Huawei Digital Transformation Practice Center: New model, New Capability, New Outcome

Since the development of the telecom industry, both business development, operation mode innovation, and network architecture evolution have driven digital transformation into the strategic direction of operators. Many leading operators have carried out useful exploration and practice in the digital transformation field, however, there are common difficulties and constraints:

If you are a CEO, how do you establish a unified transformation vision and a consistent understanding of top-level design at all levels of the organization? During the design of transformation objectives, journey, and path, can you get a feasibility argument for a class of issues like “What is the to-be of digital transformation?” “Can we achieve the expected effect?” “Can you succeed in doing so?”

If you are a Chief Digital Transformation Officer, you may have some problems: In the telecom industry, traditional planning, investment, construction, O&M, and user connection modes have great inertia. In the implementation and operation of transformation programs, participants cannot adopt new thinking and new modes to adapt to the uncertainties and continuous changes of digital transformation. Furthermore, before taking a radical global transformation, there is no cross-functional team to conduct some transformation tests with some new models and methods. In addition, there is a lack of complete vision to guide the restructuring of organizations and capabilities required for transformation.

If you are a CTIO, you need to think about how to make sure that you can master the existing resources (user, network, IT, data, channel, and ecosystem) and execute different operation activities of different departments. Under the Production & Operation environment and KPI system of each different department, how to overcome many realistic pressures and limitations, avoid cognitive deviation or slow action in some phases that will block the whole transformation process, reduce the time cost of transformation, and reduce the cost of correction.

If you are a CMO, how can your team quickly explore and develop digital product and service experience that users love and willing to spend more budget and time in addition to SIM Card, bandwidth, and traffic? What are the major changes and how to reconstruct the market operation and user value management system? How to reduce the cost of trial and error and shorten the exploration period? How to build a new value generation and value acquisition model under the new ecosystem?

In view of these difficulties and constraints, operators, vendors, and ecosystem partners need an environment for transformation exploration and search solution to solve problems, a full-function team that focuses on transformation focuses, a new set of agile operation mode and a “Roman square” for each industry to jointly cultivate the transformation atmosphere.

Huawei has established an Open Roads Community (OPRC) with leading operators and industry researchers who have a common vision and goal in digital transformation. The OPRC has been established to carry out innovation and development research with digital transformation as the core. At the same time, Huawei has built the Digital Transformation Practice Center  to carry out the implementation of the OPRC digital transformation theory framework system, and use the new attempts of “agile practice & innovation environment” + “full-function team operation towards transformation focus” + ” agile operation mode of user -product – offering -service – collaboration between resources and operation activities” to explore the practice of digital transformation and build capabilities with operators.

HUAWEI FIGURE 1

Figure: DTPC process

DTPC provides operators with a digital transformation practice and innovation environment, and establishes a full-function team consisting of Huawei, operators (cross-organization roles), and end users as well as third-party partners involved in some phases, which flexibly invoke key roles such as market analysis, customer experience design, customer journey management, product design, service design, technology and architecture design, operation and maintenance design, business model and value design, and ecosystem construction based on different scenarios. In the Huawei DTPC practice environment, the full-function team will aim at one or several transformation focuses and experience five phases including Envisioning-Ideating-Prototyping-Realizing-Scaling, helping operators to carry out digital transformation in an orderly manner.

  1. Operators’ digital transformation requires a unified digital vision from top to bottom.

The DTPC full-function team has the following tasks in the Envisioning phase:

  • Deeply understand the digital strategy and driving force of transformation. Study the local telecom market, user experience/journey management, and local digital ecosystem by combining Outside-in and Inside-out. Investigate the perception and requirements of operators from senior management to key staff.
  • Identify the key gaps in operators’ most likely acquisition of industry development opportunities and development of digital capabilities, drive operators’ departments to align their digital vision and strategic goals, lock the focus of phase transformation, and jointly develop digital transformation maps, key initiatives, and implementation plans.
  1. Effectively integrate operators’ network assets, user assets, data assets, and ecological resources, and explore how to carry out operation and O&M evolution and innovation, develop new digital products, and implement operations. For example: 2B service provisioning and provisioning improvement, IoT application and ecosystem, new value-added services, and future 5G industry applications, and exploration practices in reshaping customer journey, experience, interaction mode, and user value management.

