Leading CSPs and webscales implement new ICT architecture to fully capitalize on digital era

Insights from TBR’s 2020 Telecom Predictions

Key technologies, most notably cloud, virtualization, 5G, edge computing, AI and machine learning (ML), are coalescing to usher in a new era, commonly referred to as the digital era, but also referred to as the 5G era or the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). It is widely expected that during this era, industries will be fundamentally transformed, people’s lives will be greatly enhanced, and productivity will enter a new phase of sustained growth, all of which will contribute to an economic boom and improved standard of living. Communication service providers (CSPs) have a golden opportunity to play a critical role in the digital era by providing not only ubiquitous, intelligent connectivity but also value-added services that participate in and enable this economic development.

TBR’s research suggests 2020 will be a springboard year for the telecom industry’s development of the new architecture, with spend in the key markets of 5G, network virtualization and edge computing poised to ramp up significantly through the middle of the next decade. TBR also anticipates that systems integrators will play a much broader and key role in helping CSPs transform their businesses and networks and that webscales will increasingly encroach on CSP turf as they concurrently pursue new value created from the aforementioned technologies.

Join Principal Analyst Chris Antlitz on Feb. 12 as he provides leading-edge analysis on where the telecom industry is heading and how the digital era will impact stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem.

Don’t miss topics including:

  • Why webscales are building out the edge
  • How the open RAN and vRAN markets are developing
  • Why systems integrators will play a key role in CSP transformations

TBR webinars are held typically on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].

Technology Business Research, Inc. announces 1Q20 webinar schedule

Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) announces the schedule for its 1Q20 webinar series. The quarter’s webinars include TBR’s research predictions for 2020.

Jan. 8            A decade in, cloud’s real work begins

Jan. 15         Hardware commoditization pushes vendors into new ventures        

Jan. 22         The end of ‘digital’

Feb. 5           IoT settles in for the long haul

Feb. 12         Leading CSPs and webscales implement new ICT architecture to fully capitalize on digital era

Feb. 26         The emerging and evolving landscape of enterprise edge computing

March 11     Are digital transformation buyers ready for AI?

March 18     Enterprise adoption of private cellular networks poses opportunities and threats for telecom industry

TBR webinars are held typically Wednesdays at 1 p.m. EST/EDT and include a 15-minute Q&A following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].

Ericsson’s focused strategy and strong 5G position yield results

TBR perspective

Ericsson’s recovery continues into its third year, evidenced by revenue growth and expanding margins, trends that TBR expects to continue in 2020. A strong 5G position with respect to both RAN and mobile core is a significant driver of this improvement as Ericsson’s early technology bets and increased investment in Networks unit R&D are spurring CSP adoption of Ericsson’s competitive 5G portfolio. Ericsson has notched high-profile wins in 5G and grown its market share at Huawei’s and Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) expense thanks to ERS, which offers an attractive total cost of ownership and a powerful baseband unit. As restructuring progresses, Ericsson will shift from an emphasis on cost reduction and efficiency to a disciplined growth mindset, evidenced by the recent acquisition of Kathrein’s antenna business and an effort to poach LTE customers from rivals for 5G upgrades. With China deploying 5G en masse in 2020 and the next wave of adopters expected to roll out through the early 2020s, Ericsson has the ability to wring a few more years of growth and market share gains from this cycle.

TBR views Ericsson’s turnaround as a success, but multiple headwinds will take shape over the next few years, such as vRAN; the rise of disruptive startups like Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless; and uneven CSP spending. TBR believes Ericsson has baked 5G market share gains in China into its 2020 guidance. These gains are likely to come at Nokia’s expense.

Long term, Ericsson is hoping that emerging businesses including IoT Accelerator, Edge Gravity and eModo scale up. The company needs to succeed in an area outside of RAN and core to maintain share, but Ericsson is not currently preparing to expand its addressable market in terms of enterprise verticals.

Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC) hosted its annual Industry Analyst Forum in Boston, bringing along a range of executives to provide an update on the company’s corporate strategy, which includes continued restructuring, particularly within Digital Services, as well as infusing AI and automation across key product areas and selective expansion in emerging technology areas. 5G, however, was the dominant topic due to Ericsson’s market share gains spurred by the Ericsson Radio System (ERS), which is optimized to meet the cost-conscious needs of communication service providers (CSPs). Similar to last year, the tone of Ericsson’s 2019 analyst day was upbeat as the company continues to execute its focused strategy — now in its third year — which is driving improvement in its financial metrics. Following the main session, analysts could attend three tracks — Building the Network Platform, Automation in 5G Operations, or New Business Opportunities for Service Providers (i.e., IoT, private cellular networks and fixed wireless access [FWA]) — and then participate in one-on-one speed meetings.

