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Chat with Ulf Ewaldsson on Improving Digital Customer Experience

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Ulf Ewaldsson on Improving Digital Customer Experience

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.

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Next-Gen Networks & 5G, Facilitating Enterprise Business Transformation

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Enterprise Business Transformation

The prospective industrial network is taking the same route as that of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT). Varying from WAN and LAN, holding a third-party network to outsource cloud-based SaaS solutions via public clouds.

Presently, the sole aim of most organisations is to acquire real Business Operations Transformation while acquiring more significant business concessions, ROI from network technologies acquisitions, and services sustaining their business core.

Perhaps I can witness the enterprise IT transformation, as the businesses have been continually developing systems, indulging in crafting designs, plans and following the trial and error to roll out Private Converged enterprise networks, with a motive to leverage 5G in particular, regardless of their size and shape. 

But what’s unfortunate is the challenges the enterprise business transformation has brought along due to a lack of experience and skills. This frequently leads the HR departments of the enterprises to struggle while sourcing in-house expertise and understanding of digital enterprise transformation networks. As a result, the challenges bind them to bring those powers to their organisations from the market for a Partner of Choice. 

The difficulties enterprises face when embracing and operating consolidated digital enterprise transformation networks, and 5G solutions are the expertise, as these aren’t their core business. Instead, they ought the suited technology and telecoms counterpart to function with to yield flourishing results.

I recently hosted and mediated a live-stream discussion featuring two globally leading telecom executives, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient, and Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation. Horizon Power, for Cyient, titled CXO Cyience – Designing Networks of Tomorrow.” 

Our conversation was near and around the emerging transition in converged networks as enterprise IT transformation by assembling their own remote converged networks. Our discussion also covered some of their distinctive insights and stances on conceiving a savvy infrastructure. 

Though there wasn’t much that we could cover in our short conversation, after concluding our live stream, I realised that there were two major takeaway points that I believed needed to be heightened for you people. So here are two essential highlights I brought away from our live-stream event and what Aashu and Ray had to articulate on each matter when I requested them both to confer on them.

Takeaway #1

Early adopters witness prospects for instantaneous triumphs, and early adopter yields from Next-Generation Networks mainly fused personal networks across firms, which are usually prepared to leverage 5G, are flaring up prospects on multiple fronts, resulting in the advancement of creative business prototypes as new use cases for Customer and Business conditions arise.

I’m witnessing an inflated number of prospects for corps to attain influential Enterprise Business Transformation via Next Generation Networks by embracing new functioning models and use cases that access the technology that enables consolidated and Next Generation Networks.

Undoubtedly, this was conferred in profundity during our live-stream affair. Still, I felt there was more that my ace visitors could convey, so I contacted Ray and Aashu Virmani and requested them to elaborate the topic with instances of where they are witnessing possibilities for both prompt victories and early adopter returns. So here is what they had to state:

“Cyient is internally organised across ten industry verticals, from Communications to Utilities, Mining, Rail, Aerospace, and Medical – just to name a few. Within the past six months, we’ve seen over a dozen of our clients, with whom we were previously engaged for their vertical-specific use cases, start initiatives around communications and developing their own private networks — all in the context of their own enterprise transformation. More and more, we are recognizing internally how our Communications business is fast becoming ‘horizontal’ across all of our other verticals when it comes to private networks. We are simultaneously engaging with our CSP customers to help them develop and expand their implementation practices around offering private networks to their enterprise accounts.”, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient.

“Quick wins are a great and important way to prove out and demonstrate the value of next-generation network investments, and certainly in the space we occupy there is no shortage of examples. For example, five years ago, we installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to underpin our Smart Grid goals and objectives. Initially, we used it to collect, send, and analyse consumer energy consumption data. Since then, we’ve leveraged the same data sets to automatically detect neutral integrity issues. Looking to tomorrow, we want to leverage the abilities of our AMI infrastructure to self-heal, support demand-side DER management, and enhance energy efficiency.”, Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation, Horizon Power.

Takeaway #2

The content of architecture industries can currently think when enforcing personal networks persists in flaring up assertive new prospects for enterprise business transformation. Multiple believed the things of telcos & carriers are now obtainable to enterprise consumers across the range.

