By Carl Weinschenk Senior Editor
Service velocity is a pretty cool phrase. Unlike most tech jargon, it is active and implies something actually happening.
At Cable Tec Expo, Chuck Kaplan, Ciena's (NASDAQ:CIEN) vice president of portfolio solutions, presented a paper on the topic. Service velocity, as the name aptly implies, is the set of skills and infrastructure that enables service providers to offer the spectrum of sales, deployment, repair, upgrading and other requisite capabilities in a speedy manner.
During a conversation after Expo ended, Kaplan and I focused on one aspect of service velocity for commercial services. The idea is fairly straightforward: Operators who anticipate where business will come from will be able to offer it more quickly.
The traditional approach seems reasonable: When a prospect materializes - either by contacting the operator or after being contacted by the MSO's sales staff - an assessment is done to determine if and how the business can be reached and if it makes sense for the operator to do so.
The problem with this approach grows as operators aim at bigger and more sophisticated potential customers. Since those prospects are bigger, they likely are being courted by other providers as well. If so, they most likely can provide services more quickly - i.e., with higher service velocity - than carriers that are starting from scratch and, indeed, have to spend some time determining if they even want the business.
The better approach is to predetermine where the commercial services business should go and set things up in advance. The ways to do this can vary, but the basic idea is to determine which parts of the service area may be the most fruitful for commercial services. The equation can include:
- The cost to build to that client
- The chances of additional business in the area, as when the prospect is the first in a cluster of potential customers
- Whether the potential customer is in a promising vertical - such as health care or education - that the operator can specialize in
- The level of competition with which the operator must deal
Following a regimen in which these data are included can enable operators to act proactively. It also provides the rationale to build to a business that, considered by itself, isn’t worth the investment - but that can be the springboard to nearby businesses that together have great potential. In other words, these tools offer the big picture.
Other variables can be plugged in, of course. The bottom line is that the cable industry is trying to move up in class in the commercial accounts it is targeting. To do so, it must be on the case before it makes the first sales call. It must buy sophisticated targeting tools that allow it to shape its commercial services initiatives - and to be ready when a potential customer calls. In other words, it must accelerate its business velocity.
Carl Weinschenk is the Senior Editor of Broadband Technology Report. Reach him at email@example.com.