Why shared services are important to Communications Service Providers (CSPs)
Shared services are becoming increasingly important to many large businesses including CSPs – according to Gartner, as companies continue to invest in digital solutions, build new capabilities and enter new markets, they need a service delivery model that can provide timely and localized support to the business while simultaneously controlling cost.
Supported by the right technology, a shared services model enables CSPs to deliver significant business impact and value in areas like Procurement & Supply Chain, Human Resources, Finance, and functions managing devices and equipment logistics, by providing services to internal stakeholders, business unit leaders and functional heads with agreed service levels (SLAs).
In an increasingly competitive and disrupted market which will be further challenged by macroeconomic factors in the future, CSPs and technology companies need to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.
Google recently introduced an initiative called 'Simplicity Sprint' to solicit ideas from employees on where to focus to improve efficiency and focus. In Vodafone's 2022 Annual Report, they outline their ambition to create a simplified and efficient operator, explaining that the connectivity value chain involves a high degree of repeatable processes in many key business functions across markets. They see a significant opportunity to standardize their processes, relocate their operations to lower cost centres of excellence, apply automation at scale, and deliver best in class efficiency levels. Around 32% of employees so far work in shared service centres, resulting in over 8,000 role efficiencies and operating cost savings of over €400 million per annum.
CSPs face significant challenges across their key operational functions
CSPs typically have complex processes which vary across business units and markets – these are often managed by point solutions rather than being integrated, and this can drive silos and cost in operations. Multiple legacy and other systems in CSPs’ architecture are hard to use and change with journeys and workflows embedded deep within Business Support System (BSS) and Operating Support System (OSS) layers. Company data is difficult to use effectively when manual processes are used to access, manage, and clean it. With a lack of visibility of processes and activity across functions, it’s difficult for business and IT stakeholders to interact and collaborate effectively across multiple businesses, markets and countries.
In times of disruption, with a shared services model, CSPs can reduce costs, build scale, increase standardisation, and can respond quickly to changing business needs. However, shared services are often an underfunded area of the business - in today’s competitive market, large amounts of capital go to network teams to buy spectrum and build high-speed 5G or fiber networks. CSPs need to do more with less and low code can allow the business to own the process and software development.
The right technology can make it possible
CSPs can put in place a model to transform shared operations by leveraging low-code intelligent workflows, enabling them to tap into data streams, determine the best actions in real-time and turn these decisions into action.
In a typical shared operations function there are key stages and steps to go through and AI-powered decisioning and workflow automation can be applied throughout these steps to make workflows faster and more streamlined, and efficient.
When demand for a shared service is created – by a network deployment manager for procurement of equipment from a pre-defined marketplace of suppliers, or by a Finance team for payment collection, AI or business rules can be used to intelligently assign an owner, route the request to the most appropriate owner where human intervention is required, or it can be routed to an automated workflow. The workflow can tap into key data streams with automated capture of information to enable fast and effective decisions for assignment and routing. Clear roles can be defined in each workflow and each persona has visibility of the workflow status at any point.
Once the demand for the service is clear and assigned, the CSP needs to go through steps to select the best process and way forward - such as identifying the best suppliers in a procurement use case or analysing and selecting candidates for a role in an HR function, based on a series of set criteria. CSPs can intelligently decide on the best actions in these steps, by applying AI and business rules throughout the workflow. This approach can be applied to workflows in many shared operations such as Finance (e.g. deciding on the course of action to resolve a credit issue), or for a function managing devices (e.g. determining how to dispose of or recycle devices or other assets to reduce waste).
Once the optimum actions have been determined, the CSP’s Shared Service team can execute the transaction – supply contracts can be automatically created and finalized, checks on compliance activated, or a purchase order or contract of employment finalized and issued. CSPs can orchestrate all activities to ensure workflows are executed quickly and accurately. Reports can be automatically updated, and internal users and suppliers informed to provide visibility, transparency, and effective audit capability.
Scale quickly and continually adapt
In a constantly changing environment, a low-code platform can enable the shared operations team to continuously collaborate across key departments and functions and to react quickly to changing needs by adapting applications and workflows using low-code tools.
Companies like Siemens drive and control global end-to-end digitization from a central point while enabling users to build their own applications to automate complex workflows based on country and specific needs. They have gone live with projects across many markets including Global Master Data Management, Order Management, Cash Collection, Workflow Self-Services and many others. CSPs can also quickly scale to cover new business units, products, markets or geographies using low code to manage variations in policies, criteria and rules.
The time to start thinking about how the right technology can simplify shared service operations is now. Unsure where to begin? Pega can help – visit Pega for Communications Service Providers
- See how Vodafone Procurement Company launched an autonomous procurement platform across 11 countries.
- Learn how Deutsche Telekom integrated more than 700 HR processes into one unified platform.
- Hear how Starbucks leveraged the Pega Platform to transform their data handling and reduce data processing time by more than 75%.
- Discover more about how CSPs can get work done efficiently and at speed.
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