Who are the Service Owners?

 Product Management, Service Management, SQM  Comments Off on Who are the Service Owners?
Dec 282011

As we enter the challenging environment of service management, one question arises naturally. We are managing the services but who owns them within the organization? The answer should be obvious but surprisingly it is not that simple for most operators.

In a typical SQM / Service Management project, we have to interface with the service owners. Service owners are the people who are accountable from the service and they know every details of the service. They are accountable from the technical performance of the service as well. Service owners, appear in IT CAB meetings, new product design processes etc. When compared to product managers, they are more technically involved in the service.

Readers who are familiar with the ITIL terminology will recognize the abbreviation, “RACI”. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed and it is used to describe the roles of the stakeholders within an IT organization. RACI is mostly applied to IT processes. However, it can be applied to products and services as well. According to ITIL;

– Responsible is the person who “does” the service. He/she is the person who executes the process/service.
– Accountable is the person who “owns” the service. This person is also called the service owner in different contexts.
– Consulted is the person who “knows” information about the service. The consulted person provides feedback about the service execution, also he is consulted in certain cases by the service responsible or accountable. The communication is bi-directional.
– Informed is the person who is “kept in the loop”. Informed people do not provide feedback to the other parties in the RACI.

Now, lets look at who could take the roles that are defined by the RACI.

Service Performance impacts Product Performance therefore the product managers should not be accountable for it, instead, they seem to be consulted. Product Management should be consulted about the changes that will be applied on the service as it directly impacts the product performance.

The responsible would be the operations, who runs the service. They are the people who fulfill, assure and bill it. As you can see, there are multiple groups that are responsible of the service.

But who is the accountable person for the service? It seems there should be a role which is missing in the chain. There needs to appear some “service managers” who are the real owner of the service in context. The service managers could be a separate functional group or they may carry additional responsibilities. This layer could be seen as a functional group that “overlays” on the top of the current functional organizational structure.

Each service component in the service tree can also be a sub service, either customer facing or resource facing. These services should also have owners and for the technical, resource facing ones, these would typically be individual departments within the operations. But for the customer facing services the “service manager” would again be required as the service authority.

It is important to differentiate the SOC (Service Operation Center) with the service owners. Service Operation Centers are a sub function of the monitoring function and they watch the service performance and orchestrate the necessary actions for service continuation. They watch OLAs and can notify the responsible departments about the violating conditions. (but they don’t push or force their manager’s anyway)

In today’s operator environment, it seems that the assurance departments (NOCs or SOCs) have owned the services naturally. This is not the right place as these departments do not have the authority for cross- organizational decisions. The “Service Manager” role will be more and more important in the process where the operators become more and more customer centric.

Who are the VIP Customers?

 CEM  Comments Off on Who are the VIP Customers?
Dec 122011

VIP customers of the service providers have always got the attention and put first in the retention and churn related initiatives. But who are the VIP customers?

In the early days of telecommunications, where there are only primitive tools available to the sector, service providers started to search for their VIP customers in their CRM systems. CRM systems were able to provide demographic information, along with the purchasing history. By looking at this data, SPs were able to identify most spending customers. The spending behavior is then further be analyzed to identify the customer lifetime value (CLV) which looks at the spending behavior from the first day customer has activated his service.

CLV is a valuable information but not enough to identify the VIP customer segment. There is a second type of users that also needs to be taken into account. These users are called influencers. Influencer term comes from marketing context and refers to people who has strong impact on the spending behavior of other users.

If an influencer is not happy with the service and starts to talk negative about the service to his/her “followers”, the perception will fall gradually. In the worst case, if the influencer churns, the followers may follow. Because of these reasons, influencers should also be identified and treated as VIP customers.

Identification of influencers is done by a technique called link analysis. Link analysis analyzes all the entities (customers) in a system and counts their connections between them. The more connections one entity has means it is a better candidate for being an influencer.

In the telco world, link analysis started first by looking at the call patterns. An entity who is called by a diverse community is a good candidate for an influencer. “Call link analysis” is done by using CDR information and most mature service providers run it for marketing purposes.

The new trend is social media and link analysis technique should also be applied to this area as well. If a user has lots of connections in his/her Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter profile, a score could easily generated for this user. Looking at blogs to collect the comment counts could also be another data source for social media link analysis. For crawling such online resources an enterprise content management system can be utilized.

In order to do the social media link analysis effectively, the service provider should also match it’s customers with their social media fingerprint. At last, there are multiple Murat Balkan’s on social media but which one is the customer of that specific service provider?

The service provider should enrich CRM’s and self care application’s data models to include this kind of information. The entrance of this information can then be promoted by providing free service units, gifts etc.

The ultimate goal should then to reach a unified influencer score that combines the usage and social media link analysis results. The scores above a certain level then can be segmented as VIP customers along with the high CLV customers.

Living Knowledgebase Platforms for Automated Healing

 Configuration Management, Fault Management, Inventory Management  Comments Off on Living Knowledgebase Platforms for Automated Healing
Dec 112011

In an operational telecom environment, each fault or quality degradation will be handled by the NOC engineers and repaired by following the necessary steps. These steps are written in knowledgebase management systems or in people’s heads based on the past experiences.

Each time a new problem occurs on the network, it is detected by the network management platforms and if implemented, automatic trouble ticket generation is initiated for the root cause alarms. NOC engineers, handle each trouble ticket separately. During the troubleshooting process, a separate knowledge base system may also be consulted. However, due to the added operational costs, most of the time, knowledge base systems seem not so efficient.

A self-healing method could be used in order to automate these knowledge base systems. In this approach, each reconfiguration activity over the configuration management platform is logged for further reference. In the mean time, alarm information is also logged in the trouble management platform. The  alarms along with the configuration management logs are fed into a database platform where they can be further correlated. The node id (IP address, MAC address etc.) field along with other inventory related configuration  information (such as card id, slot id) can be used as the primary key for this correlation.

During the day to day operation, when a new root cause alarm occurs on the network, the RCA type will be looked up in the knowledge base for a best match to a configuration template.  If a match is found, then the configuration template can be populated to create the self-healing  re-configuration information to be applied to the faulty device.

This way, fully automated could be run without running an end-to-end incident management process. An incident process can and should be triggered as these configuration activities will not be finalized in a second and the service degradation or outages may have been experienced by the customers. However, the first task in the incident flow could be the checking of the alarm to identify if it is applicable for the automated self healing process. If the self healing processes does not apply to the scenario on hand, the incident flow can continue on it’s way. Again, each configuration task that is done over the configuration management platform will  continue to feed the self healing system with new profiles. The more data in the system will lead to better results with the template matching algorithm.