Given the rapid rate of change in the telecom space - especially the mobile segment - the challenge for network is twofold. Not only do they need to ensure their networks and operations are functioning optimally, and to extend their network resources in order to reach new subscribers, they must also focus on the actual customer, what drives their interest, what applications and services are they interested in
, and how do they retain and acquire these customers. In other words, they have their customer relationship business and their network business to handle while looking for a strategic edge over competitors
For these operators, that also means devising new strategies
that will allow them to successfully accomplish these different, yet intimately intertwined tasks that define their success. In today's new world of constantly evolving communications technologies - which impacts the entire value chain, from infrastructure and hardware vendors to network operators to subscribers - the need to more rapidly than ever adapt to new demands and new technologies often means enlisting the help of trusted partners. Network operators are already looking to third-party application and content providers
to deliver a wider array of services to customers, but now many are also looking to partner with third parties that have the capabilities to effectively manage all or part of their network operations
An Alcatel-Lucent white paper
describes five models operators can employ when considering how an outsourcing model as they look to transform their business models to be able to more effectively meet dynamic subscriber needs. These models, from first to last, present something of an evolutionary progression, from the most simple to the most complex - though all are designed to deliver a level of operational efficiency and cost savings
, and likely some level of capital savings as well.
Assistance and Consolidation Model
A model that resembles a consultant-client relationship, where the partner acts in a managed services capacity, providing analysis, change proposals, and assistance in change implementation. In this scenario, the operator maintains control of the entire network, but leaves open the door for migrating operational processes to the partner if that would provide additional cost or operational benefits. This can often be seen as a first step in migrating to a deeper relationship with the partner in an attempt to further lower OPEX.
Outsourcing/Strategic Collaboration Model
An extension of the assistance and consolidation model, here the operator relies on the managed services partner for many network operations, including network supervision, monitoring, diagnostics, and troubleshooting; field operations and on-site management and troubleshooting; service and network configuration and management; network performance and capacity management; and security and disaster recovery management.
In this capacity, the managed services provider is tasked with optimization of infrastructure, processes, and organization, including taking oversight of existing processes, resources, and staff, allowing it to effectively operate and manage the entire network for an extended period on behalf of the operator. The managed services provider focuses on OPEX and CAPEX reduction, lower time to market - as well as taking on much of the risk associated with operational oversight of the network.
Build/Operate/Manage (BOM) Solutions Model
The BOM model presents a much more complex, multi-phase model, especially effective for operators who are looking to build out new networks or extend existing ones. It includes outsourcing of network design, planning, engineering, installation, testing, and roll-out; operational oversight and management of the network (see the outsourcing/strategic collaboration model above); and a transition plan for transferring assets, staff, and operational responsibility to the operator upon the successful deployment, as much as several years after going live, once operations are stable.
The BOM model is well suited for operators looking to extend their reach - especially mobile operators - that don't have the resources to manage expansion or would prefer to continue to focus on subscriber attraction and retention, but have a clear need to grow infrastructure quickly.
Managed Capacity Model
This is similar to the BOM and outsourcing models, but adds innovative pricing models based on capacity, equipment, or revenue. This allows the managed services partner to also enter similar arrangements with other operators to cover network costs and generate revenue, because it is not a pay as you grow model, but a contracted set of services/network capacity.
The model splits risk between the operator and the partner, but provides many of the OPEX and CAPEX benefits to the operator, as well as placing network and process optimization in the hands of the partner. On the other hand, the partner maintains control of the network and is able to leverage it in multiple relationships.
Business Migration with Full Outsourcing Model
This is effectively business transformation through complete outsourcing of network responsibilities and other responsibilities, including subscribers, services, OSS/BSS, and business and operational processes. The benefits, in terms of CAPEX and OPEX reduction can be significant in this model, not to mention risk transfer and new revenue generation, but it requires a significantly more capable and experience managed services provider than the other four models. But, the right partner can be the a key factor in driving success in helping the operator achieve strategic goals.
For such a complete outsourcing arrangement, operators expend the time and effort to choose the right partner - one with global experience and references, a proven model and capacity for delivering on that model, global NOCs and support facilities to back its service guarantees through metrics and KPIs, and demonstrable operational efficiency.