Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Victor Holmin, Director of Discovery and Innovation, World Wide Technology, explores the cultural flexibility required to make the most of the 5G opportunity.
Service providers are under pressure to realise the full potential promised by 5G and Edge computing. Despite its many offerings of increased speed, lower latency, and better connectivity, capacity and efficiency, 5G has yet to have its big bang moment where a product or service really showcases its potential.
Most pressingly, there is a general lack of demand for 5G services from enterprises. This means that service providers, eager to place themselves at the head of the race to deliver 5G services, are struggling to sell the potential benefits to their customers. At a recent 5G panel event, Michael McGroarty, Business Development Manager, Open vRAN & Private Connectivity at VMware summarised the situation as: “Most customers don’t ask for a 5G network: they say I need a service that’s reliable, that’s low latency, or has ultra-high security.
How then, do service providers continue to make progress towards deploying 5G services for their enterprise customers? The answer lies in developing unprecedented operational flexibility.
To be commercially viable now, 5G technologies need to be deployed in combination and create solutions that serve specialised vertical use cases. Achieving this will require not only a greater range of technical expertise, drawing on emerging technologies such as Edge, 5G, ORAN, Telco Cloud, Private Networks, and Neutral Host Networks, but will also require closer collaboration with enterprise customers than ever before.
On top of this, these technologies must be combined and turned into solutions that meet a real need for verticalised enterprise customers. For example, service providers need to speak the language of hospitals in order to truly understand what challenges they are facing, what metrics they care about, and what solutions would make a difference. It is a bottom-up approach that looks to naturally grow demand from the grassroots rather than trying to sell a 5G solution that simply doesn’t serve the customer’s needs.
The challenge is this kind of holistic collaboration is not something which service providers have traditionally had to do, and these changes will require large scale cultural and operational transformation. To achieve this collaboration, wholesale cultural change will be required.
How do service providers achieve this? By working with businesses that have experience of collaborating to develop solutions across the network stack. New approaches to business models, with focus on external-awareness and value adding, will be required to manage the emerging ecosystems around the 5G platform.
Systems integrators are ideally placed to contribute to this process because they already have the experience in operating and orchestrating complex vendors ecosystems. They can access their own impressive pools of heterogenous skills and competencies. Through this, system integrators can act as hubs or sub-ecosystems in order to alleviate the burden of dealing with extremely large ecosystems. These smaller hubs would be equipped to contribute to the value creation and capture processes through their own areas of specialisms.
By no means is the burden of industry change solely on the shoulders of either system integrators or service providers, nor should it be. We all have a long learning journey ahead in the ecosystems and platforms space: each forming one part of the puzzle.
5G truly is a huge opportunity for service providers. Building a platform where different players can innovate, consume services, build new components, combine those components, and generate new value by developing new services and solutions. But to truly ensure they capture the opportunity, service providers need to embrace holistic collaboration by fostering the growth of ecosystems across the 5G platform. As an immediate step the industry needs a new mindset: to work and innovate closely with customers and systems integrators to conceive satisfying end-to-end solutions to real customer challenges.
Victor is a veteran with over a decade worth of experience in the telecoms industry. Formerly, he was the Co-Founder and Regional Leader, Europe at Remarkable Focus and Rendere. In his current role at WWT, he consults with telcos about innovative technologies such as 6G and edge. WWT has an arm that specialises in global service providers, and it has very strong relationships with the major of telecommunication providers. It also has extensive experience in providing insight and perspective on how companies can successfully embrace new technologies, helping clients avoid common pain points.