February 26, 2020
Times in our industry are changing. Not so long ago, ICT ecosystems were very similar, physical networks used to be the key to any telecommunications company.
This was disrupted by the development of the smartphone. It then became all about software-based capability, leveraging the internet and revolutionising the digital ecosystem. Operating systems competed for positioning and this in turn created an economic environment and platform for developers to produce new apps with new capabilities and device manufacturers seeking to move the technology on with each generation. The physical networks became solely the distribution channels.
We’re now headed towards a new ICT ecosystem which is driven by IoT, Enterprise, Industrial applications and systems. We are approaching a situation where the world wide web as we know it will be too complex for the conventional approach to standards because of the lack of defined service quality or security.
This challenge in this new era will require new ways of interoperability to bring together a large group of ICT communities whilst tackling for those areas of activities. There’s going to be a few issues.
Traffic complexity first and foremost. The dynamic traffic variables from duration, bandwidth and service types to destinations and the different commercial terms between operators.
There’s going to need to be a new way of thinking to focus on interoperability. The scale, complexity and dynamic nature of tomorrow’s traffic far exceeds the data process capacity of human operators. AI, machine learning and automation will be required to simplify operations and augment human decision making. The commercial settlement process is also going to have to address that same challenge. You can’t simply introduce complexity and huge amounts of data on one side and continue with simplicity and manual process on the other to make it work.
If we want to move from being telcos interacting with large enterprises, network operators and software providers, to a more complex ecosystem of users and suppliers, the industry change. It must look at how it migrates from the linear process and manual processes which can take weeks to deliver, to the non-linear growth opportunity provided by the modern ICT ecosystem, where many things are handled by automation, providing the opportunity for more revenue and faster processing.
In order to get to the interoperability required to achieve this aim, there must be federation. A unified operational framework has to come together with an understanding of the wholesale settlement process, how this is automated, together with the federation of commercial frameworks.
The industry must shift from focusing on hardware to software, developing common API’s, exposing the backend to the front end perhaps on a wholesale basis or between operators. Common modelling through the unification and federation of commercial frameworks and the further development of automated commercial settlement through distributed ledger, commonly known as blockchain.
Putting the pieces together requires integration of capabilities and a unified framework for operation and commercial settlement. Bringing together cloud providers, networks, domestic providers and MNO’s.
Large scale Fibre and 5G deployments will now drive IoT and Edge Compute to facilitate Industrial, Enterprise and Consumer demand, driven by vast bandwidth, vast demand for data and increasing the demand for geographic ubiquity. In this new ecosystem you can’t have one system for China, one for Africa and another for Europe, there’s going to have to be clarity on how these things are done.
The ICT community must develop a common informational model that will facilitate technical and settlement interoperability and a technology interaction that makes sense. The more we can come together and deliver on this, the more we can grow and increase revenue streams and thrive in this new environment.