Why Ubiquitous Connectivity Matters

Francesco Venturini

Over the past few months and even years, it has become the norm for business leaders to worry about the state of the communications industry and its future health. To stay ahead of the curve and thrive, forward-thinking providers are already making strategic bets on where their future lies. Many are looking at business-to-consumer as their route to success, but one additional winning option waiting to be exploited is to be found in the enterprise market.

Communications service providers (CSPs) now have an opportunity to generate fresh growth if they become what we call a "connected industry orchestrator." What this is all based on is the pervasive network and embedded connectivity.

Let me explain. Businesses have quickly become increasingly digitized and connected. That pace will continue to accelerate with the introduction of 5G technology as new businesses and services emerge.

The increased use of data-heavy analytics in the field, open sensors with software-managed control points and applications requiring low latency offers CSPs the chance to take an active role in developing a pervasive and context-aware network. Built on an open API infrastructure enabled by microservices, with embedded intelligence, this type of network paves the road away from commodities like data and connectivity to new tradeable assets, growing and enhancing the monetization model.

Service providers are already beginning to adopt APIs as a foundational component of their IT architectures, with many organizations signing on to the TM Forum Open APIs manifesto. But if they are to succeed, CSPs must deliver a new, or augmented, set of network features in real time to enterprises, such as dynamic connectivity in network slices, on-demand, mobile-edge computing or traceable secure transactions. And they must be able to place the enterprise application in the right location at the right time.

These applications can be provided across various industries in the enterprise. For instance, one illustration that demonstrates the clear value of the applications comes from the manufacturing sector. Already in industrial plants, low-latency 5G networks can enable engineers to use remote-controlled (haptic) or augmented reality for critical interventions or process improvements, as well as drawing insights from data in the field.

For example, as an engine or other piece of machinery leaves the plant travelling in a vehicle fitted with sensors, it collects a tremendous amount of data that would otherwise be too costly to acquire. That data, thanks to the pervasive network, can be analyzed in the field and the business-critical information can be transferred securely at a significantly reduced cost.

These insights can then inform production to radically improve efficiencies in the manufacturing process or help improve the design or functionality of the engine. CSPs can offer the enterprise the best ubiquitous connectivity for the connected object and process -- a connected supply chain service -- with a monetization plan designed for the individual business transaction.

By delivering the connected supply chain service, CSPs can also gain from understanding the context of the specific transaction and can use that data, along with cognitive intelligence and artificial intelligence, to create a more effective platform on which to base the process. This information can then be used to trade with the broader ecosystem, including insurance, blockchain or product lifecycle management partners, among others.

This type of service positions the CSPs well to take a leading role in Industry X.0, which is the emerging modern enterprise uniting communications, IT data and physical elements that enables the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).

Another example comes from the automotive industry. Many insurance companies are introducing usage-based fees dependent on measuring the type of vehicle against time, location, distance and behavior. CSPs can play their trump card and collaborate to secure a role by providing the business insights platform and access to the network services.

These examples are just the beginning of what could be achieved as 5G comes into play. For CSPs, the combination of providing the most effective network in a country with the superior global reach and ability to scale effectively will enable them to deliver value to the digital enterprise, the ecosystem and the end user. If they can do all that successfully, they will be able to drive new growth in a relatively under-penetrated market and secure their future.

— Francesco Venturini, Global Industry Managing Director for Communications & Media, Accenture

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