Home Business Soren Marklund: Customer Journey Design Leads to Industry Innovation

Soren Marklund: Customer Journey Design Leads to Industry Innovation [Interview]

We recently featured a news report about how Ericsson launched two new and interesting network operation services and got great feedback from the readers. Based on that, we decided to dive deeper into the subject matter, and Soren Marklund, VP Customer Support Portfolio Strategy at Ericsson, was kind enough to agree to an interview on exactly these two new additions to the network service portfolio.

The interesting aspect of facilitating post-news coverage for me is that you are not driven by the necessity to report a news story as quickly as possible, in as little words as needed to communicate the underlying information. We don’t need to be satisfied with scratching on the surface but can have a true conversation about innovation and what makes a solution a solution and how it came to be.

What are the new services like?

Ericsson just launched two new AI-powered service offerings aimed at accelerating AI automation to address the complexities increasingly faced in Service Providers’ daily operations and to address 5G operational readiness. The 5G experience will enable use cases, like gaming and cognitive collaboration, where players on 5G networks can stream and interact with AR/VR content in a similar fashion as video streaming services with reduced latency issues causing lag or delayed input response. The operations of such a 5G network also need to evolve to leverage AI-based operational advancements to keep the network always-on. More facts on the matter can be found on the official Ericsson network support services microsite.

Soren Marklund Ericsson Interview Crop
Soren Marklund, Ericsson

Thoughts from Soren Marklund

To help you better immerse yourself into the conversation, we kept the interview in a classic dialogue format and not just select a few quotes to be presented in the article. Thanks, Soren, for taking the time.

Christopher Isak: How would you describe your daily work to a 5-year old?

Soren Marklund: I work with teams of talented people around the world that try to shape a future where everything is possible, providing access to exciting new learning environments where humans and machines work together to solve complex problems.

CI: How do you define “AI” for yourself?

SM: I define it as advanced techniques where machines and humanoid robots enable intelligent functions and complex thought through learning, reasoning, and cognitive problem-solving. Adoption of AI does not replace humans, we enhance AI by human context in a unified augmented co-existence.

CI: What is the most exciting feature about Network Intelligence?

SM: Network Intelligence help bring simplicity to complexity. Service providers are under immense pressure to transform towards always-on networks. Network Intelligence aims to accelerate AI-powered ways of working empowered by close collaboration to achieve 5G operational readiness. We help unlock necessary advanced predictive automation and actionable preemptive insights for optimal uptime. This is also necessary to support expanded Industry 4.0 manufacturing and esports gaming industries.

CI: And what about Omni Network Channel?

SM: Omni Network Channel makes our knowledge available to customers through smart digital and multi-channel touchpoints everywhere, at any time, as you desire. It is enabling faster and more efficient operations, faster access to knowledge, leading to faster time to action, all while having context-based information and insights.

CI: How did you come up with the idea for these new services?

SM: We came up with these new services after having done a series of customer journey maps of our customers’ needs and challenges. We uncovered that we could bring even greater complementary value to our service providers through already established channels. We realized how important collaboration and co-creation was for our customers, and how we could leverage our telecom expertise when embedded into AI-powered services. The idea was born. We embarked with our best talent and technology to make this reality.

CI: How would operators benefit from that?

SM: Embedding telecom knowledge and product expertise into AI-powered services enable an accelerated adoption of AI/ML analytics and data-driven operating models. By leveraging our advanced preemptive analytics automation capabilities, we are enabling up to a 60% reduction of network performance issues and reducing critical incident handling more than 35%. Near real-time product near analytics together with integrated access to global domain knowledge is of essence in detecting and capturing the necessary network data to effectively detect and preemptively address root-causes.

What means AI to you 5G Intelligent Networks Skull Ericsson Post

CI: And how will network engineers benefit from that?

SM: Empowering service providers’ teams with AI-powered services is already bringing results. These services are enabling automatic preemptive incident resolution in minutes, and the management of network operations with network service intelligence at your fingertips.

Network Intelligence goes further, addressing network complexity through human-guided, advanced analytics to achieve improved efficiency, using network intelligence and actionable insights, enabling an agile democratized use case model for the network engineers.

CI: How does the technology behind these services work?

SM: We build operating frameworks and use cases that can be tailored for the specific customer situation using NLP-like toolsets to address speed of deployment and easy use by operational knowledge experts. Data ingest includes selective data collection for a set use case cluster to secure speed of execution. The use cases can leverage an optimal balance of predictive, preemptive, or rules-based analytics to optimize cost, speed, and precision/accuracy for the type of anomalies being addressed.

