I’m sure you’ve heard that digital transformation is coming and that we should be getting ready for it. In reality it’s been incrementally happening for years.
You use the internet every day to connect to the bigger world. But with the advent of more complex technology, many wonder what digital transformation really means or how it will change day-to-day business. The technical definition of digital transformation sounds something like: the merging of detailed, real-time data with modern technologies like cloud native apps, Big Data architectures, hyper-converged technologies, artificial intelligence, and blockchain to enhance products, processes, and business strategy as well as customer, product, and operational insights.
Needless to say, that is a huge concept! So, putting it more simply: digital transformation is the application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve business efficiency and enhance the customer experience. I think an easier way to understand the impact on business that these transformation efforts have is to look at a real-world example.
How does digital transformation affect you?
Let’s use the example of a retail setting — if you look at digital transformation from the customer side, it can create a more streamlined, personalized experience. Using apps or software to support customer engagement can provide new ways to interact with buyers — not to mention provide better buying habit insight. Often, that kind of specific understanding can give you the ability to change how your customer thinks about your brand. Imagine the impact it would make if your customer could shop more easily, buy more quickly and resolve their concerns faster. And, of course, there would be real benefits to the retailer, too. You could expect:
- Optimized planning, procurement, logistics, inventory management, merchandising, marketing, sales, and support processes
- Better customer lifecycle management (from acquisition to maturation, retention, and advocacy)
- Reduced inventory costs through predictive product, market, and seasonal predictive analytics and real-time data feeds
- Less product shrinkage with customer, product, and operational insights
- Increased flexibility with the ability to identify shifting customer demands and predict the resulting customer, product, and operational impacts
To truly utilize digital transformation’s full potential, telecom teams will find that the components are varied and can be specific to both the organization and the industry vertical. But, there are three functional areas that all telecom teams need to be well-versed in to support a digital transformation effort.
- Inventory Management
- Contract Optimization
- Telecom Security Management
Inventories are an essential part of every telecom environment; they allow you to track your implemented services and act as a baseline for a variety of different activities.
An inventory is the aggregation of telecom and data services, assets, locations, invoices, contracts, and related documentation to gather a clear and accurate picture of these elements in your environment. A comprehensive and accurate inventory can provide your organization with useful information, including the ability to validate against contracts; a baseline for invoice audit, supporting evidence for disputes, and optimization opportunities; as well as a tool for real-time MACD management and visibility.
Your telecom team should be trained to maintain an accurate inventory. This is key to being able to bring in new technology — if you can’t track what you have, you run the risk of creating problems with legacy equipment not being able to function in tandem with something new.
Telecom contract optimization
As mentioned, there are basic ways to be sure your contracts are in good shape, but a great next step to optimizing your telecom contracts is to perform an invoice-to-contract analysis. Learning the main components of environment validation will put you on track to move forward with new technology.
Invoice-to-contract validation establishes an optimization baseline. By performing a validation process, an organization will have a better understanding of how much is being paid vs. how much should be paid, which will enable the company to review opportunities to cut costs or optimize spend by making changes.
While going through this analysis, be sure to validate the voice and data plan accuracy separately as each could potentially have information pertaining to different rates and types of plans. It’s also important to make sure employees are assigned to the correct plan, especially after new contracts begin or services are added or removed. Be aware that wireless invoice errors can be common since fluctuation in services can prompt errors in invoicing. Of course, wireless usage will fluctuate depending on many factors, so it is important to validate regularly.
Telecom security is an enormous concept ranging from the simple: don’t leave your phone unattended in a public place, to the complex: how to configure your encryption levels based on industry vertical.
AOTMP® University offers over 25 different courses on telecom security — it’s the best place place to begin to understand some of the essential elements for maintaining information security. In our AOTMP® Efficiency First Tools portal, we have checklists to help you verify, identify, and evaluate common telecom security opportunities.
Let’s walk through a few steps you can take to make your telecom security more effective:
- Identify relevant telecom information systems that contain confidential data. This also includes listing all relevant regulations.
- Develop/implement a security plan. Ensure that the information security plan is reasonable and complies with all regulations. Be aware and plan for all potential financial, regulatory, and reputation risks
- Adopt transparent, reasonable processes. Ensure business departments are following security rules as intended.
- Categorize and prioritize telecom information and data.
It’s important that your team understands how emerging technology will be used in their environment and are completely comfortable with how to mesh existing knowledge with new concepts. Let’s take a high-level look at some innovations in technology that will impact any digital transformation together.
- Blockchains are “intranet-based infrastructures” by nature that function within a specific domain. A blockchain is “an enabling infrastructure template” that requires a plethora of applications, processes, solutions and layered services to work. This is important because blockchains can be setup to help telecom management in many ways, from smart contracts to better supply chain solution support.
- As we move toward an “always-connected” world, understanding how 5G impacts your business is something every telecom team should consider. A good example is the change in non-networked areas 5G will be able to provide for environmental monitoring and agri-business Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad concept and something we’re starting to deal with every day. But true machine learning is also becoming more widely used by many organizations. An example of how this technology is truly changing the way that business operates can be seen in the area of Natural Language Processing (NLP), where we’re starting to find machine learning system controls being used to read and interpret text for outcome prediction and real-time issue resolution.
- Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) is the consolidation of all IT-owned, connected asset management tasks. The biggest problem UEM solves is the disparate management systems being used within a single IT organization. Those pushing for UEM feel that businesses can restore critical support time to other areas by centralizing these controls and driving efficiency.
All of these new technologies will combine to create true digital transformation. It can be a lengthy, expensive, and complex change for your enterprise — but with our help it doesn’t have to be.
Contact us to start your digital journey and lead your telecom organization toward a Center of Excellence evolution.