The DTPC full-function team has the following tasks in the Ideating phase:

  • Based on the digital transformation map of operators, identify industry opportunities, stimulate new O&M improvement and innovation, develop new digital product and offering ideas, and identify key transformation elements and dependencies.
  • Prioritize transformation key elements from three dimensions: scenario-based customer requirements, business feasibility, and technical feasibility, so as to reconstruct the enjoyable brand-new customer experience journey and Service Blueprints. The representatives of multiple participants in the functional team work closely with each other to explore and define customer requirements, and obtain in-depth understanding and recognition of service blueprints between operators’ internal parties, operators and partners to find the possibility and feasibility of the value creation and value acquisition of multiple parties in the ecosystem.
  • Assist operators in designing and evaluating financial indicators for service blueprints, align with operators’ executives’ digital transformation value leverage and ROI expectations, re-prioritize service blueprints, and finally identify service blueprints with high success opportunities and potential value as the highest priority, then output the Operator digital transformation roadmap.
  1. Identify transformation focuses with high success opportunities and potential value, and digital products and offerings. Identify the feasible way to improve the operation and maintenance efficiency, and then quickly promote prototype verification and confirmation.

The DTPC full-function team has the following tasks in the Prototyping phase:

  • Based on the output of the previous phase, use new technologies and capabilities to develop the MDE (Minimum Desirable Experience) and MVP (Minimum Viable Product), design the enjoyable customer journey, business scenario, corresponding business architecture/business flow, data architecture/data flow, matching operation/O&M mode design, and data collection and analysis/application mode, operation indicators and O&M indicators.
  • Implement visualized MDE/MVP orchestration and fast prototype iteration.

In the operation process, based on data/models and lightweight service orchestration, the contact points of the customer interface are integrated to implement unified customer experience management and support quick production and launch of digital products and offerings.

Integrate Operators’ resource asset elements, use model driving and orchestration technologies to invoke and orchestrate policy design and rule formulation for resources and capabilities required by products and offerings, and practice automatic service provisioning, automatic resource deployment, and self-recovery O&M at the service and resource layers, as well as practice data governance and analysis to implement data-driven operation.

Each prototype verification and iteration ensures the availability of the prototype, meets the scenario value and enjoyable user experience, and continuously reviews the feasibility of the association between the solution and financial perspectives.

The DTPC full-function team has the following tasks in the Realizing phase:

  • Evaluate the impact of MDE/MVP implementation on the network and output network evolution suggestions.
  • Evaluate the connection between the MDE/MVP implementation and the existing business processes of the operator, the relationship and integration requirements between the MVP and peripheral systems as well as the impact on the organization architecture, and requirements on personnel skills. Then provide suggestions on implementation deployment, operation and O&M process optimization, ecosystem construction, and personnel skill improvement.
  1. The simulation by combining the local business and operation environment elements is the pre-requisite to further consider large-scale deployment.

The DTPC full-function team has the following tasks in the Scaling phase:

  • Identify the profile of the seed user and prepare the matching conditions required for the simulation.
  • Perform small-scale POC verification and effect evaluation on the DTPC practice in the actual production and operation environment of operators.
  • In each round of practice in DTPC, the “complex” digital transformation strategy blueprint of operators is divided into multiple “small cycle” iterations to realize low cost trial and error. In the joint practice to achieve “Know-How” and realize small step and quick win and more readiness for scale investment in the unified strategy of digital transformation.

The journey in DTPC that your team and we mutually go through is the process of transformation mode conversion, the process of capability growth, and the process of new business opportunity incubation.

The original transformation with large investment and long cycle has a considerable degree of uncertainty, which often costs tens of millions of dollars and several years of time window. Now, Huawei uses the DTPC full-function team to build a “small cycle iteration” mode with agile, short cycle, less cost, and pre-verification to achieve customer expectations and use practical and innovative attitude to assist digital transformation.

 

Russian telcos push for OTT tax on new data storage laws

Russian telcos are lobbying the government to grant new powers which would allow them to tax non-domestic internet companies to ease the burden of new data storage laws.

According to Reuters, the telcos are proposing new legislation to ease the financial burden of the new laws designed to give the state more oversight on communications within the country. As part of the new rules, telcos would be forced to store customer data in the country (calls, texts, internet search history etc.) for six months. The data storage rules come into force in October.

Ahead of the October launch date, the telcos have warned the imposition would result in larger costs. To protect the pockets of shareholders and executives alike, the telcos have suggested these incurred costs for data storage would be passed onto the consumer with tariffs potentially rising as much as 10%. Should the government look favourably on the proposed bill, telcos could seek compensation for the costs from non-domestic internet companies such as Facebook and Google.

Of course it seems perfectly reasonable for telcos to want to spread the burden of the digital economy throughout the ecosystem, it has largely bore the brunt of the financial expense while others profits at the top of the value chain for years, but this is a different matter. Facilitating government ambitions to more surgically monitor citizens and potentially eradicate the concept of privacy might not sit easily with the internet giants.

That said, bowing to government ambitions despite a conflict with apparent principles of the organization is a story which has been hitting the headlines recently. In an effort to penetrate the Great Firewall of China, Google has been creating a censorship-friendly version of its news app which could filter out stories which do not please the government. Google is not alone here as LinkedIn accepted these censorship rules years ago.

Other technology companies might not be as flexible as Google or LinkedIn. Those who maintain principles and refuse to fund the governments ambitions to rid Russia of independent thought will potentially face regulator Roskomnadzor reducing the speed of access to their websites for Russian users.

This is nothing but a proposal for the moment, though should it progress, the internet companies will face another principles versus profits dilemma.

Alibaba revenues soar but profit column takes a hit on the spreadsheets

Alibaba comfortably passed analyst estimates for the three months ending June 30, as total revenues soared 61% year-on-year.

Total revenues for the period stood at roughly $12.2 billion, while the team brought in net income of $1.1 billion. Profits at the business have dipped quite considerably, 45% compared to the same period in 2017, though this was primarily due to share-based compensation for Ant Financials’ recent fundraising, and investments in new revenue channels.

“Alibaba had another excellent quarter, with significant user expansion and even more robust engagement across our growing ecosystem,” said CEO David Zhang. “Our China retail marketplace business continues to gain share, with New Retail initiatives driving further revenue growth and enabling our retail partners to seamlessly serve customers. We are executing our plan of providing more value and choice to users along the consumption continuum, with digital entertainment and local service offerings that tap into big addressable markets beyond core commerce.”

“The exceptional growth across our major segments of core commerce, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment validates our strategy of investing in customer experience, product, technology and infrastructure for the future,” said CFO Maggie Wu.

The core eCommerce business performed strongly as you would expect, the Taobao site increased monthly active users to 634 million for example, though the new investments are starting to make some waves.

The cloud computing business almost doubled with revenue growing 93% year-over-year to roughly $710 million, driven by land-grabbing additional customers and also increased interest in higher value-added products and services. During June, Alibaba Cloud’s product innovation focused on big data analytics, artificial intelligence, security and IoT applications, though products which enabled migration from on premise data centres onto the public cloud platforms were a notable driver of revenues.

Over at the Digital Media and Entertainment business unit, revenues reached roughly $910 million, a year-on-year increase of 46%. Success has been primarily attributed to Youku, its video hosting service and China’s answer to YouTube, with daily average subscriber growth of 200% year-over-year for the period. Part of this growth will be down to partnerships, such as the relationship with China Central Television (CCTV) to stream all 2018 FIFA World Cup games to hundreds of millions of fans in China. While this is of course a massive boost for advertisers, without such a show-piece next year, the team will have to think of some new ideas.

While Alibaba does seem to now be taking the traditional internet giant approach to business, grow today and make money tomorrow, it does not usually sit well with investors who are in it for the cash. That said, investors will be happy to see success in the new ventures. Profits might be down, but with the cloud and digital media business units performing well, investors will sit easier with other investments in areas such as its AI-powered voice assistant Tmall Genie and online food delivery service Ele.me. Alibaba is demonstrating industry trends are not just myths.

Investors will also be extra pleased with this performance considering the woes of rival JD.com. Last week, the group reported a 31.2% year-on-year rise in revenue to $17.8 billion, though this was short of analyst expectations. This quarter usually sees a boost in revenues due to the mid-year ‘618’ shopping festival, though execs blamed a crossover with national holidays as the reason for declined sales this year.

There’s nothing quite like money in your pocket, but Amazon has proved the ‘invest in tomorrow’ business model can work. Alibaba might have bought itself a bit more breathing room to forget about profits and focus more intently on diversification.

Virgin Media legal win sets precedent in battle over disproportionate access charges

Virgin Media and Durham County Council have agreed an out of court settlement which will see the telco pay a nominal £1 sum to access land owned by the local authority to lay new ultrafast broadband cables.

The case is the first test of the updated Electronic Communications Code, which was amended in 2017, legislation designed to simplify the process of rolling out future-proof communications infrastructure. Gaining access to existing infrastructure for upgrades is an issue which has plagued the industry for years, with telcos claiming land owners charge disproportionate fees, as well as taking the opportunity to increase rent due to a change in the inventory of the assets.

With the out of court settlement creating more favourable terms for Virgin Media, the hope is precedent will be set throughout the industry, removing an administrative barrier to deployment which has proved expensive.

“This agreement with Durham sets a much needed precedent which will speed up broadband rollout and encourage investment,” said Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media. “We hope that other local authorities and landowners now follow Durham’s example.

“Most importantly, this is fantastic news for the residents and businesses of Durham as we can now continue the good work we started with Durham Country Council and bring a real broadband boost to local communities across the county.”

