The telecom industry is rapidly evolving, shaped by changes in technology and light-speed innovation. It is also an industry continually redefining its parameters, providing communications service providers (CSPs) with tremendous opportunities for growth. However, as CSPs expand their partner ecosystem to deliver innovative new services and implement new business models, new threats arise – both known and unknown. Currently, five main forces are shaping this future in telecom:
- Growing Mobile Ecosystem
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning
- Value-added Managed Services
Each of these forces are emerging, albeit at different paces and at different stages of maturity. They interact with each other in a complex thread of dependencies, driving the evolution of our industry.
5G and NFV/SDN – The first two forces, 5G and the transforming network infrastructures of NFV/SDN, serve as the base to the promise for faster data speeds and better and wider connectivity. Network functions virtualization (NFV) capabilities will enable network slicing, the architecture that will allow multiple service levels and custom-made services to be offered to vertical industries. Software defined networking (SDN) provides the ability for CSPs to dynamically collaborate with a wide partner ecosystem. Together, these technologies will bring greater network efficiency to deliver the high-value, differentiated services promised by 5G.
Growing Mobile Ecosystem – A growing mobile ecosystem, which includes the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), represents a substantial growth opportunity for CSPs. According to Gartner, the number of connected things in use this year alone is predicted to hit 14.2 billion, and then grow to 25 billion by 2021. Many of these connected things will be enabled by a complex web of partners and service providers, opening up new avenues for risk, including fraud and revenue leakage.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – As technologies evolve, the vast amount of data we have at our fingertips continues to grow. The exciting aspect around technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is a greater ability to learn from this tremendous amount of data and identify patterns and trends to make better informed decisions with limited human or manual intervention. In today’s digital environment, there are greater security risks. Service providers utilizing AI and ML will have a greater ability to predict, identify and mitigate these risks in real-time.
Value-Add Managed Services – Intense competition, demanding customers, evolving technologies, regulatory hurdles and shrinking margins are putting tremendous pressure on the telecom industry. To survive these pressures, CSPs are adopting new technologies and methodologies to improve operations and business processes. To boost business performance in this disruptive era, many service providers are relying on outsourcing certain services to experienced partners in order to take advantage of scalable, innovative technology and expertise that may be too expensive, too difficult to find, and too time-consuming to build in-house. The result is predictable, effective and agile operations with quick ROI and reduced exposure to risk.
While there is an unprecedented amount of pressure on CSPs and their networks, the future for the telecom industry is filled with opportunity to grow business, increase revenue and provide exceptional service to customers.
Note: This article was originally published on March 2013 and was updated on July 2019.