FutureNet World 2024: Agility, Automation & Network APIs – A Toolset for Monetizing 5G

With two jam-packed days of insightful talks, networking opportunities, and expert interviews, FutureNet World provided attendees with a look into the future of the Telco industry and strategies for how to get there.

More than 600 senior leaders/decision-makers from Communication Service Providers (CSPs), Network Equipment Providers (NEPs), Independant Software Vendors (ISVs), and System Integrators (SIs) attended the event. CSPs (and the ecosystem of NEPs, ISVs & SIs) have always been instrumental at leveraging the bleeding edge of technology to enhance the end customer experience. The shift into the 5G era is no different. As with most technology transitions, 5G has required heavy investments from CSPs across licensing, infrastructure, planning, optimization and network rollout/testing.

But are CSPs seeing the benefit of these investments – and what is required to make them a success? And where else does the industry need to focus to build the network of the future?

This conference brought together industry leaders to answer these questions and carve the path to innovation and monetization for CSPs and the wider Telco ecosystem.

Here are my key highlights from the event.

Building a More Agile and Collaborative Culture in Telco

A central theme throughout the event was the need for cultural change within CSPs and the wider ecosystem to successfully adopt cutting-edge technologies and innovative ways of working.

This includes cultivating closer collaboration between CSPs, NEPs, ISVs, and SIs. New partnerships across the wider Telco ecosystem will help shape the CSPs of the future, enabling them to unlock the full value of network automation, APIs, and AI.

Discussions also highlighted that CSPs could benefit greatly from embracing more of an agile mindset and baking agility into the very DNA of their organization – not just as an afterthought or a fix. Industry leaders at Future NetWorld recognized the benefits of going agile, including faster innovation, better customer experience, and the ability to quickly adapt to market changes.

But it's not the kind of shift that simply happens overnight. Most importantly, it often requires partnering with the right tech allies. intive has been working with CSPs to accelerate digital transformations within their organizations for over 2 decades, collaborating closely as partners with CSP clients to guide, advise and support them through tech trends and requirements and critically using our expertise in Agile/DevOps, cloud, and automation to drive fast paced innovation.

Obstacles Remain to Achieve 5G Monetization

5G brings much higher spectral efficiency than 4G, along with latency improvements and reductions in cost per bit. 5G Standalone (5G SA) also allows service providers to more quickly “update, create and deploy new services in hours rather than days or weeks, without impacting live services.”

However, 5G consumer Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) continues to fall or at best stagnate. CSPs are channelizing more efforts towards their B2B customers with an aim to monetize their heavy 5G investments and generate a Return of Investment (ROI). But has this focus shift and these efforts helped achieve the ROI for the 5G investment spend? As per the experts, the short answer was 'No'. (as some put it more mildly - Not as Expected)

Event discussions highlighted how CSPs are still struggling to find the right B2B models to fully monetize their 5G investments. The killer use cases that will deliver true ROI are not yet there. 5G coverage is still not ubiquitous but scaling in most countries, and 4G continues to provide the necessary overlay layer. This is similar to fast-fail innovation challenges that intive has supported customers in other industries with, providing R&D and innovation labs to develop fast PoCs and business cases and enable customers to choose and drive revenue enhancing developments.

So, what’s needed to forge paths of monetization in 5G? With the right partnerships, enhanced security, reduced network costs, and greater automation, CSPs may be able to gain a larger wallet share of the 5G value chain. Within Telco and outside in parallel industries such as retail, commerce and FinTech, intive is helping customers to leverage automation & enhance security (including retrofitting into legacy workloads) to drive exceptional customer experience. intive understands the complexities of this process and the requirements of regulatory environments and is well-equipped to help CSPs build teams and strategies that support ROI on 5G spending.

Unlocking the Power of AI and Automation

Automation will also be key in improving ROI for CSPs. With the help of automation, the hours that CSP teams spend on manual tasks can be freed up, allowing them to focus on creating true value for their customers and increasing the top line.

AI technologies including Generative AI will play a pivotal role in driving cost efficiencies and operational improvements for the networks of the future. In order to successfully monetize AI investments, companies will need to craft specific industry use cases and efficient business models, as well as cultivate deeper cultural shifts within their organizations.

Conference speakers agreed that Telco is only just skimming the surface of what can be achieved with AI. Once again, collaboration with the wider ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, and system integrators will be key to unlocking the full potential of AI investments.

At intive, we have built AI Labs, a center dedicated to helping our partners start and evolve their AI and automation journeys. AI is not a silver bullet and requires expertise, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making to garner results. The labs leverage a co-ideation, Agile Innovation approach towards AI with a focus on Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Perception /Computer Vision, and Data Science Analytics.

Just a couple of examples of how we support our customers in achieving AI success include empowering a global gaming leader to drive down licensing costs using AI models and developing a GenAI-powered search assistant to help Scottish citizens gain access to public services. There is untapped potential in the Telco industry.

Network APIs and Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)

There seemed to be a consensus at FutureNet World that wider collaboration and standardization across the CSP ecosystem is paramount to unlocking the full potential of NaaS and Network APIs. Experts highlighted how standardization is key to defining a truly unified user experience, and alliances like CAMARA and TM Forum will serve as guiding lights to achieving this.

While inter-CSP collaboration will be key for wider ecosystem success, CSPs will also need to be nimble to compete in their local landscape and offer these services to their own customers at speed. A key ingredient for successful speed of execution would be the willingness of CSPs to lean on partners for the innovation building blocks, technology leadership & expertise. There was wide agreement & acceptance within the CSPs that they cannot and should not aim to build it all on their own.

FutureNet World 2024 highlighted the importance of not only adopting new technologies (and culture that allows that technology to flourish) but also building a collaborative ecosystem that allows industry players to mutually benefit & capitalize on the most promising innovations.

At intive, we are driven by Enthusiasm, Empathy & Agility as our core values. We recognize the need for agile, synergistic ways of working to unlock real ROI from technology investments.

Are you ready to leverage cutting-edge innovations and Agile expertise to help build the network of the future?

Discover a partner who can accelerate your Telco transformation.

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