The emphasis now is not solely to construct it correctly the foremost time, but likewise, construct it ‘intelligently’ so that process & administration evolves actually and efficiently.

Corps have become ever more critical to find the best probable Partner of Choice to defend them to accomplish such transformative developments. But, unfortunately, it is not usually the core business for most institutions to enforce, function, or drive Next Generation Networks.

Similarly, I conferred this extensively with my visitors during our live-stream event. Still, I desired to proffer my ace visitors the chance to convey more on this. So I requested them to elaborate the topic with instances where they witness prospects. So here is what they had to convey:

“When it comes to intelligent network architectures, an important learning for us was that it’s not simply a case of one size fits all. If you focus on your use cases, then the right architecture/s become apparent. Once we resolved that, it was exciting to see other opportunities emerge. For example, in our case we started by looking at a use case that supported our Operational requirements, however, we subsequently realised that the architecture that emerged from this, offered support for a wide range of use cases we hadn’t considered that sat outside of our Operations group and that these particular use cases offered us the potential to develop a significant new revenue stream. In an environment where there is considerable pressure on costs and revenues, opportunities such as this are game-changing.”, Ray Achemedei, General Manager, Technology & Digital Transformation, Horizon Power.

“Developing the right architecture for a private network depends on the eventual use case (or cases) the customer is attempting to solve, and which of the following six criteria are most important drivers: coverage, latency, density, QoS, security, and cost. The right architecture, and which OEMs we use for the customer depends on which variables we are attempting to optimise, and can range between being an extension and densification of the CSP network at the enterprise premises, to being a completely air-gapped stand-alone network owned and managed by the enterprise, to a hybrid between these two extremes. The important thing to realise is that no two networks are equal because the business problem for a mining customer may be drastically different from that of a manufacturing plant owner. Having an understanding of various industry verticals gives us an advantage when it comes to tailoring a solution that is optimal for a customer.”, Aashu Virmani, Vice President & Client Partner, Communications, Cyient.

What I can conclude from what I was able to absorb and comprehend based on my prior knowledge about the related topic and the insights I received from our hearty discussion is that it is time to act as those waits are surely going to miss the opportunities that early adopters and next-gen network embracers are going to avail cause of begin, not just early but skilful birds.

Besides, please do listen via the link below if you haven’t already tuned into the exclusive panel conversation I had with Ray and Aashu. I look ahead to resuming this discussion with Ray, Aashu, and the crew at Cyient in the future.

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Stacey Marx, AT&T on Retail and Small Business

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I caught up with Stacey Marx, President, National Business & Channels, AT&T Business on camera, to discuss the recent success stories around how AT&T Business have worked with and supported their customers through the last 12 to 18 months now leading up to, and during the global #COVID19 pandemic.

In her role as president of National Business & Channels, Stacey leads a team of over six thousand professionals, dedicated to partnering with over three million small and medium business customers, to help them achieve growth and maximise their potential with technology innovation by leveraging the broad range of products & services AT&T Business can offer.

In this fireside chat we cover some of the latest trends, business & technology challenges and opportunities small business operators should be considering as they look at the road forward coming out of a pandemic.

We kicked off with my usual “get to know you”, Stacey shares insights into her role, the remit and challenges of “a day in the life of Stacey Marx”, as well as a look into what her business unit is responsible for, and some details around the team and ecosystem around them, and their customer base, giving us a great view of her world and the amazing depth and breadth of what she and her team bring to the market.

A Q&A with Stacey Marx on Retail and Small Businesses

Our conversation then delves into the challenges that businesses leaders, especially within small businesses, face in a post-pandemic world, and how technology is key to meeting these challenges, and specifically three key focus areas which I’ve been keen to discuss with Stacey for a while – including:

#1 – The challenges SMB retail leaders face in a post-pandemic world

In this segment I share that in my view, if there was one industry other than healthcare which has carried more than its fair share of the burden to see society through the last year and a half, surely it is the Retail sector.

I also ask Stacy what challenges she and her team are seeing retailers in particular face as they plan now for a post-pandemic world, especially those small and medium-sized businesses who may have fewer resources.

#2 – What can the Retail industry do to address these various challenges

Around this key point, I ask Stacey where SMB players should be looking for ways and means to map their route out of their current state, to putting people, technology and telecommunications at the forefront of their strategic direction to address these key challenges.

