Published On: Mon, Oct 2nd, 2017

End the tyranny of boxes: how one service provider is transforming

Comcast is undergoing a digital transformation and committing to software

Comcast Business hosted an analyst day recently during which it shared its strategy for growth. A few themes emerged:

Digital first
Comcast is demonstrating a strong commitment to software. We heard themes such as “Software permeates the world; we only hire software developers” and “Ending the tyranny of boxes.” The company is transferring knowledge across the company from hardware and software, ensuring that its workforce is prepared for a digital future. It is also constructing a new building where it will house software engineers, giving them a work environment separate from the corporate offices, thereby freeing them from established business processes and providing them with the flexibility to operate in a highly agile environment.

On the product front, Comcast recently announced its ActiveCore SDN platform with SD-WAN as the first solution offered over that platform. ActiveCore is a totally hosted, carrier-grade platform that supports multiple orchestrated virtualized network functions. It is digitally managed with a user friendly, highly customizable, web-based management environment, complemented by a smartphone app. Comcast is leveraging technology to “drive simplification, transparency, enablement and empowerment.” This is evident in its approach to creating a software-driven network and enabling visibility across the network.

Customer centricity
Comcast has made no secret of its commitment to the customer experience and illustrated how it’s bringing this to life. The recently announced ActiveCore platform is complemented by a dashboard that mashes up data from multiple sources and provides the customers the ability to manage their networks. The focus is not on offering an abundance of features but on the functionality that matters most while also enabling the customer to customize. Comcast talked about the importance of the end-to-end experience, of focusing on the customer’s pain points, on making the customer the focal point of solution design and on delivering a white-glove service in conjunction with its newly announced SD-WAN product.

Working closely with customers has multiple benefits. In addition to delighting them Comcast can learn firsthand the needs of its customers as its fine-tunes and enhances a new solution. Comcast, furthermore, is taking steps to improve the customers’ experiences: measuring satisfaction, collecting the data to enable it to identify any recurring issues, and creating focus groups to supplement the information it collects. Another initiative to best meet the needs of customers in a specific segment is defining support strategies based on customer types rather than product lines.

Agility

Comcast recognizes the importance of feature velocity, particularly in the highly competitive marketplace in which it plays. Using an existing framework, the company is evolving its support model and is instituting service integration and management in an initiative it calls SIAM, an “ITIL based approach to manage the delivery of services provided by multiple service providers.” The company has taken steps to align the development and operations teams, enabling the operations team to play a key part during the service ideation and definition phase, ensuring that service management issues are addressed at the inception stage, and facilitating service enhancements and evolution.

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