Many of today’s innovative technologies, such as cloud computing, edge computing, the endpoint and 5G, all change the way we communicate with each other. Following the pandemic and the consequential impact on the UK economy, all organizations will have to rely heavily on the implementation of new technologies including these in order to get back on their feet.
However, adjusting to this new way of working can provide unique challenges. For example, telecommunication companies and operators that adopt 5G technology need to develop entirely new revenue streams as well as lay down new infrastructure, embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and change their business models.
John Day is Sales Engineering Leader, UK&I and Nordics at Commvault.
The coronavirus pandemic has created some major setbacks for telecommunications companies as they work to roll out 5G networks. The unprecedented emergency increased demand in connectivity, with some operators and platforms reaching spikes in demand as high as 800%. As a result of this, Vodafone for example has increased network capacity in order to deal with these huge spikes in Internet traffic, which have increased by 50% since lockdowns were put in place. Preparing for these surges moving forward will be key for operators to cope and ensure success.
At the same time, the pandemic is driving demand for 5G as people increasingly rely on the internet speeds available in their homes while working remotely. At the center of a successful 5G business model is data. Without data being easily transferable, protected, and analyzed, organizations across all industries won’t be able to unlock the potential behind 5G.
The key to unlocking the modern ecosystem
5G is becoming an essential part of an ecosystem that can connect everything and everyone. At the heart of 5G is data and other emerging technologies including augmented intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and augmented/virtual reality. When used together, these solutions can unlock huge potential for organizations. Yes, ultimately 5G enables faster downloads. But what else can this technology make possible?
It can facilitate new scenarios that are impossible to achieve with legacy technology. It can combine components of hyperscale cloud, rich communications, and low-latency, high-speed connectivity. However, this can create certain challenges for operators.
Currently, the operator landscape is very customer focused and centers around offering desired experiences on mobile devices which have access to data. 5G and the IoT increase the number of endpoints and sensors. Therefore, services must evolve to include more Business to Business (B2B) and Machine to Machine (M2M) models.
5G also provides huge opportunities to unlock new value. Low-latency and edge computing capabilities can deliver new solutions and services. One example is rich connectivity for medical devices. This is enabled via network slicing, which allows spectrum to be allocated specifically to ensure the quality of service of such devices. In addition, infrastructure-as-software capabilities allow for self-optimizing networks, which can dynamically allocate spectrum using AI models.
With ever-present compute from the center to the edge, real-time actionable insights driven by AI and ML, and the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds, 5G is an absolute game changer.
Gain a competitive advantage using data
In order to leverage these opportunities, flexible infrastructure is required that not only drives simplicity, scale, and cost efficiency, but also is future-proofed to unlock business opportunities. This is made possible with data. Though the hardware and sensors are important pieces of the puzzle, the AI models are where value and competitive advantage lie. Operators that use data to inform decisions which are made by AI algorithms will be able to unlock the heart of 5G and gain an edge over competitors.
The key foundational layers of the 5G ecosystem are cloud and mobility. However, organizations also need the capability to store, protect, and process data. They then need to deliver this data to mobile devices. AI helps businesses to make these improvements but needs significant bandwidth in order to operate. 5G aids this by both releasing data and providing the bandwidth to support the AI. This offers the potential to augment decision making, both human and machine, by delivering real time information.
The data allows businesses to unlock new applications, in industries including manufacturing, retail, smart cities, energy management, healthcare, transportation, telemedicine and much more. This data must be protected and accessible, as the ability to analyze data, predict trends, and identify the most appropriate data for AI capabilities is crucial.
Data management creates opportunities for 5G operators
Effective data management is a vital aspect of every IT system that runs business applications and provides analytical information to help drive operational decision-making and strategic planning. Despite the endless opportunities that business data provides, many organizations take shortcuts when it comes to protecting it.
If a 5G operator’s data is not both protected and available, it could become a liability. Data that isn’t protected or readily available can not only place a user at risk of being hacked, but also can delay or prevent business operations from happening smoothly. When data management is delivered ‘as a service’, operators benefit from help and support when it comes to incorporating compliance solutions that include endpoint and 5G data.
Telcos and operators need data protection, recovery, and archiving with enhanced application support. In addition, eDiscovery, governance, and compliance are critical, including laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and local regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). On top of this, analytics and content indexing are also important, as are reporting and policy management capabilities.
Data is increasingly seen as a corporate asset that can be used to make more-informed business decisions, improve marketing campaigns, optimize business operations, and reduce costs, all with the goal of increasing revenue and profits. However, a lack of proper data management can result in incompatible data silos, inconsistent data sets and data quality problems that limit their ability to run business intelligence and analytics applications. Therefore, businesses that want to make data-driven decisions which will aid their success must have an effective data management process in place.
Evolving and adapting
As the technology landscape continues to evolve toward integrating with 5G, it’s vital for technical professionals and industry leaders to understand how to deliver on the 5G vision while meeting consumer demand for higher communication speeds. Businesses that don’t adopt this technology risk losing out to competitors, which many can’t afford to risk post-pandemic.
For modern telecommunications companies and operators to effectively collaborate and communicate, data management must support mobility while still protecting against ransomware and enabling the storage and movement of data. Therefore, a solution is required that can safeguard data from the edge, to the core.
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