CI: Have there been proof of concept (PoC) trials?

SM: Yes, we have evolved this platform based on a series of deployment and proof of concept phases with select customers with successful results. We have worked closely with our customers to ensure clear value for their needs.

CI: How were the results of the trials first, and how did they scale later?

SM: It has been exciting to see the collaborative transformation in practice. We came out the gate with promising capabilities but did not fully realize the full network experience we could boost. Now we are at a situation where we have managed to unlock new ways of working to address unknown anomalies, we have uncovered unknowns in the network that otherwise were not visible through traditional operating models.

We are building on our global scale, leveraging the talent we have around the world working with our customers, empowering these teams with new powerful advanced techniques. This benefits our customers with speed and embedded AI-powered services expertise in adopting AI technologies into operations.

Data Has A Better Idea 5G AI Intelligent Network Services Ericsson Interview Article

CI: The core value here is stated to be ‘technology enhanced by people’, what does that mean to you?

SM: At Ericsson, we believe in technology enhanced by people. Because this puts us on a fast track to enabling the co-existence of humans and machines. It’s a place where humans augment the power of machines to accelerate continuous learning and in turn, to derive trustworthy data, transparent knowledge, and insights.  Our assets are People, Framework, and Technology.

CI: How can a company adopt this? What are their steps to a new way to run operations?

SM: We have had the operational and customer experience in mind from the start. Our AI-powered services are quick to deploy, it is easy to tailor new use cases and be up and running in less than a week. We then address network pain points and network anomalies and begin the operational transformation in collaboration with our service providers.

CI: What’s next on the agenda? What does the future hold for 2020 and beyond?

SM: We are working closely across Ericsson to accelerate AI/ML adoption everywhere and enable cognitive collaboration for advancing the AI-powered use cases. We are accelerating our digitalization journey, bringing R&D closer to our customers, and embracing a customer-centric mindset to address the customers’ desired outcomes in embracing the 5G evolution. It’s an exciting journey ahead.

We will have many more advanced use cases and are taking advantage of our technology strength and global scale to accelerate knowledge-driven AI enhancements. We are ready to support our customers on their 5G journey ahead. For the consumers, an always-on 5G network can, for example, help enable industries like the esports gaming market by offering consumers an enhanced and seamless gaming experience wherever and whenever they want it.

Esports Gamecaster Moderation Host 5G Networks Gaming Industry Ericsson Interview Article

CI: Is there something else that you’d like to share with our audience?

SM: Anything is possible when collective bright minds throughout the industry come together to address readiness for future cognitive operations of networks. We look forward to working closely with our customers and partners in the industry to build this reality.

Thanks again, Soren, that was really insightful, and I appreciate that you took the time, despite having a full schedule, to help us build this article to extend on the original news story.

What does this all mean in a nutshell?

AI can transform a service provider’s operations, but it can also be a great leap into the unknown. AI-powered services embed global learnings for faster adoption of advanced analytics, and digitalized workplaces facilitate agile use-case collaboration.

At first, we all have to agree on a shared understanding of what AI could mean in the context of enterprise IT and telecommunications. Many service providers have experienced that the successful adoption of AI often takes time, and requires easily accessible data, expertise, and use cases. Ericsson worked on addressing these challenges faced by the service provider. Embedding telecom knowledge and product expertise into AI-powered services enable an accelerated adoption of AI/ML analytics and data-driven operating models.

A machine can’t be the master. They believe in technology enhanced by people. Because this puts us on a fast track to enabling the co-existence of humans and machines, where humans augment the power of machines to accelerate continuous learning and AI automation.

Ericsson Network Services combine technology leadership with a unique mix of global and local expertise to enable operators to meet their business objectives. We help you take advantage of Ericsson’s global support insights and innovations, transform network operations, and be proactive.

Visit this page if you want to learn more about how AI can help you with your network services.

Photo credit: The feature image is owned by Ericsson and has been provided with permission. The portrait shot of Soren Marklund is owned by himself. The image “free blue” has been done by Alessio Ferretti. The “data has a better idea” photo was taken by Franki Chamaki. The esports moderation photo was made available by STEM List.
Source: We facilitated a written interview with Ericsson. All information is valid as of the time the article was published.
Editorial notice: This article has been sponsored by Ericsson and was prepared in collaboration with partners.

Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttp://www.christopherisak.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. 😉