Categories
Product Engineering

Unlock the power of AI to net visual bugs

Accelerate visual testing using AI and achieve better accuracy at lower operational costs

According to Browser stack, 67% of businesses conduct visual testing manually to detect and fix visual bugs.

However, manual testing to detect visual bugs has posed several challenges that affect productivity, such as:

  • Testing multiple aspects – Every single component in a UI requires thorough testing
  • Frequent UI changes lead to a redundant and prolonged testing process
  • Inconsistency in UI across platforms – Different UIs across different digital channels, such as browsers (both mobile and web versions), mobile apps, and operating systems (Android & IOS), make it difficult to conduct thorough testing

To overcome the aforementioned challenges, service providers must use AI to automate the process of visual testing to detect bugs quickly and efficiently, improve accuracy and reduce operational costs.

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Fig: AI-driven test automation for visual testing


Implementing AI-driven test automation can accelerate testing with better accuracy, enhanced test coverage, and lower operational costs.

Categories
Media & Entertainment

Delivering captivating entertainment experiences

How connected platforms and streaming firms can consistently deliver great CX across complex content delivery networks and ensure the highest levels of quality of experience (QoE)

As the streaming wars intensify, delivering an exceptional customer experience becomes a key differentiator in gaining and retaining subscribers. It’s not just about the content anymore, viewers want a high-quality, engaging, and enriching experience that caters to their needs and desires.

Delivering a brilliant customer experience (CX) and helping digital companies navigate the complex content consumption and delivery ecosystem is critical. Digital companies must contend with multiple variables and validate engineering and customer views of QoE KPIs to ensure optimal experiences.

Major challenges in assuring delightful customer experiences include:

  • Siloed data platforms – A central data hare that collects and correlates data for predictive insights from multiple sources is critical.
  • Lack of continuous monitoring – Implementing a continuous monitoring mechanism for all the critical CX impacting backend video services (100s of microservices) can be difficult
  • Issues with performance tracking – Measuring and monitoring audio/video performance KPIs (such as MOS, re-buffering, slow start-up time, etc.) can be complex


Customer Experience Assurance (CXA) framework continuously enhances engineering and customers’ view of QoE – positioning the company for continued leadership.

Categories
Operational Excellence

Design digitization for faster fibre deployment

Put your Fibre on the Fast Lane with the Fibre Design Framework (FDF) and get deliverables right the first time

As per Research & Market, the global Fibre-to-the-Home/Building (FTTH/B) market is projected to reach US$29.7 B by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 13.1%. Considering such enormous growth and demand for fibre, efficient and commercially viable fibre planning and design is becoming incredibly important.

However, fibre operators face several challenges in Plan and Design phase that lead to budget overruns, missed deadlines, and loss of competitive edge. Here are some challenges:

  • Skill shortage: Slows down the fibre rollout
  • Manual work: Takes longer duration due to multiple hand-offs and paperwork in the High-level Design (HLD) and Low-level Design (LLD) stages
  • Unstandardized designs: Leads to quality/consistency issues in templates and documents
  • Unstructured work culture: Generates incorrect/missed field inputs

To overcome these challenges, fibre operators must consider ways to automate the key fibre design processes. The Fibre Design Framework (FDF) discussed in this Insight can bring high levels of automation in the fibre design process, and accelerate rollout time by 2X. The framework encompasses key components such as –

  • Automated HLD generator: Create an automated high-level design with defined design standards and parameters
  • Task Collaborator: Manage workflows digitally, collaborating tasks across multiple teams, and systems
  • Field Navigator: Capture video-enabled field inputs across existing and planned design network elements
  • Quality Gateways: Integrate quality management gates at crucial junctures


Fibre planning and design has become critical to achieve rollout targets, amid strong growth posted by the
Fibre-to-the Home/Building market estimated at 13.1% this year.

