Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Outsourcing leads to sharing (a single infrastructure)

Here is an interesting read on a case of outsourcing. CTO Don Price of Bharti Airtel acknowledges to having been an avid opponent ("I was screeming the loudest about not outsourcing"), but now he sees all the benefits:
What happened immediately was that rather than me getting 30 messages an hour relative to network performance, sites being down, trouble tickets being raised, with my phone ringing off the hook, that was all happening to my managed services partner. We were having dinner together, my phone was relatively quiet and he was on the phone constantly. And I'm saying this model is great!'

There are many interesting topics. As you will see, outsourcing leads to network sharing, even to a single infrastructure! That obviously leads to separation and open access. There you go - all my favorite topics.
  • Managed capacity (equipment supply) v. managed services (planning, operations, maintenance).
  • The motivation is efficiency ("I have a group of roughly 200 people who are managing a subscriber base of more than 60 million and a base station count of roughly 70,000").
  • "When I was building sites I was building 400 a month, now my partners are building 3,000 a month."
  • "There's one argument that says your managed services partner should be vendor-agnostic, because he will bring you the best in breed kit. Then there's another argument that says there's nobody better to operate and maintain the network than the guy who designed and manufactured it. But as an operations person having done this for a number of years, I would tend to say go with the latter, because there are benefits."
  • About not outsourcing: "The things you would want to retain are things like market planning. I want my business guys to draw my cloud for me in terms of where they need coverage. I wouldn't just leave that up to a third party because ultimately they have to deliver a P&L."
  • "This is the most difficult part of the entire exercise because people feel that network is their core competence, their key differentiator."
  • "... first of all, the network is important. But if you look at the relative importance today versus a few years ago, it's changing. A few years ago network was a potential delight factor. Somebody got their phone, they pull it out of the box, they make their first call and they are absolutely thrilled. Now if they pull the phone out of the box, pop the SIM card in it and if it doesn't work in the parking garage in the basement, they get pissed off. So network has moved form a delight factor to a dissatisfaction factor because expectations have increased."
  • "As a network person I can do very little do drive the top line but I can certainly do a hell of a lot to drive cost out of the middle. So therefore I believe things like passive network sharing, site sharing, co-building of sites and ultimately even the active network sharing is the right path to go down. If you and I are competing in the same market, it doesn't make sense for both of us to do the build out. We have an expense that we can't reduce, you're left with an expense that you can't reduce. You're on the left side of the highway, and I'm on the right side of the highway. What did we do? We crossed the finish line six weeks apart. So as we go forward in the industry, as a network community, let's build one highway, one common infrastructure and let the sales and marketing guys compete on the cars."
  • "If you are a managed services partner, you have a business of trying to drive growth in terms of your revenues and profitability. You're getting a fixed amount from me for services. But beyond that you're somewhat limited. So what do you do? You try and figure out ways that you can take cost out of the middle as well. So you start outsourcing to other agencies. So you get double and triple hop outsourcing. All of a sudden I come into a meeting, look across the table at the other people. They're not my guys, they're not NSN guys, they're a third party. The guy's been out of school six months. He can barely spell RF and he's designing my network. (...) But at the same time a part of me says that as long as you're meeting my KPIs and SLAs, why should I be bothered? But the guys I work with, it's an emotional thing, it drives them absolutely crazy. I have to pull them back and say: "Are the KPIs better? Are the site deployments better? Is the customer satisfaction better?" If the answer is yes to all three then there's really nothing to discuss."

No comments: