Gartner says only 10% of large enterprises use a multi-source service integrator (MSI) today, but by 2022 half of them will. Alex Rigaldo of Orange Business Services explains to Annie Turner.
The key role of enterprise services in Orange’s plans for growth was spelled out clearly by Orange Group’s Chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard, when he presented the Group’s five-year strategy, Engage2025, in Paris in early December.
He said, “The enterprise market is changing profoundly to become data-driven, multi-cloud based and end-to-end cybersecurity…more than ever we believe in convergence of the technical and IT business, and we intend to accelerate the transformation of the B2B business.
“The best proof of IT convergence is the skyrocketing demand for virtualised and on-demand services such as SD-WAN. We have a clear edge over conventional digital services companies in that we have the IT know-how. We are prepared for the challenges…of creating the right partnerships and automating and digitising the processes with the benefits of data analytics and AI”.
Multiservice integration services (MSI) are one of the areas in which Orange Business Services has invested heavily to gain that edge, a claim supported by testimony from Gartner and more importantly, from its customer Sony.
In July, Sony Group announced it had chosen Orange Business Services to consolidate and transform the communications infrastructure of its two largest operating companies, starting with a harmonised network to improve user experience globally.
Orange will be Sony’s principal global provider, delivering a fully automated, intelligent network for all global business units over time.
The solution will be built on Orange’s Flexible SD-WAN and will connect more than 500 locations in over 50 countries across five continents. The plan is to deliver better performance, security and scalability.
“Orange innovation, integration capabilities and international network are the catalysts that will allow us for the first time to bring our regional operating companies under one umbrella,” said Makoto Toyoda, Chief Information Officer, Sony Group.
“Only Orange could deliver a platform with the scale and scope to cover all the moving pieces of our international business. It’s a transformative move on our part that opens the way for us to embrace new forms of IT innovation that will push the company forward.”
In December, Orange Business Services announced it had been chosen by Mars Inc. to build an Intelligent Automated Network (IAN) that will connect more than 125,000 Mars Associates across more than 80 countries.
The IAN will pull from a range of services managed by Orange Business Services , including SD-WAN, security services and MSI to streamline the global infrastructure management and provide a single, comprehensive, coordinated control point for all other service providers.
Why is MSI such big business?
Why is this sector such a big opportunity? Orange Business Services says that, on average, the number of service providers an enterprise deals with for communications services – whether LAN, voice, SD-WAN or mobile networks – has tripled in recent years, which is becoming a huge operational overhead for them.
This is made worse by enterprises managing more assets for branches that sometimes are spread across multiple regions, while regulation regarding data privacy and other aspects differs from country to country.
Alex Rigaldo, Head of Services Business Development International & France at Orange Business Services, insists that when it comes to MSI for communications, “Companies need more agility to onboard and offboard service providers for new innovations, new technologies.
"They [still] want to be the ones choosing the service providers, but they don't want to manage all the operational [interactions] with these service providers. This is why more and more companies choose a service integrator to manage the service providers they have chosen.”
The chosen few
He adds, “It takes specific knowhow: you need to understand the language and the tools, and you need the credibility to be demanding when it comes to service announcements…That means, in general, when service integration is not done by a telco, it fails. And actually, only a very limited number of telcos are capable of doing it.”
Indeed, only 2% of telcos offer the services, according to Gartner, which highlights Data Dimension (part of NTT) and BT as well as Orange Business Services.
In a report published in October, Gartner says that the latter, in particular, is investing heavily in MSI capabilities. It started its services integration business many years ago and intregrates all the services for more than 50 very large enterprises and is signing up new ones at the rate of about two a month.
It also manages contracts with more than 200 internet service providers across its global footprint in over 200 countries.
The sweet spot
Rigaldo says, “It requires skills, so we have invested a lot in tools and the heart of our firm is services now, for which we implement all the automation and analytics features, and also use technologies like Splunk and Moogsoft, which allow us to do some correlation on a very wide scale.
“For one of our customers, thanks to these technologies we have reduced incidents by 30% over three years by correlation and reducing the number of duplicate tickets, which we call noise reduction.
“We may not integrate all the applications on the market – that is not really our field of expertise – but when it comes at integrating network services, mobile services, communication and collaboration, security and IT, this is really our sweet spot and this is where we have invested so much. We are also developing new capabilities for example around the IoT because IoT is about managing a very, very large number of devices.”
How active is Orange Business Services in IoT? Rigaldo says, “We are going very, very fast in that area” including in connected cars and smart cities. It manages ecosystems of partners and can also monitor all the devices that are part of those ecosystems. For the endpoints – the devices – it does low level proactive monitoring and “carries out governance…through a combination of technology, processes and people to make sure we’ve got an efficient ecosystem,” he adds.
How does it work?
Normally, enterprise customers contract services from a telco, which then sub-contracts with other telcos to fulfil the contract. For MSI, the situation is different because the contract remains between the customer and the service provider, not between the service integrator and provider.
Rigaldo explains, “This means that when a customer chooses Orange as a service integrator, to govern BT, AT&T, Verizon or Singtel, say, we work with a letter of agency, which stipulates that we work as the sole agent of the customer, which makes quite a difference.
“We reduce complexity, but add so much more because the aim is to produce a consistent operational framework throughout the ecosystem”. The customer only has to interface with the service integrator, not all the service providers and their different ways of working, processes, languages and ways of reporting – the service integrator consolidates it all, and carries out diagnoses and more. Also, if there is a service failure, the service integrator works with the provider to fix it.
Robotic process automation
Orange Business Services uses four levels of robotic process automation (RPA) in its MIS offers. The most basic is correlation for reporting purposes – it crunches data to understand what is going on where and how to improve things. This is about running everyday operations, not dealing with crises.
According to Rigaldo, the second level is more about real-time analytics, real-time correlation, noise reduction and comparing data on the fly to produce a diagnosis.
The next level is cognitive RPA, which he says means, “You collect, correlate and provide analysis on your data in real time, and have a system that proposes remediation to you [to resolve a situation], and an Orange engineer decides whether to implement it or not”.
The last level is full automation in basic, not critical, areas whereby if the automated cognitive RPA can match patterns well enough, in certain circumstances it will automatically implement a solution.
Rigaldo adds, “For very basic tasks, we might want to use full automation. For more critical changes, we might only want real time analytics and a level of proposed solutions, but in all cases, we do correlation for reporting across all our customers because as multiservice integrators, we are at the heart of the ecosystem.
"We see all the data coming in because we proactively monitor them, and all the devices are interconnected, we are able to get a lot of value out of that and distribute that value for the customer.”
The human touch
Despite the emphasis on automation, Rigaldo stresses that human knowledge and experience greatly enriches the use of these tools. He concludes, “MSI is like a Lego block, with different bits and pieces you can put together, depending on what the customer wants.
"You will always have a consolidated service desk, then you can propose proactive or reactive monitoring, or add contact management governance, end-to-end service level agreements and co-innovation with the customer, with IT customers and end users.”