On Tuesday we looked at the odd couple of Marketing and Engineering; these two components combined create a full picture to boost your ROI. But how can you share information between these departments and more? This process is simple when sales engineers can leverage existing, georeferenced plant information.
Thanks to integrated, georeferenced information, sales engineers can handle what-if or on-the-fly scenarios. Accessible data generates more accurate ROI estimates and more efficient turnaround on large projects. Recycling data already collected means no wasted effort, time or resources from repeat data entry. This is where a supercharged GIS comes in.
The solution is for each department to have access to the other’s information through a common system with customized interfaces. A CSP’s GIS should be able to store all its records about infrastructure, service area demographics, billing and customer relationship management (CRM). Horizon Network Partners, a southern Ohio telecommunications company, utilized these ideas when completing a three-year-long fiber installation that brought gigabit-speed Internet to Appalachian communities. Having provided service for more than 120 years, Horizon Network Partners capitalized on its previous buildout experience, bringing together fiber management, network equipment management, circuit management, workforce management and CRM for presales processes into one visually powerful GIS.
Like Horizon Network Partners, other CSPs should store all their valuable data in one system. Once the data is in that GIS, each division can visualize or report on that data in the manner that best suits its workflows. For engineering, that could be a report of prospects and the nearest access location for each, with an estimated cost to provide service. For marketing, it might be an open capacity report for a service area with service take rates so that a campaign can be planned.
The GIS handles the important integration work, which allows each division to use its current systems and visualize data in the best manner for its processes. Automated design tools take things to another level; they allow marketing to react to market conditions without engaging or depending on engineering. And because the work is done in a central GIS, engineers can see the results of the design work and tweak it to match the actual design specifications and build process. The automated design tools save engineers time by not involving them in the sales quotation process while still adhering to buildout best practices.
When demographic, plant, customer and prospect data are all housed in a GIS, a team can prequalify service areas. The marketing department can project take rates for different campaigns given income levels and lifestyle habits. It can prequalify business prospects based on location, number of employees and revenue or examine current service areas for trends that can be used elsewhere or to see why take rates are not as high as expected.
As the engineering department builds and upgrades plant, marketing and sales can see newly qualified prospects emerge in real time. And as sales and marketing create build estimates for prospects, engineering can leverage that work for staking sheets and work orders.
The engineering department can benefit in other ways, too. With access to prospects, demographics and customer data, engineering can begin to plan the best way to expand service area and capacity. If some prospects emerge in close proximity to one another, engineering may be able to take advantage of that opportunity. If a capital project is underway in an area, engineering can lay conduit for future outside plant. Being freed from having to produce sales estimates will give engineers more time for prioritizing and executing corporate growth strategies.
The key takeaway for CSPs is to find a way to centralize data and distribute it the way each department needs to see it. A second tip is to visualize demographic, plant, customer and prospect data into the existing workflows of the various departments. When each department has a good picture of what is going on in other departments, the entire CSP can coordinate actions and move faster.