It is becoming increasingly clear that there was no real plan for 5G success. It was, it seems, all about technology after all.
Certainly based on what we believe CSPs can deliver (see any library full of articles about CSPs being proactive, personalized portals of pure pleasure and efficiency) and what users actually want, it is not looking good.
We may be wrong. We may be looking at a Ford situation where if Henry Ford had listened to what people thought they wanted we would now have very, very fast horses galloping us around.
A new study by the TM Forum highlights just how much has yet to be done to deliver non-traditional 5G services. It turns out that as well as the colossal investments in network technology – not to mention the associated costs of standards development, devices (whenever they arrive) and so on – the transformation of the OSS and BSS stacks is critical to success.
In fact, says the study, we basically need to scrap the stack and think end-to-end.
The main findings look like this:
- 67% of total revenue from 5G use cases beyond eMBB and FWA is dependent on OSS/BSS transformation
- 63% of connectivity related revenue for non-traditional use cases is dependent on OSS/BSS transformation
- 72% of enabling and service creation revenue is dependent on OSS/BSS transformation
Summary: commercial 5G success depends on OSS/BSS transformation.
This may look gloomy enough, but study author Catherine Haslam says “operational silos must be consigned to history and services managed end-to-end from network provisioning, through to product creation, billing and service delivery, and back again. Automation and specifically AI-powered closed automation will be essential to monetizing the service differentiation that sets 5G apart from its predecessors.”
If you shook your head and sighed at that point, then you have our sympathy.
Other setbacks are beginning to emerge as well.
As a recent article points out – based on some work done by Gartner – the biggest barrier to digital transformation is you and your stodgy business culture. That, and the time honored fear of rocking boats, putting your head above the parapet, too busy putting out fires and the rest.
If the culture is not ripe for change, it won’t change. And it won’t change unless the change is forced downwards from the very top. Without that impetus it won’t be proper transformation, it will just be tokenistic (a word we now officially love).
Add to these buckets of cold water another study that says that consumers do not really trust or want autonomous cars (hopefully yet, given the amount of investment in the technology and infrastructure). Plus we know about the backlash against the ‘listening posts’ of Alexa and others, inside our homes, which we are now deeply suspicious about.
And the fact that ubiquitous coverage of 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G in developing markets like the UK is still a pipe dream and you have not just a barrier, but a huge obstacle course to get through, round or over.
It may be – as we are saying more and more – CSPs should stick to their knitting and concentrate on connecting whatever other industries want to connect as cheaply, effectively and appropriately as they can.