The home network no longer is a desktop, a printer, and a few laptops. Connected to a family’s cable modem and Wi-Fi now are tablets, smartphones, smart devices such as home energy appliances, as well as even more laptops, printers and the computing devices. By 2014, 4 billion network-enabled consumer electronics devices will be out there, according to Park Associates (News - Alert).
Along with this increase in devices comes an increase in expectations. The network just has to work. It can’t take hours to get a new device up and properly running and it can’t go down. Plus, devices and applications can’t fail as a result of networking issues and must perform as advertised. And, when there are problems, uses are demanding they be fixed quickly and not take hours on the phone troubleshooting challenges with technical support.
These are the demands of the average consumer, and service providers must deal with this new reality.
Getting customer experience management (CEM) right
Yves T’Joens, VP head of product development for customer experience solutions at Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) advises that, “In order to truly differentiate and prove their relevance to their customers, service providers (SPs) need to address the customer experience end-to-end, and extend comprehensive management capabilities deep into the home.”
- Remote customer premise equipment (CPE) management
- Home network device discovery
- Home services activation
- Application management
- In-home quality of service (QoS) management
According to T’Joens, “Without effective management capabilities, the rapid growth of home networking — and the proliferation of new devices and applications — will result in higher costs for customer support and increased customer churn.”
That’s why offerings such as Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Customer Experience solutions are increasingly important. Products such as Motive Management focus on transforming the fixed and mobile broadband customer experience at every point, from service activation through troubleshooting and problem resolution. It helps manage the quality of service for customers and more proactively ensure that customer devices “just work.”
With Motive Customer Experience solutions, service providers can evolve their home management capabilities in three important ways that are necessary for providing the best experience for their customers.
First, they can establish a managed, connected home applications platform as the focal point for managing and optimizing the connected home environment. This means network providers need to utilize remote CPE management and applications management.
Second, they can provide a deeper level of in-home QoS management capabilities that make multi-user, multi-device, multi-service connected home environments simpler and optimized. This means intelligent home network device discovery, home services activation and in-home QoS management capabilities.
Finally, Motive Customer Experience solutions turning the managed customer experience into a two-sided business opportunity with home applications providers. Solutions providers can provide value-added network services and management for new home applications, such as in the case of home automation.
“The proposed integrated approach extends network management capabilities deep into the home — and positions network providers more powerfully in the connected home value chain,” said T’Joens.
For decades the vision of the “smart house” has been just that, a vision. The facts are that as a result of the proliferation of network-aware devices in the home for personal use as well as telemetry services and the advent of “smart grids”, the management of this increasingly communications-intensive and complex environment presents challenges and opportunities for SPs. Reality is that SPs can and should be hubs for the full realization of the dream of the “smart home.” Providing not just connectivity but management services is the path for them to achieve value-chain centrality and being able to take a holistic approach is key.
Edited by Peter Bernstein