Ensuring your assets are assured (Reader Forum)

The asset landscape has expanded exponentially for communication service providers (CSPs). The explosion of the internet, the advent of 5G, the proliferation of the IoT and the advance of the cloud have given CSPs a massive range of responsibilities in terms of protecting, securing and managing their own assets and those with which they interconnect.

The definition of assets has evolved over time, extending beyond physical entities to include virtual and cloud-native functions. Optimal management of these virtual assets is a key consideration as traditional expertise in physical asset management will not be sufficient.

Today’s telco environment is increasingly dynamic. To both keep pace and compete, CSPs have no choice but to maintain these many and diverse physical and virtual assets. Manual management of these is simply no longer possible if operational outcomes are to be effective.

Without rigorous centralised tracking and management of assets, their integrity could be compromised, with virtual assets open to cybersecurity attacks and physical assets facing the risks of displacement, theft and loss, leading to a decrease in the level of customer trust in the CSP.

An efficient and effective approach to asset assurance provides the foundation for a healthy business – a CSP which is properly constructed and designed to meet and mitigate challenges and seize and exploit opportunities. 

Developing a comprehensive asset management solution starts with identifying and understanding business goals and objectives, and locating process gaps which are negatively affecting performance. This is critically important in today’s increasingly complex network environments, whether physical or virtual. Process gaps will amplify any issues – without robust controls and end-to-end asset tracking and management, a single error or equipment/service failure can trigger a domino effect within the network and create significant operational losses.

CSPs need to have a complete 360-degree view of assets across their own and interconnecting networks, the return on investment being delivered, the time to value, the way assets are utilised, depreciated and disposed of – and a full record of asset movement history. For example, an automated fixed asset register can identify and correct discrepancies and can deliver up to 30% improvement in financial reporting and accounting.

Asset management improves measures and controls, tracking spares, optimising stock levels and coordinating asset tracking movement across teams. Asset management analytics can be leveraged to drive processes and behavioural changes to save capex, develop more efficient movement of assets, and obtain vendor performance insights. 

Better contract management can also be achieved by automating supplier and customer contracts end-to-end through advanced AI / ML-based processes.  

Obviously, underlying the stability of any business is its ability to fully understand and control costs, including capital expenditure – initial purchase – operational expenditure: ongoing lease/rental costs, licensing fees, maintenance and repairs, depreciation and resale, if applicable. Without asset assurance processes in place there cannot be full clarity of these costs – and without full clarity, properly informed purchases and forward financial planning will not be possible. 

Asset assurance includes implementing stringent controls on asset acquisition, distribution and return (if relevant). This creates a complete in-depth picture of asset visibility and identifies the most cost-effective use of assets within the business.

CSPs need to set up a clear framework and set of strategies in their approach to asset management, and these must include processes for inventory management, cost optimisation, marketing, and customer satisfaction which will improve the outcomes for all.  

Effective inventory management can only be achieved with asset assurance. The availability of advanced technologies and real-time data analytics means that CSPs can radically improve inventory visibility, reduce losses, and extract far more value from the way assets are utilised, both through the optimal management of the asset lifecycle and enhanced cost controls. Cost-saving opportunities will be achieved through better-informed negotiations with suppliers, for instance, resulting in more favourable terms and therefore increased profitability. 

In terms of marketing, asset assurance gives CSPs a solid base on which to develop effective marketing strategies for devices and associated services.  Pricing of devices, bundled service offerings, buy-back and upgrade programmes can all be streamlined to optimise costs and deliver more attractive offerings to customers.  Aligning marketing strategies with asset management practices can create greater customer satisfaction, catalyse new revenue streams, and reduce churn.

Customer satisfaction and therefore loyalty relies heavily on the strength of trust in the customer-CSP relationship. With a robust approach to asset assurance, the customer base can be better informed and better managed, creating a solid relationship where the customer has full confidence in the CSP. 

Implementing asset assurance policies and solutions will have a transformative effect on a CSP’s business. Knowing exactly what is where, how it is behaving, and how it is affecting business performance is surely essential for a business to survive. Leveraging end-to-end business intelligence across the asset lifecycle can deliver network saving of more than 30%, with capex reduction strategies and operational controls ensuring CSPs gain the best returns as they invest in their business.   

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