The case for “as-a-service”: Scale faster with less risk
Flexibility and speed to market have become more important than ever for communications service providers (CSPs) in the COVID-19 era. Faced with dynamic, unpredictable conditions, many have found their existing systems are too static, too purpose-specific, and require too much manual oversight and management — making it hard (and expensive) to launch and scale new services. To tackle the challenge, more and more CSPs are turning to as-a-service offerings for a quick, powerful strategic boost while minimizing cost and risk.
CSPs need to be able to spin up new services that meet customers’ emerging needs while maintaining their core offerings — and to innovate so they can compete without worrying that going down a wrong path could lose excessive time and money. Trying to keep up with a fast-changing and dynamic market using legacy systems was already a challenge: the COVID-19 crisis has made it even tougher.
As-a-service solutions — whether platforms-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service or any other form of “aaS” — allow CSPs to skip fundamental development stages and get right to service creation because they’re using resources that have already been deployed by a third-party provider.
This is especially advantageous when time, money and specialized skills are in short supply. CSPs can build and launch new services faster and make adjustments on the fly, leaving the management of whatever’s being provided as a service to a third-party partner. The trial-and-scale or trial-and-fail innovation cycle becomes much shorter — and less risky — so CSPs can realize returns on their investments much sooner, or move on to new offerings that will deliver those returns.
The Internet of Things needs new network solutions
The many Internet of Things (IoT) use cases that have emerged as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic nicely illustrate the opportunities and advantages as-a-service flexibility can bring. More and more companies are turning to remote asset management and logistics, giving them a global view of their supply chains and real-time tracking of critical shipments. Drones are being used for contactless package delivery and crowd monitoring. Doctors and other health professionals are using patients’ wearable devices to check key health indicators from a distance.
Each of these is obviously a distinct service with its own characteristics and requirements, but they all require the same kind of underlying IoT platform and (in all likelihood) global connectivity. Building that platform and rolling out the connectivity themselves is a tall and costly order in any circumstances and even more so during a pandemic. Having access to a preexisting aaS solution would allow CSPs to ramp up these sorts of IoT services rapidly and focus on selling them. Any successful offering would quickly generate revenues. And if demand for the new service is lower than expected, the CSPs can simply wind it down and get onto something else with little wasted time and investment.
The global connectivity piece is important in the IoT example and for other use cases as well, because unlike services for consumer subscribers, these are largely for enterprises, that often operate globally. While traditional mobile roaming agreements could also be invoked, they themselves are increasingly expensive and complex to manage. They don’t provide the agility gain CSPs really need, whereas an affordable platform for global connectivity would.
At Nokia, we have an aaS solution for IoT that delivers exactly these kinds of benefits. Nokia WING provides connectivity across a globally distributed core network. Its intelligent SIM solutions reach even into remote areas, and its real-time operation keeps devices connected continuously. WING supports multiple technologies, has a 5G-ready architecture with high bandwidth, ultra-low latency, and includes end-to-end security for data and network traffic. CSPs can start designing and deploying IoT services instead of having to build all of these components out themselves.
It’s time to make the aaS mindshift
The aaS model is a new way of thinking about service creation and deployment. It requires a “mindshift” from CSPs who have traditionally considered the platforms and infrastructure through which they deliver services as an integral part of those services. Those who make that shift can gain a convenient and powerful way to evolve their commercial capabilities and seize selective growth opportunities. And during times of crisis or global uncertainty, aaS provides CSPs with the ability to adapt quickly to continue to operate a sustainable business. Embracing the aaS business model can yield greater flexibility, better functionality and lower costs — all while enhancing a CSP’s ability to be more customer-centric.
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