(Graphic from “The Future Of Telecoms: From Endangered Species To Digital Service Providers“)

Many business leaders outside the telecoms sector think that network infrastructure is just a dull commodity that happens to be there. This is a risky attitude because network infrastructure plays a significant role in the digital economy; network infrastructure even enables social and economic transformation in entire countries.

Customers, both consumers and business users, increasingly expect products and services that interact with them continuously and get updated regularly. Smart posters, predictive maintenance, industrial automation, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality, and smart homes — they all depend on network infrastructure, and yet, while connectivity itself is hardly innovative, it can act as an innovation catalyst:

  • Connectivity can change the value proposition of products and services. The perceived value is shifting from products to delivered services and experiences. Connectivity is an enabler for interactive and agile services and changing product features.
  • Emerging technologies play a central role for network-based innovation. The main emerging connectivity-related technologies include software-defined networking, network function virtualization, edge computing, network slicing, and 5G.
  • Connectivity is at the center of subscription-based business models. Subscription-based business models are growing in importance. Real-time billing and self-serve feature selection and deployment capabilities depend on connectivity to central servers.

The report “Connected Solutions Are A Catalyst For Tech-Driven Innovation” highlights how technology-driven innovation by telcos and network equipment vendors can help CIOs from outside the telecoms sector with their innovation initiatives.

For additional information on the dynamics of 5G, please register for a series of Forrester webinars on the issues defining the emergence of 5G.

If you want to go deeper on this topic, come join my colleague, James Staten, at the Pacific Telecom Conference in Hawaii this January.