TBR 2020 Services Predictions: Everything is up for grabs

With or without chaos, 2020 will be a turning point

TBR’s 2020 predictions for the IT services vendors and management consultancies we cover center on a potential external disruptive force, ongoing internal changes, and a market shift that will happen regardless. If a global economic slowdown occurs in 2020, changes to the consulting business model will accelerate. Either way, the term digital as we know it will disappear.

While TBR is not forecasting a recession, either globally or in specific markets, like the U.S., we have had extensive discussions with leaders at IT services vendors and consultancies who have been preparing their teams and their clients for that possibility. As a result, these firms are at an advantage and have been cementing their relationships with clients worried about funding what they’ve been told are necessary digital transformations. In contrast, other IT services vendors have been projecting growth without preparing their own people or finances for a substantial slowdown in IT buying.

At the same time, consultancies have been struggling with significant shifts in how they build capabilities along with selecting services and how to deliver them. As we move into 2020, a well-established resistance to selling software — or be in the products business, in general — will give way to the inevitable rise of software licensing and “as a Service” models, as well as solutions bundling and clearly defined product sets that consultancies now package and deliver. While these products are not completely stand-alone and remain subject to internal debate over the specifics of commercial arrangements, the clear result will be a shift in the consulting model from people to people-enhanced-by-products. And a global economic slowdown would force consultancies and IT services vendors to automate themselves further and adopt new business models, accelerating these changes.

Whether a recession strikes or consultancies evolve quickly or more slowly, TBR expects 2020 will mark the first time an IT services vendor or consultancy declares “digital” has outlived its usefulness as a delineation between various elements of technology and business. Everything will be digital, making a digital designation obsolete. For TBR’s purpose — understanding professional services vendors’ strategies and how they make money — the shift from digital as a label will impact how vendors report their earnings, how they describe their investments, and what kinds of alliances they create across the broader technology ecosystem. In the short term, most vendors will continue reporting, marketing, investing in and adhering to digital. In the longer term, the term is dead.

2020 Predictions:

  • A correction or recession will stall digital transformations and slow growth for IT services vendors and consultancies
  • Consultancies will sell more products and will emphasize and invest more in that part of their business
  • ‘Digital’ will disappear

Register for TBR’s 2020 Services Predictions webinar, The end of ‘digital,’ Jan. 22, 2020.

Technology Business Research 2020 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include telecom, cloud & software, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services.

2020 Cloud & Software Predictions: A decade in, cloud’s real work begins

The easy days of cloud are finished

Cloud customers and the plethora of cloud vendors have seen the era of simple, easy implementations pass. Most customers have moved the majority of their productivity, CRM, development & test, and web hosting workloads to cloud, which drove the sustained 50%-plus year-to-year revenue growth for vendors in the space over the past 10 years. And while the growth rates may be lower, the good news is that the benefits of cloud are not just a marketing pitch; they are very real for adopting customers. Along the way customers have figured out where cloud is and is not a fit within their environments. They have also realized that public cloud is not the only cloud option and expanded their consideration to include on-premises private, hosted private and the emerging segment of hybrid devices like Azure Stack and Amazon Outposts.

Customers will need to leverage their more mature cloud decision making, honed through early implementations, to address the workloads that remain on premises, which are a challenge and risk to alter in any fashion, whether the delivery method is cloud or not. Supply chain networks, inventory systems and manufacturing systems are IT workloads that defy standardization. If these workloads are to move to cloud delivery, they will require multiple cloud environments and myriad service options to implement and operate these workloads. In short, the real work of applying cloud not simply as a technology but as a solution to core business problems will begin in 2020, and vendors must adjust to accommodate customers’ heightened needs.

This overall landscape will be manifested very specifically in the following trends during 2020 and beyond:

  • Executive changes — the initial stewards of cloud’s growth are turning over.
  • Cross-vendor cooperation moves from important to necessary.
  • Customers eventually favor best-of-suite rather than best-of-breed.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) is being targeted by both direct competition and new market approaches.

