Operators’ CTOs and CIOs Divided Over Leading Use Cases and Preferred Technologies, Finds Telecom.com Survey
In a saturated market where growth is slow and OTT players eat away at telecoms’ profits, operators are seeking innovative ways to increase their returns. The results of a new Telecoms.com survey conducted in partnership with Comarch show that CTOs and CIOs stress the importance of technologies such as virtualization, IoT and assurance as a way forward.
New technologies impact the telecom business directly. This leads to concerns among CTOs and CIOs, responsible for making strategic decisions about technology and its implementation, about whether their companies are up to the challenge of radically shaking up business models and redesigning technological foundations. While the many possible use cases make it unlikely that companies will commit universally to any single one, we can certainly expect a lot of head scratching as telcos seek the most beneficial partnerships, technology stacks and ways of implementing them.
The survey found that CTOs and CIOs have different levels of confidence in various IoT technologies and applications. In terms of the potentially promising verticals under consideration, connected cars won favor with 43% of respondents. This sector was followed by smart metering, healthcare and transport (35% each). However, it is important to keep in mind that the market is still in its infancy, and some verticals (connected cars and healthcare) require fully-fledged 5G networks to fulfill their full potential due to bandwidth and latency limitations, while others (smart metering and logistics) face no major issues, even under 4G. Uncertainty arising from market infancy becomes is brought sharply into focus by the lack of in-depth IoT monetization plans, with the survey showing almost equal preference for providing platforms for third-party services, developing own IoT services, monetizing connectivity, and other options.
CTOs and CIOs agree that AI in system assurance is now critical for all companies, especially in projecting network events and boosting the accuracy of network inventory across layers. Almost 50% of survey respondents indicated that the return on their service assurance investment is already strong. Of all the AI applications considered by survey respondents, predictive analytics was viewed as most promising, finding favor with 76%. Network edge analytics also scored highly, with 54% of respondents rating its potential positively, followed by automated root-cause analytics (46%)among 54% of respondents, and 46% agreed with the potential of automated root-cause analysis.
On the virtualization front, CTOs and CIOs were again more divided in their opinions. The proliferation of platforms has historically made the wider adoption of virtualization difficult, and the results of the survey reflect this fact with no less than three ecosystems (OPNFV, ONAP, ONOS) mentioned as potential top contenders. CTOs and CIOs wishing to reap the benefits of network virtualization will need to try to align with winning NFV/SDN standards – and the best way to go about that is to participate actively in their creation.
Active Participation and Investment
While it looks like there is consensus that IoT, AI and virtualization are necessary ingredients for future telecoms, the uncertainty of the market and the continuing decline in revenues will compel CTOs and CIOs to assume an even more active approach to assessing the best course of action for their companies. This applies to both their choice of standard and preferred use cases. Furthermore, these projects will necessitate substantial investment, including resources being directed into staff re-training aimed at helping employees adapt to new job requirements.