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Collaboration, culture and people: the keys to unlocking intelligent operations in a 5G world

Standing on the threshold of a new decade, it is tempting to believe that the 2020s belong to 5G. Looking forward, 5G promises to revolutionize the way people communicate and do business. The opportunities for individuals and for society as a whole may be limitless, but this bright future is predicated on an important assumption—that we’ll be able to offer fully assured services in a highly automated world.

1. Collaboration is king

Key industry events from Mobile World Congress to Digital Transformation World (DTW) have placed renewed emphasis on the role of collaboration this year, with keynote addresses and dedicated topic tracks illustrating how service providers are embracing the idea of meaningful collaboration. New collaborative models will be crucial in bringing greater agility to IT and business processes. As the innovation environment continues to evolve apace to deliver 5G and keep up with the demands of AI, machine learning, virtual networks, closed-loop automation, and more, communications service providers (CSPs) are set on replacing outdated internal operations silos with horizontally integrated teams focused on delivering customer value.

DTW places a great deal of emphasis on collaboration with its Catalyst program. This year, EXFO was part of a showcase proof-of-concept—the innovative Skynet project—which provided further evidence of the value of sharing skills and expertise. The aim of the Skynet Catalyst was to show the value of standard languages and open APIs for supporting service orchestration and service assurance of 5G network slices in physical networks. The project demonstrated how to facilitate an online marketplace for dedicated specialized networks delivering eHealth services on a global scale to address humanitarian crises such as epidemics. The project was recognized for innovation with the TM Forum award for Outstanding Catalyst Depicting Business Assurance Awareness. Blade Runner—phase one of the proof-of-concept—ran last year and was designed as an augmented reality solution for reducing or even eliminating the need for business travel, making collaboration between organizations in different countries simpler and more practical. 5G’s service-based architecture supports both POCs to enable the massive scalability and service agility that’s required.

Like many companies, we recognize the value of collaboration, and the experience of working on both the Skynet and Blade Runner catalysts has increased our appetite for new, more far-reaching opportunities that will enable us to be part of the mindshare of innovation.

2. Culture and people

Another prevailing theme at this year’s DTW show centered around how Tier 1 carriers are focusing on the internal and cultural changes required to successfully transition to digital service providers (DSPs). Many CSPs appear to be on a journey to simplify their own internal structures, service catalogs and processes and radically shift company culture away from siloed operations, planning, decision making, and procurement to a more agile, DevOps mode of doing business where the customer drives innovation. Simplifying company structure and ways of working is seen as the key to unlocking staff potential and enhancing customer service. By reforming from within, CSPs can simplify product offerings and legacy options for customer-domain service creation that meets their digital needs. At the same time, the industry is also acknowledging the concept of workforce “reskilling” as a way to face the changing employment landscape brought on by automation and AI.

Accelerating change can bring more opportunities for employee development as workers adapt to changing demands. But to help employees fulfill their potential, CSPs will have to create and nurture a culture that empowers people with the tools, resources and motivation they need to succeed in this brave new 5G world.  

To learn more about intelligent operations in a 5G world and the pivotal role for service assurance, please download the Special Report on Digital Transformation World, 2019 produced in conjunction with industry analysts Market Mettle.

You may also be interested in our new podcast, “Know your network,” featuring thought-provoking conversations around key management challenges facing today’s carriers.