Categories
Product Engineering

Create product differentiation and supercharge revenue growth

The key ingredients connected platforms and software products (CPS) firms must consider to stay ahead of the curve

Explore new opportunities enabled by emerging Cloud, Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Network technologies!

In an industry driven by constant change and innovations, connected platforms and software product (CPS) firms have created tremendous value. Its innovations fuel the digital world, connecting people, things, devices, and networks.

CPS firms need to overcome 4 significant challenges to maintain their competitive edge:

  • Improving the innovation speed – bringing innovative and differentiated products and features faster to the market. 
  • Analyzing large amounts of siloed data sets to understand customer preferences and behaviors, develop customer-centric products, and continually improve customer experience.
  • Increasing the efficiency of product development and engineering processes while keeping costs under control.
  • Gaining access to new markets, extending the reach, and accelerating revenue.

From this industry viewpoint, we share the key ingredients that can help Connected Platforms and Software (CPS) product firms to overcome the above challenges and create product differentiation.


Products on the cloud can scale much faster, reach global customers, and deliver a significantly higher quality of service at lower costs

Categories
IT Agility

Realizing the trustworthiness of AI systems

Implement AI reliability scorecard to accelerate trusted decision-making

Service providers in the Connectedness industry are increasingly relying on digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remain competitive. However, AI requires a high level of trust because of questions surrounding its fairness, explainability, and security.  Ensuring trust is a priority, as lack of trust can be the biggest obstacle to the widespread adoption of AI.

AI implementations today lack mechanisms to arrive at fair and interpretable predictions, understand the working of complex ML models, and secure the model against adversarial attacks leading to the leakage of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Also, it is found that most organizations are challenged in ensuring their AI is trustworthy and responsible, such as reducing bias, tracking performance variations and model drift, and making sure they can explain AI-powered decisions.

As the service providers struggle to address the risks arising from bias and privacy issues, implementing Responsible AI assists in recognizing, preparing, and mitigating the potential effects of AI. It also improves transparent communication, end-user trust, model auditability, and the productive use of AI.

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Fig: Responsible AI: The key to achieve a trustworthy AI system


As the service providers struggle to address the risks arising from bias and privacy issues, implementing Responsible AI helps prepare and mitigate the potential effects of AI

Categories
Operational Excellence

Making operational improvements stick

Embed a Value Driven Continuous Improvement (VDCI) function in your operations organization for superior customer experience and operational efficiency

There is fierce competition between fibre operators to acquire the top spot. And one way to remain competitive is to constantly improve or advance their operations while keeping costs in check and ensuring a seamless customer experience.

However, 60% of all corporate six sigma initiatives fail. Talking specifically about fibre operators, we observed that they still rely on traditional operations improvement activities performed on a one-time or on-demand basis translating to a limited-time benefit only. Also, these activities need to catch up with the fast-changing fibre environment.

As a result, fibre operators suffer from various challenges, like the inability to meet coverage targets on time, overshooting budget, and delays in service delivery. Despite a lean operating model, they fail to sustain continuous improvement, resulting in poor customer experience, huge investments, and unsustainable strategies

The need of the hour for fibre operators is a massive shift in their culture towards continuous improvement. They must embed a Value-Driven Continuous Improvement (VDCI) function into their organization’s structure to instill a culture of constant advancement, reduce OpEx and stay ahead of the competition. The critical stages of the VDCI function are Discovery, Formulation, Execution, and Evaluation.


Continuous improvement is an
ongoing effort, big or small, to improve all elements of an organization.
McKinsey

Categories
Operational Excellence

Creating visibility and control for off-net services

Leverage process orchestration framework to achieve faster integration with partner service providers and improve operational efficiency

Businesses in the Connectedness industry are actively looking to expand their roots into the untapped fiber market. And to do so, most of them prefer to go with off-net services, i.e., leasing network infrastructure from a partner service provider. It enables quick and cost-efficient customer acquisition for establishing a larger footprint.