“Following the reforms it was important that, as a local authority, we were able to test and understand the implications of the new code,” said Durham County Council’s Head of Planning and Assets, Stuart Timmiss. “Working closely with Virgin Media and our legal team we are happy to be able to move forward in ensuring our businesses and communities can benefit from superfast broadband.”

The case first emerged back in June, with Virgin Media hoping to expand its fibre network to 16,000 properties by the end of 2019 as part of Project Lightening, though with the council charging what the telco described as a ‘hefty’ per-metre levy progress slowed. Other telcos in the UK will likely look at this development with excitement, and hope other administrative hurdles can now be addressed.

EE is another telco which is currently taking the legal route to address one of these hurdles. Tom Bennett and Howard Jones highlighted to us a couple of months ago, EE is challenging a currently unnamed entity in the courts over rent re-negotiations land owners are forcing on telcos when inventories change in existing assets ahead of necessary upgrades. Land owners, or more commonly the agents, are using the opportunity to increase rent knowing the telcos have little choice in the matter.

“The benefits of bringing 4G and high speed broadband to an area are in improved connectivity and the innovation opportunities they can bring to businesses, local authorities and the wider community – not in any landowner opportunistically charging more money in rent,” said an EE spokesperson.

“This settlement is a positive step forward for enforcing operators’ new Code rights.”

Vodafone UK General Counsel and External Affairs Director Helen Lamprell is another who has found issue with the legislative and regulatory landscape of the UK, stating it is the most difficult region she has had to work in.

“The regulatory environment in the UK is not conducive to infrastructure investment,” said Lamprell, during a briefing in June. “The right balance has not been found yet.”

Vodafone’s issues are not only focused on access charges and ransom rent, but also the height of masts. As it stands, the tallest cellular masts in the UK are less than half the height of the same structures in Germany, a critical component when attempting to increase coverage; for every ten metres you go up, the coverage roughly doubles. Vodafone is not suggesting it wants to pepper the landscape with these monstrous structures, but by increasing the height of the masts the less sites you actually need.

While certain aspects of the UK’s legislative environment seem contradictory to government ambitions to increase connectivity quality and coverage, the success of the Virgin Media legal team demonstrates the updated Electronic Communications Code is doing its job. Perhaps the other hurdles can now be addressed.

A design-led approach to billing creates new opportunities for service providers

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Brendan O’Rouke, Head of Design at BriteBill, explores what CSPs can do to make the billing process more positive for their customers.

With the pace of customer experience now being set outside the communications and media industry, the ability to deliver outstanding experiences is now a moving target. Becoming a top performer, such as Amazon requires service providers to consistently deliver exceptional experiences across all customer satisfaction measures, according to the Institute of Customer Service.

“The top 10 organizations [in terms of customer satisfaction] perform better than other organizations across the full range of customer experience metrics. There is continuing evidence that consistently outperforming the sector average for customer satisfaction is linked to better financial performance.” The Institute of Customer Service, UK Customer Satisfaction Index, July 2018   

The fiercely competitive nature of service providers in mature markets, combined with customers’ increasing propensity to complain or churn, throws down the gauntlet. Service providers need to act fast to address notorious and persistent customer experience blackspots such as billing, in order to deliver the consistency of experience that unlocks loyalty, recommendation, trust, reputation, and ultimately, better financial performance.

 Competition fueling the need for better experiences

The hypercompetitive environment in mature markets, means that service providers are shifting their focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. This requires them to work harder than ever to meet their customers’ expectations and consistently deliver the experience expected.

With four mobile network operators (MNOs) and more than one hundred active mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the UK, which collectively support over 13.5 million customers (or one in seven mobile connections), competition has never been fiercer.

MVNOs differentiate themselves and consistently outperform MNOs, not on network quality or coverage but on products, tariffs, offers and the customer experience they provide. For example, Which? Magazine’s annual consumer satisfaction report revealed that customers are increasingly snubbing the big four MNOs in favor of MVNOs such as Utility Warehouse – partly because they’re pocket-friendly, but also due to higher rates of customer satisfaction delivered.

Billing remains a customer experience blackspot

Let’s face it, no-one likes receiving a bill; they can stimulate such negative customer reactions that we’ve even coined terms for these, such as ‘bill-dread’ (fear of high bills that cause customers to alter consumption patterns) and bill shock (the emotional impact of receiving a higher than expected bill). They remain one of the most digitally untransformed areas of experience, and are so boring that many customers have given up reading them.

To deliver greater consistency of experience, service providers are now focused on improving the design of their bills, which according to The Institute of Customer Service is one of the top three areas that service provider customers want improved.

