As a leader in the South African telecoms space, Nebula has compiled a specially selected list of the top trends they see affecting enterprise-level telecoms ecosystems in 2016. These trends are based on their client needs in the telecoms space, and what they consider important for all enterprises to ensure high performance business enablement in 2016
1. Creating a System-Generated Knowledge Base
By integrating the telecoms environment onto a single system it is now possible to create a knowledge base that gives a business a single view of the secondary data in their telecoms environment.
A system-generated knowledge base allows companies to identify the secondary data sets available within their telecoms environment. From this it is possible to identify and automate significant and complex telecoms tasks. Operational processes within the telecoms environment that previously had to be done manually, such as account recon, or usage tracking and management, can now be done automatically through smart algorithms.
Companies can also use advanced analytics to pull meaningful insights out of the knowledge base. This enables more effective management of the enterprise telecoms ecosystem. With advanced analytics and data enrichment it is possible to access clean, uninterrupted, real time data, which enables more accurate forecasting and reduced wastage.
A system-generated knowledge base for the full telecoms spectrum within the enterprise, will give a company real-time optimisation and control, enabling a high performance telecoms environment.
2. Enhanced Focus on Network Security
Businesses are having to increase their focus on network security as wireless LANs and business mobility becomes more widespread. Network access control is no longer solely tied to physical LAN cabling, and with increased numbers of mobile devices being used for various business functions, companies must consider who has access to their network and what information is available to them.
Companies also need to ensure that their data is secure on all devices, and that the personal information of users is not compromised.
Businesses must therefore consider how to provide the required levels of connectivity for a mobile workforce, at an acceptable level of security. For example, employees may be able to work from anywhere, but sensitive company information should never be transferred over unsecured public networks.
Many companies will need to address the issue of restricting network access to unauthorised endpoint devices, or restricting availability of resources from unsecured access points. In order to do this companies need to build up a complete view of all the devices that have permission to access the network, be they company-owned or BYOD. Having a single view of all the devices in the telecoms environment will enable better compliance and access control over the entire network.
3. Overcoming the Operational Pitfalls of First Generation UC Deployments
Unified Communications (UC) is a completely new technology compared to previous generations of telecoms and communications systems. Where in the past most telecoms services where delivered separately, UC has combined them into a single service.
Companies that have deployed UC systems are therefore finding that the boundaries have changed. There is a disconnect between the expectation of UC services when they were originally deployed, and how they are being used now. This blurring of boundaries has made UC systems difficult to manage, as the old methods of managing the individual services can no longer be applied.
For example, because of the tech hype around UC, many companies underestimated their requirements in terms of consumption. By not understanding real user requirements or uptake, they are not in control of how it is used and may not have a view of a per-employee or per-division cost allocation and usage.
One of the major pitfalls that companies experience when first implementing a UC solution is not developing an adequate cost management system. In a UC solution, one must manage not only the various technologies and services but also the costs around claim backs, recharging, number tracking and call category identification.
Companies need to retain a clear view of usage and costs in order to manage spend wastage and inefficient utilisation.
It is also important to ensure that a UC solution provides the required connectivity for all users, so that they are always available and online, ensuring always-on always-available data coverage.
4. Managing the use of OTT services
With the current ubiquity of mobile devices, many employees are using both private and business devices on the company Wi-Fi network. This can lead to large amounts of data usage, as they run OTT applications that are both business-related and personal. This can also cause security concerns for the company if the OTT services are accessing the network.
OTT services can allow employees to exchange files, messages, data, video, and more from their mobile devices. This can improve communication, efficiency, and information sharing in a business. It is important, however, for businesses to manage which applications are being used, and the associated data costs that this incurs.
Companies therefore need to consider what rules need to be applied around this, and how access can be controlled without inhibiting workflow or productivity.
Employees will generally have their own preferred OTT applications, and they will work more efficiently on tools they are familiar with (this is sometimes referred to as Bring Your Own App). It is therefore important to let employees know which OTT services are acceptable to use on the company Wi-Fi. For example, a system of white-listing and black-listing various applications according to their business usefulness, data consumption, or security, will give employees a clear idea of which applications they can and cannot use.
A system that enables users to manage their own usage and costs will also make employees feel more empowered and improve efficiency.
5. Fulfilling High Performance Business Demand through Intelligent and Integrated Deployments
Large, high performance enterprises require high levels of flexibility to deploy best-of-breed technologies and services within their telecoms environment. Being able to implement and test new services should therefore become an important part of the procurement process.
When new telecoms services need to be integrated into the telecoms ecosystem, all secondary data needs to be made available, to show in real time that the solution will produce the expected results.
To this end, businesses need to implement intelligent and integrated systems to manage deployment within their telecoms ecosystem. These solutions help companies optimise service provider management and flexibility to avoid contract lock-in. As a result, any new services are deployed and managed through an integrated system, which gives a complete view of the telecoms environment, and the performance of all services and service providers.
This provides a clear view of all contracts, SLAs, and deployments, and gives companies the power to negotiate shorter and more flexible contracts with service providers, based on their current needs.
6. Next Generation Loyalty Programs
Many large companies are looking at ways to take their current loyalty programs to the next level. One option that is seeing uptake in this area is the launch of Virtual Mobile Networks.
By becoming a Virtual Mobile Network Operator (VMNO) a company can leverage the power of its existing customer base to provide a variety of value added services through telecoms services.
For example, FNB has launched a VMNO which provides competitive voice and data packages to their banking clients. This can create customer loyalty, reduce churn, and provide a unique selling point to new customers.
Companies looking to launch an MNO service, as part of a broader loyalty program, should carefully identify the right partner to enable this kind of service.
7. IT Self-Service
Enterprises are looking for ways to give staff more control of their own IT needs. Many companies have high IT overheads and inefficient systems for dealing with employee’s IT problems.
By implementing an IT self-service platform, employees are able to manage their own devices and IT issues without escalating it to the IT department. This reduces the overhead needed to support users in the IT department, and can improve turn-around time and increase efficiency in the workforce.
With an IT Self-Service, greater automation and integration is enabled within the organisation, and employees, branches, and other divisions are empowered to manage their own IT needs.
8. Independent Auditing
When it comes to their telecoms environment, many companies find it difficult to do internal audits, as information is often fragmented and difficult to find, with different services providers giving access to different types of data.
In order to counteract this, companies are implementing automated third-party telecoms management systems. This allows for better information tracking and visibility, and enables the company to do a completely automated data collection in order to perform an audit of the entire telecoms ecosystem, quickly and efficiently.
Within these systems, all secondary telecoms data is archived in a central location, making it easier to access and gather relevant information. The information is also more secure, and can be stored according to internal governance and compliance requirements.
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