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Telecom SaaS: A conversation with Elisa

Telecom SaaS: A conversation with Elisa

I recently had the pleasure of hosting Markus Kinnunen of Elisa Telecom for a LinkedIn Live session called “Elisa’s journey to Telecom SaaS and 5G monetization.” Elisa and Nokia have a long history going back to the origins of GSM technology with many areas of collaboration and innovations together over the years, including last year setting a speed record for 5G millimeter wave. Now the telecom industry is at the cusp of real adoption of Telecom SaaS and Elisa is again head of the curve and showing real foresight in thinking about SaaS.

Markus, who serves as Vice President of Cloud Services, shared a few key insights about Elisa’s journey to SaaS. I’d like to highlight them here.


Elisa has been focused on automation for more than a decade to drive both operational efficiency and greater business agility to result in faster time to value. Today they are looking for more automated solutions in the 5G world. Markus said he looks forward to the time when “with a click of a button I could order a 5G network for our purposes.” He added, “It’s not a question of whether I prefer automation or not: the world gets more complex all the time,” and automation is essential for delivering quality and a great customer experience. When done well, automation cuts across organizational silos. Markus said, “Elisa is in a good position going forward because we have been doing this kind of an automation already a long time when combining the network engineering skills with the software developing skills and bringing those two together in a concrete level.”

From IT SaaS to Telecom SaaS

Elisa adopted IT SaaS many years ago with the likes of Salesforce and Workday and also using resources from the public cloud. He noted “And now we are seeing the same kind of a path in telco and going more software wise into infrastructure and utilizing the models, for example from Nokia. We go step by step for 5G core utilization of SaaS model. In telco, the world is a little bit different, more complex. So there comes the telco grade, five nines. The quality is extremely important all the time. And then there comes this kind of a regulatory privacy security issues also that we need to take into account. Different kind of SLAs, maintenance windows and so forth. We are learning all the time!”

Ecosystems and 5G monetization

Most industry thought leaders believe that the road to 5G monetization is paved with partnerships and ecosystems. Gone are the days of a single-threaded value chain from the service provider to the customer, and instead service providers are experimenting with all kinds of ways to create new services and experiences with multiple providers with faster time to value. Nokia and Elisa are currently partnering with an ecosystem of app developers to experiment with new uses cases in the Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland. Using a live 5G network, the ecosystem of partners is developing use cases based on VR/AR experiences for hockey games, concert events, commerce and more. These new applications take advantage of the programmable nature of 5G to expose specific network capabilities – latency, location, speed – into applications via APIs for greater business agility. Markus observed, “That is something we have built together in the Nokia Arena and the next experiment would be to demo the delivery of SaaS 5G private core network in the Arena and how can we, based on that, deliver some of the use cases for different developers or the customers in that Arena. So let's see. It will be an interesting experiment!”

As our industry continues to explore how to monetize 5G, accelerate experimentation, and manage costs with greater business agility, Telecom SaaS can deliver on these objectives. We are at the dawn of an exciting new frontier of providing transformational 5G B2C and B2B experiences and capabilities, powered by Telecom SaaS.

To watch the full conversation with Markus and hear his insights first hand, click here for the session replay.

Jean Lawrence

About Jean Lawrence

Jean Lawrence helps communications service providers and enterprises realize the benefits of 5G, cloud and the digital economy by automating and securing operations and networks, gaining business insights through analytics, deploying SaaS, and monetizing new business models.

In her 25 years of tech industry experience, Jean has held marketing, strategy and product development leadership positions at Oracle, Computer Sciences Corporation, Motorola, and T-Mobile. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame.

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