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Internet via “fiber to the home” or “fiber to the building,” that is, fiber optic right into the apartment, is the future of the Internet and digitalization. Many communication service providers (CSPs) have started investing in this technology – so speed is of the essence now. The first hurdle: How can you succeed in proving the up to 60% demand in a region in order to get permission from the communities to expand? How can you succeed in proving the up to 60% demand in a region in order to get permission to expand from the communities? Afterwards, the focus is on coordinating owners, customer communication, and expansion activities. There are complex processes behind this, which must be mapped technologically. With the right solution and approach, however, it is possible to overcome these challenges and start expansion projects quickly.
Fiber optic expansion currently offers great potential for customers and CSPs: While according to statista, in June 2020, more than 70% of all stationary broadband connections were fiber optic connections in South Korea, Japan, Latvia, and Sweden, in Germany, the figure was just 4.7%; and in countries such as Belgium (1.3%), the Netherlands (19.8%), and France (27.6%), there is also still a lot of catching up to do. For provider in Germany and many other European countries, this means that now the concern is to be quick, to determine demand, obtain approvals, and secure expansion projects.
If you look at the processes and workflows that are part of the whole course of such a project, from the initial determination of demand in potential expansion regions to regular marketing after successful expansion, and how these can be digitally mapped, it soon becomes clear that they are extensive and complex. At the same time, there is no time for fiddling around. The most important thing is to have the technological solution for the demand determination and the pre-marketing ready to go live quickly in a functional version so that it allows flexibility and scalability later on. Furthermore, it should be possible to sensibly integrate legacy and third-party systems, as well as all necessary data sources. Initially, this may sound like a lot of work, but it means that on the back-end, it is possible to adjust, expand, and scale at will – which in the long run saves a lot of time and resources and assures customer satisfaction.
But which processes and systems are we talking about here – and how can you proceed efficiently with the planning and implementation?
For the expansion approval, the provider first has to prove demand in the region. This can be done without a lot of advance work using a digital customer portal – with a low threshold and easily for the end customers, who are used to such services these days. Ideally, the appropriate technological solution functions as an information and order portal for end customers on the one hand, for example for expansion status information, data entry, and order intake. On the other hand, it addresses the internal pre-marketing workflow, such as the management of pre-orders. With the survey, providers can prove demand and prioritize expansion regions efficiently.
Quick time-to-market is one thing; however, it is just as important to be able to fulfill future requirements quickly. This requires a flexible architecture that enables both the integration of a wide variety of systems and the quick implementation of new functions. If the solution combines all relevant data, this also simplifies data intake and processing, contract signing, and rate provision. Such systems and data sources are the CRM system and third-party systems including rate-finding and pricing, but also contact gateways such as e-mail and SMS. Via an API-based microservices architecture, all levels can be integrated well, from the customer’s front-end to business services to legacy systems.
Communication among all parties participating in fiber optic expansion is a challenge. Availability check, address query, owner management, awarding management, underground access, appointments with technicians – behind each of these steps are workflows that have to be addressed in some form. If they are digitalized and all participants involved via the same digital platform, including real-time access to the data relevant to each party, processes can be sped up and simplified for everyone.
Quick, flexible, adaptable – agile development methods have proven themselves for making such a complex digital solution ready for market in a short time. Anyone who proceeds in small steps according to the motto “think big, start small” and expands continuously with new functions and products, can not only take a functional solution to market quickly, but also use feedback and insights from service employees or from direct contact with end customers in timely fashion to optimize operation – and thus ensure high quality and customer satisfaction in the long term.
The quality of the product, in this case the fiber optic contract, is just one selection criterion for end customers. To win them over initially or keep them in the long term, the focus always has to be on their needs. Customers should be able to use a user-centric online portal to get information about the status of fiber optic expansion in realtime and to query the relevant offerings and prices, and finally to place an order and trace its status. In addition to the customer self-care functionality, it must also be assured that service employees and external dealers can access the necessary data – of course adhering to data privacy and protection specifications.
If the digital solution addresses the complete life cycle of fiber optic expansion of an expansion region, from demand query to pre-marketing to regular marketing, then there will be less work and fewer costs for the provider in the long run. By automating manual processes, both internally and at the end customer, there is even less work and workflows are sped up. Also important: consider future potential right away and make the solution scalable.
For providers, the concern is speed; they cannot delay, they have to get started and secure expansion projects with a pre-marketing portal. And in the end, everyone will profit from a digital, automated portal solution, especially the end customers.
This article first appeared on IT-Daily.net (in German). We appreciate your feedback and sharing the article.
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