As per the annual report of a leading full fiber operator in the UK, off-net revenues account for 50% of their total revenue. Therefore, service providers must overcome the challenges that hinder them from supporting lean off-net operations and improving customer satisfaction.

Service providers in the off-net space face the following challenges:

  • Integration with multiple partner service providers is complex, time-consuming (18+ months for each integration), and expensive
  • Lack of visibility into the partner service provider’s network leading to disjointed operations
  • Lack of transparency across E2E process management, leading to multiple follow-ups
  • Increase in Tail order processing cycle time (i.e., order processing time by partner service provider)
  • Significant manual processes owing to the dependency on the partner service provider
  • Lack of standardized processes and a unified way of handling the orders/cases

The above challenges call for a complete transformation of the off-net services. Use the off-net process orchestration framework that acts as a central orchestrator to bridge the gap between service providers and partner service providers. It reduces operation costs by 56% while providing better control and visibility into E2E processes. Experience 3X faster integration with partner service providers using the framework.

The key ingredients of the framework are:

  • Simple interface aggregation: Use an interface aggregation platform to enable quick integration with the partner service provider and accelerate fiber adoption
  • Unified task orchestration: Create an end-to-end process flow map to get a complete view of the order and issue status
  • Point-to-point ticketing: Integrate customer self-service with automated troubleshooting. Use bots to raise tickets directly with the partner service providers
  • Off-net SLA governance and reporting: Drive partner service provider-specific SLAs with automated follow-ups and real-time reports on aging and penalty metrics


An end-to-end off-net service strategy is vital for supporting lean operations and improving customer experience.

Categories
IT Agility

Blockchain: A catalyst for the digital transformation of Service Providers

According to 3.4 billion by 2026,” Blockchain will generate $3.1 trillion in new business value by 2030, but with the technology set to be ready for more mainstream adoption through 2023, organizations should be exploring it now”

Digital transformation leads to an explosion of data. As a result, the business landscape of the Service Providers has evolved. The Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are no longer dependent on traditional services which fail to fulfil their customer needs and prevent them from realizing the potential value of the upcoming shared economy. There is an increasing need to simplify, streamline, and secure transactions of different kinds, and blockchain can effortlessly play a vital role in realizing this. 

What hinders the transformation journey of DSPs today?

As the current business models are heavily data-driven, many DSPs struggle to reinvent products/services and stay ahead of the competition. This forces the DSPs to innovate continuously to be relevant in the customer value chain. The major pain points in the DSPs’ current landscape are:

  • Lack of real-time updates to different systems leading to data inconsistency and duplication
  • Inefficient security mechanisms failing to protect the customer data
  • Numerous fraudulent activities causing revenue leakage
  • Business transactions across multiple third parties with no consensus, leading to a dispute

DSPs can overcome these challenges and gain a competitive edge by embracing blockchain.

Embracing Blockchain to stay ahead of the competition

For DSPs looking for innovative ways to reduce the underlying costs and improve business profitability, Blockchain adoption can be a great fit. Blockchain’s inbuilt capabilities like the smart contract, cryptographic security mechanism, and data storage in decentralized ledger help to manage various decentralized applications with an agreed contract, in an autonomous way. It helps to establish consensus among all the parties and promotes trust in the ecosystem. Hence, blockchain can truly enable “Anything as a Service” for consumers.

Blockchain use cases in DSPs’ landscape

Blockchain adoption can enable DSPs to be profitable and relevant in the digital economy. The adoption strategy can be of two types: 

  1. Vertical strategy, where a new set of business models or use cases can be derived to generate a new revenue stream 
  2. Horizontal strategy,where the existing system can be integrated with blockchain to add business value or reinvent the new sources of revenue.

Based on our ongoing conversations with the DSPs around the globe, we see that there are five use cases where blockchain can add immediate and tangible value.

