It is fair to say that times are tough right now for Communication Service Providers (CSP’s). 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, in turn, generating networks that are significantly more complex than was the case even five years ago. Industry experts 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.

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.

Reworking the intricacies 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.

The network is the key enabler of any Communication Service Providers business, and while it is complex it is also the place where costs can be contained, and services managed and generated. 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 the resources. It’s hard enough launching new products, let alone re configuring the very core of the business. But Communication Service Providers also know that they simply can’t afford to neglect their infrastructure and pin their hopes on ‘the next big thing’. Network efficiency, meeting customer demand and creating new services are the key to their continued success; they must be able to respond to current challenges and future-proof the business.

The good news is that there is often more help and expertise to be had, closer to home and more easily than Communication Service Providers realise. Somewhere there is somebody who can get under the skin of your network, ascertain its potential and explain how you can turn that to your advantage. You won’t know however until you ask your expert. The obvious place to look for expertise is with your trusted suppliers. After all, who is likely to know your own network any better?

In addition, leveraging the programmability of your platform to automate takes you a step closer to next-generation networks. But remember, just because you can automate doesn’t mean you have to: use your analytics and expertise to build a case for change and quantify your expected ROI first. Then, when you know what you want to change, have a chat with your local expert; chances are that they have seen your automation done before and will know the likely pitfalls and if not how to avoid them, then how to tackle them.

In a typical Service Provider, departments tend to work in silo and focus entirely on their own area of expertise, many don’t realise that if they bring in their supplier partners, not only can they tell you what your network is capable of, they are also objective enough to gather feedback from multiple areas of the business and share learning and insights in exactly the same way. At Axians we have seen great improvements come from workshops that integrate consultancy and data intelligence, as they tailor services with the benefit of increased experience and exposure to comparable scenarios, free from the restrictions of working.

In the constant hunt for ‘the latest thing,’ it can often be easy to overlook these simple practices and getting the basics right. Automation and AI have the potential to set Communication Service Providers apart from the competition and provide innovative new services, but this is pointless if there is not a good, future-proof network underpinning it all and driving the business forward. The network of today is the workplace for future success.

Chris Gilmour Technical Practice Lead