In today’s hyperconnected world, consumers rely on telcos and multiple system operators (MSOs) for just about everything. They serve as a lifeline for healthcare, providing telehealth to communicate with the chronically ill. They act as the primary enabler of home schoolers, accessing the curriculum and collaborating with teachers and other students not enrolled in traditional school. And the entertainment and connection to friends and family that MSOs provide is critical to the quality of life. Telco and MSOs are technology intensive businesses that generate revenue by providing service to a diverse population of consumers. Success depends on simple formula – grow the business by offering more connections with exceptional service at the lowest price point. The quality of the customer experience is heavily dependent on service management. Simply stated – customers expect the service to be always on. With us today to discuss how they go about accomplishing that and how AIOps can help is Chris Menier, President of Vitria.
TR: Why are Telcos and MSOs obsessed with service?
CM: Telcos and MSOs are especially sensitive to the court of public opinion – social media. When service is out, slow or billed incorrectly, customers take to social media. Like all businesses telcos have a mandate to grow. It’s difficult to post net gains if you’re losing some portion of your customer base every month because of unresolved service issues. Telcos have growth plans that are only successful if customers have confidence that the provider can deliver consistently good service. Providing service that is “always on” increases retention or reduces churn.
TR: How does retention fit into the growth plan?
CM: One way telcos and MSOs incent customers is with bundling. Bundling is a consistent growth strategy because the bundles, or multi-play packages, reduce churn and maximize customer lifetime value. Consumers are open to bundling because they often represent cost savings for services they use in their everyday life. Bundling of the right mix of services increases the number of customers – more customers equal more revenue. Bundling has been shows to increase retention. Only one glitch in this otherwise perfect plan – churn.
TR: What are telcos doing to avoid unnecessary churn?
CM: Some churn is going to occur. Customers move out of a service area. Customers age, change jobs which impact their economic condition. But, telcos consider consistent service quality as a weapon against churn. Churn is the percentage of customers that cancel service within a given period. Churn, or attrition, occurs when customers stop using services. Telcos are equipped to determine churn rates and develop customer retention plans to correct churn. Pricing and promotion are consistently used to improve retention. Research has shown that the single factor impacting managed retention is the customer experience. Providing consistent service is critical to the customer experience.
TR: What are successful telcos and MSOs doing to sustain and/or improve the customer experience?
CM: Uptime and availability are the key factors impacting how customers rate their experience. Is 100% uptime or availability realistic? Maybe not, but what is realistic is the ability to proactively identify faults, correct them and restore service even before the consumer is aware of a problem. Having equal impact is the ability to identify the root cause of a service degrading fault to quickly respond and repair. Consumers rate their service experience on the speed of response described as the ability of the service provider to find the fault and fix it – restore the service.
TR: How can AIOps – using AI to improve operations – impact the customer experience?
CM: Today the ability to use analytics to improve operations, is changing the way telcos and MSOs are servicing consumers. AIOps enables automation and automation improves the speed and quality of response. Automation can replace some human capabilities with machine capabilities and often machine capabilities are less prone to human error. In addition, AIOps can provide an unobstructed view of all the layers of the service delivery infrastructure. This means AIOps eliminates the minutes wasted when multiple engineers try to fix a problem that is not impacting service. AIOps, at its best, can automate response to service impacting issues often before the consumer is aware there is a problem. It is required to fulfill the promise of always on.
TR: How does AIOps improve service – improve the customer experience?
CM: First, effective AIOps saves time. AIOps telescopes into the layers of the service delivery infrastructure then focuses the right resources on the fault degrading service. This decreases time to repair. Faults are discovered and repaired often before the consumer realizes there was a problem.
Second, AIOps improves availability and performance of infrastructure most likely to impact the consumers’ perception of service. The ability to apply AI and ML to quickly rationalize and respond to the increasing volume of event data generated by layers of the delivery platforms is not new. While AIOps has delivered marginal improvement, the ability to rely on AIOps for the intended automation eludes most organizations. Until now.
TR: What is the potential for AIOps to deliver on the promise of automation?
CM: A new generation of AIOps is emerging and providing an effective solution for automating problem resolution – even preventing problems that degrade or interrupt service. Operations experts agree that there is no future for IT operations that doesn’t include the introduction of a modern, second generation AIOps for reliable automation. The telco industry has started to deploy second generation AIOps and are beginning to see results. Second generation AIOps offers the ability to ingest, index and normalize events or telemetry from multiple domains, tools or sources including infrastructure, networks, applications, the cloud, and the feed from existing monitoring tools for cross-domain analysis.
TR: What’s the most important consideration for implementing AIOps?
CM: Leveling up to always on service demands automation that is trusted by operations. The ability to trust the automation requires the AIOps solution to explain the automated action. Reliable and trusted automation requires full scope visibility across management silos – one consolidated view of the service layers used to identify the root cause that triggers the automation. Next generation AIOps enables reliable automation – the missing link for achieving service that is always on.
TR: Thank you for talking with Telecom Ramblings!
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