The coronavirus pandemic brought a wave of changes to the way people live and work. The most notable of these is the move to a remote or hybrid work model and increased dependency on remote B2C and B2B business models. This and other key changes have created an increased reliance on the internet, as well as a growing link between internet access and economic prosperity. So much so that the UK government has started taking action, introducing the UK Gigabit Programme to ensure all UK residents have access to high-speed internet.
This programme, as well as other similar government initiatives around the world, have ramped up the already active fiber deployment race in the telecom industry. Operators are now focused on meeting the demands set out by these initiatives and the financial incentives that come with them. However, deploying fiber is not enough. Operators are competing with one another and need to deliver a strong service to customers in a timely manner to ensure they are not outperformed and overtaken by competitors, which would lead to loss of market share and revenue.
1. Small steps will lead to big wins
The first step for operators to consider when competing in the fibre broadband race is how they are going to tackle the demands set out by government and internal initiatives. Many are investing in new technology, an approach supported by McKinsey, who noted in their Rethinking strategy for the post pandemic era study that “bolder, at-scale investments in technology are significantly more likely to support a successful transformation than those that are smaller in scope.”
While technology investment is fundamental, how operators execute their strategy will be key to long-term success. Growing the network is a huge task to undertake and organizations should carefully consider how they are going to approach this challenge. Some of the greatest success we’ve seen with IQGeo’s customers is a focus on a series of smaller incremental improvements that aim to deliver benefits in weeks, rather than a single large complex project that can take many months to show any results.
2. Develop an innovation blueprint that’s inclusive of the entire organization
To maximize success in the deployment of new technology, telecom operators should take the entire organization into consideration and how they will benefit from new implementations. This can be achieved by addressing a single pain point in the organization at a time, to deliver short-term measurable gains. If the technology used to overcome the issue is successful, it can then be incrementally rolled out across other operational and business areas.
Operators that start with one pain point, demonstrate the performance of a chosen solution, and then expand this solution across the lifecycle, will reap the rewards of smaller steps, as well as benefit from the exponential impact that a series of smaller, lower-risk steps can deliver.
Deploying technology incrementally also gives organizations the ability to regularly assess the effectiveness of their software and refine it with every new deployment. This proven technique provides organizations with an “innovation blueprint” that is tailored to their specific needs.
This approach also reinforces interconnected network processes and why it’s so important to build a strong technology foundation. This will create a flexible and agile strategy that can support the different priorities of individual departments, while also drawing together the full network lifecycle.
An added bonus of implementing technology incrementally is that it helps mitigate the risk of failure, when compared to larger scale projects. Focusing on smaller gains will allow telecom operators to assess new technology early and identify if it isn’t working. Developing and implementing a new “big bang” technology can take 12 - 18 months, during which time no benefits are realized and overall project risk is high. This means that if the technology is not effective at solving business issues, the large investment in time and money can be wasted. By focusing on a series of smaller goals, organizations can understand the effectiveness of technology much earlier, meaning they can move forward with confidence or change approach as appropriate.
3. Demonstrate value internally and externally
The demand for high-speed internet has opened up a massive opportunity for fiber operators to secure new customers and market share. To do so, operators must outperform the competitions by consistently delivering value to current and potential customers. This can be achieved by developing a long-term culture of innovation, which deploys smaller, more manageable gains to reach clear and measurable targets.
While developing a culture of innovation allows operators to demonstrate value to customers, it also creates an opportunity to do the same internally. Reviewing technology decisions and proving value allows organizations to display cost saving and efficiency gains, thus consistently highlighting ROI and paving the way for future investments.
The City of Westerville in Ohio provides a good example of the success incremental innovation can have across an organization. The city is the first municipality to have its own data centre and fibre network, meaning it can service residents as well as attract large businesses. The city has ambitious growth plans, and is consistently upgrading their technology to improve network reliability and support new services. This includes rolling out IQGeo’s fibre planning and development tools which allows it to optimize the usage of expensive fibre resources. The Westerville team's philosophy of constant technological innovation allows it to deliver better service, consistent operational improvements and impressive cost savings.
With the fibre broadband race continuing to gather pace, fiber operators can’t afford to stand still and let their competitors outrun them. Organizations must implement effective solutions in a timely manner, similar to the City of Westerville’s strategy, to gain access to new customers and higher revenue opportunities. Those that cannot keep pace with innovation will surely fall behind.
To learn more about how to win the fiber broadband race, watch our interview with Gary Bolton, President and CEO of Fiber Broadband Association on IQGeo's Network IQ industry chat.