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Being business ready in the 5G era

Aamir Hussain,
Senior Vice President, Business Products, Verizon Business Group


Verizon has been on the forefront of global 5G deployments and has a vision of coming to the market with a ‘network-as-a-service/platform’ to move up the value chain and to become more central to their business customers. Verizon is focused on in their global effort to accelerate the digital transformation of the enterprises. Aamir Hussain, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Verizon Business Group, will share its leading experience in connecting with business customers in new ways, encouraging new use cases powered by latest technology and increasing the value of services.


20 minute read


- Hello everybody, I'm Marianne Strobel and I'm the Vice President of Field Marketing and Communications for Nokia here in North America and I am thrilled today to have our guest who is Amir Hussain, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer with Verizon Business Group. Hello Amir and thank you so much for being with us today.

- Hello Marianne and thank you for taking the time to talking to me.

- Amir and I will be talking about how Verizon and service providers like Verizon are unlocking business potentials by creating new business opportunities. And I know this is something that Verizon is focused on right now in their global efforts to accelerate the digital transformation of enterprise customers. So Amir, I know this is a real huge focus area for you and I know that you've got some things going on right now but also how it's moving into the 2021 and beyond vision so our conversation is gonna talk a little bit about that today. You ready to go?

- I'm ready to go.

- Okay, super. Now, we've known over the last year or so, Verizon has taken a step towards doing business in 5G and really focusing on what you guys are calling the Verizon 2.0 with the goal of evolving into what your CEO has referred to as network as a service business. Can you explain what this means for Verizon and for your customers?

- Absolutely. Look, you know, I'm gonna go back in time a little bit when Hans took over from being the CTO to the CEO, he definitely understood that at the core we are actually a network company. And over the last few years, we've really taken steps to bolster our network leadership, we are investing billions of dollars in building nationwide fiber network, the 5G network, we build a brand new intelligent edge network, we also build a brand new intelligent advanced transport network where we're combining multiple transports together and giving our customers a better opportunity to connect to it in an automated fashion giving them the SLAs they want and that's kind of what we have been building. So, you know, this really gives us an opportunity to now go to the market and offer network as a service.

So what do I mean by this? It means solutions which are deeply rooted and embedded within our network and that we can deliver those solutions in an automated fashion to any customers, any segments, where they want it, how they want it, that's, you know, that's the goal. Our customers are usually the customers who are watching Netflix, it's very easy to use for them. They're buying, if you're a household is like my household, I get maybe a package an hour from Amazon because it's so easy to use and they bring that same thought process to their businesses so they wanna make sure we are easy to do business with and having an embedded network which is fully automated makes a lot of sense.

It also means setting up ourselves to really lead innovation on 5G. Look, we announced our 5G offering, we will be in 60 cities by the end of the year, something we are very, very proud of. Our 5G is one of the best 5G so if you've seen, you know, our advertisement, I don't have to go there and speak to it again but for our customers it means having a consistent experience regardless of the medium you connect with us whether it's on 5G or wireline or having consumption on demand, having full management of their capabilities, it means end-to-end service quality and built in security, right?

So today, you know, we made a tremendous amount of progress on this. Besides the 5G network we have launched our private 5G with Nokia in Europe so we look to partner with you more and more. We have launched eight cities with mobile-edge compute, more will follow. We are working on both public MEC and private MEC options. We really believe that the currencies of 5Gs which are things like security, reliability, sensor densification, higher speed, larger bandwidth, high mobility, low power utilization, these are all the things that enables our customers to really take their journey of digitalization within the fourth industrial revolution.

You know, I would also say that this pandemic has changed the way our customers show up and we have seen really five years worth of transformation in five months, literally.

I mean, these are discussions we were having last year where the customers, now they're saying hey, I want digital, I want it now, I want the speed and I want applications which are fully automated, right? Because they're employees just like you and I Marianne, are working from home and it's a different ballgame altogether. So on top of that we are building solutions on MEC, you know, using things like AR, VR, computer vision, AGV management which is automated guided vehicle, robotics management to really automate the factories and helping our enterprise customers really re-innovate and reinvent themselves so that's in a nutshell what we think this whole network as a service is all about.