#3 – How is AT&T Business helping the Retail industry leverage its many offerings

Here I share that I see one of the key challenges for Retailers, particularly for Small business retailers, are being challenged with, is finding the right Partner of Choice to help them gain access to and implement new technologies such as 5G, or ensure they have the right solutions in place for the likes of Cybersecurity, as these capabilities are not their core business.

And I ask Stacey if she could share details around how is AT&T Business helping SMBs leverage your many business, technology & telecommunications offerings, and we look at a number of great customer stories, use cases and real world examples.

We also go on to discuss at high level, a range of other potential use cases Stacey thinks organisations should be looking to.

In particular we look at areas where small business operators perhaps may not currently be taking advantage of, and if there are any outliers that she and her team are seeing which might not be immediately obvious but are high value opportunities for small to medium sized businesses.

We wrap up this great conversation with a view of what do Stacey thinks is coming over the horizon in the next 12 to 18 months, my classic “crystal ball gazing” question, and in particular what small business owners and or decision makers should be considering as they look to the short to medium term future.

Tune in now for all of these amazing topics and more.

This video was made in partnership with AT&T Business.

For more information visit:

AT&T Business website: http://bit.ly/attbusiness​

AT&T Business SMB web portal: http://bit.ly/attsmallbusiness

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Enterprise Mobility Solutions, is your business ready to admire itself?

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Enterprise Mobility Solutions

The pandemic has not only affected healthcare but also has left businesses across the globe struggling in this practically completely altered world that’s boasted with new technologies. Where the tech was just an add on to enterprise mobility solutions for a few, for others, it emerged as an essential enabler for all aspects of their business. Irrespective of the size and importance of tech in past business, we all can relate to the fact that the future of business will be mobile.  

Recently I had a chance to talk to Jason Inskeep, Director, 5G Centre of Excellence at AT&T Business, and share a divine conversation on mobile solutions for enterprise. We spoke on an array of related topics starting right from the scope of changing service function to how 5G will change business and the share of AT&T in it. 

Understanding mobility in the context of Industry 4.0 and COVID-19

COVID-19 has practically changed the way we used to comprehend tech. It has certainly shown us we did rather underestimate its potential. The traditional definition has been eradicated through mobility in use cases. The need of having remote-first workers be connected securely to fetch immediate help to first responders has shifted the connectivity paradigm. 

Software-defined networks had supported us in fulfilling those commitments shown stability in trading with the hasty shift in behaviors and magnitude upsurge when we were in dire need of it.

Further, the inherent resilience and security built into the networks are growing stronger with each passing day. Now we are moving towards finding a solution that would help bridge the securities embedded in different technologies. 

But there’s likewise the subsequent level of a prospect to promote business opportunities while mitigating risks near the ‘welding points’ of data flow – not only into endpoints but likewise in how the edge is connecting.

AT&T Mobility Solutions

Encouraging mobile and secured networking that can be adapted and mounted as per use case

AT&T mobility solutions are devised to bear the idea of enterprise-grade security past the confines of the workplace and furnish them at the point-of-need – wherever business is transpiring. So, irrespective of your location, mobile networking solutions are prepared to furnish the speed, latency, and protection you ought, not just for seamless connectivity but decision-making on the motion in a vibrant environment, where circumstances develop and transform around you every moment.

Best way to enforce 5G? Ignore the G!

Customers are required to unlearn the ‘G’ and consider networking in terms of ‘the journey of the data packet’ to prepare an optimal consumer experience. 

As Jason puts it, “The good news is that the software is virtually ready to handle anything you throw at it. That’s also the bad news.” This implies its upto us to craft new paths and mitigates risks for an optimal 5G consumer experience. 

Use cases will determine the technology instead of the other way round

The potential of 5G is virtually limitless. What’s limiting us is our hesitation to embrace another iteration of networking. The need of the hour is for enterprises to comprehend 5G – not just from a technical viewpoint but operational or a financial standpoint of businesses. 

The continuum of command has developed for businesses, and with the commoditization of the scope, there is a possibility of paralysis by analysis. The trick is to remain calm and embrace the right way to upscale your business!

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