The shift to ubiquitous connectivity has pushed traditional communication service providers (CSPs) to invest in 5G infrastructure, spectrum and networks, and it has compelled cable service providers to find ways to leverage their new spectrum rights. Although this has driven innovation for consumers, on-demand viewing with over-the-top (OTT) players has disrupted the space and begun cannibalizing traditional services, impacting the voice and data value chain. CSPs are betting big on the enterprise (business-to-business) segment to help monetize their huge investments in 5G. The enterprise or B2B segment is looking to monetize its asset data to drive greater efficiencies, improve the customer experience and augment its revenue-generation capabilities. Connectivity is expected to be the key driver for this transformation. CSPs are well placed to assist enterprises in their digital transformation journey, collaborating with partners to cocreate innovative solutions that target the enterprise segment.
5G will redefine how the enterprise landscape operates. Without a doubt, 5G is one of the biggest enablers for an interconnected, digital world. However, an enterprise 5G journey is not easy to build, and it presents a unique set of challenges. To take full advantage of a connected digital ecosystem, CSPs must develop and leverage a partner ecosystem.
With diverse partners, CSPs can take advantage of features they would not otherwise be able to navigate alone: data mining, device connectivity, old-device customization, new-device support, spectrum management, infrastructure development, and many more.
Establishing a broad partner network makes it easier for CSPs to overcome a variety of challenges in their path toward 5G monetization. With strategic collaborators, CSPs can tap into:
- Vertical industry knowledge – Enterprises not only want to enhance connectivity but are looking to have a keen understanding of their domain and processes from CSPs. This requires CSPs to have a very good understanding of vertical industries like healthcare, manufacturing, retail, banking and others. CSPs need help to respond to enterprise demands, and a partner’s domain knowledge and capability to solve an enterprise’s business problems can be invaluable.
- Use case development expertise – Beyond traditional connectivity, CSPs need to engineer customized solutions for enterprises. But this requires domain expertise across industry segments to develop meaningful use cases. Again, partners can be a critical resource here, as the right collaborator can bring diverse experiences to bear.
- E2E view from Device to Cloud – An end-to-end view starting from a device and how this device gets connected to the 5G backbone, platforms and applications driving an enterprise’s digital transformation journey both at the Edge and the cloud, is an essential capability to be developed by a CSP.
- Device engineering & Qualification – A CSP entering the enterprise space will have to customize old devices, develop and test new devices, and iterate the system environment for validation of these devices. This leads to increased cost and time to market, but those pitfalls can be minimized with the assistance of a partner ecosystem.
Turning 5G Enterprise Challenges into Opportunities
Enterprise solutions can open new markets and new revenue streams. This uncharted territory brings a unique set of challenges, but within those challenges lies opportunity. 5G networks are faster, have expanded capabilities and enable efficient intranets that connect more devices. However, existing enterprise devices will need to be transformed to “speak” the new 5G language. This transformation is central for enterprises to truly take advantage of the expanded network. This is one important area where a trusted partner can add tremendous value. For example, a system integration partner can connect existing wired devices to the 5G backbone that can monitor cables and reduce equipment downtime caused by damage and failures.
CSPs need to develop partner ecosystems that can deliver complete, next-generation enterprise solutions. This requires partners with core engineering in their DNA. The ideal partner should also have decades of connectivity expertise, vertical domain expertise, skill at navigating Industry 4.0 frameworks, and a history of solving enterprise business problems. These skillsets and more are required for CSPs to truly deliver the 5G-enabled solutions that will drive their next wave of growth.