In brief

In brief

  • CSPs are seeking to capture the promise of the Pervasive Network through SD-WAN implementations.
  • There are four must-do things to have a successful SD-WAN implementation.
  • Upsides for CSPs include significant cost and revenue opportunities and improved flexibility to customers.

Today’s communications service providers (CSPs) are seeking to capture the promise of the Pervasive Network in which new technologies are connecting machines, humans, sensors, and entire environments, providing connectivity that is unobtrusive yet available.

To take advantage of new opportunities, CSPs need to accelerate their current business sustainability while moving to a future-proof position. This includes developing a next-generation platform to provide virtualized intelligent network services…and leading with a “digital-first” mentality.

For this reason, CSPs around the world are either actively developing—or have already completed—their first major release of services based on software-defined networking (SDN) technology and network function virtualization (NFV). Within the enterprise segment, the service currently attracting the most attention is Software-Defined Wide-Area Networking (SD-WAN).

SD-WAN is expected to be a strategic disruptor in several important ways:

Cost savings

Providing secure, low-cost bandwidth to business customers. In fact, Accenture research reveals that SD-WAN is anticipated to result in a 25 percent average cost savings for end users.

Improved customer experience

Creating a platform to deliver virtual network functions to customers. Given that 60 percent of customers prefer to buy virtualized services via self-service instead of a sales representative, this is likely to be a self-service model.

New revenue opportunities

Delivering a best-in-class digital experience while driving new sources of revenue for CSPs. It is estimated that 30 percent of CSPs’ IT spend over the next 3 years will be targeted to network virtualization, with $8 billion Total Addressable Market by 2021.

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Given SD-WAN’s tremendous potential, and the highly competitive marketplace, it is critical that CSPs get it right. So, what are the most important success factors for building SDN- and NFV-enabled products and services?

Getting the minimum viable product right

There are five foundation building questions to ask to ensure you’re Minimum Viable Product will be successful in market. They are:

  1. How much self-service and automation are practical at launch?
  2. How much integration with existing back-office support systems must occur vs. managing through manual swivels?
  3. What information needs to be exposed to the customers?
  4. What is the differentiation strategy?
  5. How will SD-WAN fit with existing connectivity products?

Building a relevant and useful digital experience

The Digital Experience (DX) creates an opportunity to differentiate from the competition and create best-in-class customer experience. The more niche your audience the more important the DX is as your customer desires to be known.

Reinventing sales, service delivery, and service assurance operations for virtualized network services

SD-WAN requires a pivot to a solutions-based selling model. Preparing the sales team to consult with the customer on network confirmation to meet their needs is a must-have skillset. Similar up-skilling efforts will be required within service delivery and within your service assurance organization.

Importance of inventory and confirmation management

Confirmation and inventory data needs an efficiency path from the front-end digital experience to the network, which often necessitates a new confirmation management platform. This new platform will ensure that the inventory data is read directly from the network preventing the presentation of incorrect data on a customer portal.

Moving forward

As CSPs work to achieve the promise of the Pervasive Network, SD-WAN is poised to disrupt the enterprise market in multiple ways, and for multiple reasons. SD-WAN offers significant cost and revenue opportunities, while also providing many advantages to CSPs and desired flexibility to customers.

The market is already crowded with dozens of service providers offering SD-WAN. With so many options to choose from, customer experience is the differentiating factor.

What experience will your customer have with you?

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