NEW YORK -- Future of Cable Business Services -- What do you when your order management system is out of order?
New Heavy Reading research shows that service providers still have a lot of work to do to improve the order fulfillment process and order management satisfaction for commercial customers. In a survey of 41 global communication service providers, with additional input from 12 providers interviewed by phone, 47% of operators cited a "missed installation/activation SLA" as the top complaint from business customers. Coming in second and third place, billing issues and service quality were cited by 39% and 35% of survey respondents respectively.
Ari Banerjee, principal analyst of service provider IT for Heavy Reading, expounded on the survey findings at Tuesday's conference here in New York. On a panel with Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) executives Gary Cronk and Yosi Mor Yosef, Banerjee pointed out that poor order management has a profound effect on operator costs. His research shows that an average of 30% to 40% of complex enterprise orders cannot be deployed as sold, with further support issues usually spiraling outward as a result.
The average cost of error ranges anywhere from $20 to $250 in the immediate term, but as Cronk from Amdocs noted, there's also a waterfall effect. A service provider may hook up a large office building, for example, and if one tenant has a missed installation, the news spreads quickly and can put a major damper on further customer acquisition.
To counteract the problems in order management, there's a growing trend among providers toward blurring the lines between service sales, service fulfillment and continued service assurance. Banerjee described it is a "feedback loop approach." Operators can't be satisfied with just completing a sale. They must fulfill the order, measure success and bring the resulting insights back into the customer management process. (See Amdocs Highlights Gaps in Order-to-Activation Process.)
So far, service providers aren't ranking themselves very highly in overall order orchestration. Only 6% of survey respondents reported being very satisfied with their current capabilities. However, they're willing to invest in improvements. The top areas where providers are interested in making investments are in the simple integration of relevant systems (CRM, billing, activation, etc.), end-to-end visibility of the orchestration process, and implementation of unified orchestration tools.
Included in those categories is the notion of adding more self-service to the order delivery process. Particularly as enterprise needs grow more complex with technologies like NFV, the ability for customers to better and more dynamically control their own service orders becomes critically important.
While operations support systems continue to be a challenge for providers in the business services sector, there are success stories. Cronk cited the example of a customer that has deployed the Amdocs E2E Order Orchestrator product and recorded significant positive results. The customer has reportedly reduced its Ethernet service delivery time from weeks to seconds, and its sale-to-cash cycle from 120 days to 40 days. That's faster revenue with improved order fulfillment -- not a bad equation for business growth.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading