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Current projections of trends in fiber optic expansion are raising hopes: Even though Germany is currently bringing up the rear by international comparison, a study by the FTTH Council (FTTH Forecast for Europe 2020-2026 after COVID-19) foresees enormous growth in the number of connected households in Germany (by 730%, from six million in 2019 to 34 million by 2026). This growth is essential, because the infrastructure for the applications of tomorrow has to be created today, data-intensive online services are becoming increasingly popular, and worldwide data traffic has been growing continuously for many years now. The demand is there and the FTTH Forecast predicts skyrocketing growth of fiber optic customers as well: 1,757%, from two million in 2019 to 25 million by 2026.
The potential for CSPs is immense – at the same time, however the execution of a fiber optic expansion project is highly complex. A wide variety of processes and workflows, estimation of demand, approval processes from owners, customer communication, expansion activities, third-party providers – all these factors have to be coordinated technically, mapped, and linked with one another, all with the fastest possible time to market.
The answer to this level of complexity is often agility. It’s a good answer, however: Agile methods alone aren’t the key to long-term success. After all, the implementation – a portal solution for pre-marketing and customer communication, for example – doesn’t take place in a vacuum. A number of the CSP’s departments and divisions are involved, in addition to partners and service providers. If the agile mindset and agile working methods only extend this far, much potential is lost with regard to speed, flexibility, and quality. Ideally, the telecommunications provider will operate in an ecosystem in which partners and suppliers are just as much part of the agile structures as the internal teams. This also includes the manner in which the business strategy is developed and implemented internally, for example.
Agility is important as early as the strategy development phase – and is ideally practiced in combination with design thinking and lean start-up. This interdisciplinary process makes it possible to develop solutions to complex, seemingly unsolvable problems in such a way that they both address relevant targets and are technically feasible. To find out what digital offering could meet the needs of customers, the process starts with the market and the target audiences. The implementation begins with an "MVP" (minimum viable product): It goes live as quickly as possible with the most essential features, enabling it to be tested directly with customers and then optimized and enhanced based on these initial experiences. Short, iterative, agile cycles are then used to continuously enhance, improve, and optimize the solution freely and independently.
Deutsche Telekom employed this method to successfully implement its FTTH pre-marketing solution with various partners as part of its Gigabit Project: Internal and external teams worked together cooperatively, transparently, and closely connected, all based on agile development methods. Team structures were adjusted constantly to the requirements, for instance by establishing specific contacts for cross-cutting architectural topics. This procedure ensured high efficiency and optimum results, despite the communication-related challenges posed by having numerous teams spread around different locations.
For this to work, the IT architecture must enable flexibility – as must the company structure. This is where composable business comes in: This concept, developed by the market research and consulting firm Gartner, builds on a modular structure – not only of the IT infrastructure, but of the entire company. In other words, organizational units and business workflow are organized as “composable”, to be able to respond to new developments at any time.
In detail, composable business requires a triad of composable architecture (i.e., the IT architecture), composable technologies (the technological solutions) and composable thinking (the right mindset). As a result, neither rigid IT structures nor cumbersome enterprise processes stand in the way of speed and flexibility – for example, during the implementation of a pre-marketing portal for fiber optics.
Cross-company agility and composable business also represent an investment in the future: If, for example, the market changes and CSPs must expand fiber optic offerings or add new services in the future, a company structured like this can respond quickly and flexibly – and exactly where it is needed.
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