As consumers we’ve long understood that consuming services how and when we need them provides us with an affordable and flexible way to take only what we need to achieve an outcome. For example, occupying a seat on a train to get to work or accessing electricity services to heat our homes.
Today, the same principle has taken hold within the enterprise and IT sectors – almost to the point where it feels like the expression “as-a-service” is plastered everywhere.
The prevalence of “as-a-service” business models has taken longer to advance within organisations than with consumers, but the drivers for change are becoming more pronounced.
Growing pressure on budgets and resources combined with higher customer expectations have led many organisations to refocus on their business fundamentals.
In some cases, this has involved getting out of the ownership of legacy assets and infrastructure and placing the operation and management of essential services into the hands of experienced service providers who can uphold performance levels while carrying a greater degree of risk.
At the same time, today’s rapidly changing digital era and the continuing shift toward cloud-based technologies are opening up access to far larger data sources, computing power and new opportunities for innovation.
It’s clear that the shift to services is not a passing fad.
Research from MarketsandMarkets shows that the market for telecom managed services is set to reach USD $22.58 billion by 2021, with managed mobility services expected to grow at the highest rate and the Asia Pacific region set to dominate the telecom managed services market during this period.
As a company that meets the needs of government and enterprise organisations for reliable, 24/7 ‘always on’ communications services, we are observing a continued shift in more organisations marking out their place within a digital managed services economy.
Step one: It’s all about performance
Reliable business performance is important in any industry but in public safety it’s non-negotiable.
When an emergency call is made to 000 and public safety resources are dispatched to attend an incident, any interruption to communication services can have serious consequences.
A paramedic racing to the scene of an accident depends on having the right information just as a fire fighter depends on having access to essential two-way radio communications before entering a burning building.
The ‘customers’ of public safety agencies in these scenarios are members of the public in urgent need of assistance. And they expect emergency services to have access to the best tools and information to do their jobs.
Placing the management and operation of communications systems into the hands of experienced service providers enables public safety agencies to focus on their core mission – safely delivering an essential service to protect communities and people.
This has long been the motivation for agencies choosing to work with Motorola Solutions but we also see the same business drivers influencing enterprise organisations to invest in managed services.
This includes any sector which measures performance in terms of operational productivity and employee safety; including transportation, manufacturing, oil and gas and mining.
Consider mining for example, an industry already exposed to volatile commodity prices, high operational costs and where even marginal efficiency gains can have significant impacts over time.
It is estimated that reducing the cycle time taken for a mining truck to complete a load-haul-dump process by one minute could result in more than AUD$50 million in profit over the course of a year.
Public safety and mining organisations are among those demanding communications performance to meet the most stringent key performance indicators (KPIs).
In our industry, we refer to these levels of performance as being “mission-critical” or “business-critical”. In other words, having missed, delayed or misheard communications is not an option. A high level of investment is required to sustain performance and service providers carry greater risks.
Delivering these services influenced our decision to provide a Network Operations Control Centre(NOCC) for customers, a 24/7 centre providing a communications backbone for voice and data networks throughout the Asia Pacific region.
However, providing control centres alone is not enough meet and exceed the performance levels customers expect today.
A successful managed service operation also requires the three vital ingredients of:
- A highly-trained and dedicated team
- Best-in-class standards and frameworks
- Industry-leading tools to monitor and maintain performance.
Taking services mobile
The ability to access information while on the move makes a big difference to our lives.
Smart phones and the applications that power them have opened new gateways to how we organise our lives and stay connected and informed.
Now we’re seeing that trend taking hold in managed services procured by public safety and enterprise. One of our customers taking advantage of this is Victoria Police, which recently invested in a mobility managed service to increase situational awareness, safety and productivity for its frontline officers.
The service involves development of a mobile application to meet the specialised needs of police officers. The managed service solution is designed to keep police officers policing while enabling them to collaborate by sharing vital information between frontline personnel and their colleagues working in control rooms.
The new service will also help to free up more user traffic from Victoria Police’s mission-critical radio network by removing lower priority traffic and inquiries from that service.
Investing in mobility “as-a-service” also lays a foundation in new capabilities which can be added to over time. This could include body-worn video solutions to increase accountability, safety and productivity for public safety personnel or predictive analytics services to reliably forecast when machinery will reach ‘end of life’ in a manufacturing operation.
A new era of cloud-based innovation
Cloud based services are helping to unlock new tools for organisations wanting to consume new capabilities “as-a-service”.
For example, rather than making a large capital investment in a new communications network, a fire service could consume mobile broadband capabilities “as a service” in the lead up to and during peak bushfire season in Australia.
This could include the ability to integrate data from weather-forecasting services, historical records, video streaming sources and the use of predictive analytics. Having these data sources could assist fire services to prepare for potential bushfires, send early warnings to the community and enable limited field resources to be placed where they will have the greatest impact on protecting communities.
Making the right decisions
A perfect storm of heightened customer expectations, growing operational costs and constrained resources is forcing organisations to change the way they operate.
CIOs working within government and enterprise organisations have important decisions to make on how best to maintain and improve communications performance within this environment.
This should always start with setting clear objectives for investment in communications services. Solutions must be developed to reflect budgetary needs, to uphold minimum performance standards and to be flexible enough to incorporate continued innovation in service delivery over time.
These are the factors which must influence technology investment in industries where both safety and productivity are the cornerstones of success.
This article was originally published in APAC CIO Outlook here.