It has been a few weeks since I wrote a post regarding the FMS. I have actually been busy writing a new module for outside plant management. I have also been chugging away at my classes, anticipating being out for the summer.
Finally, I have been thinking a lot about the future of the FMS. According to classic economic theory, I would be not be writing this system if my wages outweighed the value of the system. It would be irrational. Maybe it is… Anyway, it is beyond my pay grade. I spend a vast amount of time thinking and attempting to write my code in a modular, planned out fashion. I have to satisfy our needs as a company, but also make it nimble enough to translate to another company that operates differently.
Let me slow down, back up, and explain.
I want to sell this thing to other companies. I will explain why later.
Lets resume with the thought fresh in our minds that SandyNet is not an ordinary ISP. For one we are municipally owned. Two, we are not telecom guys by any standard. We studied for our CCNA’s. We ran a WISP for seven or so years. We don’t know copper, telephone or TV. For this reason, the FMS is built differently than a standard solution would. Our scenario is different. We are a municipality with sysadmins and network engineers, running a fiber network with equipment made for telecom companies. We see things differently and we operate differently.
Our company mission and strategy is way different than the competition. Our focuses are on the customer, not so much the service. This is why the FMS system revolves around the customer so much. I had the pleasure of chatting with Erwin Utilities a few weeks ago, and they mentioned that the way we structured our FMS is different. Part of this may have been on accident. The FMS’s predecessor was the SandyNet Intranet, which was a customer management system. I took that system and grew it. The core is still the customer, and I am fine with that (if you want to get really technical, the core is based on tax lot now).
Friday, May 27th, I spoke with our regional sales engineer from Calix. I showed him our system, and he seemed impressed with what we were capable of doing (Keep in mind, our FMS does a lot more than shown on this blog). We discussed a lot of integration and possible uses of the system. It was said that our FMS may work well in both municipalities and the private sector. Small, or maybe medium size deployments. What was most important is how niche of a market it is tailored for.
Our FMS was build around a greenfield deployment. This meant we got to write the rules of our operation, not stay in compliance with some old standards from the stone ages. I believe in addition to our so called non standard operation and management techniques, our custom (currently) proprietary software has given us a competitive advantage against the local cable and phone companies.
We do not dictate the market. We react to the needs of consumers, and give them the service they want and deserve. Phone and cable companies should not have the power to influence or constrain the operations and sometimes profitability of a company. That’s not a utility. Internet is a necessity in some businesses and households now. If access, speed and reliability of the internet is required for our daily lives, then bad ISP’s limit innovation of companies, and unrestricted access to individuals. I feel that new ISP’s and the implementation of greenfield deployments have the ability to change the old way that ISP’s operate. If that is the case, then software can help achieve that goal. I want that to be the purpose of the FMS. How can you add more value to the customer, without charging them more? How can you increase the reliability and usability of your service, without leveraging additional staff? We are seeing this now, as we don’t have to hire more workers to assist in the increase in workload from operations. Our software takes care of the day to day book keeping and busy work.
When you put the situation in the context I have explained before, who wouldn’t want a unified system to manage their operations? What company would want to hire additional staff, or be inefficient? No company would want to not have all their data in a central location. SandyNet noticed when data was easily accessible and automatic, trends and predictions can be found. First time resolution on calls increased dramatically. Record keeping errors and operator mistakes diminished. Finally, correlations between data were noticed. This data acts as a feedback loop in the previously described outcomes. In addition, it opens up new opportunities to add more value to the customer. All of this occurs with not extra cost to us. Well besides my wages. 🙂 I hope the FMS has a future, this is the biggest project I have every attempted, and it would be a shame if others could not reap the benefits it has to offer.
Also, I got a name drop in a utility blog a little while back. Happy day.