• IBM and Bharti Airtel announced their intent to deploy Airtel’s edge computing platform in India, which will include 120 network data centers across 20 cities.
• This is a positive development for both firms, but there is still work to be done in educating the market, co-developing solutions with customers, and expanding the partner ecosystem.
Airtel’s edge computing platform delivers a hybrid environment based on IBM Cloud Satellite and Red Hat OpenShift; the business value is significantly enhanced when combined with 5G. Maruti Suzuki India intends to use the edge platform to increase accuracy and efficiency for quality inspections on the factory floor. Through Airtel’s 5G connectivity and IBM’s secured edge computing, enterprises can deploy and manage workloads in near real-time.
• The time is ripe for mobile operators to ramp up their 5G deployment to enhance their coverage and speeds to support new applications.
• Mobile operators with substantial mid-band spectrum and deployed massive multiple-input and multiple-output (M-MIMO) technology can deliver faster speeds and achieve service differentiation.
The deployment of 5G is well underway and people around the world are having a taste of the next-gen experience. GlobalData forecasts 5G subscriptions will reach 861 million by end of the year, doubling the figure in 2020. The availability of 5G is also rising in major cities, based on a study conducted by Ookla (Global 5G Benchmark Report Q1 – Q2 2021). The study defines availability as the percent of users on 5G-capable devices that spend the majority of their time on 5G, both roaming and on-network. Besides coverage, the availability of 5G-capable phones is a key factor in driving adoption. According to GSA, there were over 600 commercially available 5G devices in August 2021, which included mobile phones from major brands such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google, and Xiaomi. While the initial focus was in launching 5G commercial services, the race now is about increasing availability and speeds.
Public cloud services saw strong growth (over 50%) in 2020, as businesses and consumers have come to rely more heavily on digital services during the pandemic.
Chinese cloud vendors still dominate the domestic market, but there are significant opportunities for global cloud vendors to compete in China and for Chinese vendors to expand globally.
The Rise of Public Cloud Amid the Pandemic
China’s public cloud infrastructure services market, comprising infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and cloud management platforms, grew over 50% year-over-year in 2020 to reach $14.8 billion. China has managed the pandemic better than many countries, and it has weathered the economic impact relatively well. Still, with the international travel restrictions and the government’s priority to get economic growth back on track, there has been stronger investment focus on digital technologies. This includes digital infrastructure (e.g., 5G and data centers) and solutions around AI, big data, IoT, and smart city. These initiatives have a direct, positive impact on public cloud services. Domestic cloud vendors including Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei, and Tencent are also investing heavily in developing cloud-based AI technologies to drive different use cases including autonomous vehicles, voice assistants, machine vision, etc. Moreover, the pandemic has driven greater demand for online activities such as healthcare and education, and the adoption of cloud-based solutions across all industries is expected to continue beyond the pandemic. Continue reading “China Public Cloud Infrastructure Market Still Has Plenty of Room for Growth with Significant Inbound/Outbound Opportunities”→
700MHz spectrum is a strategic band for operators to achieve better coverage including indoor and rural areas.
Mobile operators around the world, particularly in China, are using 700MHz spectrum to accelerate coverage expansion.
The deployment of 5G is gathering momentum around the world. The number of 5G subscriptions reached 414 million globally in 2020, and GlobalData expects the number to more than double in 2021. China is leading in 5G adoption, with its number of subscriptions representing 76% of the global figure in 2020. GlobalData expects this to be the case in 2021 as the world continues to learn about 5G through the lens of China. Globally, many operators have been awarded mid-band spectrum, typically in the 3.5GHz range, to kick-start 5G deployment. With additional spectrum including between 80 MHz and 100 MHz of net new spectrum, operators can deliver much faster data speeds with 5G as compared to 4G, to demonstrate the value of 5G to both consumer and business customers. However, the propagation characteristics of 3.5GHz spectrum mean that the coverage range from the cell site is more limited than the low-band spectrum (i.e., sub-1GHz such as 700MHz). This means mobile operators need to increase the number of cell sites to achieve the same coverage area that they would using the lower frequency band. It is also more difficult to penetrate walls and ultimately affect the coverage indoors, which is a problem in urban areas when using the higher band. Continue reading “700MHz Spectrum Plays a Pivotal Role in Delivering 5G Coverage”→
New network service offerings are emerging and giving enterprise customers more options; the Equinix and Coevolve partnership is a good example.
Cloud connectivity and network edge services will become more important in supporting different IT workloads, and enterprises are better served by service providers that have a strong partner ecosystem.
Even for multi-national corporations (MNCs), there are now alternative providers to global carriers and system integrators for wide area network (WAN) services. With the adoption of cloud services, the ongoing shift to enable remote working, and business uncertainties (e.g., travel, retail, and hospitality), the network solution needs to be more agile to adapt to changing requirements. The Equinix and Coevolve partnership is just one example. Continue reading “Platform Equinix: How the Data Center and Cloud Ecosystem Transforms the Global WAN”→
Partners are warming up to IBM as it invests heavily in growing the partner ecosystem and leveling the playing field for managed services, and Kyndryl will soon become a separate business.
