In the past, it would have been odd to suggest that communication service providers (CSPs) should model their operations on an e-commerce retailer like Amazon. One might initially believe that the two don’t have much in common, yet today’s customers expect an experience as seamlessness and efficient as that of Amazon from all companies; with the dawn of 5G and the automation it enables, CSPs can finally deliver it. In other words, CSPs must embed automation in every aspect of their operations and become “automation-native”.
Today, industries are reaching the limit of their ability to create value for the consumer market. Instead, the next frontier of digital opportunity will be advancing productivity and innovation for industry and enterprises, and a new control point will be needed to address those opportunities – one that delivers business agility, enables new business models and an automation-native culture.
With new business models, CSPs can build a value play that is ecosystem-led instead of connectivity-led and the 5G era will provide the foundation to support such ecosystems. In turn, the new operations control point will play a critical role in enabling it.
The static, open-loop operational systems currently being used today are simply not built to handle this. Operating in “digital time” – that is, the in-the-moment nature of business today – requires intelligent, on-demand, closed-loop processes that drive end-to-end lifecycle management of digital services over a software-based network.
Companies need to bring orchestration and assurance together and break the current boundaries of service design, data models and topology in order to provide the capability for dynamic innovation. It will need to be approached one step at a time, but seeing it through will allow CSPs to build end-to-end service lifecycle processes based on their new operational capabilities that will offer more complex services than is possible today.
Here’s how this might look in practice: A CSP could assign a “slice” of its 5G network to a gaming company so that company can provide online games with guaranteed low latency and network availability to its own subscribers. The CSP’s automated operations monitor the performance of the slice and make sure service level agreements (SLAs) are met — optimizing on the fly when adjustments are needed.
Meanwhile, on the industrial side, a CSP could apportion some of its network to a robotics company that automates industrial processes — again, using its dynamic operational capabilities to make sure the company’s platform performs in the field.
There are even applications in the saturated consumer market. For example, if and when the concept of the connected home comes to fruition, it will offer similar automation opportunities for CSPs.
Networks of the Future
In order to embed automation into operations and unleashing dynamic innovation, service providers will be required to reimagine network architecture and digital platforms.
“Automation-native” operations will require a network architecture that combines solutions, software and services to support innovative business models not only for CSPs but also third-party enterprises who can build the network into their offerings for consumers or other businesses. A zero-touch network with end-to-end service automation and autonomous programmable networking represents a vision for future dynamic operations that is made possible through 5G.
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