Accurate network inventory data is a critical foundation for delivering new services and minimizing the impact of maintenance and outages, with significant flow-through impact on both cost and revenue. That said, access to accurate inventory data is a big challenge for most, if not all Communications Service Providers, because today’s inventory validation and audit processes are substantially manual in nature. With provisioning and maintenance activities touching the network on a daily basis, this means that, in reality, inventory records are never fully accurate.
The result is high levels of order fallout, slow resolution of network outages, and lengthened maintenance cycles, leading to increased cost, decreased revenue, and fewer happy customers.
With many service providers in the midst of mergers and acquisitions, there is a need to consolidate network inventory data from multiple inventory management systems. Similarly, as networks are upgraded, it is essential to have complete confidence in the network data before migrating it to new network elements, management systems, and controllers. In both cases the implication is the same: vast, labor-intensive essentially manual audits of the complete network are required prior to consolidation or migration.
This means huge amounts of OpEx, long delays waiting to complete upgrades and consolidations, and engineering resources tied up for months or years when their attention is sorely needed for other operating or revenue-generating activities. Even with all this effort and cost, the result is still imperfect because manual processes that take months always have errors.
Sedona’s NetFusion Inventory Assurance Solution automatically validates service provider inventory records against a fully accurate real-time view of the network. This data is extracted directly from the network itself by the NetFusion Intelligence and Automation Platform, which is able to discover, understand, and visualize complete nationwide networks consisting of multiple layers, domains, and vendors.
The NetFusion Inventory Assurance App then facilitates the updating and correction of the inventory databases within TIRKS, MetaSolv, Granite, and other Service Provider inventory systems. This means that planners, maintainers, provisioning and operations teams, and potentially sales teams all have access to the same 100% accurate view of the network and its inventory.
Faster service provisioning and repairs, reduced order fallout, improved resource utilization, and expedited network migration and consolidation are some of the immediate benefits. It’s also the first essential step towards network automation.
Let’s look at some specific business case examples that can deliver value immediately:
Minimize the Cost of Inventory Audits
A typical service provider inventory validation process requires multiple manual audit processes throughout each year. The potential triggers for each audit are many, but most arise from customer complaints, regulatory requests, or scheduled audit processes.
Each audit requires extensive human involvement to compare inventory databases with the most recent network data records, generate a discrepancy report, and then update the inventory databases with the correct records. The complete cycle can take days or weeks to complete depending on the size of the network under analysis. Because of the cycle time, the audit process often cannot keep pace with new changes in the network (new installations, service grooming, maintenance), meaning that the final audit may still contain errors.
NetFusion’s Inventory Assurance App eliminates or substantially reduces manual audit processes by assuring inventory records in real-time. This results in direct OpEx savings, typically multiple millions of dollars for a large service provider.
Minimize Costs Associated with Order Fallout
Inaccurate inventory is one of the primary causes of order fallout (a failed service order). Without a fully accurate record of the network a service provisioning process can easily fail because a section of the network isn’t in place, is undergoing maintenance, or doesn’t have available capacity. This is especially problematic for newer high-bandwidth services that rely on substantial proportions of network “pipes”.
With NetFusion’s fully automated Inventory Assurance App, service provisioning teams and processes have full visibility to the network capabilities at the time provisioning takes place. This means that any errors or fallout caused by inaccurate inventory are effectively eliminated. This, in turn, reduces cost by minimizing the time spent resolving failed orders.
Simplify and Reduce the Cost of Network Migrations
With industry consolidation well underway, many service providers are having to merge multiple networks (stemming from acquisitions). In addition, network modernization programs are mandating that all service providers have the capability to migrate existing services from legacy to new networks. In both cases substantial network audits are required prior to merging the networks or migrating services in order to ensure efficient use of the networks and to avoid loss or degradation of services after the migration process. As outlined earlier these processes are slow and expensive.
NetFusion not only eliminates or substantially reduces these audit costs, but also allows the migrations to be verified after completion. In addition, it also allows service providers to further optimize the delivery of services by finding lower-cost and more optimal paths for specific services.
Shorten Time to New Revenue & Increase Sales Close Rates
Earlier, we saw how reduced order fallout can lower cost in a very impactful way. Less obvious, but perhaps even more powerful is that reducing order fallout increases revenue by shortening the interval from order placement to service provisioning and revenue recognition. As a result, a service provider might benefit from an extra month or more of revenue for each new service.
Having a fully accurate view of service provider’s complex multilayer, multivendor network with all its interconnections and dependencies also supports another important revenue generation benefit. Sales teams are now able to improve their targeting, quoting, and close rates by focusing attention in areas where capacity and services are known to be available. They can also improve their competitive advantage and shorten order intervals because they can offer customers accelerated service turnup.
Frequent network audits are a firm requirement for major network service providers. These audits are expensive, slow, and prone to inaccuracy due to the substantially manual processes involved. The NetFusion Inventory Assurance Solution closes the loop, allowing real-time inventory data collection directly from the network, together with the capability to compare the data with inventory databases and to push corrections back. This results in substantial OpEx savings, improved network reliability, and revenue growth. This post describes several high-profile examples of the benefits that service providers have highlighted as most significant.