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Service in a complex hybrid world

June 6, 2016

Jonathan Witts   

European Business Development Director

Last week, I was chatting to a customer about a Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP was very much focused on technology but as much as I like technology, it kept getting in the way of what the customer was really trying to achieve with the new service.

This customer, like many, is faced with an increasingly complex environment that is changing at a rapid pace. As a result, it can sometimes feel like the tail wagging the dog. The dog (the business) is looking to digitally transform using cloud, mobile and Big Data, yet is being operated on a communications infrastructure (the tail) that was designed 10-15 years ago. It was designed to send all traffic via the data centre but nowadays, an increasing amount actually needs to go directly to the internet.

If we were all being honest, we would admit that our IT architecture has completely changed. So shouldn’t savvy businesses really be asking the question, “How do I build an architecture for the future?” Shouldn’t they consider the infrastructure mix for cloud and data centre traffic, how much of their data goes through the internet, how that will change over the next few years and how that change needs to be managed? But don’t forget – this shouldn’t be about the technology, it’s about what the business needs and the service experience they require. Back to our tail wagging the dog analogy.

I draw a parallel with the increasingly complex world of TV. Our TV habits have changed massively – most people have a box and an aerial, and increasing numbers use an on-demand service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. This upward trend of streaming video users is expected to double in the UK between 2014 and 2019 (source: Mintel). So it’s not surprising that most of us use a mixture of infrastructure depending on what we want to watch and when. Having all that choice is great – until something goes wrong. How do you know where the fault is? Is it in your legacy infrastructure or the new on-demand technology?

This is the same in the communications world. The reality today is that many customers have a hybrid environment. Businesses are managing multiple environments and when something stops working, it’s hard to figure out what’s gone wrong and where. Is it quality of service, latency, packet loss – how do you get to the route of the problem?

At Tata Communications, we have the ’Advanced Solutions Delivery’ (ASD) team, designed to do just this. It looks across all environments and gives one view of the problem, regardless of the infrastructure. For me, doing ‘whatever it takes’ extends beyond just fixing problems; it’s about making sure our customers have the right solution in the first place and if needed, challenge them on their vision of the solution.

It’s about being open and pragmatic about what customers actually need for their business. As a relatively new entrant, we’re fortunate that we can explore all the answers without getting bogged down by legacy architecture.

I wanted to share my tips for navigating this complex hybrid world:

  1. Don’t focus on the technology when sending an RFP
  2. Think about the future and how it will change
  3. Make sure that you have a partner that can provide one view and support you in the hybrid world
  4. Make sure you have a partner that will be honest and challenge you to make sure you are building a platform for your future business

It will be interesting to see how the world of TV evolves to address its challenges, but in the communications space, we have to do whatever it takes to get it right for the future.

With the customer landscape changing so rapidly, how do you see the communications infrastructure changing over the coming decade? Let us know in the comments below.