Graphical User Interfaces or GUIs have been around for nearly as long as computers have and have served a vital role in the transition to a digital economy by making technology more interactive or user friendly. From a telecom perspective, commercial routers, web gateway or other consumer premises equipment (CPE) have typically come with a built-in GUI. This interface allows the subscriber to customize default settings, configure firewalls, install important functionality, or change key features such as parental controls, time of day usage and domain name system (DNS), among other things.
To access the GUI and interact with their in-home web gateway, the subscriber has been historically prompted to enter an IP address into a web browser to connect to the device-based server, which then authenticates with a username/password. For residential subscribers, the “technical” actions these GUIs were designed to perform tend not to be very user-friendly or easy to navigate.
Further, the development, testing, documentation and maintenance challenges associated with creating similar GUIs that offer consistent user experiences across a range of products such as Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON), Ethernet, etc.) are onerous to the service provider. It can take months of effort by multiple full-time staff members to meet all the requirements for a particular GUI across different devices, especially if a product is sold globally.
The rise of the app
With cloud managed systems and services proliferating, all that GUI functionality—and significantly more—can be delivered using an app that resides on the subscriber’s smartphone, tablet, or other device. Connectivity is usually over WiFi but can be via Bluetooth, for instance. This is a much more consumer-friendly way to manage subscriber devices.
Instead of investing thousands of hours of effort to deliver device-based GUIs, service providers can leverage a cross-device app that enables subscribers to talk to the appropriate cloud and configure their specific gateway features, WiFi settings or optical networking terminal (ONT) connections. This streamlines things tremendously for the support team.
Another big benefit of cloud-based apps for service providers is that, unlike a device-based GUI, an app can collect data from the subscriber’s ONT, as well as from the cloud. This data can then be processed and made available for analytics, automated network management, network optimization, machine learning, predictive behaviors, new service creation and value-added services like extra security or parental controls.
How DZS can help
DZS has been working hard to deliver a vendor-neutral, low-code, intuitive app model for our customers on as many different customer premises equipment (CPE) devices as possible—including new and deployed products. We help customers integrate our DZS CloudCheck agent onto their device(s), so they can get diagnostics and other data from the device as well as manage it to optimize the in-home WiFi experience. This can help improve the end-user’s overall service experience and reduce churn. A key benefit of our agent is that it packs a lot of capability (the equivalent of retail products like Google Nest) into a very small footprint.
Why should service providers keep investing in maintaining GUIs? Although GUIs have served an important role in advancements in technology, there are easier more cost-effective ways for subscribers to manage CPE. It takes far less overhead to maintain and update an app, especially when it comes to adding new features, language support, and taking advantage of new device capabilities.
Once you adopt a cloud-based, app-based approach to interacting with the subscriber’s CPE and in-home network, you can acquire and exchange considerably more rich data, even in real-time. As an example, you can proactively notify subscribers about network issues, or even problems on their in-home networks. Apps can also support personal options like self-activation, self-installation or DIY CPE configuration.
With an app, the interactions can be direct and give the user more control, versus a GUI interface that most find difficult to use. This makes the approach to customer service more interactive and tailored to the needs of the user.
Contact DZS to find out more about our DZS CloudCheck app and how our DZS Cloud software-defined orchestration platform can help you create differentiating services and reduce churn.