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February 18, 2022

Three myths about monetizing 5G that are costing you money

Here’s how communication services providers can take steps toward success — and growth — in the 5G ecosystem.

There’s no shortage of opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs) to monetize their 5G networks. The need for vertical market solutions abounds, from agriculture, energy, healthcare and logistics, to smart meters, smart cities and smart homes.

Yet the ability to deliver ultra-fast wireless services introduces organizational change — and frustration. As CSP business and IT leaders learn to package industry services from 5G using Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and edge computing, they’re also running headlong into the challenges of pivoting their long-time operational models and processes to these new markets and opportunities.

The obstacles are plentiful, as are the long-held beliefs that stand in the way of needed change. By tackling entrenched myths and misunderstandings head-on, CSPs can better position their organizations for the 5G ecosystem — and the growth it enables.

5G myth-busting

Here are three misconceptions we hear regularly from the CSPs we work with, as well as our guidance for how to address them.

  • Myth #1: We’re a go-it-alone industry. CSPs have a well-deserved reputation for being steadfast service providers. For decades, they single-handedly operated the communications backbones that consumers rely on. But as we shift into the new capabilities and opportunities introduced by 5G, no single company can do it all, no matter how big.

    Unraveling the myth: Ecosystems provide the opportunities for collaboration CSPs need. They’re the antidote to the go-it-alone mindset: connected, interdependent networks that serve as a marketplace for providers of adjacent services and enterprise customers. Ecosystems are where CSPs join forces with the other market players that make vertical solutions happen, such as video analytics providers for smart cities, or robotics specialists for smart manufacturing.

    Because they generate shared value for all involved, ecosystems are distinctly different from the invitation-only partnerships that CSPs have long relied on. As CSPs transform from providers of connectivity to participants in these new ecosystems, they’ll also need to adapt to the new operating models, processes and even cultures that these environments require. But it’s becoming clearer that in the 5G business-to-business value chain (B2B2X), ecosystems are required assets for CSPs.

  • Myth #2: We have our partner onboarding processes down to a science. With the speed and real-time action of 5G services, self-monitored autonomous networks will configure themselves to real-time conditions without human intervention. As a result, ecosystem partnerships will need to be equally fluid, sometimes changing on the fly to suit the solutions they support. Case in point are 5G-enabled connected vehicles that, as they move down the roadway, will need sensor partners to change on the fly for continuous monitoring to occur.

    Enterprise customers will choose partners and providers that meet their needs at the time of the order or service delivery. Just as cloud scales up and down to meet the workload, the connectivity-as-a-service model will enable the bundling of vertical solutions that swap partners in and out in real-time.

    As a result, CSPs will need to be ready to onboard and work with providers instantaneously. Months-long lead times to sign new partners will no longer be an option. For an idea of where partnership agreements are heading, look no further than end-user agreements for consumer software licenses, which consist of a simple dialog box in which the user checks, “I accept.”

    Unraveling the myth: To get ready for these flexible partnerships, CSPs need to begin thinking now about new processes for billing and charging, as well as for federating catalogs with partners and developing and deploying governance through software-driven, open API processes. By introducing more automation to onboarding partners, CSPs will set themselves up to widen their partner rosters and collaborate more effectively.  
  • Myth #3: Putting a wrapper around legacy processes is enough to provide the sleek experience customers want. This statement is partially true: Attractive, easy-to-use front ends do let network customers quickly add, delete and troubleshoot their connectivity service. Moreover, given the growing influence of the consumer customer experience (CX) in B2B, dressing up legacy systems is a good sign that CSPs are finally giving CX its due.

    The problem is, it’s not uncommon for these interfaces to be simply cosmetic in nature — great-looking wrappers layered on outdated backends that are unable to support the complex ecosystems needed for 5G enterprise communications services. While implementing robust e-commerce platforms can add more digital muscle, they still fall short of fully supporting plug-and-play, frictionless trading with partners.

    Unraveling the myth: The reality is that creating innovative services and getting them to market quickly requires a backend architecture that enables the network and orchestration layers to talk to each other and to enterprise customers’ networks. Enabling that interoperability opens new opportunities for CSPs when it comes to monetizing 5G.

    For example, when a US-based communications client needed to address its high abandonment rates and other inefficiencies, it decided to add a front-end portal that would provide a better CX to speed the ordering process. However, this approach didn’t provide the ability to confirm orders could be fulfilled.

    By opting to rearchitect the backend, the company is now on a path to enabling a holistic process for ordering and fulfillment, including automation of order sequences and updates, as well as address checking to validate location.

Communication services providers have worked hard to build and run wireless networks that are lean, operational and efficient. Monetizing these networks in a 5G world, however, will require a break from what’s worked in the past and a shift to new mindsets and operational models that are fit for the more agile, service-rich and ecosystem-driven future of delivering not just communications connectivity but also digital services. 

Elaine Haher

Director of Business Solution Architecture

Headshot of Digitally Cognizant author Elaine Haher

Elaine Haher is the Director of Business Solution Architecture for the Communications Group at Cognizant. She handles business architecture, strategy, partner management & industry relations – focusing on solutions in a digital ecosystem.

Naveen Suri
Head of Communications Industry Solutions Group
Headshot of Digitally Cognizant author Naveen Suri

Naveen Suri is the Head of the Communications practice within the Communications, Media and Technology vertical at Cognizant. An industry expert, he has delivered keynotes in blockchain, AI, regulation, numbering & mobile device management.

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