‘Smart services' indicate a change in customer engagement strategy
The network is no longer just infrastructure, not just bandwidth. Instead, it is emerging as a secure platform for delivering the customised experience that 21st century consumers expect — whether that means delivering new services as a carrier, boosting productivity for businesses of any size or consumers looking for real-time or personalised entertainment and services.
Blogs, wikis, social networks and collaborative applications all exemplify the new types of communication environment that the network enables.
Today, networks act as the lifeline that connects customers to goods and services. As the network evolves and organisations add new business processes, systems and services, the impact of network downtime brings down productivity, customer confidence, and annual revenue. Disruption in business operations and communication apart, it also creates a negative customer experience and correlates highly to customer loyalty.
The magnitude of the impact varies greatly based on the size of the company, the type and extent of service affected, number of subscribers affected and duration of outage.
In order to minimise the extent of damage, remedial measures have to be taken at the earliest. If allowed to exist undetected, this can affect the availability, performance, and reliability of the entire network.
Service and support needs of organisations are changing and are directly related to business success in companies of all sizes. Organisations today seek cost-effective and innovative services that combine network-wide technical support with ongoing monitoring and proactive maintenance.
Adding intelligence to the network with capabilities such as embedded diagnostics, device interaction information and end-to-end integration helps meet these needs and deliver an integrated set of capabilities at the device, network and business process levels. This helps to proactively perform periodic assessments of the network, identify potential issues and resolve them in time. This concept referred to as ‘smart services' provides organisations with the capability to improve productivity, get the most from their technology investments and assess network readiness to support advanced IP applications.
Through a secure Web portal, organisations can perform periodic assessments of network health to keep business-critical functions secure and operating at peak performance.
Depending on the technologies in the network, assessments can include in-depth reviews of network security systems, their performance and availability. Including advanced security features such as intrusion prevention systems, disaster recovery services and security solution configurations to a remote location help to quickly restore the network in the event of a disaster. Proactive notifications about potential issues with devices in the network provide in-depth security vulnerability information. Drawing on this up-to-the-minute intelligence, users can mitigate potential security issues and avoid disruptive IT attacks.
Service providers can offer proactive, personalised services around traditional maintenance through a powerful service infrastructure. Combining deep network diagnostics and analytics, and innovative service applications and tools, they can create new business opportunities that will enable a smarter and easier network management.
The concept of ‘smart services' is a major paradigm shift that is only just beginning. It is clear that by reaching new levels of service interaction with partners and customers, organisations can grow better and bigger.
‘Smart services' are indicative of change in customer engagement strategy — more collaborative integration underwritten by smarter devices, a smarter network, and smarter processes and operations.
‘Smart services' is a structured, prioritised evolution path for growing companies that combines customised technology solutions, world-class service, and flexible financing options to help them keep pace with change, and make more informed technology decisions.
Taking a comprehensive approach to the care and improvement of the network adds to long-term benefit.
(Author is vice-president, Cisco Services, Cisco, India and SAARC)