A 2017 ICT Intuition survey of 100 communication service providers asked how many had divorced their services business from the network/capacity business. Fully two-thirds said they had, yet it wasn’t until Verizon announced that its businesses – all of its businesses – would be aligned based on its customers rather than its networks, that I believed it could happen.
And now Nokia is following suit by merging its fixed and wireless business units into what will become an infrastructure business. The intent is that customers will get seamless connectivity no matter where they are or what device they are using. Televisions, tablets, phones, credit cards, meters, street lights, watches, vehicles, etc. are devices and everything else is an application. And customers expect that their applications will work on any device at anytime and anywhere.
An individual business or retail customer should now conceivably be able to purchase their own unique services stack based on the applications being used, frequency and volume. Customers no longer have to forecast how many “gigs” they will use and fully integrated fixed, wireless and virtual networks will flex behind-the-scenes to ensure performance and reliability.
Looking Ahead to Operations
But you can’t have a new business with old operations. Delivering a unique service stack to each customer creates variability, scale and complexity that can no longer be centrally managed one event at a time. While we need to continue to accomplish all the same management functions, those functions now need to be aligned to each customer not each network.
Scaling operations to design, deliver and support hundreds or thousands of unique service instances requires a data-driven model that can be distributed such that common automated fulfillment, assurance, security and billing functions are performed locally for each customer instance.
Events and activations are independently detected and workflow is automatically executed remotely based on unified, data-driven steering processes, policies and rules driven by a common distributed data layer.
This is not an operations architecture, but rather a vision for distributed operations that gets digital service providers thinking about a better way to structure management of scarce network, service, system and staff resources. The first step is to reorganize the business but running a new business organization with an old operations structure isn’t going to work.
To learn more about the ICT Intuition Distributed Operations Vision; request the introductory report.