2020 Predictions:

  • Key software vendors will settle into new leadership styles, while indecision could leave others behind
  • Uptick in hybrid cloud adoption drives increase in partnerships to securely support the enterprise journey to digital transformation
  • Customers adopt full, single-vendor suites as integrated apps’ capabilities outweigh those of best-of-breed apps

Register for TBR’s webinar 2020 Cloud & Software Predictions webinar, A decade in, cloud’s real work begins, Jan. 8, 2020.

Technology Business Research 2020 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include telecom, cloud & software, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services.

Traditional business models continue shifting for management consultancies

This week TBR publishes its semiannual Management Consulting Benchmark, and Senior Analyst Elitsa Bakalova notes the following: “Vendors compete for holistic transformation opportunities and expand the breadth of their portfolios and resources to provide clients with offerings that augment consulting value propositions by integrating consulting with IP-based solutions and managed services. As consulting teams continue to diversify, combining consultants with data scientists, designers and solution architects, vendors’ strategies around human resource management will prove increasingly vital to long-term success. Recruitment will need to be paired with employee engagement initiatives, corporate social responsibility tactics and performance management systems that attract and retain top employees.”

Additional assessments publishing this week from our analyst teams

“DXC Technology’s leadership, headed by the company’s new CEO Mike Salvino, is actively pursuing strategic alternatives for three of DXC’s businesses: U.S., state and local health and human services; business process services; and workplace and mobility. TBR believes DXC’s decision to spin off these businesses will provide the vendor with much-needed capital to continue to scale out its digital healthcare portfolio, particularly as it comes under increasing competition from digitally fluent vendors including Allscripts and Cerner in core markets, such as electronic health records (EHR).” — Kevin Collupy, Analyst

“As Deloitte morphs its value proposition toward an ‘as a Services’ firm, bundling proprietary IP in service contracts helps it drive profitable growth. At the same time, attaining and retaining IT trained staff can prove difficult for a legacy consulting firm, compelling Deloitte to explore new ways to increase retention.” – Boz Hristov, Senior Analyst

Translating quantum science into business value: Tradeoffs between precision, speed and cost

IT industry monetization has evolved dramatically; quantum computing adds yet more choice, and therefore more complexity, for purchase decision makers

Historical context

For years, technology buyers had to consider hardware choices ahead of anything else. Software solutions were built to the specifications of proprietary hardware architectures and operating systems such that the business outputs were inextricably linked to the hardware vendors and the software vendors that wrote to them. Chart 1 depicts the core influences that dictated not only how technology was purchased but also how the industry itself evolved. Choke points in innovation across the continuum of compute, storage and networking brought new entrants into the market, ameliorating the bottlenecks and helping to spur overall scientific and engineering advancements to keep pace with business demand for “faster, better, cheaper” solutions.  

 

The only fundamental difference between the two charts from the historical picture on the left to the current picture on the right has been removing input and output devices from the equation, thanks to cheaper device access for human interaction with what can broadly be defined as the compute network. Science and engineering have brought down price points and simultaneously ramped up compute power. The software abstraction inventions that brought us virtualization, however, brought forth a series of innovations that have driven far greater complexity into the purchase equation, which has not only disrupted technology vendor business models but also radically transformed the way in which businesses can consume and deploy technology for competitive advantage.

Cloud, the first of two major inflection points for business buyers

From the IT side of business, the three transformative elements have been virtualization, standardization and automation. Virtualization abstracted the compute power from physical infrastructure, standardization established rules of engagement between systems, and automation accelerated deployment and stripped labor out of the process. This reality has flipped the axis on IT vendors and business buyers alike and makes the infrastructure a derived decision rather than a primary or constraining decision.

From the business side, virtualization does not necessarily apply, but standardization and automation certainly do to exploit technology fully for competitive advantage. To capitalize on compute today, business units and trading partners have to come to a consensus around business rules and then gain strict human compliance with those rules when interacting with the systems. Without human compliance, the automation will require labor remediations that will put that business at a competitive cost disadvantage against those enterprises that have clean system data from compliant human inputs. That clean data is what fuels the outputs that machine learning (ML) and AI generate. Blockchain, aka distributed ledger technology, is the codification of those business rules into smart contracts that can distribute the clean data as needed to the ecosystem participants, who can then apply that data against their AI systems for business value creation.

