Digital Business Planning For Telecom And Utilities

Richard Howells

Why is there a baby boom nine months after a power outage? There’s not much else for humans to do when robbed of their phones and computers! But beyond a welcome excuse for canoodling, the loss of telecommunications and power grids can be a real problem – especially when we all depend on them for just about everything.

More than keeping the lights on

If you’re in telecom or utilities, you know maintaining the flow of service is job number one. Yet, let’s be honest – the challenges you face today go far beyond keeping the lights on.

Among these challenges is the imminent move to 5G for telecommunications providers – which will drive tremendous changes as organizations move to digitalize internal platforms and processes. Utility companies, meanwhile, need flexible services to optimize load potential as they transition from a delivery-focused role to one that orchestrates data and services. Indeed, by 2025 it is expected that a large number of industry players will derive more and more revenue from services and energy data.

But that’s not all. Everywhere, change seems to be on the agenda for telecoms and utilities. Deregulation, decentralization, decarbonization, consumer expectations – they’re all opening up a wide range of possibilities to contend with. Non-traditional players are entering the market. Smaller startups as well. Landlines are virtually a thing of the past. Solar and wind are gaining market share. Even electric vehicles – with their abilities to sell excess battery power back to the grid – are driving change. How can companies in the telecommunications and utilities industries keep pace?

Integrated business planning

What’s needed to thrive in this changing world is a dramatically updated approach to business planning. Business units working in separate silos will not do. Collaboration by spreadsheet across these silos is hardly any better.

This is why companies are turning toward the idea of integrated business planning (IBP). IBP puts the emphasis on integration – with all parties in the planning process, up and down the supply chain, working from a single source of trusted data.

From design and manufacturing to delivery and service, IBP gives planners the data visibility, analytics, and collaboration tools required to define strategy, devise plans to execute effectively, and respond to changes in plan with agility – or to even predict the change before it happens. Now business planning is no longer a subspecialty off to one side of the business. Now it is woven into the fabric of what you do as a business.

The four pillars of IBP

IBP can help telecoms and utilities in four specific ways. With IBP you can:

  1. Become demand-driven: With a consolidated view of demand based on a wide range of sources (real-time usage monitoring, network data, even social media posts and weather data), planners can sense demand with greater accuracy. And as the demand picture changes based on incoming real-time data, plans can be revised and implemented automatically.
  1. Respond quickly: IBP also closes the gap between planning and execution. As plans are updated, IBP can automate execution using analytics to resolve problems and machine learning to continuously improve. With IBP, planners can focus more on creating value and generating revenue – because, increasingly, problems are self-corrected with intelligence that is built into the process.
  1. Think holistically: IBP brings together all of the players in the extended supply chain. A crucial component to this end is a flexible supply network platform – which makes it easier to discover, onboard, and work with new suppliers to meet evolving and fluctuating demand. IBP even makes it easier to bring customers into the fold – through, say usage monitoring or bi-directional informational flows. Now you can treat your customers more as integral parts of the value chain, rather than as endpoints for the services you deliver. With the data collected from customer transactions and interactions, you can apply advanced analytics, generate new insights, and continuously update the planning process.
  1. Increase strategic agility: The change and uncertainty driving the new reality for the telecommunications and utilities sector call for the ability to dynamically adjust the supply chain strategy and portfolio. Self-regulating, adaptive planning models are the new cutting edge, helping companies buffer against variability with, say, multi-echelon inventory planning aided by live data, real-time analytics, and machine learning. With IBP, you can quickly evaluate alternative sourcing and transport strategies to minimize cost. You can also adjust segmentation profiles to fine-tune inventory levels. Whatever the challenge, you cannot afford to let events move you off your strategic mark. IBP helps you surf the waves of change and stay the strategic course.

Better days ahead

With comprehensive data visibility, intelligent technologies, automated business processes, and improved collaboration, IBP helps you not only survive but thrive in the face of momentous change for telecoms and utilities. Now you can detect demand and respond in real time. And with a holistic outlook that brings together all supply chain partners, you can execute on your business strategy despite constant supply and demand fluctuations.

If you want to see how this works in practice, hear from Canada’s largest telecommunications company, Bell Canada, how it achieved a customer-driven supply chain with SAP’s Integrated Business Planning solution in this on-demand webinar.

Also, learn more about best practices for integrated business planning in the high-tech industry by downloading the IDC report on digital business planning.

About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.