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Protecting Network Data IP: How to Capture “Tribal Knowledge”

Wade Anderson - Apr 8, 2021 1:29:00 PM

Protecting Network Data IP (Featured Image)

“Tribal knowledge” is overlooked and underappreciated information that only exists in the minds of key employees. The problem with tribal knowledge is that we often don’t realize how valuable it is until it’s gone. When people with tribal knowledge leave for other pastures they take their insights with them, losing valuable information and forcing others to fill in gaps that they didn’t even know existed.

In the fiber optic network management world, it’s often field technicians that possess a huge amount of tribal knowledge about the network. They know the nuances of splice enclosures, how cables connect, the best way to access specific cabinets, etc. Through their experiences, field technicians build up a wealth of knowledge around the best way to manage and maintain active networks.

When your field technicians retire or move on from your business they leave with tribal knowledge (your intellectual property) in their heads and network data is lost unless you have a robust software-based System of Record (SoR) to systematically capture and maintain this information.

Why You Need a Software-based SoR

With a software-based SoR, you can capture and disseminate tribal knowledge before it escapes your business. As a result, you avoid losing precious intel about your operations and enhance the overall value of your network.

For instance, with OSPInsight, you can store all of your network data in our cloud-based SoR and make that information available to anyone who needs it. Utilization by fiber strand, termination points, cabinet locations, active subscribers, geographic coordinates, and more are all available at your fingertips.

To ensure data remains accurate and current, your fiber technicians can use our mobile application to upload notes and as-builts with their mobile devices in real time, keeping office-based operations teams in the loop. Having an easy-to-use mobile capability that supports your SoR is crucial to capturing site-specific tribal knowledge before it’s lost. You can get the most out of your field data collection and avoid having to track down intel after-the-fact.

When your longest-tenured field technician retires or joins another company, you won’t lose all their valuable wisdom overnight. As long as you encourage your employees to log network data regularly, you’ll never be in the dark.

The technicians who are still with you can pick up right where others left off and easily access the information they need to troubleshoot problems, perform new splices, investigate concerns, and more. Your SoR in combination with mobile field tools creates a single source of truth that anyone can leverage or update on the go, which is when so much of the fiber work happens.

Retaining Control Over Your Network

Another benefit of using a software-based SoR is that you always retain control over your network, even as it expands and grows more complex. You create a more resilient system by eliminating single points of failure and over-dependence on the tribal knowledge of key individuals.

In fact, CTS Telecom, one OSPInsight customer, was able to minimize its dependence on a third-party contractor that previously handled all field fiber operations by deploying our SoR. The field technicians at the outsourced engineering firm had all the information about how CTS Telecom’s network functioned, which meant the contractor was actually controlling the network!

In the past, CTS Telecom operators had to get approval from the contractor before they could assign new cables, expand the network, and make other important decisions. After switching over to OSPInsight and deploying their network data in the cloud, they had an accurate and current view of all field operations conducted by the contractor.

“Because we know where our stuff is and what it connects to, we can do a better job serving the client.” - CTS Telecom

When organizations use paper-based records, spreadsheets, and hand drawn maps to manage fiber networks, operations and engineering teams often find themselves in an internal power struggle over who controls information. The engineers have the tribal knowledge, making them the gatekeepers when it comes to operational decisions. But with a shared SoR, you can align operations and engineering teams around a single source of truth that eliminates damaging information conflicts.

Enhancing the Value of Your Network

Another high-value benefit of using a software-based SoR is how it enhances the economic value of your team and physical network. Your employees can do their jobs better, making them more valuable to your business. In addition, you have an organized repository of information about your network’s components (cables, cabinets, end points, etc.) that adds tremendous value to your organization when speaking with decision-makers and outside investors.

The more information you can encapsulate about your network, the more valuable it is to external stakeholders who may want to buy or invest in your network down the road. You have all the information you or anyone else could ever want in one place. In other words, you have a “digital twin” that carries real financial weight.

Protect Your Network IP With OSPInsight

For all of these reasons, it makes sense to transfer your paper and tribal knowledge to a secure and mobile-friendly software platform, like OSPInsight. With OSPInsight, you can protect your network IP, regardless of how people come and go. You can capture tribal knowledge before it slips through your fingers and empower others throughout the organization with insights that would otherwise evaporate overnight.

To learn more about how OSPInsight can insulate you from losing critical tribal knowledge, contact us today.