Design-led approach to improving customer communications

Customers perceive bills to be boring, confusing and stressful. Aside from additions and extensions, the service provider bill has changed little since the 1990s. This means the format of many bills are packed with too much information, making it hard for customers to locate and process the information they require. Since these bills are generic, much of the information squeezed into them may not even be relevant to an individual customer. For example, warnings about late payment and the stern tone of a cold demand for payment may seem rude or even insulting to a prompt payer, and does nothing to enhance the relationship.

Bill design shouldn’t be an accidental evolution, but should be carefully planned to achieve the goals of the service provider. Since its job is to subtlety enable information to be more effectively communicated, service providers need to employ a range of design techniques, including:

Aesthetic enhancements

  • Using size, color and weight to create a hierarchy of information that places emphasis on key elements within the bill.
  • Aligning elements on an axis to create a visual connection between them. This prompts eye movement, as well as adding order and stability to bill design.
  • Arranging elements within a given space to ensure there is a comfortable balance. With an equal distribution of weight, the bill design will feel more harmonious and approachable to customers.
  • Repeating visual elements throughout the design such as fonts, weights, lines, colors, icons and images. This creates unity and consistency throughout the bill and customers will automatically come to recognize and expect these patterns.

Transforming customer data
Although aesthetics are great steps towards improving a bill design, there are further techniques to improve the customer bill experience. If you look closely at a customer’s billing information, you can learn a lot about their activity and behaviors. So why not turn this into an engaging interaction? For example:

  • Customers can access an incredibly long list of calls they made over a period of time. Extract and present insightful information, such as:
    • Who was called most frequently
    • Most expensive calls
    • Longest calls
    • Most active call day of the week
    • Three premium numbers dialed, costing USD7.50 for example
  • Let’s say a customer is regularly exceeding their data usage allowance. Why not display a trend graph that spans the past three months, highlighting at what point in each month they exceeded their plan, and what the extra cost is per month? To further inform the customer, this can be used as an opportunity to present add-on options or alternative plans that better suit their behavior.

Functional customer messaging

This is vital to achieving a conclusive billing experience. By introducing contextually relevant messages at key points, you will transform the bill from a generic and impersonal piece of communication to a more personalized experience for each and every customer. This can be as simple as a standard greeting for a long-term customer: ‘Hello Jane, this is your March bill, and everything looks in order. Thank you for being one of our most loyal customers.’ The tone in this case is positive and slightly informal.

Another example would be a more sensitive message, such as a request for an overdue payment. The tone here needs to come across as knowledgeable, formal and to the point. ‘Your account is past due, please pay USD112.00 immediately.’

Throughout the bill, it is imperative to be as pre-emptive as possible. For example, to reduce customer bill shock, why not display key information in a prominent place? This will enable customers to identify excess charges that would normally drive questions to customer care. The first thing the customer should see is a concise explanation of why their bill is higher than expected, such as:

  • ‘You added a service last month, resulting in a partial charge of USD15.00 this month. Please see page 4 for details.’
  • ‘You were charged a late fee of USD13.95. To avoid this charge in the future, please sign up for direct debit at provider.com/direct-debit.’
  • ‘You have high usage charges of USD22.12 this month.’

A design-led approach to billing means always thinking about how your design affects the customer and putting them first. This will result in clearer and more usable bills, and ultimately fewer calls to care. When designed to meet individual needs, the bill is not only a welcome tool for regular communication, it also provides the customer with a window into their relationship with the service provider.

Transforming bills from an experience blackspot into an asset

For many service providers, bills are already an experience blackspot. With the ever-increasing volume and variety of services, experimenting with charging models, and delivering more one-off and personalized offers, the potential for customer confusion is bound to increase. This is where design-led thinking plays an essential role in creating ways to deliver greater depth of information effectively and attractively.

 

