NFV and SDN are key to customer-centric evolution

Phil Marshall / Tolaga Research
27 Nov 2015
00:00

An operator’s technology evolution is a balancing act - reaping benefits from performance improvements promised by new technologies without unduly compromising financial and operational performance. Until recently, telecom technology innovation primarily focused on leveraging Moore’s Law to enhance platform performance. But the current era of architecture enables telco platforms to be virtualized with NFV and SDN, with heterogeneous mobile networks in the mix.

These new architectures mean automated operational solutions are needed to orchestrate network and service resources. These solutions will drive telcos from traditional operational models - which emphasize the management of complexity - to operational models that are more commonly adopted in IT environments, where there is an emphasis to abstract complexity with automation techniques.

Product-centric strategies are underpinned by a virtuous cycle which involves the invention, development and marketing of differentiated products offered by firms. This contrasts with customer-centric strategies: company activities driven by the specific needs of individual customers, especially in market segments with the greatest life-time value. Customer-centric strategies rely on detailed data intelligence garnered through profile information, transactions, and other recorded customer activity. Since telecom operators possess deep insight into the real-time activities of their subscribers, they’re uniquely positioned to provide powerful customer-centric solutions.

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And as agile software development grows in popularity, it enables developers to make incremental customer-centric changes to complex software environments. This contrasts with conventional “waterfall” development processes which define product design at the outset.

Telco evolution to customer-centricity

The telecom transformation towards customer-centricity is challenging. But with the correct strategies, telecom operators can leverage their transition to SDN, NFV, and heterogeneous radio network architectures as a means for driving customer-centricity, through these initiatives:

Operational automation. When NFV and SDN architectures are adopted, network resources are no longer provisioned manually but depend on automated orchestration schemes. With automation, these schemes can potentially create opportunities for operators to prioritize resources according to the intelligence garnered for individual subscribers and subscriber segments.

Agile software development environments. Agile development initiatives are popular for services delivered in telecom network and service environments. Since agile software development activities are driven primarily by customer demands, they tend to catalyze customer-centricity so telecom operators can potentially differentiate their service offerings.

Network and service platform strategies. Platform strategies are pursued by a growing number of telecom operators. As these strategies mature, they will be influenced by the demands of the third party service and application developers that use the platforms. This influence will become increasingly customer-centric due to market demands.

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