The enterprise network is an essential resource that must provide high levels of availability, performance and security. To meet the stringent demands of enterprises and operate a profitable business, service providers must use artificial intelligence (AI) based tools and solutions in several parts of the network to reduce labor and other expenses, while improving network quality.
Evolving Network Needs
The business world is still attempting to understand exactly what the “new normal” of work will be in the post-pandemic timeline. The reality is that no one truly has it figured out yet. In the short term, businesses need to be nimble and able to adjust depending on the needs of their workforce. This means that service providers need to be just as agile when it comes to the services they provide. Networks need to be able to handle whatever the future will bring – remote, hybrid, fully back in the office – or, most likely, all three at once.
Service Provider Needs
Service providers themselves are, of course, running a business. They need to remain dedicated to providing top-notch services and technologies to their customers but must find ways to do so that help their own bottom line. In addition to excellent service, they need to set their organizations up for continued growth and expansion. This can sometimes create a problem for service providers that don’t immediately understand that while new business can be added, their capabilities must grow as well. It is critical to be able to provide the excellent services the business has become known for – and to provide them fully to a larger set of customers. If service levels slip, customers become unhappy and begin to look for alternatives.
Some service providers invest in tools, such as dashboards and the like, that enable them to consolidate management of customer networks. These are a necessary part of the equation, but the fact of the matter is there are far too many alerts and too many potential issues to troubleshoot in a timely manner. Even tools like dashboards need expanded workforces to respond to and solve the issues customers face.
Many service providers have expanded their business and then simply hired new employees to service the new contracts. Unfortunately, that just isn’t a sustainable (or cost-efficient) solution in today’s market. There isn’t enough highly trained talent to go around, and not every service provider has the resources to train the next generation on their dime.
In order to be successful in scaling the business while providing the services that customers expect, service providers need to embrace innovative technologies and automation tools, such as AI.
The Benefits of AI
AI tools can be the difference maker for service providers struggling to scale effectively while still maintaining the excellent user experience their business is known for. For service providers under this pressure, AI can cost-effectively solve the problems caused by the need to hire new employees.
In addition, adding AI-powered tools to the network monitoring, management and troubleshooting process can provide big dividends for service providers. AI can help identify problems, speed troubleshooting, assist in repairs and decrease customer downtime – all helping to cut down the expenses incurred by service providers during this process.
There are three main ways that AI can be a game changer for service providers:
- Management– A growing number of customers means an ever-expanding amount of networks to view, manage and maintain. Service providers are responsible for ensuring key traffic is delivered as expected and that networks, devices and equipment are all operating optimally. AI can serve as the staff – the extra technician – who constantly monitors each environment and alerts to potential issues that need to be addressed. With AI, providers can maintain an excellent user experience while technicians work on higher-value tasks and responsibilities.
- Troubleshooting – When problems are reported, speed and expense become a factor. How long does it take technicians to not only respond, but to solve a problem? Has the customer been unable to work or unable to open business during that time? Is the process of discovery and troubleshooting driving up costs for the service provider and potentially violating a customer service agreement, requiring providing refunds?
AI technology can help quickly identify the specifics around a reported problem, speeding time to resolution. Without AI, each potential cause – say a bad cable, a failed router or even human error – would need to be investigated until the issue was resolved. This requires time and money. With AI, the specific cause can be immediately identified and addressed without delay, saving time and money.
- Repair– The use of AI doesn’t have to stop at just finding a problem. AI can help technicians make the actual repairs.
Perhaps there’s a situation where a problem is identified, but either because of staffing issues, outdated equipment, an inexperienced employee or even an expert being away on vacation, the technician on call is unsure of how to proceed. Instead of waiting to find an expert, AI technology can recommend steps to solve the problem, or even resolve the issue by itself. In this way, the customer experience is maintained by not delaying repairs.
Service providers, however, do need to be aware of vendor-based AI “whitewashing.” Technology providers understand the marketing impact of incorporating AI-based tools in their solutions. The fact of the matter is that not all AI-driven network offerings are created equal. Service providers must do their due diligence and look under the hood to decipher what is really meant by AI. Sophisticated AI and machine learning algorithms require tremendous amounts of telemetry data to calibrate baselines, to most accurately detect anomalies. Early to market vendors in the AI space have a leg up on the competition.
The economic benefits of utilizing AI-driven network management technologies for a growing service provider are easy to see. In addition to speeding identification and repairs of problems and assisting with staffing-related scaling issues, AI can also change the very way a service provider operates, making future expansion both more efficient and cost-effective.
Would you like to learn more about how Juniper’s AI-driven SD-WAN solution can accelerate the responsiveness of an IT team, driving improved experiences with a strong economic value for your company?
Watch the webinar “Beyond the Driver: Achieve Ultimate Performance with AI” that features Ray Mota, CEO and Principal Analyst at ACG Research, Peter Fetterolf, CTO at ACG Research, and Tim Lieto, VP of Sales at Juniper discussing AI’s economic value.