To succeed in today's highly competitive economy, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) must make continuous improvements to deliver better and faster voice and data services. At the same time, CSPs face the challenge of becoming more flexible and agile to support innovative pricing models and decrease the 'time to market' for new products and services.
The confluence of these market conditions requires an enterprise-wide view of business processes and underlying technologies-and therein lies the challenge. For many CSPs, the traditional siloed enterprise systems and architectures currently in place are not up to the task.
Enterprise Architecture (EA) offers a solution. Simply put, EA is a comprehensive framework that defines how information and technology will support business operations and provide benefits. EA ensures that systems 'cooperate' with each other, providing an enterprise-wide view of business processes and systems.
So why are CSPs reluctant to embrace EA? They still believe that EA is too slow, too expensive, and too much about IT rather than the business as a whole. In fact, if implemented correctly, EA is none of those.
An EA transformation properly planned and implemented in three phases will gradually and continually provide value to a CSP's larger business goals. As shown in the following graphic, within each phase of the EA project the CSP can break down the process into component parts to build on key wins and creative cumulative success
Where should a CSP start with its EA thinking? The first step should be obtaining a buy-in from the company's leaders. The C-suite must own the project and be fully supportive of the CIO and the IT team's project plan, which means jointly building a detailed business case with defined anticipated outcomes. Among the key questions to be asked are:
- Is the value and promise of EA propagated across the organization?
- Are different business functions motivated and ready to make the transformation successful?
- Is the organization mature enough to embark on an EA transformation?
- Does the organization have the skill sets needed to execute the program?
EA is perfect for next-generation operators, but it can also be a boon to legacy CSPs who need to simplify. It can provide the agility and speed that has eluded them and kept them from quickly rolling out large technology investments.
Rapid technology improvements and elevated customer expectations are a given for the telecom industry. To grow and lead the market, CSPs must have a thorough understanding of their entire business from all angles and ensure that technology is in sync with business goals-all while keeping costs down. The way to achieve this is through Enterprise Architecture. It will take you down a path of innovation that will make you a market leader.