Five years ago, it might have seemed odd to suggest that communication service providers (CSPs) should aspire to model their operations on a retailer like Amazon. On the surface, they don’t have much in common. But the seamlessness and efficiency of the Amazon customer experience are increasingly what people expect — and with the dawn of 5G and arrival of Industry 4.0, CSPs can finally deliver it.
To do so, they need to embed automation in every aspect of their operations, becoming “automation-native”.
Why automation is essential
The telecom industry is reaching the limits of value creation for the consumer market. Unlocking productivity and innovation for industry and enterprises will be the next big frontier of digital opportunity. A new control point will be needed to address those opportunities, 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. The 5G era will provide the foundations to support such ecosystems and the new operations control point will play a critical role in enabling it.
Today’s static, open-loop operational systems are simply not built to do this. The in-the-moment nature of businesses operating in what we at Nokia call “digital time” requires intelligent, on-demand, closed-loop processes that drive end-to-end lifecycle management of digital services over a software-based network.
To provide dynamic innovation capabilities, CSPs need to bring orchestration and assurance together and break the current boundaries of service design, data models and topology. This will require a step-by-step approach, but seeing it through will allow CSPs to build end-to-end service lifecycle processes based on their new operational capabilities to offer more complex services than is possible today.
In practice, here’s how this might look. 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.
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 also applications in the saturated consumer market. If the concept of the connected home can be fully realized, it will offer similar opportunities for CSPs.
Enabled by Future X
Embedding automation into CSP operations and unleashing dynamic innovation requires a reimagining of the network architecture and digital platforms. Nokia Bell Labs has done that with the Future X network architecture.
Future X combines solutions, software and services that support innovative business models involving not only the CSP but also third-party enterprises who can build the network into their offerings for consumers or other businesses. Providing a zero-touch network with end-to-end service automation and autonomous programmable networking, represents our vision for future dynamic operations.