- So, you know, you've talked about some of the things that you're bringing to your customers, what industries do you see these enterprise customers that could, I'd say, get on to it sooner rather than later? What are you experiencing with industries?

- There's a definitely quite a bit of potential in multiple industries, we are seeing a significant amount of potential in manufacturing, for example, retail, healthcare, media, entertainment, distribution and logistics. We are pursuing solutions across multiple industries where we make a real impact to the business outcomes our customers wanna drive so that's one.

Second, we are also pursuing platforms or horizontal capabilities that are designed to leverage different solutions and use cases. You know, I started out earlier this year with almost 70 to 80 use cases across these industries and as I said earlier, you know, those four capabilities I highlighted AGV, CV, ARML and AR, VR, they are at the core of our solutions. So tremendous amount of opportunity but we are also seeing some different trends in the industry and I'll talk a little bit more about those trends and we are using those trends to determine which areas we need to push more, where we need to create more automation, and how we build a platform that we can go to market with which enables us and our customers to automate using all the tools that are available to them in the public landscape, right?

So they wanna use any CSP they can, they can do anything they want to do, we bring things like 5G network slicing and other things that really gives them an opportunity to play in any industry at the end of the day they wanna build their solutions for.

- So what are these trends? Tell me a little bit about the trends that you're seeing.

- Yeah, I mean, look, there's a lot of stuff going on but there's three to four things which are key to what and how we think about building products Using these trends One is secured network as a service. You know, Gartner introduced the concept of secure as a service, SaaS, several months ago and now it's a big buzzword but, you know, we are already doing that. We provide networking, we provide security, we have automation through our software defined networking, now we're bringing it all together in the form of our secure networks as a service. We think by 2024, 40 to 50% of our customers will adopt that, right? This is a phenomenon that's happening so we gotta get on that bandwagon soon.

The second one is migration to Cloud. You know, I was listening to arpkeynote and one fact he mentioned that, you know, really had me thinking is saying they grew their business, you know, almost six to seven fold over the last two years, right? So they started with like two, three billion of revenue, now they're like 30 billion plus on just AWS but he's saying that so far only 4% of the workloads have gone to Cloud. So there's 96% of the opportunity that is yet to be capitalized on, huge opportunity, this will happen. Customers will use multi-cloud, they will use hybrid-cloud, they want to get access to more and more tools that are available.

So 80 to 90% of the customers will show better adoption over the next three to five years so that's another thing.

Second one is device proliferation, right? So we will have 1.6 trillion connected devices, trillion by 2024, that's a whole bunch of devices. Every device has an IP address that's connected to the network, guess what, it's pushing data and requires security, huge amount of impact on how services are built and how customers use these devices to reinvent themselves.

The third one is artificial intelligence machine learning. I mean, it's not something new, it's been around for a couple of years but now because of the fact that we have too much data that's being used, we've got higher bandwidth solutions such as 5G and other things out there and they are all running at the edge, it's even more important to have those solutions to really drive business intelligence on a real time basis.

So those are some of the trends which we are using and our customers are using to digitize their businesses. You know, basically, at the end of the day it's about harnessing the power of the Cloud security connectivity to build something solutions that our customers can use to manage their own businesses in a predictable fashion and it's all driven by data so we see a ton of opportunity. We also see examples like customers connecting from any-to-any with the push of a button because we have all these tools that are available to us. We see, you know, us enabling 5G platform to help our customers innovate using these trends, we see us creating a web scale, literally a web scale, scale within the network business using things like orchestration, self-healing networks, you know, service federation, these are the things we just talked about, right?

This is the software and the network technologies with all the trends I just mentioned, are meeting each other and the outcome for customers would be they will have self-healing networks, this was a concept a couple years ago and still it's over here. And then finally, using the power of network slicing to really power applications that gives the customers that SLAs they could really only dream of, right? Those SLAs with all kinds of new stuff, innovation that's gonna happen will be paramount to to customers and we'll have network slicing enabled also on our 5G network hopefully sooner than later and then once we have that, that gives them the power to really innovate for them.

