October 21, 2019

Striking a Balance between Manual and Automated Operations

Agile processes and intelligent systems lead to greater customer satisfaction.

For the end customer, there’s only one requirement for the network – it has to work. However, making sure it works – and keeping it working – takes a lot more effort. No matter how skilled the engineer, the volume and complexity of today’s networks exceed the ability of even the savviest to keep up. Every network is a hybrid of fixed, wireless and virtual resources. Optimizing and monetizing that network requires agile processes, intelligent systems and automation.

While the scale of these networks is daunting, the processes to operate them don’t necessarily have to be. Many of today’s network operations processes are there to work around existing systems and processes. Add-ons and exceptions are so common that the original process has been entirely obliterated to continue to achieve the same outcomes.

Let the Outcomes Dictate the Solution

Let’s look at the process from the outside in by starting with the customer and working back to the network. Consider the best parts of online interactions that you have today, and simultaneously consider the worst. Identifying the solution to the problems will come later in the process, thus it’s important to remember that at this stage of the plan. 

From a mapping perspective, instead of A→B→C, it’s actually more important to first define how A, B and C look, feel and act. Once this has been achieved, then comes the strategy around integration and how processes should be defined that can enable the service customization that each customer will expect.

With this more open minded, agile approach, the next step is to define business outcomes as it relates to how best to keep customer alignment in focus. Defined outcomes would include such areas as:

  • Dashboard data for each customer is correlated and available to both customers and support personnel at-a-glance
  • Detailed data is available with one click
  • Services optimized for mobile devices
  • Customer control of add, change and disconnect of individual products with rules to make sure there are no mistakes
  • One-touch provisioning that optimizes a service design and connects it
  • Interactive help that isn’t just FAQ lookups

These and other outcomes are achievable in numerous ways, so make sure the system delivers without worrying about how it’s built.

Striking a Balance

When millions of end devices, servers, storage and applications must be delivered in a secure multi-tenant fashion, the scale of operations reaches well beyond anything that has been previously experienced. As a result, even hardcore network engineers are admitting that they need help from technology.

While solutions are almost never fully automated or completely manual, there is of course high value in automating repetitive maintenance routines, fault isolation, failover, configuration and answering common queries. Agile processes implemented by intelligent, automated systems enable technical staff to analyze results and diagnose complex problems without getting bogged down in work arounds and data entry.

Netcracker provides the Agile/DevOps strategy, design, roadmap and implementation, and with our skilled resources that have been working these problems for years, we also have the professional services experience to understand what needs to happen behind-the-scenes to get it done. That solution will be open, configurable and agile, and it will be delivered based the desired CSP outcomes.

In a recent Deloitte survey, organizations that achieved a healthy balance between human talent and automation saw improved productivity (95%), increased compliance (93%) and a reduction in costs (91%).

So, what’s the secret to striking this balance? It’s not agile systems, it’s actually the agile processes. While automation and intelligence are part of the solution, automating an outdated process can have a dramatic impact on not just service alignment, but eventually on customer satisfaction as well, which becomes a win-win for everyone.

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