Recipe for 5G success: be agile, fail well, enable the next Uber

Chris King, senior director of CSP product marketing at Oracle, explains why these companies represent the future of 5G services

Disruptive companies like Uber, Tesla and Netflix represent the future of 5G services, but telcos who want to serve them have to become a lot more agile and be willing to experiment and accept failure.

That was the message from Chris King, senior director of CSP product marketing at Oracle, who said during the morning keynotes of Day 2 of 5G Asia in Singapore Wednesday that the 5G discussion isn’t complete unless you’re looking seriously at the disruptive changes it will enable in the consumer and business landscape.

For an idea of those disruptive changes, said King, look at Uber, which is already creating a disruptive shift in the taxi business that hasn’t been seen since motorized cars replaces horse-drawn hansom cabs in the early 20th century.

“Uber represents the kind of company that will be prevalent when 5G comes,” King said.

King cited Tesla, Netflix, Fitbit and Airbnb as other key models of industry disruption.

“My neighbor has a Tesla, and when he’s asleep at night, Tesla will perform a software update on his car that will give him, say, better gas mileage,” he said. “He didn’t go to a mechanic or the dealership – the car’s performance just automatically progressed overnight.”

This is essentially the future business model of telecoms, he said. With migration to 5G promising to take rampant connectivity and extraordinary computing power to unprecedented levels, and with voice and SMS declining as core revenue generators, the next generation of telecoms services will be providing the cloud-based infrastructure that enables these kinds of companies to set up shop.

Consequently, he said, “The future CSP has to be agile – it has to be able to run faster, pivot faster, and fail often.”

That last point will admittedly require a tremendous leap of faith on the part of telcos, King said, but added that Facebook is a great example of failing well because technically it fails all the time.

“When you look at Facebook, they’re actually running hundreds of different versions of Facebook, performing different experiments with those versions to see what things work and what don’t,” King explained. “Most of them won’t work, but Facebook is not afraid to throw things away.”

Telcos have to learn to do the same, he said. “Our industry is very paranoid about wasted effort. We’re cautious, we take slow steps. We can’t do that anymore. We have to be willing to experiment, to celebrate failure and move forward.”

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