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Fig 1. Blockchain-powered use cases in DSPs’ landscape

  1. 5G enabled applications:
    Today most DSPs have started deploying 5G which paves the way for new use cases like City Pass, Smart Tolls, Smart Grids, and multi-edge clouds solutions. These new-age solutions demand the development and maintenance of a complex application ecosystem. This leads to an increase in CapEx and deployment time. Some of the important features of Blockchain such as tamper-proof data storage, fault tolerance, and decentralized data distribution allow 5G users to exchange data between their peers, eliminating the centralized operational requirement. It ensures data provenance, accountability, and maximum security for all users.
  2. Smart Settlements:
    Current settlements go through various audit processes carried out by third parties leading to errors and lack of transparency. The current process also takes a long time, causing delays in revenue realization. Smart settlements on blockchain enable automation and guarantee settlement between the participants by routing from one operator’s blockchain to another, thus providing the end customer with increased transparency.

    For example, if a subscriber uses his phone network while roaming, then this transaction is logged and saved on the Blockchain network (from start to end). The smart settlement will define the charges and the way payment is registered. This end-to-end transparency ensures the integrity of the transaction. 
  3. Digital Supply Chain Management:
    Current operation services provided by DSPs contain a multi-threaded supply chain ecosystem that requires interdependent teams. Also, supply chain data is not always visible, available, or trustworthy. Digital supply chain management on the blockchain can solve process inefficiencies and improve transparency by building resilient supply chain systems. It enables DSPs with automatic and streamlined partner onboarding, asset management, and order management.
  4. Secure Cyber Transactions:
    DSPs have evolved from accepting payments only via cash to building cashless economies. Today, as transactions happen through multiple payment gateways, achieving a secure and transparent process has become a challenge. Blockchain-powered transactions are immutable because they cannot be deleted or changed. It facilitates fast, secure, and low-cost international transactions with encrypted distributed ledgers. Further, it enables real-time verification of transactions without the need for intermediaries.
  5. Prevention of fraudsters:
    Technology improvements have enabled fraudsters to outsmart traditional fraud management as data is exchanged in real-time. According to a report by Deloitte, “DSPs lose ~ USD 40 Bn every year due to fraudulent activities”.  In addition to cost, it can decrease create an unstable business environment as well as undermine business and consumer relationships.
    Blockchain combined with traditional rule-based security creates an unalterable record of transactions with end-to-end encryption, closing the doors for fraud and unauthorized activities. Additionally, data on the blockchain is stored in a Peer-to-Peer(P2P) network, making it nearly impossible to hack, thus making DSPs less susceptible to fraud.

Conclusion

Blockchain has immense potential in accelerating the DSPs’ digital transformation journey with its inbuilt functionalities like decentralized storage and cryptographic data security. The rapid adoption of blockchain reduces the dependency on traditional centralized software to provide an authentication mechanism. Thus, DSPs’ transformation journey lies in combining their strengths in connectivity and leveraging blockchain for its security, trust, and speed.

Categories
IT Agility

Blockchain enabled roaming service is critical for DSPs to thrive in the 5G economy

Introduction
The worldwide 5G subscriptions are expected to exceed 3.4 billion by 2026, with North America, Western Europe and North East Asia leading the pack. The rapid expansion of 5G networks will significantly change the current roaming process. The new relationships between Digital Service Providers (DSPs) and enterprise networks will become more complex than ever before. The contract negotiation, management, and reconciliation of inter-operator agreements will become more challenging, especially when it comes to ensuring an accurate clearing and settlement of transactions among a complex network of roaming partners. Incorrect identification of roaming data can increase revenue leakage and impact the business.

A possible solution to thrive in the 5G economy is adopting blockchain-enabled roaming service activation and dispute settlement. Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. A blockchain-enabled roaming service would make the entire process more automated and robust while ensuring greater transparency, accuracy, and security in all roaming transactions.