This reality was on full display several years ago during an EY event breakout session discussing how ServiceNow could be used to improve clients’ business processes. The presenter, who was being peppered with “What about this?” questions from an eager and interested audience, answered both vaguely and succinctly by saying with a wry smile, “We can do whatever you want; you just have to make up your minds.” This is the business process change management necessary to establish the business rules or standardization that can now be automated through all elements of the business value chain. However, there must be industrywide consensus for the full power of blockchain and AI/ML in business processes to be unleashed.

From ‘breathtaking to very good’: PwC on India’s startup scene

According to PwC, Bangalore, India, is one of the leading startup cities that houses several blockchain and machine learning engineers, an assertion that is difficult to substantiate but one that probably feels accurate to the people on the ground in India who are working with the startup community. Focused primarily on financial technology (FinTech), driven largely by India’s United Payments Interface and its 10-plus million transactions per day, the startup community in India may need a few years to catch up to ecosystems like Boston or Silicon Valley, but the essential elements are in place, including support from large technology vendors, funding from a diverse set of resources, and assistance from experienced consultancies used to working as a bridge between small startups and enterprise-level buyers. Notably, the PwC report mentioned India startups have drawn funding from within the country, from U.S.-based investors, and from banks and sovereign wealth funds in Asia and the Middle East. Asked if PwC sees substantial differences in the size and nature of these funding streams, Talasila called out investments from Japanese investors as particularly robust in recent years, echoing a sentiment TBR heard during a recent visit to Gurgaon, India. Even with a FinTech focus, PwC said the startups have shifted from a copycat mindset to an emphasis on problem-solving and more fully developing a broad ecosystem, two elements that fit well with PwC’s go-to-market approach and overall consulting strategy. As is evident in the use cases that follow, the startup community has embraced working across all lines of business and tackling challenges beyond throwing software at a problem.

Digital potholes and drones defeating mosquitoes

Bringing the startup scene to life, Talasila described a few use cases, ranging from roads to drones to transfer pricing. One startup has developed a new means to measure road surface quality, potentially diminishing the time between a pothole emerging and concerned authorities fixing it. Another startup uses drones to measure mosquito infestations, a potentially massive-scale application across India and other parts of the world. According to PwC, the firm has been engaged, “at any given moment,” with three to five startups outside the FinTech space, including a new electric bus service that could help reduce pollution in India’s cities.

Policy, plumbing and being part of constant change

Before exploring expectations, we need to understand where things were and how much has changed. TBR’s interest in speaking at length with PwC on this topic stemmed in part from trying to better understand PwC’s role and how it has evolved along with the startup community. Talasila said the firm’s efforts around startups in India began in earnest three to four years ago, at a time when the startups were not particularly differentiated (“too many ‘me too’ startups”), and the firm sought advice from its own global member firm network on how to provide meaningful incubation and advice. While PwC US had deep relationships with some startups, the firm did not have an explicit program for early stage engagement. The Israel-based member firm, similarly, worked closely with that country’s nascent startup scene, but the lessons from Tel Aviv did not easily translate to India. As a result, PwC India relied on its own understanding of the market and the players, including the funders, to craft its own role within the startup ecosystem. Notably, according to Talasila, the firm quickly partnered with state governments and federal agencies on policy making with respect to startups, including areas like intellectual property and tax considerations. In PwC’s view, the firm acts as a valuable go-between, bringing government officials first-hand knowledge of the challenges startups face with tax, audit and compliance issues.

TBR 2020 Devices & Commercial IoT Predictions: IoT settles in for the long hual

IoT becomes part of the digital transformation family, and conversational user interfaces become more common

IoT continues to mature. This is reflected in more powerful and easier-to-implement IoT software and cloud services as well as in a greater understanding of what IoT is and what it is good for. Vendors and customers now better understand the role of IoT and the more common use cases and expect IoT to be used where appropriate.

For most vendors, IoT is no longer a differentiating headline; instead, it is included as one of the techniques or technologies, either as part of larger offerings or as specific IoT-oriented components. An increasing number of offerings are complete packaged solutions or customizable bundles that include or feature IoT. Though IoT is maturing and growing as a percentage of vendor revenue, it is less often standing alone as a spotlighted capability.

