“Our GIS technology is indispensable to telcos like Reliance Jio and Airtel”: Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India

Esri is an end-to-end Geographic Information Systems (GIS) solutions provider and has developed ArcGIS suite of software and other related products for mapping technology. Esri India, with headquarters in Noida, UP, has successfully delivered GIS solutions to more than 5000 customers for applications in Land Management, Utilities, Infrastructure, Disaster Management, Telecommunications, Urban / Municipal, Transportation, Defence and Natural resources.

Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India, in a short interaction, outlines how Esri is indispensable to the telecom industry and how its software solutions are important for Reliance Jio and Airtel to scale up their services. This interaction will explore on why telcos need a company like Esri to support them in their value objective operations.

VoicenData: Esri – a company that pioneered GIS technology! Could you introduce Esri to our readers?

Agendra Kumar: Esri, a global market leader in Geographic Information System (GIS), offers the most powerful mapping and spatial analytics technology available. Since 1969, Esri has helped customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results.

Our span of influence includes the biggest names in industry, government, and NGOs around the globe and in India. Our customers address all significant challenges on the planet, from climate change, to food production, to humanitarian relief, to making cities better places to live. In business, our customers achieve superior results by mitigating risk, optimizing operations, growing sales, and serving their customers better.

Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations.

Today, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations (more than 5,000 organizations in India) including the world’s largest cities, national governments across the world and 75% of Fortune 500 companies. Esri engineers the most advanced solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and location analytics to inform the most authoritative maps in the world.

VoicenData: Could you describe how location-based services are useful to enterprises and government agencies and why it is important for today’s digital world?

Agendra Kumar: We are living in a digital-first world today. With the consumerization of mobile broadband and mobile phones, citizens/users have technology access and reach. They expect agility, transparency, and inclusion from enterprises and governments in meeting their needs or how business is conducted. Geospatial technology is at heart of this transformation. At Esri, we call this ‘The Science of Where’.

Government organizations/departments are using GIS for planning & governance. GIS is also being used to involve citizens in how their communities are evolving and to seek a greater feedback on the policy impact. GIS is already a core technology for all major mission mode programs such as Digital India, Smart Cities, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, Namami Gange and others.

Telcos such as Reliance Jio has used GIS extensively in a rollout of the largest greenfield 4G across India.

GIS is also being used extensively across all other sectors of the economy, including natural resources, business, utilities, transportation, emergency response, health care, and urban planning. Enterprises have integrated other systems like ERP, CRM, and BI with GIS for greater insights into its data and business decision making. For e.g. Telcos such as Reliance Jio has used GIS extensively in a rollout of the largest greenfield 4G across India including managing workflows such as network planning and connection feasibility. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is using GIS to drive higher coverage of villages into the milk union. Cities such as Bhubaneswar and Bhopal are using GIS for planning and implementing their smart city vision.

As GIS continues to evolve and integrate technologies such as Big Data, IoT and Artificial Intelligence, its role becomes more instrumental than ever in the digital transformation of the world we are witnessing.

VoicenData: How is Esri’s mapping technology critical for Airtel’s Project Leap?

Agendra Kumar: Telecom is a highly competitive, dynamic and a capital-intensive business with the network being its core asset. Telcos need to ensure that the networks are future proof (2G to 3G to 4G) and they are able to extract the maximum value from their existing network investments. Further, with customer acquisition costs being high they need to ensure that customers have the best possible experience to drive customer retention. The quality of the underlying network and coverage are key aspects that influence the customer experience. Essentially, it means that the experience is as good as the network.

Every asset in the network has a location associated with it, hence, the role of GIS was instrumental.

With Project Leap, Airtel’s vision was to undertake network transformation program to deliver unmatched voice and data experience, coverage (indoor and outdoor) to its consumers while reducing its carbon footprint. Every asset in the network has a location associated with it, hence, the role of GIS was instrumental. In addition, network planning and management process involve a multitude of stakeholders like network planners, RF engineers, real estate, construction, O&M, business, projects, and finance personnel.

Esri ArcGIS provided a comprehensive platform for Airtel to map their network assets on a map along with their coverage capacities. It also enabled teams to collaborate, share and to perform a variety of spatial analysis such as identifying coverage blind spots, hotspot analysis, and network route planning on the web.

VoicenData: Why is this Open Network Initiative important? How does a customer benefit from knowing about the network?

Agendra Kumar: One of the key aspects of network transformation is to know where to scale the existing network and identify areas for new network expansion. Airtel’s Open Network initiative, a part of Project Leap, places the customer at the center of the entire network transformation program. It opened up Airtel’s entire mobile network information to its customers through an interactive online interface that displays Airtel’s mobile network coverage/signal strength across India in addition to the network site deployment status. This empowered customers with a capability to learn and check about Airtel’s network presence at their locality and make suggestions on how its network coverage can be improved. Customers could now even know the upgradation happening at their location, which enabled them to switch the technology. They could report any network related issues and offer their location for new site hosting. Internally for Airtel, it established a common view of its network to all stakeholders.

Telcos need an integrated location strategy that enables better decision making and measurable results.

VoicenData: How can Esri’s GIS technology help resolve glitches in telecommunications? Could you give an example to support the advantages of your technology?

Agendra Kumar: Telcos are geographic organizations and depend on location/maps to run their business. Still, telcos struggle with siloed workflows and extracting more value from the location data they own. Telcos need an integrated location strategy that enables better decision making and measurable results. Hence, a complete mapping platform integrated with OSS and BSS will help them move at a pace never available before and transform all aspects of their business such as operational performance, customer care, community/regulator relations, and employee satisfaction. This means that GIS is no longer used for just mapping out networks, but can be used to solve a complex business problem or streamline an entire workflow by bringing location and data together, performing analysis, and sharing results through an organization.

Telcos can not only manage their spatial data, but they can also drive collaboration across multiple departments or even organizations in a controlled manner

Esri ArcGIS is at the heart of leading telcos globally. ArcGIS is a complete location platform that supports all telco workflows on any device, anytime and anywhere. It enables GIS as an integrated system of record, the system of engagement, & system of insights. Telcos can not only manage their spatial data, but they can also drive collaboration across multiple departments or even organizations in a controlled manner and leverage the extensive geo-analytics capabilities for new insights that integrate a variety of data streams including spatial, non-spatial, big data and real-time data from a variety of sources. With various apps as Collector, Workforce, Navigator and Survey123, the field workers can get a common context and better visibility into day-to-day operations and can be more productive in their work. Operations Dashboard can be used by managers and executives to get a real-time spatial view of their operations and environment.

Geolocation provides that context, by transforming the raw data into useful information and ultimately actionable intelligence.

IoT is another large opportunity area for telcos. Sensor data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem requires context to understand and make valuable decisions. Geolocation provides that context, by transforming the raw data into useful information and ultimately actionable intelligence.

Built with years of experience, working with telcos globally and including industry best practices is Esri’s pre-defined template ArcGIS for Telecommunications solution which is a collection of configurable map and apps for cable, wireless, and wireline service providers. With these templates, telcos can rapidly deploy focused apps to manage their network infrastructure, optimize backhaul planning, update service coverage, and more.

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