Challenges faced by DSPs in the current roaming process and how this complexity will further increase with the onset of 5G and IoT

  1. Increased number of players in the 5G and IoT ecosystem and the launch of new products and offerings will lead to a multi-fold increase in contracts and disputes
    • 5G unlocks a world of opportunities enabling varied services like connected cars, smart grid, virtual and augmented reality, and a wide array of internet of things (IoT) applications. Gradually these services will be bundled and offered to roamers as well. This will make the roaming services more complicated as the service orchestration and billing will be further extended to other systems involving multiple players in the ecosystem. Along with the service providers and end customers, this would also include OEMs, software vendors, cloud providers and many more. These multi-party transactions are governed and controlled by various manual contracts bound by multiple rules. In turn, these 5G enabled services will lead to a multi-fold increase in contracts and disputes.
  2. Providing roaming service in an ecosystem where both 4G and 5G network co-exists will further complicate the service activation process
    • The 5G network brings two types of network operations to serve the existing 4G and the new 5G deployment. The Non-Standalone (NSA) mode works on both 4G and 5G networks and the Standalone (SA) mode works on a dedicated 5G network. As the deployment effort of a standalone mode is significantly higher in terms of Capex and Opex, it will take longer to get settled in the new ecosystem. Hence, the non-standalone mode will be the path of transition. However, this will complicate the key roaming processes such as latching to visiting network, user authentication and billing settlements.
  3. Complex contract management with multiple systems decreases the overall process efficiency
    • Currently, DSPs need to maintain the contract management information on multiple systems and in some cases, it may even be spreadsheets. This leads to redundant provisioning, longer onboarding, and tedious service activation processes. It increases the risk of missed or misaligned configuration amongst multiple service instances. As the market complexity grows in the 5G era, the contracts often lead to complex and incorrect calculations, resulting in commitment penalties and unnecessary costs due to improper management.
  4. Delayed dispute settlement impacts the cash flows

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    Fig 1: A typical workflow of dispute settlement through the clearing house

    • The evolution of competitive markets naturally increases the number and type of disputes. These may involve failures to fulfil contractual obligations, non-compliance with regulatory requirements, and a wide range of other issues. Settling the disputes with the current approach often takes several months. The primary reason for this delay is the dependency on the clearing house. The clearing house audits the bills and the required artefacts against the agreed contracts. This process is tedious, repetitive, and semi-automatic. It follows a multi-level approval workflow that leads to a longer settlement time. Also, the reconciliation process is maintained in a ledger, making it vulnerable to fraudulent activities and creating trust issues.

Adopting blockchain-enabled roaming service activation and dispute settlement can enable DSPs to thrive in the 5G economy

The intrinsic properties of blockchain can revolutionize the process of service activation and dispute settlement in the 5G era. It drives a faster settlement process and minimal revenue leakage. Additionally, it provides a robust platform to monetize the new business opportunities from 5G and IoT.

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Fig 2: Intrinsic properties of Blockchain Technology

Use Case 1 – Blockchain-enabled roaming service activation

Due to the use of multiple systems, the traditional service activation process undergoes a tedious backend operation. The inconsistent record of service activation often leads to various frauds such as sim cloning and identity theft.

Blockchain enables decentralized data processing and secure transactions, removing the need for maintaining multiple systems, simplifying the entire service activation process, and ensuring inter-party operations run more smoothly. It ensures that:

  1. All the partners and operators (Home operator and Visiting operator) are part of a blockchain consortium (i.e., a permissioned network)
  2. All business logics like contract validation for different countries, ID validation and subscription validations are done through smart contracts (a software program that is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions when predetermined conditions are met)
  3. Operators either choose a mechanism where any monetary transactions can be done between the operators through the inbuilt wallet, or they can choose to keep it out of blockchain like the traditional one

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Fig 3: The Blockchain-enabled roaming solution, with its inbuilt capability of decentralized data processing and secure transactions, removes the need for maintaining multiple systems, simplifies the entire service activation process and ensures interparty operations are done more smoothly

