One of Europe’s largest network providers drives improved network reliability and empowers a workforce to focus on innovation.
Company size: 93,000 employees
Location: England, with networks in 22 countries
Ara Yildizli, Director of Vodafone Network Operations, provides a first-hand account of the network provider’s needs.
As more people connect to our network—and connect more devices—providing the digital connectivity that consumers expect becomes more difficult. The increased burden on the network can potentially cause latency issues and outages, which is unacceptable to us and our customers.
Vodafone, the world's second-largest technology communications company, has an ambitious vision to build a reliable, strong, network-as-a-platform that our customers can plug into via APIs and provide services to their customers faster than today. This would add to our portfolio of fixed and mobile networks, a dedicated IoT network (Vodafone TV), and a suite of converged communications services for businesses.
We knew we couldn't build this platform with the older technologies we’ve been relying on and with engineers busy handling low-level incidents and service requests. We needed to streamline operations so employees—the heroes who keep our network running and our customers happy—could focus on innovation, such as expanding into 5G, rather than routine tasks. Reevaluating our network and operations would also let us discover ways to improve service quality, troubleshoot issues faster, or prevent them.
To lay out a path to achieve our vision on time, we leveraged the Cisco Business Critical Services (BCS) suite of services from the Cisco Customer Experience (CX) portfolio. The Cisco CX team provided:
Our network infrastructure has grown over time, and it's now a mix of different systems. Gaining this deep understanding of all network components allows us to spot weaknesses and prevent slowdowns or outages. That is ultimately how we earn customer loyalty. It's not enough to say we quickly solve incidents; we need to provide a network that has few problems in the first place.
“We cannot take the risk of only learning in hindsight from things that went wrong. We need to proactively learn from the network and the data to prevent problems. Now we are.”-Ara Yildizli, Director of Vodafone Network Operations
Even for a technology company, any transformation begins with the people. At Vodafone, we're always striving to find new and better ways to support our employees and enable them to evolve as IT evolves.
Based on recommendations from the Cisco CX team, we introduced predictive automation tools to handle simple, repetitive tasks, including the incident ticketing process. In many cases, the automation tools can solve the issue without human intervention. As the software installed on the devices learns from artificial intelligence, the automation tools can deal with increasingly complex problems.
Within five years, we expect to have nearly all incidents solved automatically or with engineers working alongside automation.
This frees our engineers to concentrate on complex issues, add capacity to the network, and engage in more Cisco-provided training. This training will give them the capabilities to deal with the latest and future technologies, set up and maintain the automation, and write code.
Within the next three years or so, we anticipate our network engineers will have many of the same skills as software engineers.
After we deployed the BCS suite in Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Portugal, tier one and tier two incident cases in those countries were reduced by 13 percent over a 10-month period. The number of cases related to known software defects was reduced by 40 percent. This also frees up employees for education and innovation.
We've also seen a reduction in the number of software releases, which is vital because new releases add more complexity to the operations and can create weaknesses in the interworking between systems.
These results are encouraging but just the first steps. With Cisco CX, we will continue working toward a zero-touch future that will allow us to provide our customers with exceptional service and a superior network.
“Without Cisco BCS, we would need a lot more people on our team. And they would need to work like crazy to solve issues and try to monitor the system—which is a recipe for failure and inefficiency.”-Ara Yildizli, Director of Vodafone Network Operations
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