The way we use phones to communicate has changed drastically over the past twenty years, evolving from sporadic mobile device usage to a world driven by ubiquitous mobile access. To keep up, mobile network operators (MNOs) must affect similarly drastic changes to build the kind of agile mobile network necessary to meet today’s user expectations. Such digital transformation (DX) poses a complex challenge, and according to a recent IDC Technology Spotlight report, success lies in how well MNOs can reinvent their service assurance strategy to meet this brave new world.
According to the report, well over half of MNOs have implemented DX projects in 2018, with an emphasis on improving customer experience and business efficiency, as well as delivering better service offerings.
To get there, however, MNOs need to figure out how to navigate a tricky path. Globally, MNOs are racing to adopt some important new technologies:
- Preparing for the 5G era
- Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
- Network automation
- Multi-cloud architecture
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Mobile data management
While those technological trends are vital to the success of DX strategies, they will also significantly impact the way MNOs manage network infrastructure. As the report notes, “The widespread move to virtualized and cloud technologies across IT and cellular, alongside the impending onslaught of new applications and new network-connected IoT devices, is leading to more dependence on the mobile network while displacing some of its traditional elements.” In particular, MNOs face a couple of key pain points:
- Old-school monitoring in a next-gen mobile network.Most traditional performance monitoring cannot see inside virtualized networks, while the proliferation of cloud deployments adds another visibility challenge. Network managers cannot continue to use stand-alone solutions that do not integrate easily, leaving them with fragmented views of their mobile network that directly correspond to inconsistent management and slow response time.
- Taming the network data deluge.Agile service assurance depends on the ability to find, transform, and analyze relevant information from the data generated in a typical mobile network, a task rendered increasingly difficult by the explosion of network data from applications, devices, subscribers, and the network itself. Mobile edge computing, network slicing, and new IoT-driven projects will only increase the problem.
Modern Service Assurance
To solve these challenges, MNOs need to transform the way they implement service assurance to create end-to-end visibility across hybrid networks at the network, application, user, and device levels. IDC supports several key tactics, ranging from strategic to technical shifts. The following are particularly important:
- Switch to software.A shift to a pure software solution with a lower total cost of ownership will put network operations and the speedy, agile operations of the connected technology resources more visibly into the path of value creation.
- Implement intelligent analytics.To tame the data deluge, companies should explore automation that can access, collect, and transform relevant data at the source (for both north-south and east-west directions) to create smart data.
- Educate stakeholders. CIOs and CTOs need to find a way to help business-side decision makers understand the business importance of integrated, end-to-end visibility when it comes to smooth operations and delivery of customer services.
- Build service assurance into the strategy.In order for service assurance to work across an increasing hybrid mobile network landscape, it must be built into early planning stages of new network initiatives.
As many MNOs have discovered, building an intelligent network architecture is a critical success factor to DX-driven business strategies. And to get there, it’s time to build a modern service assurance strategy capable of supporting this key business asset.