Half world is not enough - vanishing boundaries between IT and Telco worlds
I always envied James Bond. He drove the best sports cars with lots of cool extras and always had high tech gadgets on hand.
I also feel a lot like him in some ways. I joined Nokia in ’99, the year of the Bond film "The World Is Not Enough". From that beginning, I’ve been passionate for telecommunications. Today we’re building telco networks with higher speeds than ever, enabling them to deliver the fastest services with the best possible coverage.
Yet still I feel like James Bond. For me, the world is not enough - we can have more.
30 years ago, Nokia made the first GSM call and we have been creating telco services ever since. I still love telco services, they’re great, but so far, they have stayed in one world, the telco world.
They stayed there despite the growth of another, parallel world. Just like telco, the IT domain also has a lot of potential services. Why don’t we have more than one world and connect the two?
Fusion, fusion, fusion
Two things becoming one is often known as fusion and it can create a host of excellent possibilities in many walks of life, such as new music and food or the power we see in nuclear fusion.
What power and possibilities does the fusion of telco and IT domains give us?
There are currently over 8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. Most of the people with mobile phones also have IT and social media accounts, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. What if I could be notified of a missed call through my IT or social media account? It could help me keep contact with my friends and colleagues even if I don’t have my phone with me.
There is a whole host of possibilities once we mix the two worlds of telecoms and IT. Using my online calendar, I could filter incoming calls, so they don’t break into my meetings.
Displaying a caller’s name based on public phone directories could lead to greater trust of incoming calls with unknown numbers.
Smart wearables, which may not have a telco connection, could send short messages.
What about industrial applications? Warning of a factory emergency can best be done by calling the on-duty supervisor from the device that detects it.
Home automation users could control their heating and lighting remotely by voice commands alone.
Wouldn’t it be good to have these applications?
Up to now, fusing the IT and telco domains was challenging because they required different technologies, different platforms and had a different developer base.
That has all changed since Nokia’s 5G Core started allowing network exposure by RESTful APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Now, both telco and IT services use the same technology platform and developers can produce apps for both domains. With them sharing so much, fusion of these two domains became natural.
Nokia’s API enabled 5G Core product functions can be exposed securely to the public domain over Nokia Network Exposure Function (NEF), which also acts as the API Gateway. As well as 5G, 4G networks can also benefit from this.
This unlocks endless possibilities for creating services. Since API users don’t need a deep knowledge of telco systems, services could even be created with low-code techniques, such as dragging and dropping blocks on a simple user interface.
The process is so simple that even everyday users of phone apps could create their own services.
As an example, I’ve just started to create a new service on my favorite Home Assistant, running on a Raspberry PI. It automatically sends me a warning call when I leave home without closing my windows. This warning call is enabled by the Click-to-Call API function of the Nokia TAS – our IMS application server.
Embrace the IT
APIs not only accelerate the creation of services - opening the IT domain for telco can allow services to become more sophisticated. They could even be tailor made for each user.
Nokia’s API Hackathon events have proven that the best services make use of the benefits of both domains. Winners at the hackathons combined call events with wearables, health services and social media. These apps showed the bright ideas of the new generation, as well as the potential in startups that offer API based services.
In 2021, two worlds are becoming one - I truly encourage you to start experiencing what fast service creation really means with Nokia 5G Core APIs.