5G and the transition to multicloud are setting up new customer expectations for network operators. As discussed in a previous blog, today’s customers value an excellent user experience almost above all else—and they are looking to communications service providers (CSPs) to deliver it, each and every time. If they can’t provide the consistent quality and guaranteed service levels that customers require, they risk losing them entirely.
Offering service differentiation at scale is a daunting task, but it’s also a great opportunity to capture new business, even as churn is minimized. Customers in every industry are genuinely excited about the possibilities of 5G, cloud and AI coming together. Car manufacturers are looking to leverage private 5G slices for telematics and software upgrades. Local governments want to turbocharge secure first responder networks with ultra-high speed and ultra-low latency. And we’re witnessing new real-time apps like in-home healthcare, e-health and self-driving vehicles, as well as rich interactive video experiences, gaming, live broadcasts and more.
To exchange ideas on what’s needed to unlock these possibilities, I recently participated in a conversation with a top analysts and operators through a Network Media Group webinar, “Accelerating the Shift to a Differentiated Service Experience.” Together, we talked about how operators can best meet today’s changing demands and why it’s so important for them to move fast to seize this unique moment.
Collectively, peers and participants within the top CSPs strongly agreed that the customer experience is the next battleground and will be fundamental in defining tomorrow’s winners.
“An exceptional customer experience is at the foundation of all that we do,” said Aamir Hussain, SVP and Chief Product Officer at Verizon Business. “Without that, it really doesn’t matter how one comes in and tries to differentiate themselves. It’s the service that the customers get from us that really counts.”
Delivering that exceptional customer experience starts from the first moment the customer requests service. Automation is fundamental in delivering on that promise to customers.
“There is no way without a substantial investment in automation to be able to provision customers in a timely manner,” said Roy Chua, Founder at AvidThink. “Today, timely means within five seconds after I purchase a service, I expect to be able to use it. It’s not just the initial provisioning of the services, it’s also the ongoing monitoring of those services; the closed-loop nature of seeing what’s going on with that service; the telemetry that’s gathered; and taking action on that to ensure that the quality of experience that the customer expects is maintained through the lifetime of that service.”
Aamir Hussain agreed that automation is key to creating the best customer experience possible and added that it helps lead to a cost structure that can be passed on to customers to help stay competitive in the marketplace. Neil McRae, Group Chief Architect at British Telecom, also observed that automation creates a real opportunity to transform not only the experience for the end-user, but also the experience for the operator themselves.
“Today’s network is built so complex that to try and run it manually just isn’t feasible anymore,” he said. “We have so many different parameters that can change, and so many different things to add, everything from tilting antennas to switching channels. Anyone who’s not making a significant investment in automation is really on a path to ruin. It’s so crucially important, even just the basic services – we need automation to scale and grow the network today.”
Even before they introduce a service, organizations are faced with tough questions. How do they know that the service will scale effectively so they don’t have a trial and error at the expense of users? How do they know it’s up and running? How do they know whether the quality is meeting customers’ expectations? And how do they know how it will perform at scale?
Embedding a high level of active assurance, with a focus on service quality from the entirety of the design, delivery and ongoing operations of the services, into all stages of the operational lifecycle is critical. That’s why Juniper Networks introduced Juniper’s Paragon Automation, which opens the door to a new experience-first era of networking. Assuring the service experience is already laying the groundwork for some exciting new possibilities, like 5G network slicing technology that can provide users with a dedicated end-to-end network with guaranteed quality.
Aamir Hussain observed that the evolution of 5G network slicing is an ongoing journey that will support some attractive use cases for customers.
“I personally believe that a broadband slice will be the first to be implemented, followed by other slices, eventually, leading to a dynamic allocation of resources and slices for different customer use cases,” he said. “We do a lot of work, for example, with our customers, where they’re really digitally transforming their business. Having a broadband slice for time-sensitive applications is a key part of our value proposition and I think there’ll be premium broadband experiences that will be created on top of that.”
Like so many opportunities, timing and agility are critical. For Neil McRae, what’s most important is the ability to act to apply these great new enabling technologies and rapidly define and own the next wave of innovative new services.
“In the MPLS days during the move to IP voice, operators provided the coverage of the network and the capability of the network, but then let other people monetize it,” he said. “I truly believe if we do that again, we’re in real trouble. We’ve got to create much more services ourselves, in healthcare, in manufacturing, in logistics, in drones, all of those areas where there is space for us to play. It starts with a huge level of confidence in the performance and the capabilities of the network.”
Delivering Assured Experiences and Innovative Solutions
At Juniper, we are relentlessly looking for new ways to bring innovation to our customers. This year, we’ve overachieved in delivering game-changing solutions that will empower our CSP partners to lead their markets.
Our new cloud metro solutions are just one example. Juniper’s Cloud Metro vision reimagines today’s siloed, point-to-point metro networks as a single, versatile IP services fabric. We’re making that vision a reality by building on our experience with cloud-scale operators managing massive networks at scale with automated operations. It’s all about driving costs and complexity down, while positioning customers to add their own unique value to the emerging edge and 5G applications that will captivate their end users and customers.
In the emerging experience-first era, assurance is the key to achieving the differentiation needed to succeed and thrive in a dynamic marketplace. To learn more about how to deliver an assured experience to end users with Paragon Automation, check out our Building the Automated WAN of the Future session from our recent Juniper Global Summit.