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Service providers are stuck at the bottom of the pyramid

This is our last blog in a series of blogs on CSPs’ future mode of operations.

If the OTT massacre wasn’t enough to convince service providers that user experience eats infrastructure for breakfast, 5G sure will.

5G value creation is all about fulfilling “business intents”. That’s a polite way of saying, “Getting the network to do what the customer needs instead of the other way around.” (See “Don’t be crushed by complexity”)

It’s not about the infrastructure: it’s about what you do with it. That’s a major head shift for a lot of service providers. It requires a total re-think of what they consider to be their “hierarchy of needs”.

Look up!

The idea of a hierarchy of needs comes from the psychologist Abraham Maslow. He drew a pyramid to show how being a full, complete person builds on basics like having food and shelter upward to more sophisticated things such as belonging, respect and self-actualization.

Service providers also have a hierarchy of needs. Infrastructure and equipment are at the bottom and everything else builds on top: security, services, business models and, ultimately, the ability to generate value from the user experience.

Maslow’s pyramid
Maslow’s pyramid and the service provider’s hierarchy of needs

Seeing it that way, it’s painfully obvious that if you put all your time and effort into the basics of infrastructure and equipment, you’re ignoring pretty much every opportunity to generate value. You’re literally “missing the point”.

You’re in the customer experience business

Other companies in other sectors have been onto this whole value hierarchy concept for a long time. It’s why Red Bull, for instance, calls itself a media company that just happens to sell energy drinks. Uber is a transportation company that doesn’t own any vehicles: its value is the experience it delivers through its app. The same goes for AirBnB.

What’s the correlative formula for service providers? They’re customer relationship and digital experience companies that just happen to sell connectivity and services.

How to start the “value climb”

Getting out of the infrastructure headspace starts and ends with making operations more customer- and experience-centric. There are two keys to this:

  1. Make your data worth something: Raw data is like raw fish. You might as well throw it back into the sea if you’re not going to turn it into something useful. So where do you start? Bring it back to the user focus. When your whole purpose is to meet the user’s needs, you know exactly what kind of data you need to collect and how to refine it so it’s usable. That’s when you can start making a roadmap for using technologies such as artificial intelligence to turn your data into actionable insight.
  2. Automate or die: It’s impossible to fulfill a customer-driven business intent without simplifying network and service operations — getting every single operational process as lean and mean as can be. That demands extreme automation. In the 5G era, that’s not going to be optional or “nice to have”: it’s do or die. Anyone who’s not able or willing to embrace automation is going to have to find another industry to work in. That’s the tough truth.

It’s already happening

Experience-centric operations aren’t a pipe dream: savvy service providers around the world are already making them real. Check out our video interview with O2 UK CTO Brendan O’Reilly on the company’s transformation from NOC to SOC — from being network operations-oriented to being service operations-oriented.

On the other side of the globe, we’ve helped a service provider in APAC created closed loops for service fulfillment and service assurance to support their rollout of fixed-wireless access and boost their competitiveness — putting them in a “ready to launch” position for 5G services and network slicing.

Those are just a few examples we’re seeing across global markets.

The bottom line is that service providers have to get past the base of the pyramid and start satisfying their higher-order, higher-value needs. People need more than just food and shelter to live rich and full lives. Service providers need to do more than just deploy and run network infrastructure.

The ones who reach for the top of the pyramid and start striving toward experience-centric operations today will be the ones best positioned to capitalize on 5G’s many opportunities.

Additional resources: 

Find out more on Operations in 5G microsite and don’t miss our Future of Operations video series where we are exploring further how to connect the business with the network.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #FutureOfOperations #Telcos #Operations

Walter Prior

About Walter Prior

Walter leads Digital Operations Business for Nokia Software. Walter has a Master in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the ISCTE Institute of Lisbon. His solid technical background coupled with business acumen lets him translate capabilities into outcomes. After work, when he is not on a motorcycle race track with one of his children, you will find him looking for the best waves to surf.

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