    Legend:
  • HLR – Home location Register
  • HPMN – Home Public Mobile network
  • VPMN – Visiting Public Mobile network
  • MSC – Mobile switching Center
  • VLR – Visiting Location Register
  • CDR- Call detail record
  • TAP- Telecom application Protocol
  • SC- Switching Center

Let’s see an example of the blockchain-enabled roaming solution. If the subscriber agrees to use the roaming service, he sends a request to consume the service. To enable this, a smart contract is executed that checks if the subscriber is legitimate. Once this is established, the subscriber can use the services in the visiting network. After the subscriber ends the roaming service, the visiting network (VPMN) sends the transaction details to the home network (HPMN), which consists of the CDR data of the provided service. The smart contract then calculates the subscriber’s service fee and triggers a transaction for payment of the services. All these steps are completely transparent, instantaneous, and automated using blockchain, which removes the chances of any fraudulent activities.

In the traditional roaming process, a subscriber cannot avail the visiting location’s exclusive services and subscriptions. This is due to limitations/absence of various agreements, near real-time sharing of XDRs, and faster settlements between the partner networks. However, the smart contract resolves complicated contract management processes, facilitates faster settlements between the partners and at the same time stores the data in a decentralized manner for easier consumption in the future.

Use Case 2 – Blockchain-enabled automatic dispute settlements

The settlement process enabled by blockchain tackles three difficult and time-consuming processes in the settlement lifecycle – audit invoice, resolve dispute, and invoice processing. The immutable distributed ledger removes the dependencies on intermediaries and makes the entire process more automatic and robust. This brings down the entire settlement duration from few months to just a few days.

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Fig 4: Blockchain-enabled automatic dispute settlements

As a prerequisite, all the partners must agree to the principles and be part of the blockchain network. This establishes trust between various parties as it prohibits unilateral changes in the process.

Once the settlement process is initiated, various smart contracts (from the blockchain) are triggered to check the inputs and conditions as per the agreements. This significantly improves the collections of XDRs in near real-time, and hence the billing generation becomes more accurate, resulting in faster settlements and decreased revenue leakage.

Conclusion

Blockchain can completely revolutionize the roaming service activation and dispute settlement processes. For DSPs, the value realization will increase exponentially once the 5G is fully functional along with various IoT-enabled services. Adopting blockchain earlier can enable DSPs to easily tap new business opportunities, have more viable ways to manage their business, and launch new services much faster with a reduced total cost of ownership.

Categories
Salesforce

Speed up your fiber network sales process

Leverage Salesforce to accelerate the sales process and achieve 40% faster time-to-market of fiber rollout

The demand for broadband internet has increased the pace of fiber network deployments across the connectedness industry. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and the value consumers and businesses place on fiber broadband connectivity. This increased demand for fiber network and favourable government policies are attracting a wave of external investment, creating a fibre goldrush. However, in a highly competitive environment, the time to market of fibre connectivity services is crucial for service providers to remain relevant.

Today, customers expect simple and digital-first journeys where any interaction with the call centre or retail agent is seamless across the mobile app and web. However, the below challenges negatively impact the service providers from delivering a superior customer experience.

  • Multiple legacy and siloed systems resulting in inefficiencies for the care agents
  • Multiple shadow IT systems of premise serviceability restrains service providers from measuring the progress of fiber rollout
  • Long release cycles due to complex back-end processes

To overcome the above challenges, service providers must adopt a single unified CRM platform.

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Salesforce CRM is one such platform that is extremely powerful and provides loads of out-of-the-box solutions such as Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Service Cloud. But to reap the maximum benefits, service providers must focus on the right set of transformation enablers. This includes using Salesforce’s Open APIs, low-code capabilities, Omni Supervisor feature, and automating the case assignment to provide a superior customer experience. With the help of these enablers, service providers can effectively connect all the dots for integrating customer data, removing data silos, and transforming the digital experience for their fiber customers.


Customers expect simple and digital-first journeys where any interaction with the call centre or retail agent is seamless across the mobile app and web.