Tune in to the big picture and you'll see that the implementation of next-generation network access technologies by network operators to support ultra-broadband initiatives have far-reaching benefits that are the foundation for unparalleled improvements in service delivery, customer support and new offerings.
Customer speeds, while extremely important, are only part of that vision. In a world of churn, loyalty counts. And service providers recognize that providing high-speed upstream and downstream bandwidth is a base requirement to retain residential and business customers.
UBB2020 Editor Alison Diana spoke recently with George Nazi, a longtime telecom operator veteran who now is managing director for Accenture Digital Transformation, and his colleague Raghu Puri, managing directing in the consulting firm's Communications, Media and Technology operating group, to discuss some of the trends they see.
Accenture's Raghu Puri: "What are the incremental services or the high-bandwidth services that you can enable now as a result of the high-bandwidth technologies companies are investing in?"
Following is an edited transcript of that conversation:
UBB2020: How do service providers begin to address customer experience?
George Nazi: With these journeys you always want to start with the client trigger and finish with the client trigger, which means there are a lot of processes that cut across the entire firm -- all the way from the sales organization to customer service to the product organization to operations [and] engineering. There are two pillars. One is, how do I do it in a mechanical way by looking at them in a Lean 6 Sigma approach... Even in my BT days, more than ten years ago, they really helped... by looking at the entire process, looking at the defects, how do I remove it, what should be onshore/offshore, how do I improve it, leveraging a lot of these sensors in order to remove the defect and enhance the capability. The second area is all about... automation, robotics, analytics and finally artificial intelligence, where you go from reacting to a customer experience or incident or request to smartly predicting what the customer might want and try to make it happen before the customer might ask for it. This is the new thing that's now taking place across operators and an area that we're seeing with our larger clients: How do we leverage analytics? How do we try to take it from reactive to proactive? How do I ensure the field forces are smart?
UBB2020: How do new network access technologies help service providers achieve their customer satisfaction improvements?
Raghu Puri: We look at it on two dimensions. What are the incremental services or the high-bandwidth services that you can enable now as a result of the high-bandwidth technologies that companies are investing in, such as XGS or DOCSIS 3.1 or even 5G as an alternate access methodology? That is one element of customer experience, which is new products, new features, integrated experiences that you can now do, which are really centered now around video, because that's the highest bandwidth service that's consuming the network. And the other is the customer experience, in terms of enabling better support and better technician capability so when the person shows up at the house to do the service, they are empowered not only with the tools and diagnostics they may have, but also -- using communications methods back to the home office, if you will -- to identify problems and situations they can't resolve and getting the remote help.
On top of that we also have concepts around user experience-based testing as opposed to just network-based metrics testing. So we have some assets that we are using, and a lot of clients are starting to use, for example, when you measure successful video, when you measure successful service, are you looking at pure metrics -- signal optimization and so on -- or are you really looking at what somebody's watching on the screen, which is a higher order of bandwidth consumption, which then justifies the higher investment they have made in the access network?
UBB2020: Are there different challenges when it comes to upstream versus downstream?
RP: In terms of consumption, absolutely. Video is still the killer app that consumes the maximum amount of bandwidth: about 70% of downstream traffic is all video. It's also starting to creep up in terms of upstream traffic, as a lot of people are creating personalized streams or personalized consumption.
When it comes to the actual monitoring and management of it, it does start to get pretty complicated with [residential customers]. You've got multiple choke points. It's fragmented, but the expectation is people are moving to a single device offering, which is what for example Comcast has done with its XGI platform. And then all the services that are being rendered within the house -- whether it's a broadband service or a video service or an entertainment service or connected home services -- all of that being consumed in some kind of an integrated service experience is critical to enhance what the consumer is experiencing. But at the same time it is very important to monitor and manage each component of it as well as the integrated service in order to be able to isolate problems in advance of rolling the truck.
UBB2020: What are some of the questions service providers must ask in order to leverage their ultra-broadband investments and improve customer experience?
RP: How do you do better device management? How do you do better application performance management? How do you do better isolation of network metrics that support the application of the device performance so you can eliminate all of those things or actually identify problems that might be resulting in the house before you have to discuss a truck roll?
I'll give you an example of some work we have done with one of our clients where we looked at the home Wi-Fi network as a potential problem point based on all the services that are going on in the house. Today in an average house you've got 25 to 30 IP addresses. A lot of these devices are connecting to each other across a Wi-Fi network. Being able to isolate on whether it's a device or application-performance problem, or is it network location happening on the house Wi-Fi network -- something that's as simple as a channel change or relocating the device in order to get better performance for the type of service that device is rendering is a significant value-add. Being able to monitor, manage and resolve them and offset the need to roll the truck makes for a significant saving and good application for the service provider.