Service providers are building more strategic alliances with IBM, and one of the potential areas for collaboration is automation including AIOps.
At the recent IBM Think 2021 event, the company highlighted progress it has made in helping partners succeed. After announcing the spinoff of its managed infrastructure business in 2020, IBM has stepped up its efforts to drive partner success, including an investment of USD 1 billion in its partner ecosystem (please see “IBM Pivots Toward Partner Ecosystem for Its Go-to-Market Strategy,” February 26, 2021). In April 2021, IBM announced its independent managed infrastructure services business would be named ‘Kyndryl.’ ‘Kyn’ has its origin in the word ‘kinship,’ referencing the belief that relationships with people – employees, customers, and partners – are at the center of the strategy. ‘Dryl’ is meant to suggest the word ‘tendril,’ which IBM says brings “to mind new growth.” With the separation of Kyndryl from IBM expected by the end of 2021, it will level the playing field for IBM’s partners to compete for managed services. Continue reading “IBM Think 2021 Highlights Its Traction with Partners to Develop Hybrid Cloud and Automation Capabilities”→
IBM has made a major change to its go-to-market strategy, focusing on developing its partner ecosystem and deploying its direct sales resources to engage the largest accounts looking for integrated solutions from IBM.
This move is likely to result in more partners building specialization and expertise around IBM solutions.
IBM held its Think Summit Australia & New Zealand in February 2021. While hybrid cloud, AI, and digital transformation remained the key themes, the company also shed some light on the changes to its go-to-market strategy, particularly its investment in developing the partner ecosystem known as PartnerWorld. IBM recently announced an investment of USD 1 billion in its partner ecosystem, with the aim of driving more sales through channel partners. The investment is part of IBM’s new go-to-market strategy. The company is simplifying its sales model by reducing the number of customer groups from 50 to just two. IBM direct sales will utilize the IBM Garage to engage top-tier customers. The rest of the IBM client base will be served by channel partners, which means significant opportunities for these partners. Continue reading “IBM Pivots Toward Partner Ecosystem for Its Go-to-Market Strategy”→
• Five new capabilities for Amazon Connect were announced at re:Invent 2020 that will allow agents and supervisors to be more efficient and effective.
• As enterprises move their contact center to the cloud, they should look at adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to drive better customer experience.
Since the launch of Amazon Connect in 2017, AWS’ contact center solution has made significant progress and it is now a serious contender in the enterprise segment. The adoption will continue to accelerate as the pandemic drags on and companies move workloads more quickly to the cloud. This trend will benefit all contact center vendors, not just AWS, since most vendors have a cloud-based option to help customers make the transition at their own pace. However, AWS’ strengths lie within its operational scale and its partner ecosystem. More crucially, the hyperscale cloud provider is rapidly adding its AI and ML technologies to further strengthen the appeal of Amazon Connect. Continue reading “Amazon Connect to Become Mainstream as Customers Move Contact Centers to the Cloud and Leverage AI/ML for Automation”→
NCS is investing in digital services, expanding its operations in China and Australia, and targeting key industry verticals.
NCS has gained greater autonomy moving out of Singtel Group Enterprise, to strengthen its regional capabilities in delivering digital solutions.
NCS, formerly National Computer Systems, was founded in 1981 to support the Singapore government’s initiatives related to IT implementation. It was acquired by Singtel in 1997, and it remains a key business within Singtel, delivering ICT solutions for enterprise customers both in Singapore and across Asia. According to Singtel, NCS has delivered revenue growth for seven years running. However, most of the business is generated in Singapore and especially within the public sector. NCS operated as a business unit within Singtel Group Enterprise for several years, but it has never been fully integrated with Singtel. The company has retained its brand name, and it has different capabilities than Singtel (e.g., consulting, business application services, AI, and automation) as well as a different business model (e.g., project-based, industry-focused, and bespoke solutions). Continue reading “NCS Has Moved Out of Singtel Group Enterprise and Doubled Down on Digital Services”→
While 5G-enabled enterprise solutions offer new revenue streams for telecom operators, they need new capabilities to develop and sell the full solutions, not just the carriage component.
Telecom operators will look to partnerships and/or acquisitions to gain the necessary competence to help customers in key industry verticals to transform their business operations.
Telecommunications companies (telcos) are at a crossroads as they rollout 5G and looking at how to monetize this investment. While they can continue to focus on selling carriage services, with the saturation of mobile subscription and competitive pressure, the hope of increasing ARPU from 5G connectivity remains elusive. Instead, many telcos are looking to enterprise solutions as a way to open up new revenue streams, leveraging 5G’s unique capabilities around ultra-low latency, reliability, and significantly higher throughput. Some will go even further and set new performance parameters with 5G. This shift inevitably involves moving into new territories for the telcos, including IoT, data analytics, cloud services, cybersecurity, etc., and bringing these capabilities together to solve business problems and prove outcomes. Emerging 5G enterprise solutions also tend to target specific use cases across various industries (e.g., smart factory, port automation, and connected utilities). Most enterprises do not know how 5G can help to transform their business and they rely on their technology partners to advise and show them the possibilities. Continue reading “Outlook for 5G-Enabled Enterprise Solutions in 2021: The Potential Telco Game Plans”→