At the recent Zero-Touch and Carrier Automation Congress in Madrid, I was reminded of a quote from George Westerman of MIT:
"When digital transformation is done right, it's like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar."
One of the most debated topics at the show was how to deal with issues of complexity when enabling automation in operators' networks. The current processes designed to manage these networks have been designed to make human intervention and management relatively efficient. In the new world of automation, however, even minimal human intervention is problematic. Despite the industry's best efforts, translating complex human decision-making into a computer-readable, algorithm-friendly process remains a real challenge.
Redesigning around simplicity
Indeed multiple speakers at the show agreed that trying to automate a complex set of processes was actually the wrong approach, and that a fresh take was needed. Starting again, to define new, simpler processes which focus on enabling zero-touch provisioning and automation, offers a more logical and achievable route forward.
Deciding what processes are going to deliver the most benefits should be a relatively easy and time efficient task. Equally important, however, will be identifying which will encounter the least amount of internal resistance. Building trust in new processes and tools is a key pre-condition of success, so starting with the low-hanging fruit that will build confidence in the approach is the best way to begin.
Putting complexity in its place
Would taking this approach mean curtains for complexity? Not quite. Complex processes still have their place, but care is needed to ensure they're being used effectively and efficiently. This could be at the network edge, for example, where processing decisions are taken using the data at hand and close to where...