- So I think it's interesting that you mentioned some of the trends because I do know, especially here in the US, it's top of mind with many of our policymakers about security and in today's environment we have more and more people that are connected with multiple devices, right? I mean, it's just amazing and we even have one of our own experts here as a speaker talking about, you know, how many devices that people are connected to and it's not just one, it's just not two, it is many, so security is top of mind. But I also think this pandemic has really kind of fast forward a lot faster into where businesses are moving towards. So are you seeing that also elevating and escalating the sense of urgency of going to market quicker, faster with a lot of these technologies that Verizon is bringing to market today?

- Absolutely. I mean, remember I said we have seen five years worth of transformation happened in five months and our customers are much more eager to work with us and they're actually pushing the limits on certain things so we have to step up to the plate and make sure the solutions are available. You know, the customers and the companies that we serve are now much more interested in finding new ways of growing their revenue because their business models have changed. They are looking to improve their end customer experience because their customers are connecting with them online. At the end of the day, you know, everybody's under intense cost pressure because of the economy and whatnot so they want that productivity.

You know, I give you a couple of examples. In retail, businesses are looking to reduce customer wait times and checkout lines by deploying cashier less technologies. They wanna automate their inventory replenishment and they want to make sure that, you know, we use technologies like planogram and stay compliant and provide AR, VR type experiences to our customer. Every customer has some sort of a device, smart device, now this one here has a LiDAR sensor, it's got enough compute power in here for us to be able to put real time AR, VR to our customers use and they wanna use that to be able to drive application so that's one.

In manufacturing and logistics, businesses are really looking to streamline the line their operations. We are using our computer vision platform coupled with 5G infrastructure to be able to detect faults on a real-time basis and correct them which wasn't possible before with Wi-Fi network because of latency and security issues. Now we can collect data from thousands of sensors, run it through an AI/ML engine right at the edge using our mobile edge compute platform, detect the next and predict the next fall that's gonna happen and, you know, take corrective actions all in a real-time basis. Some of our partners are actually using that capability to enhance their manufacturing processes and reduce their costs.

We are also looking at logistics and distribution, you know, businesses are looking to automate the whole process from anywhere from the factory floor, to transit and logistics, to shipping containers, to pallets, to packaging, keeping track of that inventory on a real-time basis and just syncing up your ERP systems at the same time, all that is now possible with the type of technologies that that we are deploying. I mean, at the end of the day these use cases and priorities they do vary by verticals.

- What do you think the major barrier that some of these companies in the enterprise segment are still facing? You know, you've got this great solution, it's cutting costs, it's delivering, you know, more expeditiously, what do you think some of the barriers are that they are experiencing to the adoption of 5G?

- Yeah, I mean, look, some of this ecosystem is brand new, right? So while the opportunity is huge, each customer has their own life cycle depending on where they are in their life cycle, are they ready for adoption? That's barrier number one. Two, you know, how much investment they've made in their current infrastructure, right? So if you happen to be a company that just spend billions of dollars deploying Wi-Fi APs everywhere, it's gonna be hard for you to go replace it unless you see a real business reason to do that. So we are now working with our customers to make sure that they understand the value proposition we bring to them, and how much benefit they get by using our technology.

To give you an example, one of the real life situation and I think that we have announced this publicly, we have a large phone distributor that distributes phones for us and other providers like us, they have eight warehouses throughout the country and every warehouse is about 100, 150,000 square feet, they have two or three assembly lines and they are putting hundreds of thousands of phones on a daily basis on different cards, they get transferred into trucks and they go out to their customer sites.

Well, phones come in different shapes and forms, they are from different vendors, they are iOS or Android, the people at the assembly line, they're actually picking up, opening those boxes, scanning whatever is on the phone, turning it on, putting it in an ERP system and doing all this stuff manually. And so we deployed our computer vision platform with 5G, it looks at the boxes and based on the trends and based on self-learning, the algorithms are smart enough to figure out what box contains what type of form, what model, it's tied into the ERP system, automatically everything gets published so that's one.

Second, we know who's supposed to test these boxes and who's not supposed to test these boxes, right? These guys haven't deployed an AGV, automated guided vehicle or robot yet, that's the next step so now that we have already input all the data into the ARP system, a robot will take that, put that on a pellet and move the pellet into a truck, the human element is out, it's all fully automated.