Five Tips For Better Bills
  1. Know your customer
    Excellent design begins with understanding your customer. Service providers should know and understand the history they have with each customer, including how long they have been a customer and the services they have purchased over their lifecycle. They should also know and track the usage patterns of each customer. This will enable the service provider to deliver personalized billing content to each and every customer.
  1. Focus on clarity
    If a customer can’t understand a piece of communication or can’t perform a basic action without frustration, then there are failings in the bill design. The design should be simple and clear throughout. It should save the customer time and provide all the answers they need. This is achieved by disclosing more information when needed and not overwhelming the customer with useless content. Some customers will spend 10 seconds reviewing their bill, others will spend up to four to five minutes. The bill design should cater to all.
  1. Remove technical verbiage
    Systems-driven language is typically difficult for customers to decipher and is often perceived as dishonest. If a customer purchases a device from a service provider or signs up for a new service, there is an element of excitement. This feeling is soon replaced by confusion and discontent when they receive a bill with a different product description to what was expected, and in some cases a complex pricing structure that makes no sense. Aligning old legacy terminology and pricing with what’s sold will help deliver on brand promise and keep the customer experience positive.
  1. Don’t allow technology to restrict design
    Design should not be added retrospectively to try and fix outdated billing processes or be force-fitted into existing technology. Instead, the presentation should be at the core of the billing platform. Design should drive questions such as, ‘what other systems or feeds should be integrated?’, or ‘how can we identify or tag this data to display it as we want?’ If the customer experience is the reason behind a bill transformation project, then all areas of the business need to agree on this common goal.
  1. Don’t forget the business needs
    With the bill being the most regular form of customer communication, why not use it to help support the business needs? The bill can easily deliver content from departments such as sales, marketing or legal. It can also be designed to help reduce print costs. More importantly, it can re-enforce the value of what each customer is getting for their monthly charges. In addition to ensuring customers are connected around the clock, service providers are constantly offering promotions and rewards. So why not educate customers on these benefits and affirm why they should remain your customer?

 

Edge Computing: What industrial enterprises want from service providers

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Charlie Osborne of Edge Computing Congress looks at the role edge computing has to play in Industry 4.0.

The adoption of edge computing is going to become key for industrial companies seeking to implement modern cost-saving measures, 5G, and make the transition to Industry 4.0.

The manufacturing sector is no longer centred around isolated equipment and manual maintenance. Instead, businesses have the potential to thrive due to data.

Industrial companies are now operating on a global scale and have IIoT devices, software, and services at their disposal to transform data points into information which can improve both operational efficiency and the bottom line.

Industrial players and companies at large are no longer forced to send their data to one area in-house or to the cloud for analysis, which requires high levels of expenditure and can cause latency and security challenges.

Instead, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, and cloud services, empowered by edge computing, offer a scalable way to streamline traffic flows and process data in real-time close to the source, increasing the efficiency of data processing, reducing latency, initiating bandwidth savings, and more.

IoT micro data centres used by edge computing will become even more important in the future with the emergence of 5G networks.

Despite predictions that the enterprise will spend over £1 trillion on IoT networks, devices, and management systems by 2020, the industrial sector is yet to realize the full potential of edge computing.

Edge computing has the potential to disrupt the industrial sector more than most. Companies are making the move towards Industry 4.0 but recent research suggests that only a quarter of industrial firms feel they have a sufficient understanding of how digital processes can improve their business.

Only three percent of data points gathered by today’s industrial IoT systems are utilized which leaves 97 percent of otherwise actionable data floating in the wind.

Service providers have a key role to place in the adoption of edge computing. As enterprise players lean towards this next-generation technology in order to improve operational efficiency and to tap into the benefits of Big Data and IoT, service providers cannot afford to be left behind.

The enterprise expects service providers to innovate in order to push intelligence and computing out to the edge, meeting both the technological and data challenges of modern manufacturing, as well as offer ways to future-proof industrial processes.

Whether or not industry players know it yet, edge computing will become a necessity in the coming years to facilitate the transfer and analysis of large volumes of data and to control industrial and operational processes making the shift from legacy systems to Industry 4.0.

Companies offering such services need to establish a strategic plan to take advantage of what edge computing offers. The deployment of edge computing will become a crucial component of future industries, but many companies need to understand where to start.

Service providers must understand what industrial players expect, the challenges ahead, and how edge computing can be implemented as a justifiable investment which benefits the enterprise.

For more information and to learn what is wanted, needed and expected from edge computing service provider download our recent report.

 

Edge Computing Congress is returning to the German capital next month. Register to attend this event for the opportunity to meet the entire edge ecosystem and discover how cloud computing, 5G and IoT connected services can provide seamless connections at the network edge.

UK opposition leader want to tax US tech giants and ISPs to pay for better journalism

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour party, has proposed a special tax on US tech giants and UK ISPs in order to fund public interest journalism.

The context in which he made the announcement at the Edinburgh TV Festival was a juxtaposition in the decline of the journalism industry with the rise of social media. Traditional media has lost a lot of revenue to Google and Facebook especially and there is growing suspicion of so much media power being held by so few companies.

Social media is coming under increased pressure to censor the material published on its platforms, but there is growing concern that such censorship may result in certain viewpoints effectively being outlawed on the sphere of public debate over the internet. Corbyn has previously indicated he would like to have more control over the media but struck a more conciliatory tone towards journalism in this speech, having apparently concluded big tech is the real bad guy..

