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Is your service management as agile as your connectivity?

11/05/2021 by Annemiek Van De Laak-Tieken

Open plan office flow with visually blurred people walking around.

When I was in the office – a rare occasion during the past months – I was struck by an odd similarity between connectivity and offices. A great office environment doesn’t make us extra ecstatic in the mornings. We don't even notice. But boy, are we dissatisfied if our office isn't to our liking.

A convenient location and appealing décor are not the only determinants of a great office. How well the space is maintained is also key. Is it clean? Is the coffee okay? Can I park or charge my car? It is about choosing the right setting and servicing it afterward.

The same goes for connectivity. It plays an essential part in our lives and can either go unnoticed or be tremendously unsatisfying. Connectivity also needs to be serviced perfectly to keep us happy with our original choice. Still, even that is not enough these days. Let's take a moment and re-focus on our office example. Our work environment needs to be flexible. We do not accept confined office spaces anymore. We simply adjust to what we need.

When working with my colleagues on customer bids, we do not only determine what technology serves our clients' businesses best; we also discuss what service management aspects are essential to be effective and successful. To do so, we first need to ask ourselves various questions. To what extent does this new customer need or want this specific support? Do they expect us to take over the complete package and manage their connectivity? Or do they manage it themselves and only expect us to play a reliable but limited role in their ecosystem? Does their business need a volatile setting? What about their demands on support? As a Service Management professional, it makes me very happy to make this difference for my customers. My "techy colleagues" ensure that we select the best technical solution for SD-WAN (both over- and underlay). Going back to my prior analogy, this is, however, only the best office building. Now, the service management kicks in. We cater for your coffee, keep the place clean, modernize where and when necessary and ensure that you stay happy! And so, connectivity starts to resemble good office hygiene: you know it’s important, but it becomes the "new normal" in that it works and any mishaps get automatically taken care of!

With SD-WAN service management this becomes more and more important. With “good old” reliable but inflexible MPLS services connectivity is important, but hard to change and adapt to ever faster changing business needs. Service management was set up in that same way: good, very reliable, but not very flexible or agile. With SD-WAN it is much easier to adhere to fast changes in the business processes. Therefore, service management processes must match the flexibility and adaptability of the technology it supports. And that shows in our role in our customers’ journey. As one of the first steps in the pre-sales phase, we discuss with new customers, gain an understanding of their business needs, and determine how we can match them. That's a radical change! From meeting the customer when the deal was done and implemented to being an essential part of the journey has been a significant leap.

Don't get me wrong: choosing the technically best solution is a good start and a critical step. However, ensuring that your SD-WAN partner supplies you with the best service management to accompany this is the biggest win for years to come. I would be thrilled to hear how you feel about this!

Do you want more insights from smart connectivity and network professionals?

Annemiek Van De Laak-Tieken

Manager, special projects and portfolio at Deutsche Telekom Global Business Solutions Nederland BV