Thanks to the amazing team at DevMode Strategies I had the privilege of an invite-only tour of the Ericsson Studio in Kista, Sweden last week, as a guest of Ericsson and the Ericsson Digital Business group.
While I was there going “full immersion” on all things Ericsson and Telco / Digital Business / 5G et al, I had the enviable opportunity to catch up with Ulf Ewaldsson, Senior Vice President & Head of Business Area Digital Services, to discuss improving the digital experience for customers and much much more.
As you can imagine he’s a rather busy fellow but he still generously let me steal almost an hour of his time to sync up for a great fireside chat, and as always he was a font of knowledge and insights and such an inspiring down to earth fellow ( we’re catching up again soon for fireside chat podcast, click here to check out my other shows ).
I thought I’d share three key takeaways from our catch-up on the couch before I get Ulf in the studio with me to record a podcast for my new “Transmissions From Tomorrow” series with key innovators and thought leaders in the Telecommunications industry.
First an early access gift to you
Before I get into my key takeaways from catching up with Ulf Ewaldsson though, let me be Santa Clause for a minute and quickly give you early access to the 2017 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report which if you haven’t read it yet, is a MUST READ in my humble opinion. Grab your copy of the 2017 Ericsson Mobility Report today.
Takeaways on How to Improve Online Customer Experience
Now that summary of my top three takeaways I promised you, from my recent fireside chat on the couch in Sweden, with the Head of Business Area Digital Services at Ericsson.
1. The shift to the cloud has happened
Once upon a time, it might take months to design, build, implement and deploy Telco infrastructure, systems, and services, due to the nature of building on physical systems, from the routers, switches, and servers, through to the systems, software, and services – the procurement paperwork alone could take weeks. All of this made driving change and innovation a long and laborious process for even the best.
Looking at and listening to what’s happened both inside and right across Ericsson as an organisation and business, through the Partner and Value Add ecosystem around Ericsson, one fundamental thing rang through everything they are doing, and it’s the shift to cloud. At every possible opportunity the shift from building physical things VS instantiating “in a cloud” has happened, so much so Ericsson are a major contributor to Open Source cloud infrastructure platforms like OpenStack, as code committers through to speaking at and participating in events to share their learning and experience.
2. Software Defined Services
Every single day Ericsson activates one million new mobile subscribers, 24 x 7 around the world, with a seemingly exhaustive array of options provided by the various telco providers powered by Ericsson hardware, software, and systems. The sheer volume that one challenge alone presents, simply couldn’t be achieved through any form of manual process, not in our wildest dreams.
If the idea of the entire workflow and complexity associated with signing up, registering, connecting, allocating services to, devices to, usernames, passwords, accounts, security questions and answers, PIN’s, software, voice, data, roaming and so on and so forth, around the globe, 24 x 7, for 365 days a year, every single year for decades to come.
If that all sounds like an impossible pipe dream you’ll pardon the pun, then compound that with not just individual subscribers, the consider adding to that the blend of business and government subscriptions, from two handsets to tens of thousands, from smart phones, through to mobile devices, multi-SIM phones, to laptops and tablet computers. Then add larger devices like cars with built-in phones, built-in navigation, and Bluetooth or wifi services for in-vehicle access to the internet.
Now expand that from cars to plains, trains, trucks, ships, individual vehicles to family wagons, buses, through to world traversing aircraft moving hundreds of passengers through satellite services for anything from one to 18 hours, to ships carrying thousands of passengers for weeks.
Ericsson have long now made the shift to leveraging Software Defined Services where ever possible, and terms such as Containers, Micro-Services, Serverless, and Lambda architecture are common language across the teams, in effect part of the lingua franca of the business.
3. Devices are the edge of the Network
We hear a lot in the media currently, as well as from vendors of all shapes and sizes, from every possible corner of the Information Technology, Telecommunications and Business words, about Edge Computing, one vendor even coined a phrase “Fog Computing” relating to devices at the edge of the network connected to the cloud. But what we don’t often hear about is what that edge of the network looks like, sounds like, feels like.
So it was very gratifying to realise within minutes of entering and standing in the heart and soul of the Ericsson Studio, one of the most impressive “show and tell” sites I’ve seen for some time, offered by the Digital Business group within Ericsson, that I was literally surrounded in all three hundred and sixty degrees, by actual real-world devices which make up the living breathing “edge of the Network”.
To put some context around what I mean here, I saw devices ranging from Internet Of Things style “sensors” which sat within Mangrove swamps to detect the health of the ecosystem and logged that data back to the cloud, to allow near real-time monitoring of the state of a living breathing ecosystem, and there was an actual micro Mangrove swamp in the Ericsson Studio growing there in soil and water, with sensors capturing data to allow tracking of the health of the example micro Mangrove swap.
At the other end of the spectrum were examples from robots and drones inside the deep dark heart of a mine being used to track potential risks or carry data, voice, and video from the outside world into the mine, effectively extending the network into the mine, through to a full-size family wagon “car” fully integrated to Internet Of Things infrastructure and sensors, and connected to the Cloud to allow everything from activating engine heating to reduce risk of damage to the engine in cold climates, through to warming the cabin for travellers so the car was comfortable when they “got in” for a trip.
We also saw sensors and devices which now effectively form the “edge of the Network” which ranged from on-person sensors for sporting teams allowing coaches and trainers to do real-time data-driven decision making to improve their chances to “win the game” through to intelligent Telecoms infrastructure from cellular antennae and towers which learned from monitoring network traffic and adjusted device routing services based on learning algorithms and machine learning, in other words artificial intelligence aka AI.
In my fireside chat podcast you will hear all about this in more detail, and much much more, and I understand there’s a “headline announcement” pending which will be exclusively shared in the show before it hits the general press via press release, so you’re in for a treat and I feel very confident that these three key takeaways from a short conversation “on the couch” with Ulf Ewaldsson have given you more than enough to entice you to “tune in” to the podcast once it’s published.
I look forward to your thoughts and feedback in comments, please do join the conversation and your input, your ideas, your questions, and your business & technology challenges are what drive me every single day to seek out the best of the best to get time to chat with them, learn where they are taking us, and share those insights with you here and in my personal blog, and podcasts, as well as discussion in the comments and social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook Business.