Lost In Inventory: Making Yourself One With The Live Network


This blog first appeared on medium.com


It’s a problem Operators may not even know they have. It has serious implications for Capital Expenditures (CAPEX), Operational Expenditures (OPEX), and Revenue. Let me break it to you gently:

Your Inventory system is out of sync with your live network.

“Inventory systems are always out of sync,” you quickly reassure yourself. “It’s really no big deal.”

Deep down, however, a still queasy little voice warns you that it is a very big deal indeed.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Allow me to explain: For much of my career, I’ve been an Operator. I’ve worked with AT&T, Clearwire, Sprint, Cox, and many others. My experience has led me to observe that, despite the best of intentions, your Inventory system does not match the reality of your live network. As a result, despite the best intentions, your bottom line has been degrading at a steady drip.

Let me give you some examples: Your trusted inventory system faithfully tracks your “consumed” (in use) equipment. In reality, however, your consumed equipment is sitting as idle as a frightened turtle. Sadly for you, your faith in the one source of truth — the inventory system — all but assures that consumed equipment will continue undetected and unused. The result of this misapprehension can be very costly.

As your capacity needs increase, you may even invest in unneeded — and essentially redundant — equipment and capacity.

Now, consider the implications of this mistaken impression when you want to end a particular equipment’s life cycle. Maybe you’re replacing it, maybe you just want to put it out of its misery. Whatever the issue, you’ve decided to “sunset” an outdated asset. Ideally, your trusty Inventory system would record the offending equipment as Deleted or Disabled. Unfortunately, such changes are rarely updated automatically.

The next example cuts right to the bone: it impacts revenue. You have equipment actively used by customers, generating value for them 24/7, even as it is marked “Not Live” in your Inventory system. Your Business Support System (BSS) thus ignores the Call Detail Record (CDR), resulting in lost revenue.

Make no mistake. These are all examples of stranded assets. They sit there, tiny deserted islands amidst the vast ocean of your network. Thanks to your too-trusted Inventory system, you remain blissfully unaware of their very existence, let alone their continuing usage. Until you are alerted to their existence, your collection of stranded assets will continue to grow.

Like they say: The most important part of solving a problem is knowing you have one.

Put together, stranded assets lead to a consistent and disconcerting outcome: Revenue Leakage.

First, invisible equipment sits unused, not generating revenue. Second, the visible but incorrectly identified equipment, generates value for your customers, but no revenue for you.

Sound good to you? I wouldn’t think so.

As if that weren’t enough, there is the issue of cost. For cases in which your Inventory system serves double-duty on your finance systems, you’re reporting fewer depreciation costs, resulting in increased taxes on your net profits. (Emphasis mine!)

In terms of OPEX, stranded assets typically catapult you into accelerating depreciation cycles. Over a typical 7-year cycle, this can morph into a huge problem for Operators, with ramifications including — and extending well beyond — Wall Street’s potential loss of confidence in your company.

If you don’t have a reliable handle on the equipment in your Inventory system, how can you manage your network effectively?

Let’s return to Revenue Leakage caused by used capacity not being properly tracked by your BSS. Your customers may be getting a sweet deal, but you’re simply not capturing your full revenue potential. In this scenario, Revenue Leakage is significant. Moreover, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor your quality-of-service and, ultimately, efficiently manage customer satisfaction.

Is there a solution?

Here at B.Yond, we’ve recently launched INTEGRITY: an Automated Asset and Inventory Reconciliation solution. With increasing virtualization, everything is becoming much more agile, dynamic, and elastic. People are rapidly getting the hang of — and expectation for — things like Over-The-Top (OTT) services, Virtual Network Functions (VNF), and deploying third-party software applications. With a fully virtualized and cloud-enabled network, you can more efficiently ramp-up and ramp-down any workload based on network storage.

With a transcendental product like B.Yond INTEGRITY, you can get at not just the physical layer — which is increasingly important today — but also the virtual layers of your network. Network Operators know there is a problem here but, until now, have not known an effective solution. For those Operators aware of this issue, today’s solutions tend to be very license-oriented and prohibitively expensive to implement. They are also rules-based and reactive in nature. All of this means Operators are not able to evolve along with existing technology, forcing them to repeatedly re-engineer their networks.

With INTEGRITY, B.Yond is providing a solution that enables Operators to look not just backward to solve today’s problems, but forward to a time when they will no longer be forced to re-invest in brand new toolsets. Helping Operators to save both OPEX and CAPEX, all while minimizing Revenue Leakage, is at the very heart of our platforms.

So, worry no longer about the costly flaws in your Inventory system. Going B.Yond can make you whole again.