5G is more than just a buzzword these days. It’s an opportunity to transform what ICT companies can offer to both consumers and enterprises. The latter, especially lately, are looking for “more for less”. With all the cost-cutting and focus for solutions with higher ROI that can present challenges to ICT market players like Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Digital transformation seems to be one of the primary global trends that can help the vendors meet such requirements, new and old.
What’s digital transformation all about?
Digital transformation is about more than what businesses like CSPs can offer, however, all the parties of B2B arrangements are undergoing it, and with it, the needs of customers are changing, to which CSPs need to adapt in order to stay competitive. That applies to every player in the chain – from manufacturer to end-user. We’ve taken a look at how CSPs can make the best use of the digital transformation, using key market players as examples.
Collaboration is key
Indeed, digital transformation doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. It’s about the entire ecosystem and network of partners working for the benefit of enterprises and, ultimately, consumers. It would be entirely incorrect to say that the benefits of 5G deployment can only be reaped at the stage of project execution that’s close to the consumer. In fact, the recent collaboration between Ericsson, Orange, and Atlas Copco proves that 5G can be hugely beneficial at the earliest manufacturing stage.
CSPs are no exception. We saw this in the partnership between a Scandinavian CSP Telia and Ericsson. With Telia as a value-added reseller providing service support, Scania’s Södertälje truck factory is augmented with 5G and LTE, thus allowing large improvements in their production. Last year’s partnership between Telia, Ericsson, and Volvo CE was the first pilot implementation of the 5G network in Sweden for industrial use. This test, along with the Scania project, was one of the milestones that led to Telia and Ericsson’s successful launch of the 5G network in Sweden and Norway last month. This goes to show that partnerships are fundamental to the success of the 5G ecosystem and that won’t change in the future.
Adding value is more than being a connectivity provider
Agility goes hand-in-hand with collaboration when it comes to CSPs’ digital transformation. And that means being more than just a “connectivity provider” because the market is becoming saturated with disruptors like alternative service providers, according to Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights 2019/20 survey. These ASPs are closing in on CSPs in terms of trust.
What CSPs can do in order not to drop from the radar is to become proper Digital Service Providers (DSPs). And to be able to take advantage of 5G as a DSP, the network infrastructure also needs to undergo a transformation from the traditional hardware-software model. Software-defined networking (SDN) is one example of this. Once again, collaboration is key in this case – this model requires partners such as service providers and manufacturers that can meet SDN demands and, by extension, customer demands.
Of course, a healthcare provider, for instance, has different network and service needs than a factory or a financial services provider. There’s no one-size-fits-all, which is also where agility comes in for CSPs. This is vital – given 5G’s accelerating potential for many capacities and the raw potential in the above industries and others for use cases, CSPs need to be able to address them. With healthcare, for instance, we’ve recently seen, for obvious reasons, a considerable rise in the digitization of the industry. There are already use cases for 5G deployment in China. Same with factories – the increasing robotization of production requires high-level communications for safe collaboration between robots and workers. This can be addressed with 5G, as we’ve seen in the cases of Ericsson and Telia’s partnership above. Indeed, the high-speed and energy-efficient network, courtesy of the CSP, and the ICT provider could be a game-changer for Scandinavian industries.
When it comes to financial services, the focus is on cybersecurity. It’s vital to protect financial transactions, and with the rise of fintech companies, the issue is becoming more and more prevalent. 5G can enable lightning-fast responses to fraud alerts and power the AI that can detect fraudulent transactions. The same issue is of increasing concern in the automotive industry, thanks to the increase in Internet-powered vehicles. As we can see, security is also an integral part of CSPs’ digital transformation.
With 5G the CSPs have access to top-level security standards. That is because, due to the numerous 5G cross-industry applications and technological advancements like SDN, there is a need for cybersecurity to be on a system-wide level, as there are possibilities for brand new threats and the level of tolerance for risk rightly declines. 5G ecosystem’s technical features and system design considerations are secure by design.
Therefore, 5G can undoubtedly be a USP for individual CSPs that promise risk mitigation for their customers. However, achieving full capabilities isn’t possible on its own – we can’t stress the importance of collaboration enough. And that includes collaboration with regulatory bodies, as well. After all, cybersecurity is a vital issue for most governments of the world, and the relevant legislation needs to take into account all the aspects of 5G. If a CSP implements this correctly, it could be an excellent case study for lawmakers.
Of course, digital transformation is an investment in itself. But from what we can see from the projections, the 5G-enabled solutions by CSPs can genuinely add value to representatives of many industries. However, before investing in 5G capacities, CSPs should consider how it will benefit their target markets and understand what challenges 5G deployment can address for them. Rather than developing one-size-fits-all solutions, CSPs should work to address customer- and industry-specific problems that can be solved with 5G, and collaboration together with agility are key to achieving this. All service providers in the future must add value to their clients, well beyond just providing services.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Quinn Buffing. The photo “helping hand” was taken by Neil Thomas. The picture with the safety helmet has been done by Ümit Yıldırım.
Source: Ericsson press room (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) / Ericsson’s 5G for Business Report / Ericsson’s Guide to 5G Network Security / Juan Pedro Tomás (EnterpriseIoTInsights) / Omdia’s Report on 5G for Enterprise & Industry / Mobile World Live whitepaper “The Journey to Become
an Agile 5G CSP” / Angus Ward (The Fast Mode)