A digital network does not make you a digital service provider and random automation does not make you a digital enterprise.
In a recent ICT Intuition survey, 67% of the more than 120 communication service providers claimed to be digital service providers (DSPs), yet most sold only network services, had no partner strategies and couldn’t distinguish a customer from a house number. So we’re going to go more in-depth with our research and start by asking if DSPs are digital enterprises.
There are many catch phrases, “practice what you preach”, “drinking your own champagne”, or the less savory “eating your own dog food” and all of them essentially mean that an enterprise uses its own products and embodies what it sells as part of its daily business. So with that in mind we ask DSPs to consider how “digital” their dealings with employees, partners, and customers are.
- How do your employees manage work orders, expenses, time, training requests, or other administrative demands?
If the answer is a printed copy of an on-line form with status, receipts, descriptions, etc. filled in by hand or stapled to it – you aren’t a digital enterprise. If the only advantage of an on-line form is paper reduction, reliable math skills and the ability to convert currency the existing business process doesn’t translate to a digital service.
- How does your supply chain work?
A digital supply chain is connected from start to finish. There are no delays while a person accesses required information in another system, locates a physical file, or makes a bunch of phone calls. Order, fulfillment and billing processes are seamlessly inter-connected and transparent to partners and suppliers. Dynamic intelligence regarding product, pricing, promotions, deliveries and deadlines are automatically updated in every affected system.
- Where is your customer data and who has access to it?
Customer data, like partner and product data, should be consistent everywhere with the same information available to anyone that should have access – including the customer. While some data is available on-line and a few tasks have been automated, processes haven’t changed. When calling in for support, a customer is still bounced from one area to another because relevant data is stored based on location, product or service rather than customer. There is no automation or intelligence that ties it to an individual customer.
Do DSPs Need to Be Digital Enterprises?
Maybe, maybe not. But the value of operating as a digital enterprise is just as real for service providers as it is for any other enterprise and at the heart of every enterprise activity (digital or otherwise) is a process. Big end-to-end, all-encompassing processes and short individual task processes. Every system, every bit of automation implements a process and once it’s installed – that’s it – so it pays to spend some digital transformation energy determining exactly what that process should be.
When it comes to creating a digital enterprise, I have to advocate for revamped processes. Automation doesn’t fix a bad process and in most cases can make it worse. Process changes are real changes and as much as we humans don’t like change, it’s inevitable. For those closest to the customer or the network, implementing a good, automated digital process will likely make their jobs easier, not eliminate them.
For DSPs, in addition to the revamped OSS/BSS required to serve digital customers; internal systems for employees and partners such as payroll, supply chain management, work order management, expense management, etc. must also be implemented as digital processes using common data and integrated APIs.
Concerns about attracting talent and streamlining operations underline the need to make processes and systems that serve employees, partners and customers digital, mobile and intuitive. Much is said about CSPs becoming DSPs and as an industry we acknowledge that that is going to take some time, but wouldn’t it be easier to be a DSP if you started as a digital enterprise?
Be part of our next research project as we uncover what concrete steps service providers are taking with regard to employees, partners and customers as they transform into DSPs. For more information on this or any of our research efforts, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org