There are new operational realities in the highly competitive world of FTTH based communication services. This competition has implications for customer service and network expectations. Customers have little loyalty to services so customer interactions become high risk/reward opportunities for building loyalty. The ability to give a live answer with the correct information during a single call is a competitive advantage that builds customer loyalty. Of course, no amount of loyalty will keep customers from leaving a network with poor performance or availability. That is why an operations system that minimizes downtime and maximizes the amount of information available to a customer service agent is crucial.
Another consideration for operations is the ability to support revenue generation. Fiber projects are capital intensive and require aggressive sales and marketing efforts. Operations has the critical plant information that determines when new infrastructure is truly ready and available to come online. Knowing the current status of a build allows the marketing efforts to match demand to capacity. Set too high an expectation for availability and you disappoint the market. Wait too long to begin marketing efforts and you not only miss revenue but give competitors more time to react.
While superior customer service, network availability and aggressive sales are all good reasons to prioritize operational considerations in your planning, they are not the most basic. Bringing new services online is the most basic reason to prioritize operational considerations in your planning. One of my clients said, “The information system is the driver for all engineering, construction and fiber assignments. Without this, you will be dead in the water at the time you rollout services.” While another said, “The struggle is not in the equipment design or getting it in the field but in the operating and plant systems.” Which is not to say that design or construction are easy or trivial, but that these tend to be better resourced with more attention due to their costs.
The bottom line for one client is the aspect of the operating system he calls facilities management. He says, “Incorporate Facilities Management at the very beginning. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE BUILD.” (His emphasis, not mine) He suggests the following questions as you consider your operating environment.
• How will you provision and manage the new equipment?
• Will you need a new server?
• Can your plant records system track it?
• Can your mapping system map it?
• How will you monitor and manage it remotely?