Customer driven change is going to be the new constant in broadband and entertainment services.
Christmas is not a month past, and the marketplace continues to create “cool new must-haves” for cable customers. Pressure increases, both internally and externally, on the MSOs’ operations teams to enable at least some, if not all, of these new toys. The new functionalities need to be introduced quickly, and all within the established 2011 budgets.
To state the obvious, smart planning and spending are critical factors for efficient and cost-effective deployment. Having worked closely with many MSOs, we have found several basic market "truths" that play a critical role in the delivery of next-generation video anywhere, anytime, to any device. The first is that each market brings to bear its own idiosyncrasies, and therefore requires the development of its own delivery roadmap and go-to-market plan. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for service delivery because every cable ecosystem has its own unique infrastructure, staff and budget challenges.
A second basic truth we found is that the most successful execution comes from having the most thorough upfront planning process, one that incorporates not only those local market idiosyncrasies, but also the broadest recognition of all related costs. This is called “service economics” – it emphasizes not just the hardware and software costs, but the total expense of actually selling and launching the service. While developing a thorough deployment plan may seem like an obvious first step, many new tactical enhancements and next-generation deployments struggle in the launch process because the initial plans are made with too narrow a perspective.
In many cases, third-party vendors present only their own costs of integrating their solutions to the buyer’s network. Yet with each new solution comes new complexity that touches many departments. We often see situations where executives who run departments outside of the immediate engineering groups are sometimes not included as part of the upgrade planning, even though they play a critical role in the success of the go-to-market process. By excluding those who run the regional centers, or those responsible for training field installers, or briefing the customer service reps or rewriting SOP manuals, costs are driven up. When time is tight, incorporation of more departments can seem only to slow down the process, but in fact MSOs can save both time and money by recognizing that those who will sell and actually deliver the new product play roles easily as important as those of the engineers who designed it.
When MSOs look to implement new services, our Professional Services Team is often called in to help ensure that the broadest and most inclusive planning process possible is in place, long before deployment begins. We help to ensure that the full costs of deployment are articulated and the maximum efficiencies are employed in advance, as inefficiency in performing the most prosaic tasks can be an ROI killer. By looking at each proposed “must be deployed” solution through the prism of service economics, we ensure we have captured not only the initial deployment costs, but also the actual operational and lifecycle costs of the ongoing capex investment.
Go-to-market costs can be minimized and controlled through thoughtful employee preparation and planning. It is said that the devil is in the details. I cannot stress enough the importance of upfront, careful analysis that we call “discovery.” Every week invested upfront doing a system and business model deep-dive could save in the order of three to four weeks on the back end. The old saying is the six Ps – Proper Planning Prevents Punishingly Poor Performance. Ask any MSO what the value save is of every week or month on the back end, in terms of lost revenue, and they will tell you it starts mounting up drastically.
Customer-driven change is going to be the new constant in broadband and entertainment services. By planning beyond a narrow set of deliverables, with an experienced partner, and considering the true service economics, MSOs can improve their overall ROI and time to market of new services, budget more effectively, and create a more productive and engaged workforce. In a scale game like cable, that can make all the difference when success is measured at year-end.
Next month, Amdocs’ chief technology officer David Jacobs will write about commercial services.