“One solution to funding public interest media could be by tapping up the digital monopolies that profit from every search, share and like we make,” he said in a speech entitled ‘We can fix our failing media by setting journalists and citizens free to hold power to account’. “Google and news publishers in France and Belgium were able to agree a settlement. If we can’t do something similar here, but on a more ambitious scale, we’ll need to look at the option of a windfall tax on the digital monopolies to create a public interest media fund.”

It’s easy to view a lot of this, coming from a card-carrying socialist, as a thinly disguised tax grab, but there does seem to be evidence of deeper thought too. It comes as a pleasant surprise to see Corbyn call for less government influence over the media, especially since his party has consistently called for just the opposite.

“Currently, ministers can veto FOI releases,” said Corbyn. “On two occasions, this veto has been used to block information about the UK’s decision to pursue military action against Iraq. That can’t be right. We will look at ending the ministerial veto to prevent the Information Commissioner being overruled.

“The best journalism takes on the powerful, in the corporate world as well as government, and helps create an informed public. This work costs money. We value it but somehow that doesn’t translate into proper funding and legal support. So, we should look at granting charitable status for some local, investigative and public interest journalism.

“If we want an independent BBC, we should consider setting it free by placing it on a permanent statutory footing, with a new independent body setting the licence fee. The licence fee itself is another potential area for modernisation. In the digital age, we should consider whether a digital licence fee could be a fairer and more effective way to fund the BBC.

“A digital licence fee, supplementing the existing licence fee, collected from tech giants and Internet Service Providers, who extract huge wealth from our shared digital space, could allow a democratized and more plural BBC to compete far more effectively with the private multinational digital giants like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook.”

On reflection this speech seems to be both a cynical tax grab and a thoughtful look at the rapidly evolving public information environment at the same time. Something is definitely broken in the media industry, thanks mainly to the apparent market expectation that quality journalism should be free. Whether or not scapegoating and taxing a few big tech companies is any kind of solution to this problem, however, remains highly debatable.

Aussies ban Huawei from throwing 5G on the barbie

In what could be described as an incredibly passive aggressive move, the Australian government has effectively banned Huawei from joining the Australian 5G bonanza.

In a joint statement released by Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, and Scott Morrison, Acting Minister for Home Affairs, the Australian government has not specifically named Huawei, simply mentioning dodgy governments. A Huawei tweet confirms it is on the wrong side of the line and will not be able to supply Australian vendors with its 5G equipment.

“The Government considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised access or interference,” the statement reads.

The rules, which will come into place on September 18 2018, set new legal obligations on security for telcos and are based on the idea 5G networks will have a fundamentally different architecture to the networks of today. With the core and edge merging closer together, and more sensitive processes and applications moving closer to the end-user on the edge, the Australian government is yet to be convinced there are any solutions or approaches which mitigate this security risk. The belief the edge is less secure than the core is a justified one.

The new landscape will provide the Australian government much more influence over the deployment and management of telecommunications networks throughout the country. Not only will the telcos have to offer the government considerably more access to the inner on-goings of operations, the rules essentially give the government the power of veto when it comes to selecting vendors. Huawei has stated it has been barred from the 5G euphoria, and while ZTE is yet to comment, it would be a fair assumption this ban extends to all Chinese companies.

Reading between the lines, the Aussies seem to be saying they don’t trust the Chinese government, or Chinese companies. There is little, if any, concrete proof Huawei is a government puppet, but this seems to be a blanket policy covering all Chinese companies and a message to President Xi Jinping; if you want to play in the global markets, you have to adhere to the same rules as the rest of us, irrelevant of the size of your economy, you can’t have it both ways.

Of course, such actions have been bubbling below the surface for some time. Several countries around the world, with the US being the most vocal, have been airing their suspicions of eavesdropping from the Chinese government, though this is one of the first cases which is seemingly directed at China as a whole. The US did temporarily ban ZTE of course, while it and Huawei are barred from government contracts. There does seem to be an unofficial policy to screw China as hard as possible, though little has translated into hardcore, sector-wide legislation keeping the pair from getting involved with 5G networks on every front.

The UK is another which has its own concerns over Chinese companies, there is a division in GCHQ which is specifically tasked with making sure Huawei doesn’t do anything suspect, though a full ban doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility right now. The Aussies making the first move worldwide is an interesting development however.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 29% of exports and 17.7% of total imports across 2016-17, creating a tricky diplomacy situation. Banning one of China’s most successful players on the international trade scene is hardly going to make for comfortable discussions in the future. It’s a bold move from the Aussies.

