Turn Managed Operations into a strategic advantage
Communications service providers (CSPs) have been using managed operations services for years, but their expectations have started to shift. Instead of merely seeking to outsource functions, today they want strategic support as they evolve their businesses. So what can CSPs do to get more out of their managed operations service providers?
Nokia recently surveyed CSPs around the world to answer that question and find out exactly what they want from their managed operations service providers. We found they expect their partners to bring expertise in new technological domains such as network security, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), data management and cloud architectures, as these are key to operational maturity in the 5G era.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said network security is the top issue they want — and need — help addressing. That’s understandable, since attack vectors and surfaces are growing due to more and more devices, applications and 5G network functions.
AI/ML was the next most common area of need according to 45% of survey respondents. AI/ML offers huge transformational potential in operations, but a lack of in-house skills and knowledge is fueling demand for support from external partners.
So how can you get support with issues like these from your managed operations service provider? Having an open conversation about new business models, assessing the right business-critical key performance indicators (KPIs), and simply asking for more are all ways to reframe your managed service relationship.
Have the business model discussion
CSP business models are evolving fast in the 5G era, with flexibility an essential ingredient. In our survey, 40% of respondents said they were interested in as-a-service consumption-based models, whether for the full managed service offering or for specific operations functions that would help them make the most of internal resources. Forty percent also said they were interested in project-based engagements of defined length and with defined outcomes compared to the traditional long-term operations approach.
Both project-based engagements as well as more modular operations functions allow for greater flexibility in deployment models and budget planning, more speed in deployment, predictable, contained costs, and outcome transparency. They can even be used to assist internal staff, and be layered on top of an existing managed services agreement.
Talk to your managed operations partner about their willingness or ability to offer these kinds of new business models. If they’re not able to meet your needs, it may be time to look elsewhere for someone who can.
Measure partner performance with meaningful KPIs
While traditional KPIs are still important, our survey found that the vast majority of CSPs are already evaluating managed service provider performance in terms of contribution to their business goals, with customer experience and service agility especially key. Nearly half of respondents said they use customer-related metrics such as net promoter score (NPS) to evaluate their partners, and about a quarter use service agility KPIs such as time to market.
This new interest in alternative KPIs reflects an interest in fully measuring the business impacts CSPs require from their managed operations partners. If you’re not applying them already to your managed provider relationship, now may be a good time to start.
Ask for more
One fact made abundantly clear by our survey was that CSPs are looking for more than just cost control through their managed services arrangements. Eighty-five percent said they wanted support with digital transformation and with growing the return on their 5G investments.
The only way to get that help is to ask for it and, again, if your current partner can’t deliver, it may be time to start shopping around for someone new. More than 40% of CSPs are considering replacing their managed service provider, and more than 50% are planning to add new partners that are capable of handling new, strategic areas.
That said, 81% of survey respondents told us that they are getting these new kinds of supports and results, specifically related to improving customer experience metrics. That can have a big impact on a CSPs’ topline, since network quality is a major competitive differentiator and new technologies rely so heavily on predictable, reliable networks.
Achieve your goals with a partner who works with you
While three- to seven-year large scope operations contracts are still industry standard, CSPs are starting to open up to different ways of working with their managed service partners. Getting the most out of your provider means thinking differently about managed services partnerships – and finding new ways to leverage their expertise and technology. Read the full study here.