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Aug 22 2016

The essential element of networks you don’t see

Twitter: @igorleprince

It’s not just you and me who have become increasingly connected, digitally speaking. The shift of communications and information to ‘pure’ digital technologies pervades all aspects of modern life.

Everything from traffic management to hospitals is now managed by a convergence of telecommunications and IT with vital functions being virtualized and run from the cloud. For businesses and public authorities, this brings immense advantages and efficiencies: for example, self-driving cars are on the horizon and here flawless network performance is a must. Likewise, healthcare is becoming connected. Patients with a chronic condition can be monitored from their home thanks to a wearable device. Whole cities will become ‘smart’, connectivity will improve energy efficiency and safety.

This is something I recently discussed on the The Business Debate, online video program published by The Times and the Wall Street Journal newspapers, in which we examined, specifically, the role of services in enabling the new ‘fabric’ of always-on digital networks and ensuring they run flawlessly.

Traditionally people think of such networks in terms of what they can see - base stations, cabling, racks of servers and so on - but networks are also very much about what you can’t see. Our business isn’t simply a process of replacing our customer’s hardware or software: there is a strong intellectual requirement, too, via knowledge, support and implementation know-how.

Services and consultancy expertise play a critical role, be it in transforming network operations to the cloud, moving to all-IP infrastructure, or helping enterprises and institutional customers like governments move to the new digital environment.

The services business is now more of a change management business. ‘Traditional’ customers like operators are dealing with the demands of ubiquitous connectivity, with millions of smartphones and tablets, and eventually a multitude of ‘things’ in a fully connected society, all pulling on network resources. This will require greater optimization, orchestration and, indeed, competencies to ensure that ubiquitous connectivity is really flawless connectivity.

The move to cloud technology, automation and robotics will vastly improve the efficiency of data processing in this new environment, with sophisticated software-based analytics able to identify and even predict problems before they happen. What we call “everything as a service” will become more prevalent, as digitization enables technology to be hosted, often remotely.

This will naturally increase as we adopt more automated functions, such as transportation, where ‘always on’ 100% network availability really must be ensured. This is a service Nokia already provides in the Spanish railway industry, for example. But in the future, with autonomous driving becoming an element of smart national infrastructure, the use of 5G networking to ensure near-zero network latency for constant communications will require a high level of optimization expertise to implement and manage.

In essence, the technology to do all this is there, but people need to make it happen, making the building blocks work together to deliver the business benefits for all players in the industry. And that is where Nokia’s services portfolio – a combination of people, software and knowledge – delivers this, with a single strategy executed efficiently across the company. It all builds on a strong capability in managing a customer’s needs across different aspects of the modern, convergent digital communications landscape, be it wireless, fixed, multi-vendor environments, and, increasingly, in the use of automation.

For all of these new, always-connected applications, services are essential. They guide operators through their implementation, helping consolidate and blend functions across both existing and new platforms, utilizing cloud technologies and introducing and operating data centers to ensure ultimate operational efficiency for operators, services providers and enterprises, and most importantly, to the end user.

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Nokia is committed to help our customers through the transformations. And we are constantly developing our delivery capability to meet the quality, speed and efficiency needs. Building on the delivery model that is based on the right combination of local and remote expertise, our delivery centers are becoming wisdom centers and our people in the field are equipped with know-how and access to resources. We strive for further automation, make use of software robots, and have developed a cognitive service delivery platform, Nokia AVA, that is ready for the connected world.

There are so many elements you don’t see, but they will make all the difference.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #ManagedServices #ExpertAdvantage #cloud #telcocloud #services

About Igor Leprince

Igor has over 20 years’ management experience in the telecommunications industry, joining Nokia in 2007 and amongst various executive positions, heading the Middle East & Africa region. Today he is responsible for Global Services, a business delivering €9bn of revenue (2015 combined) and employing 40,000 professionals helping telecoms operators and enterprises move to the new digital world of ubiquitous connectivity.