In the ever-evolving landscape of the telecommunications industry, the question is no longer “why should you digitize your assets (towers)?” but rather “how should you digitize your towers, and with whom?” The process of asset digitization has become a crucial facet of staying competitive and efficient in the TowerCo world. If digitization of assets is planned and executed effectively, TowerCos can reap immediate benefits and see crucial improvements to KPIs. If done poorly, users become frustrated with an incomplete solution that doesn’t deliver on its promises: and crucial time and money is wasted while stakeholders try to cobble together a program from different vendors.
In this blog, we will delve into the essential steps for embarking on the journey of tower digitization.
5 Key Steps to Successful Tower Digitization
Introducing a new technology into a large enterprise can be a formidable challenge, marked by resistance to change and complex organizational dynamics. However, navigating this journey is made considerably smoother with a strategic approach. To ease the transition and ensure successful adoption, we’ve outlined five key steps:
- Choosing the right partner
- Starting small to mitigate risks
- Measuring the value or ROI of each stage
- Fostering collaboration with internal stakeholders
- Cultivating a culture firmly rooted in the principles of quality data
These steps are not only pragmatic but also instrumental in driving a spirit of innovation within a large enterprise.
1. Choose the Right Partner
Because choosing the right partner in your digital transformation is paramount for the success of the project, this step deserves thoughtful consideration. In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it’s increasingly common to encounter a multitude of vendors touting themselves as “digital platforms.” However, what’s become abundantly clear is that the term “digital platform” is a broad umbrella under which a diverse array of offerings and capabilities can be found. This diversity can lead to a perplexing situation for buyers, as each vendor’s interpretation of a digital platform varies significantly. While some may emphasize data analytics and automation, others may focus on drone data capture or data management. This wide array of definitions can create confusion and uncertainty among buyers, who are left grappling with the challenge of discerning which digital platform aligns most closely with their unique needs and objectives.
For tower companies, a digital platform should include all the core capabilities and expertise to both create and leverage digital twins of physical assets:
- Global reach and proven track record
- Automated data capture
- Advanced analytics tools
- Seamless integration with existing IT systems
2. Start Small
Begin your digitization journey by selecting a project of manageable scope. Starting small allows you to test the waters, refine your processes, and gain valuable insights without overwhelming your organization. Identify a specific goal in a specific area or set of assets where digitization can make an immediate impact and find a champion in that area to manage the process.
Smaller, targeted projects can be deployed quickly: allowing stakeholders to evaluate the program and benefits in a short time frame. Small projects still allow stakeholders to experience the workflow and results for every part of the process, from data capture and deployment through analysis. With a manageable data set, users can work out any problems easily before scaling the program.
3. Measure the Value or ROI of Each Stage
At every stage of digitization, it’s crucial to measure the return on investment (ROI). Quantify the benefits gained, such as cost savings, increased efficiency, or improved data quality. This data-driven approach ensures that each step contributes to the overall success of your digitization initiative. Measuring the ROI of each stage and documenting the tangible benefits of digitization will build organizational buy-in as the program expands.
These are just some of the tangible benefits of digitization in the tower industry:
- Accurate, up-to-date asset data
- Automation of manual processes
- Accurate billing
- Improved tenancy ratios
- Better communications with customers and stakeholders
Accurate, Up-to-Date Asset Data
In the hectic M&A landscape of the last few years, many TowerCos have inherited old databases of inaccurate information. This lack of accurate asset data is a handicap throughout the organization, making decisions difficult for sales, maintenance, development, and engineering. Digital Twins provide a single, shared source of truth for an organization.
Automation of Manual Processes
Once a digital twin has been created, AI-powered analytics can be applied. This allows for automatic identification of faults, for example, or the automated generation of inspection reports. Automating processes and routine procedures leads to lower labor expenses and a more efficient allocation of resources.
Billing inaccuracies cost money, time, and customer goodwill. When companies have clear and easily accessible data on what equipment exists on a tower, and who owns that equipment, they can improve their billing processes – leading to better customer relationships and higher revenues.
Improved Tenancy Ratios
Digital solutions can directly address some of the KPIs most important to the tower industry. With clear visual understanding of what empty space is available on each tower, companies can sell strategically to improve tenancy ratios.
Better Communications with Customers and Stakeholders
Digitization provides a shared space for looking at potential changes to assets with customers, allowing for collaborative planning and development. This streamlines work processes such as co-location, and leads to better customer relationships.
4. Collaborate with Internal Stakeholders
Digitization should not be confined to a single department; harnessing its full potential lies in expanding it across different departments. Engage with internal stakeholders, including operations, IT, finance, sales and maintenance teams. Collaboration ensures that all parties benefit from the process and that the digital solutions align with organizational goals. Communication from the beginning of the project empowers all stakeholders and reduces the potential for future roadblocks.
5. Foster a Culture Centered Around Quality Data
Quality data is the bedrock upon which all successful digital transformation initiatives are built. In an age where data fuels decision-making, operational efficiency, and customer experiences, having reliable and accurate data is paramount. Organizations must go beyond merely recognizing the importance of quality data; they must actively cultivate a culture that values it. This begins with leadership setting the tone by championing data accuracy and consistency as non-negotiable standards, and instilling an understanding among employees that the quality of data directly impacts the organization’s ability to innovate, compete, and provide value to customers.
To reinforce this culture, continuous training on data management best practices is essential. Employees at all levels should be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to maintain data integrity throughout a tower’s lifecycle, from collection and storage to analysis and application.
Investing in robust data governance mechanisms ensures that data quality is not just an aspiration but a measurable and enforceable reality. Data governance frameworks establish clear roles, responsibilities, and policies, making it easier to maintain data standards and implement corrective actions when discrepancies arise. Ultimately, organizations that prioritize and nurture a culture centered around quality data are better positioned to harness the full potential of digitization, making data-driven decisions with confidence, and reaping the associated benefits.
In the dynamic business landscape of the tower industry, digitization is no longer an option but a necessity. The question is no longer “why,” but “how” to digitize tower assets effectively. By following the steps outlined in this guide, TowerCos can embark on a successful digitization journey that brings about cost efficiency, enhanced productivity, improved data accuracy, scalability, and a competitive advantage.
TowerCos that embrace digitization and automation processes will not only survive but thrive, positioning themselves as leaders in the industry.