Amidst all the hype, new device launches and network rollouts it is easy to forget that we remain in the very early stages of 5G deployment. The GSMA, which represents global mobile operators, predicts 1.2 billion connections by 2025 but even then only one-third of the global population will be covered. And, unlike previous generations the real impact of 5G will be felt not just in faster connections and more connectivity, but in deeper and more radical transformation of digital economies. Harvard Business School, working with Keystone Strategy predicts a $4.7 trillion market by 2025 only 30% of which is related to connectivity. The truth is that telco operators, their customers and a wide range of enterprises are only now entering a period of experimentation with 5G. The technology is increasingly in place, what’s not yet known or understood is exactly how it can be utilised to add value. The opportunities for disruption, innovation and growth are immense – but the costs and risks are outsized too. Picking the right application, business model and service in which to invest will be crucial.
Untested and un-envisaged applications
5G offers huge opportunities to telecoms service providers to reimagine the services and value they provide. The challenge they face is to quickly move beyond trials of what is technically feasible to build business models that generate sufficient returns whilst meeting market needs. The catch-22 with any technology is that market demand is unpredictable for innovative services – consumers and businesses do not know what they need until they see it. The capability, capacity, speed and flexibility of 5G means that many potential future services remain not only untested, but still envisaged. In addition, many new services will be the result of collaboration with one or more partners and likely co-creation of bespoke applications with specific customers.
To aid in making the right decisions of where, when and how to invest in innovative services that generate growth, differentiation and value, telcos will need to rely heavily on data analytics. Data already plays a critical role in telecoms companies, from network planning to marketing and from operations to finance, but in many cases, solutions are siloed and provide narrow snapshots of intelligence. To support the next generation of intelligent applications that leverage the flexibility and power of 5G telcos need to create robust analytics foundations that can ingest, model, score and act on data at scale. Network data will need to be combined with rich data on customer behaviour, predictors of demand and 3rd party insight on specific industries to spot the most lucrative applications to develop. Unlike 4G these next generation networks will be characterised by thousands of niches and micro-services. Operators that can combine and analyse data most effectively will be best placed to capitalise on these opportunities for growth.
Beware proliferation of point solutions
The danger is that this desire to analyse and understand specific opportunities spurs investment in hundreds of niche analytics projects. These quickly lead to an expensive and impossible to manage jungle of data silos, bespoke, pinpoint models and enormous data movement and management headaches. A proliferation of low-cost cloud-based analytics solutions creates a shadow data and IT infrastructure that leads to spiralling (but often unnoticed) costs. Worse, expensive data scientists spend 80% of their time simply finding and preparing data a significant proportion of which has already been integrated for other models.
Instead, telcos should invest in enterprise-wide data analytics frameworks that support the creation, reuse and deployment of data features and models. Many already have the ideal technology platform to do this in Teradata Vantage. Rather than continuously moving data out of Vantage which is often the core production data warehouse, analytic models can be built, trained and scored in the database. Data silos with the associated costs and risks of data duplication and inaccuracies can be eliminated. Enterprise feature stores which catalogue and make available features with proven utility cut down time and cost of crating new models and leveraging the massively parallel nature of Vantage, models can score tens of millions of rows in near-real time.
Leverage Vantage for 5G discovery
As telcos embark on what will become an ongoing experimentation phase as they discover, hone and deploy more and more new services they need a fast and efficient analytics platform to guide their explorations. Continuous modelling to identify new opportunities will become business as usual with all departments leveraging analytics to shape, automate and deliver growth. Ad-hoc, piecemeal and siloed approaches will quickly become cost prohibitive and will not deliver the insights needed to prosper. A robust, proven data analytics foundation that supports all the analytics needs of the enterprise will quickly set the winners apart from the chasing pack as 5G develops. Fortunately, in Teradata Vantage, many telcos already have the means to create these foundations. To find out how to leverage Vantage at the heart of 5G exploration, please get in touch.