It’s an annual affair for our sister company, Ovum to have packed meetings, briefings and presentations, reflecting on key developments, trends and rumours at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona. MWC has always known as a specialized conference for the telco industry, this has somehow changed this year. It is now one of the world’s greatest showcases of enterprise technology and emerging trends ranging from artificial intelligence to the long-awaited 5G connectivity.
The overarching theme at this year’s MWC was 5G. This was not unexpected, given that we are currently in the 5G investment and commercialization cycle. However, perhaps more noteworthy were the specific IT technologies and operations that were highlighted as key building blocks in this bigger 5G story.
Telco IT and operations topics were much more in evidence this year than in previous years. This is mainly because communications service providers (CSPs) will totally need new IT platforms and operations structures as well as cloud-native architectures if they are to develop, deliver, manage, and monetize new 5G services. Ovum has highlighted three key takeaways from MWC19.
Transforming operating models
What operations changes are we seeing more of? Green field investments by the likes of new Japanese operator and e-commerce company Rakuten are still the exception to the rule, but we are seeing significant investment by CSPs seeking to transform their legacy systems, such as Telefonica UK’s end-to-end BSS/OSS suite deal with NEC/Netcracker. Also, judging from conversations at MWC19 with vendors and operators, a broad mix of cloud-native transformations is finally being embarked on rather than just talked about. DevOps, continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD), microservices architectures and containerization, big data management, and AI – all these have made it onto the to-do list for the major CSPs. This is partly because 5G requires a totally different set of structures to enable and monetize new services.
Collaboration, partnering, and open APIs
Collaboration and partnering is the second theme Ovum is highlighting here. Collaboration has been building up a head of steam for several years now, but this year felt that much more intense, especially with hub and lab announcements. This is partly driven by the fact that so many 5G-based business models will depend on diverse partner ecosystems.
There was also an interesting twist to the collaboration theme at MWC19 in the shape of open APIs not just being opened up to third parties but also feeding back into CSPs’ internal operations. Open APIs do not just support cross-industry developer collaboration; they can also facilitate easier link-ups between vendors as we saw at MWC.
Massive impact of AI on network automation
Finally, we come to the growing impact of AI on operations. AI featured as one of the big themes at this year’s event, and as we have been hearing, AI increasingly permeates everything, driven partly by the need for the technology to support the speed and scale of the 5G world.
There was a particularly big focus on the automated network management use cases of AI at the event, with numerous vendor announcements. Several operator sessions were also held on the role of AI and the operator automation opportunity for improved customer experience, suggesting this is also picking up.
In addition to the insight provided in this article, Ovum may provide recommendations and further opinion on the latest transformation technology trends. We invite you to contact us here for an opinion piece related to your industry.
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Practice Leader, Telecoms Operations and IT, Ovum
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