To successfully deliver high-quality, value-added services, multitenant data centers (MTDCs) must emphasize service design, prioritize catalog management and embrace the shift to a product-oriented approach. Although enterprise spending and investment in private and hybrid clouds continues to create market opportunities for MTDCs, providers must still differentiate themselves by offering value-added services in a crowded market. Doing so will enable them to gain new customers as well as increase customer retention.
MTDCs not only have to meet customer expectations regarding reliable, value-added services at reasonable prices, transparent SLAs and high-quality operational services, but they must also expand their offerings toward becoming a full-service provider, anticipate customer demands and deliver value-added services fast, all at reasonable costs.
This challenging task can be done by either offering managed services or by acting as a broker of those services through partnerships with the service provider’s customer base. In both cases, differentiation through high-quality, value-added services is mandatory. How is it possible?
MTDCs can balance customer demands as well as business interests by defining a service portfolio up front. Think of the catalog-driven approach as a menu listing an array of services and parameters that are individually configurable according to the customer’s needs. The catalog-driven approach is based on the industrial principles of standardization, variant management and modularization. It allows providers to quickly design new services based on standard components, enabling them to react quickly to market demands and respond to competitors easily and flexibly.
The ability to become a provider of customer-centric services will ultimately drive the competitive advantage of MTDCs.
The Customer Experience
MTDCs must consider the entire customer-experience chain including all of the technical and commercial processes involved in the production and management of a service, as seen from the customer’s point of view.
If we look at the customer-experience chain (CEC), we see a huge gap between infrastructure operations and service delivery.Infrastructure managers need a substantial amount of technical detail to proceed with automation, including companywide governance of services, roles and changes, as they’re responsible for high-quality services.
The customer view is different, however. Customers know what they want: a one-stop shopping experience with easy-to-understand, benefit-oriented service descriptions. They seldom think twice about technical processes or how a service is produced; they focus on the end result (fast delivery, high availability, accessibility and configuration to their needs).
How can MTDCs bring together two completely different views on the exact same topic?
To close the gap, a catalog-driven approach is necessary. A catalog-driven data center puts the customer center stage, determines that customer’s needs and requirements, and takes these findings into account for every decision in service design and delivery.
For a data center to effectively offer a customer-centric portfolio, standardization is critical. Similar to standardization in factories, the end product is divided into small components that are easy to reproduce. This modular approach makes components flexible and individually configurable when a new product is created. This way, the production line stays highly standard while customers get services tailored to their individual needs. As various delivery options are available, customers feels they’re getting individual service, even though it’s actually composed of standard elements.
This approach drives business growth and increases efficiency in delivery and operations. A proper product catalog is the glue between the infrastructure and the customer and will make such a personal “service design” feasible.
When designing services on the basis of standard service components, MTDCs will benefit from shorter time to market, agility as the market changes and structured rollout of new services. Thanks to this increased visibility, the catalog provides the holistic view needed to calculate usage-related costs and pricing structures to drive revenue.
A Complete Service-Management Solution
For efficient service management, data centers must implement software that offers a comprehensive catalog management system to define, manage and monitor services over their entire service life cycle. Additionally, the appropriate software should have the capability to deliver user-oriented descriptions for self-service portals while providing all of the necessary technical information for delivery. The provisioning of standardized products enables MTDCs to consistently deliver high-quality services while reducing costs and complexity. The automated documentation of all available products and the configured services will bring greater clarity to the customer-supplier relationship.
In summary, the benefits of a catalog-driven approach include accelerated time to market, transparent cost structures and efficient service-delivery processes. A catalog-driven approach gives sales a precise view on what to sell, and they will be able to tailor services to individual customers more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, it will help product-portfolio managers design new services faster and respond to changed customer and market requirements quicker.
The digitization of service-related information makes it possible to provide services flexibly and with consistently high quality while also keeping costs under control. The more standardization, the higher the service quality—in turn keeping customers happy and securing revenue.
About the Author
Patrick Büch, Head of Business Line Service Management at FNT Software, manages the company’s service-management portfolio and advances the market entry of FNT ServicePlanet. Having more than 17 years of industry experience in the fields of service management, business-process management and enterprise architecture, he is a frequent speaker on these topics.