Perhaps this is an indication the Australian government sees profit in cosying up to the Trump administration. President Trump has been incredibly combative in dealing with the Chinese government, or governments in general, and such action might get Australia in the good books of the US authorities. The US would certainly be a successful trading partner should the Australia be able to gain favourable terms, and a ban on the US’ biggest rival on the global stage could be viewed as Trump stroking.

While losing one market is not ideal for Huawei, and presumably ZTE, it is not the end of the world. What will be a worry is the domino effect. Governments around the world, especially those who would consider themselves ‘western’, have a tendency to lean on each for guidance in creating legislation. Precedent and trends are dangerous terms for Huawei here. With the 5G bonanza set to create fortunes, it will be interesting to see how many follow the Australian trail.

Theories and predictions over the potential implications will be plentiful, but one thing you can almost guarantee is Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm and Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri will both be smiling quite contently over the news, even if neither is prepared to take their joy public.

Qualcomm claims first multi-vendor C-V2X demo in China

Mobile chip giant Qualcomm is pushing hard to be a key player in cellular communications between vehicles and the rest of the world.

The somewhat forced abbreviation for this sort of thing is C-V2X (cellular vehicle to everything) and the Qualcomm 9150 chipset is designed to enable it. In partnership with Chinese firm Datang Telecom Group Qualcomm has claimed the first demonstration of multi-chipset vendor C-V2X direct communication interoperability.

“This interoperability test conducted with Qualcomm Technologies is of great importance and is a milestone for the industry as it is the first chip level PC5 Mode 4 interoperability test, which demonstrated the maturity and readiness of commercial deployment for C-V2X technology,” said Yingmin Wang, CTO of Datang Telecom Group.

“Achieving this milestone with Datang is quite significant as it exemplifies the technology maturity to support C-V2X commercial deployments starting in 2019,” said Nakul Duggal, VP of Product Management at Qualcomm. “With our long history of wireless leadership in China, and close collaborations with the automotive and telecom industries, we look forward to continued work alongside leaders in China as we collectively advance towards the commercial reality of safer and more connected vehicles.”

This is all compatible with 3GPP Release 14 C-V2X direct communications (PC5) Mode 4, otherwise known as LTE-V2X. The demo used the Qualcomm 9150 chipset and Datang’s DMD31 LTE-V2X module, using the 5.9 GHz spectrum, which has been set aside for this sort of thing. One of the key use-cases will vehicle-to-infrastructure communication that is needed for things like automated collision avoidance and autonomous driving in general.

Payments challenger Adyen post strong growth following June IPO

In its first earnings release since going public in June, payments firm Adyen is proving it can live up to the hype.

After pricing its shares at €240 each ahead of the launch, it opened for trading on June 13 on Amsterdam’s Euronext exchange at €400 a share. With such a leap, a lot would have been expected from the firm, and it certainly delivered.

For the first six months of 2018, Adyen generated €156 million in total revenue, up 67.3% year-on-year, processing more than €70 billion of transactions, and collecting €48.2 million in net income up 74.6% year-on-year. Investors will certainly be pleased with growth at the company which counts the likes of Uber, Spotify and Cathay Pacific as customers.

Europe is still the major earner for the company, accounting for more than half of the processed transactions and roughly 65% of net revenue, though growth in other regions was incredibly healthy. Asia Pacific was a significant boost for the business, 147.5%, though the North American region was also incredibly positive, 142.9%.

“In the first half of the year we saw a continuation of the transformation of commerce, leading to an increased merchant focus on accepting payments across channels and geographies,” the firm said in a letter to shareholders. “This trend, coupled with changing shopper behaviour, the rise of mobile payment methods, and the increasing pressure on retailers’ operations, highlighted the benefits of our single platform, and consequently driven significant growth in the first half of 2018.”

The success has been attributed not only to doing what it does traditionally very well, but also branching out into new verticals such as hospitality, restaurant chains and supermarkets. While these might be different environments, all are experiencing the same increase in demand for mobile payment from customers.

Another key aspect of growth here seems to be the single platform. Many businesses around the world will use different payment solutions dependent on the environment, some of which will be legacy systems. The complications come with marrying the data to customers across the different platforms when trying to generate some sort of business insight from the data. A single platform, encompassing both online and offline transactions, allows the formation of data sets which can be used to inform future business decisions.

“Through our single platform, we provide a holistic view of payments, regardless of sales channel, delivering unique shopper insights while combating fraud and improving payment authorization rates,” the firm states.

While it all looks positive right now, another statistic which will keep investors happy is the recruitment efforts. Over the first six months, staff head count went up almost 40%, with 47.3% of these recruits taking up tech roles. While bolstering the sales team is certainly a positive move, such a focus on continuing the development of the platform will certainly add to the generated momentum.