Downturn has big upside for operators

It’s tempting to feel industry sages are talking cant when they insist that many service providers will come out of the downturn leaner, fitter and more agile (a word that is becoming so over-used as to be meaningless).

However the Management World event in Nice last week gave me considerable food for thought on this topic. Yes, I accept that the figures came from vendors whose motivation is to sell their products to service providers. Also it is very, very frustrating, if understandable, that in the main vendors insist they can’t reveal details of their operator customers due to client confidentiality.

For example, Netcracker’s Sanjay Mewada insists that many network operators’ grasp of inventory is so poor that they have to up 30% of their network assets “stranded”, that is, “stuff they don’t even know exists”, which is why asset management has suddenly shot into their consciousness.

How can this happen? Simply because moves, adds and changes are so poorly recorded and, “There is the world of difference between the network as designed, built and as it is,” Mewada says.

He adds, “Other typical scenarios are that only three port on a router are used, but now the network operators want to find out what they’ve got and use the idle ports instead of ordering a new router.”

Peter Briscoe, director, global solutions, CTO office, Telcordia told me that a Tier 1 customer it is working closely with has so far  found €300 million of unrecorded assets, while Michele Campriani CEO of Accanto Systems claims that one of its Tier 1 customers discovered its call centers were dropping 25,000 calls a day once it got better visibility of what was going on.

This was happening because of the IVR being misconfigured. Campriani says, “Misconfiguration is by far the most common fault, which is usually down to human error such as a simple cable change.”

He added, “The month after we carry out an installation is a very delicate time. There are lots of rows and angry people within our customer’s organisation who insist the findings can’t be true. It’s a very severe shock when they begin to understand that it is true.”

All of which made me think that perhaps the main reason operators don’t want anyone to know what a mess some of them appear to make of running their business is because of the terrific damage it would do their reputation and share price. So in a weird way, it looks like the downturn certainly has an upside for operators (and those selling them the enabling technology, of course).