KPI-key performance indicators have always been a challenge to me as they as supposed to mean something that really doesn’t translate into any real
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KPI-key performance indicators have always been a challenge to me as they as supposed to mean something that really doesn’t translate into any real business benefit. Moreover, there are often too many of them to make sense of what any one of them means to either the technician in the field or the CEO. Breaking down KPIs to bring visibility and transparency is really key to making any lasting business decision. Should a KPI be treated as one event or indicator like auto brakes or tires or should they be grouped together as an automobile or even a model year to be helpful in making business decisions. In this case, exploring the skyrocketing complexity of our radio access networks or RANs from Wi-Fi to 5G should give us great concern over the ability of any one KPI or even a group of them to effectively manage our wireless networks. In addition, what KPIs don’t do well is keep track of multiple KPIs at the same time such as automobile KPI in relation to complex issues such as “distracted driving” by the driver.
One approach to not just managing what we know now but also managing complex radio network comes from EXFO and what they call the ontology. I had to look that one up, but it really fits with what I am saying about complexity. Ontology ( for Wikipedia explanation) really deals with how one kind of knowledge is related and grouped with others and also how it is related within itself such as similarities and differences. Another way of understanding ontology that it is directly represents relationships and associations of concepts, which is useful for modelling a telco network. In my own analysis of complex networks such as research on AI and machine learning, it is not the amount of data but also the ability of a or any system to build KPIs for humans to use to resolve problems.
The real key to an ontological approach would be to group KPIs together to manage the system or systems under study. Then, add it some automation to do the heavy lifting and you get a viable approach to problem-solving. As EXFO puts it, ” is the first solution to automatically detect both multiple and distributed KPI violations and then trigger a topology-driven analysis to determine the common cause and dramatically speed up troubleshooting.” In addition, when you automate processes, you find other results which EXFO point out that “automated common cause analysis uses innovative and unique topology data to answer the question: what do all these entities have in common?” This is significant because it automates one of the most expensive (in terms of lost customer revenue and operational expenditures) and labor-intensive tasks (such as truck roles and field technicians) in order to resolve network faults in a way that is applicable to all communication service providers (CSPs).
In terms of business KPI, this brings us full-circle to providing chief executive-level information for improved business decisions such as forecasting and installing resources or facilities (wireline and wireless) which is at least a $10 billion a year issue (this is based on forecasting research performed for a major telecom client). Here are just some of the issues related to forecasting facility placement but also repairing them once they are in place. How can you:
Diagnose multiple services, cells or subscriber issues often takes week
Pinpoint the common root cause of issues requires a multidisciplinary team
Educate teams that require the same small set of highly skilled and valued SMEs resulting in bottlenecks, slow response times and unnecessary expenses
Provide escalation of support requests that are often the result of a lack of automated diagnostic tools
EXFO works toward getting the teams and issues “on the same” page and as a result the group of KPIs which are core to an ontology work together.
Bottom-line – Whether it’s a KPI on your driving habits, managing thousands of cell sites or the millions of customer IoT devices, a comprehensive or ontology represents both strategic thinking coupled with tactical problem-solving and resolution. I appreciate the opportunity from EXFO to share with you my views on real KPIs. You can find more EXFO thought leadership on their blog here.
Download their latest white paper on how to automate the most labor-intensive steps of the network troubleshooting process for a quicker fault diagnosis”
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