TBR’s IoT predictions from 2019 were confirmed, and these trends will continue through 2020 and beyond:

The IoT ecosystem will sort itself out; vendors will find their niches

Increasingly, vendors are messaging their specific offerings as requiring the integration of other vendors’ offerings to create complete solutions, or they are joining with other vendors’ offerings to deliver bundled and packaged solutions.

Packaged and bundled IoT solutions will proliferate

There is an increasing number of bundled and packaged solutions on the market, offered by component vendors, integrators and operations technology (OT) vendors. One type of packaged solution is enhancements to existing software packages that tap IoT as an extension of their capabilities.

Not all data is valuable: Data economics will drive design

Several vendors, including Dell Technologies and a prominent India-based systems integrator, reported that most of the data generated in IoT solutions is discarded shortly after it is analyzed and used. We believe the challenge over the next several years will be identifying data worth keeping, condensing and summarizing, and then storing it, socializing it and discarding it according to a data life cycle plan.

In the past, IoT was intimidating to both vendors and customers, as the opportunities appeared endless while there were few demonstrated use cases. As a landscape of use cases emerged, as IoT component and platform offerings matured, and as vendors gathered experience in IoT, it has become easier for customers and vendors to identify opportunities for IoT, and to design and deploy solutions. IoT describes one broad class of use cases among the variety of possible non-IoT situation-specific solutions and has become part of the vast number of available digital transformation solutions.

2020 Predictions:

  • There will be less talk of IoT as it will be increasingly viewed as one technique among many for delivering digital transformation
  • AI in IoT will increasingly be encapsulated in specific functions like recognition and detection
  • Conversational user interfaces, based on voice or typed communication, will play an increasing role in business solutions

Register for TBR’s 2020 Devices & Commercial IoT webinar, IoT settles in for the long haul, Feb. 5, 2020.

Technology Business Research 2020 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include telecom, cloud, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services.

TBR 2020 Telecom Predictions: Leading CSPs and webscales implement new ICT architecture to fully capitalize on digital era

Leading CSPs tackle business and network transformation to capture value created in the digital era

Key technologies, most notably cloud, virtualization, 5G, edge computing, AI and machine learning (ML), are coalescing to usher in a new era, commonly referred to as the digital era, but also referred to as the 5G era or the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). It is widely expected that during this era, industries will be fundamentally transformed, people’s lives will be greatly enhanced, and productivity will enter a new phase of sustained growth, all of which will contribute to an economic boom and improved standard of living. Communication service providers (CSPs) have a golden opportunity to play a critical role in the digital era by providing not only ubiquitous, intelligent connectivity but also value-added services that participate in and enable this economic development.

While the future looks bright for participants in the digital era, especially for CSPs, the reality is that CSPs’ traditional business models, established ways of working and current network systems are not relevant in this new era, meaning these companies must transform into digital service providers (DSPs) and become more webscale-like in nature. As part of this imperative to evolve, leading CSPs are transitioning their networks to a virtualized, container- and microservices-based, cloud-native architecture. This cloud-centric network architecture will enable CSPs to participate in new value creation stemming from new technologies, such as 5G and edge computing, and adopt next-generation network operations based on data as well as AI and ML for continuous automation. This new architecture will also enable CSPs to take advantage of network slicing and low latency to more effectively support use cases in areas such as autonomous transportation, video analytics, robotic process automation, AR/VR solutions, advanced healthcare applications and cloud-based gaming.

TBR’s research suggests 2020 will be a springboard year for telecom industry development toward the new architecture, with spend in the key markets of 5G, network virtualization and edge computing all poised to ramp up significantly through the middle of the next decade. TBR’s research also suggests that systems integrators will play a much broader and key role in helping CSPs transform their businesses and networks and that webscales will increasingly encroach on CSP turf as they concurrently pursue new value created from the abovementioned technologies.

2020 Predictions:

  • Webscales start building out the edge
  • Leading CSPs begin commercial deployments of open RAN and vRAN in 2020
  • Systems integrators will assume prime role in new architecture build

Register for TBR’s 2020 Telecom Predictions webinar, Leading CSPs and webscales implement new ICT architecture to fully capitalize on digital era, Feb. 12, 2020.

Technology Business Research 2020 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include telecom, cloud, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services.