistently demonstrate value to customers, similar to The City of Westerville, will be in pole position to win the fiber broadband race.
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