To be able to do that, you need to make sure you have productivity, accuracy, security, reliability, you have all those elements in 5G and mobile edge compute platform.

So, you know, for a customer to learn this journey, they have to go on this journey with us, right? So our goal is to actually try to build lots of solutions which we can demonstrate to the customer so that they can help determine where they are in the adoption cycle and whether they are ready to move forward with that journey so so that's one. And and the last one I would say is, it's a pretty nascent market still developing, right? And customers have choices, there's a lot of noise out there, there are multiple solutions and they have to work with us in this journey to try to understand, you know, are they ready to move forward with this or not? We think there's a huge opportunity, I've got multiple trials underway with our customers, we have tremendous amount of interest so we are hoping for the best.

- It's interesting, you know, where you are moving businesses forward into, you know, where they're more cost effective, they're more productive, they're just streamlining processes and also the amount of error, right? What have been some of the lesson learns that you've experienced with these customers as you are taking them through this journey?

- Yeah, I mean, look, there are many lessons that we have learned. One is, you know, we need to take a crawl, walk, run approach, right? Second, we need to drive outcomes on behalf of the customer so taking the time upfront and understanding, you know, whether the customers are ready, where they are in their journey, are they ready for the pilot? So the proof of concept. What ROI they can drive from what they need from this technology? Those are all important things, you know, we think about.

Second, our approach has also changed. You know, we used to go sell, here there are so many things on the toolbox, what do you want? That approach has changed now to a consultative engagement, right? I mean, this is a new era for everyone and enterprises where they're looking for guidance on what they need from us, they understand their problem better than we do, we need to take the time to understand what it is, then we gotta go from pilots, proof of concepts, we also have multiple labs where we can bring to the customer, you know, bring the customers in and demonstrate to them the power of innovation that could be driven and built on top of this platform. You know, we've got like labs in, you know, five or six cities in the US, London, Germany and depending on where the customers are, we are able to show them very quickly how they can help drive this ROI so those are some of the lessons that we have learned. Second is, you know, this is an industry where we have to partner with the right players and make sure that we use partners like Nokia, to not only drive innovation, but distribution, marketing, sales, operations so that's important to us as much as just building everything ourselves.

- Amir, partnerships are key to address new business opportunities and to create value and you have mentioned that Verizon works with many partners to bring these ideas into actual solutions. So what is Verizon seeing working with these partners as the ecosystems change over time?

- Yeah, look, as you said partnership is key to our success because this world is so big and so large and the technology so complex that we know we can't do everything ourselves. And our value proposition, as I said earlier, is all around network, we are a network company, we focus on network, we are building a platform, we want others to help innovate on top of that platform. Having said that, you know, we need to be willing to facilitate value for both our customers and our partners so that's number one thing that we always look for.

We need to make sure we are, you know, creative and monetizing ways for our customers to get much more effective in their business but also for us and our partners to equally benefit from this partnership. Third, and I'm a big proponent of that, we have to stop treating our partners as vendors. Partner means, you know, there's equal opportunity for both parties. Third, I'm not naive because I think there's going to be competition in this space and you need to be able to work with your partners to figure out how you compete while you partner to address your customers issues so those are the three or four things which I think are key to success for any partnership.

Now, when I think about what we offer, we offer connectivity, you offer platforms, we offer solutions and applications. Connectivity, we feel very good about, platform we feel really good about because we've got a great platform that we are building and we have built. I think applications and solutions, we are very, very open to partnering with lots of players who share the same values with us so as long as we have those values in common, I see nothing but upside for us.

- Well, I know that with you as a partner we're ready to move forward and bring some great opportunities to the enterprise business around the world and I wanna thank you today for you spending time and educating us and I can tell you, I'm sure that viewers when they see this video will be calling you up asking you for more too because of all of the use cases that you're doing and just a lot of the the proof of concepts that are being put in place. So, Amir, thank you so much for joining us and I would say to any viewer if they want to learn more about Verizon, go to and there's a lot of information there available at the fingertips. So again, thank you and have a wonderful afternoon.

- Thank you, Marianne, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with your team and really looking forward to working in partnership with Nokia in a longer time.

- Thank you, sir.

- Thank you, take care.