When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the social-to-cash-to-care lifecycle. Digital services have shown immense traction and benefits across vertical markets as they increasingly prove themselves as the way forward. These services are all about tapping into and connecting with customers through a broader range of more flexible, personalized and customized services.
To fluidly connect people and process across ever-expanding boundaries in digital services, it’s necessary that enterprises and their communications providers digitally transform in their own right—continually introducing more robust and flexible communications as the underpinning of evolving digital services and the ecosystems that will enable them. Communications is becoming increasingly fundamental to digital services for not only connectivity, but also increasingly mobile, sensor- and device-driven, real-time services that demand and generate incredible amounts of data.
That will uniquely position telecommunications service providers as the only ones in these ecosystems capable of connecting key stakeholders and managing the innate complexity of having so many comms, IT, operational and business pieces working together in increasingly smart interconnected ecosystems. It’s through ecosystems that the best services will be provided, integrating the unique capabilities and position of the CSPs with a range of services for increasingly higher value verticalized offers.
The Challenge: there is no one way to do this!
To fully capitalize on the opportunity to become the horizontal underpinning of digital services and ecosystems, as well as to provide increasingly integrated vertical offerings, CSPs are setting the stage for working in new Cloud- and Edge-driven ecosystems. This is not a simple proposition as there are a number of different approaches to cloud deployments, including public and private clouds, edges, and hybrid approaches. These may all be used in different flavors and combinations depending on the providers, ecosystems and use cases.
The maturation of IoT and the move toward 5G each has its own implications as well. Many CSPs have been building up private clouds to address their own deployment needs and to move into digital services. There are some common approaches to this that are evolving to be more Cloud Native. Challenges abound, however, with multiple environments within these clouds and a range of complicated orchestration that is struggling to serve business needs. Time-proven approaches of standing up networks out of individual boxes for a limited set of use cases do not scale rapidly enough as ecosystems rapidly evolve along with their cloud, and now edge technologies.
5G and SBA, enough?
The changes in 5G introduce some relief, as a move towards a much more cloud-friendly approach gives rise to the Service-Based Architecture that allows for a better fit into cloud and edge environments, not to mention more rapid evolution of the building blocks of the services provided by these networks. Though it’s an improvement, it does fall short in several ways. For one, these changes need to fold into the need of operators to participate in and host ecosystems around more integrated services. That, in turn, requires a different mindset than building networks only out of boxes and a move towards providing and integrating higher value services using the advantages of ecosystems and clouds. For example, the value in the network slices popularized by 5G, and starting to be deployed on 4G, is not just in the specialization potential. It is just as much in the ability to bundle up entire slices as offerings and realize the reduction in complexity and operations that can bring, along with the possibility of better integration in to vertical services and ecosystems.
As an industry, we must continue down this path and work to take advantage of communications as the underpinning of these ecosystems.
To learn more about ecosystems and integrating services via marketplaces, listen to our new webinar “5G and Cloud—Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators.”
Also read our new white paper “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications” to see how practitioners responsible for network-oriented applications are trying to move to the “web services” model.