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Why now is the time for proactive network management – the consumerization of IT driving change (part 2 of 5)

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23 October 2015

The funding and drive for innovation has changed historically, progressing through three major stages largely driven by the availability, price and size of computing hardware.

  • -Government funded R&D based around mainframe computing
  • -Private business funded innovation driven by commercial PC adoption
  • -Consumer driven innovation based on the huge adoption of mobile devices across the globe

Consumerization is defined by Gartner as

Consumerizationis the specific impact that consumer-originated technologies can have on enterprises. It reflects how enterprises will be affected by, and can take advantage of, new technologies and models that originate and develop in the consumer space, rather than in the enterprise IT sector. Consumerization is not a strategy or something to be “adopted.” Consumerization can be embraced and it must be dealt with, but it cannot be stopped.

How is this impacting PNM in modern Cable MSO enterprises?

Mobility and Wireless

The average consumer expects their personal smart phone and tablet software applications to work all the time wherever they are because it’s the new normal. But for many people the experience changes dramatically when they switch into work mode.

Professional enterprise software systems work but are often built on a previous generation of technology that has evolved from a features and functions perspective but was designed for the office and has not kept pace with the need for constant accessibility regardless of the device and location.

Having all the relevant information available where ever you are is a fundamental building block of PNM for field operations and customer service staff. The ultimate goal is to unleash valuable information that is held in office based complex systems and make it available, relevant and easily understandable to the greater network management and customer service community. The greater usability of mobile devices, improvements in operating systems such as Android, iOS and Windows together with new Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems now provide the usability, practicality and security that enterprises can exploit.

Another interesting outcome of making the network design available to the personnel who are out working in the field every day is crowd sourcing of information. This provides an excellent avenue and opportunity to quantify and ultimately sync up disparate data sources that are telling two different stories. Matching billing data against design now can happen on a daily basis with the empowerment of the field to see discrepancies and contribute to data integrity, reducing “data rot” which is paramount for effective PNM.

Conclusion: To fully embrace PNM, wherever practical all data must be available on any device, anywhere regardless of network connectivity. Consumer demand has created usable hardware and software platforms that can be adopted across an organization.

Cloud Data

Google is an example of how cloud based systems driven by consumer demand are impacting business users. When Google released Maps, Street View and Traffic to consumers it turned the traditional geospatial industry upside down. With Google Maps practically any consumer with a laptop, tablet or phone can access a comprehensive map and database at any time almost instantly with little to no training.

Business professionals using Google Maps in their daily jobs was a natural next step. For cable mso companies especially, location inherently plays a major role in a large number of decisions and Google Maps has quickly become the go to app to supplement location-based analysis and visualization. But the real power is integrating this cloud based information seamlessly with your critical enterprise operational data.

One of the critical capabilities for PNM is to combine Google and other cloud data sources with enterprise data for an enriched set of capabilities such as more comprehensive queries incorporating data not maintained by your organization, greater location intelligence, and improved situational awareness.

Conclusion: Integrating cloud based consumer data sources with your operations data provides many day to day operational benefits which can be integrated into your PNM program such as reduced number of trips to the field, more data sources for network planning and live visibility of environmental issues.

Geospatial open source software for the enterprise

As we are examining how enterprise location intelligence platforms can help drive PNM we will stick to discussing the geospatial side of open source. It is now widely recognized that the greatest innovation in the geospatial software industry is being driven by the open source community which is in turn being pushed by the consumers desire for spatial context with their mobile devices.

There are multiple open source software solutions, including the Leaflet and OpenLayers JavaScript libraries, which are very widely used by Web developers. There are also a lot of geospatial open source software components available now that have the capabilities and robustness to be used in serious enterprise applications — for example widely used server side components include GeoServer and the PostGIS spatial relational database. In some cases, Cable MSO's are directly implementing solutions based on these components, in others third party software vendors are building telecom focused solutions on top of them.

The use of these software innovations can significantly decrease deployment times when they are embraced by companies implementing PNM programs. They are focused on improving the usability of geospatial data in a mobile environment which was always an afterthought for the more traditional GIS vendors.

Conclusion: Open source geospatial software driven by consumer demand for geospatial context is driving new innovations which help field teams in their day to day tasks of improving network performance. Consider incorporating them into your solutions for PNM to reduce software development times whilst maintaining enterprise level robustness.

Summary

The consumerization of IT has changed the emphasis of innovation from office based solutions to mobile. By embracing these innovations, Cable MSO companies can now finally deploy solutions to the field which are practical to use and can deliver all the information required in a timely manner to implement and enterprise wide PNM solution.


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