Next Generation Networks--It's Not All Software and Bots.

Author:Gilmour, Chris

Now is not an easy time to be a communications service provider (CSP). On one side there's pressure to expand infrastructure to deal with growing customer demands for data and on the other, an increasing level of competition and constant pressure to provide customers with new, innovative services.

This combination of factors is generating networks that are significantly more complex than was the case even five years ago. Future-gazers are constantly predicting the 'next big thing' in tech, with many seeing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) as the keys to differentiation that can increase profit margins and solve network complexity problems that hold business back. But infrastructure changes are not restricted to software and bots. It's entirely possible that the fundamentals of tomorrow's networks are already in place, just waiting for the innovation that will bring them to life. Modern platforms, that is to say those built within the last three to five years, frequently hold vast amounts of functionality and programmability that are simply not being used at the moment.

Putty in your hands--re-engineering the complexity of your network.

Throughout history, innovators have worked with limited resources to create something ground-breaking, and networks work on very similar principles now. For any given business there can be hundreds of opportunities to 'tweak' existing network configuration to make it work better, more efficiently or more distinctively to add value to the enterprise. There may even be scope for a whole new product or product line: just as Play-Doh started life as wallpaper cleaner but became a market-leading toy for children, so a network can be programmed and changed to make better, more wide-ranging or simply new products.

The network is the key enabler of any CSP's business, and while it is complex it is also the place where costs can be contained and services managed and generated. Customers rely on it, so providers are understandably keen to maintain a steady state, and it unquestionably consumes a great deal of resource as staff work hard to provide the services that customers increasingly rely on for their day-to-day needs. But the fact remains that any modern platform is likely to contain a substantial amount of unused capability that the CSP could be exploiting to reduce costs, reduce customer churn and increase revenue--but they're not. Why?

Very often, the issue is one of resource. Communications service...

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