Spring 2019

Editor's Note

Digital transformation is set to take another big leap forward in the form of next-generation wireless networking: 5G. 5G networks, with their dramatic advances in transmission speed, latency, capacity, energy efficiency and connection densities, promise to bring about a smarter and more connected world that will drive massive changes across the global economy.

While 5G deployment and the realization of disruptive new use cases will surely be a long journey, the odyssey has now begun in earnest as major carriers around the world begin to implement their first networks. 

A new study by the BPI Network, released this month, underscores the expected rapid advance of 5G deployments and how profoundly it will impact digital transformation. The study, including a survey of some 145 business and technology leaders at communications service providers globally, was conducted in partnership with A10 Networks. A10 is a leading security technology provider to telecommunications service providers around the world.

You can download a copy of the study report entitled “Securing the Future of a Smart World,” here.

Here are few key findings from the study:

  • Some 67 percent of mobile carrier survey respondents expect to launch 5G networks within 18 months and another 20 percent within two years.
  • Two-thirds see increased revenue as a top benefit of 5G, as a wide range of new uses cases, many IoT-related, come on stream.
  • Improved security is seen as fundamental to the success of 5G— Some 94 percent believe dramatic growth in traffic, connected devices and mission-critical use cases will significantly increase security and reliability concerns.

That security is a top concern should not be a surprise to anyone. The rapid proliferation of IoT devices begotten by 5G, dramatic increases in traffic and new highly mission-critical use cases like autonomous vehicles and smart cities, will make security and reliability both more challenging and more essential.

Increased digital transformation and industry disruption are expected to be a major consequence of 5G. In this issue of Brainwaves, Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, points to smart cities as one of the leading areas of transformation. Our survey respondents agree, pointing to smart cities as the number one driver of 5G, followed by industrial automation and a host of other use cases. 

“The opportunities of 5G will create disruptions and new types of companies that we cannot even fathom today,” Pearson says.

In another article in this issue, Dario Debarbieri, CEO of Enterprise Outsourcing in the Asia Pacific, speaks eloquently about the challenges enterprises face today in tapping into digital transformation. Transformation is being able to understand, manage and direct a confluence of new technology breakthroughs to meet customer and market needs, he says.

Digitally native start-ups often have an advantage in quickly adapting to new technologies, he notes. “In the past, large enterprises with significant capital in terms of human intelligence were the leading force for change and innovation,” he says. “Today, start-up companies are leveraging new technologies to innovate quickly. Global enterprises are innovating based on what they see in smaller companies and cannot keep up to speed with it.”

The coming of 5G networks will only accelerate the challenge.

Feature Article

Dario Debarbieri

CEO, Asia-Pacific

Enterprise Outsourcing is a leading global technology and business management organization headquartered in South Africa and operating in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific. Established in 2000, the company has successfully positioned itself as a leader in cloud, data, security, digital transformation and advanced IT solutions by focusing on customizing technology to meet clients’ specific business needs. Enterprise equips clients with competitive and cutting-edge IT capabilities by aligning IT solutions with overall business strategy.

Dario Debarbieri, newly appointed CEO for Asia-Pacific, brings over 20 years of experience to the role. He says no matter what organization he’s served or when, investing in delivering superior customer experience, best technologies and developing skills will always be the key to success.

“The way organizations do business is constantly evolving,” he says. “With the Internet explosion in the late 90s, we saw a rapid and drastic shift and a new era for businesses. That shift didn’t just change the way we communicated, but also shifted the focus from local to global and opened the doors to an entirely new era of commerce.”

“Ironically, the Internet and all related technologies – including social media – also created an explosion of information that helped create an immense opportunity, while at the same time created a much more complex environment, at least for now,” he says. “We went from managing businesses annually to managing in months, days, hours and now in real time.”

Today, he says the landscape has drastically changed and technologies have evolved rapidly to a point where in a few years we will see the biggest technology event yet.

“We are looking at what will be ‘The Digital Convergence’ of technology,” he says. “That will happen when cloud, artificial intelligence/data, blockchain, IoT, 3D printing and quantum computing reach their full potential, and standards are created across these technologies to allow the biggest technological transformation the world has ever seen.”

That convergence will set us up to reach a new frontiers, conquer more knowledge, speed, accuracy, prediction and expand our footprint globally much faster and even beyond what we can currently comprehend.

“Beyond sounds far, but it’s not,” he says. “For example, soon – and powered by “The Digital Convergence” – mining and other activities will begin on other planets (seriously, it will) and intelligent machines will print houses, mines, vehicles and tools for a new generation of working humans and machines that will bring resources from remote planets.”

But how?

On the above example, imagine how AI will power the intelligence behind the 3D printers to make hyper efficient vehicle housing construction and mining, IOT will help find the most viable locations and help modify in real time potential improvements accessing data available at speeds we have not seen yet all securely stored in powerful clouds from far but efficient locations and while every instrument will be measured for performance and fixed if needed in real time, rare and rich minerals will be transacted in real time through super powerful blockchains, All happening seamlessly through powerful networks. That is when many movies finally become a reality partly thanks to what Dario calls, “The Digital Convergence” of technology and the mastering of it.

Incredibly “All of these new technologies grew in parallel (even the skills), but at this point they are starting to become one,” he says. “I don’t mean that in the sense of how the technologies themselves work, but in the way they will soon interact.”

Due to the vast amount of information out there, the constant challenge all enterprises face is data. “In an ocean of information, if you want to anticipate needs and demand, you need to understand what your clients are thinking,” he says.

To navigate the oceans of information and technological complexity we need super computing power, intelligence, security and access to everything, everywhere. Debarbieri believes that we are finally reaching that point where all these technologies will make the impossible become possible.

But to do this, innovation can no longer happen in pockets. To truly transform, organizations need to be able to leverage these technologies as one.

“Innovation is happening faster than companies and people can assimilate it,” he explains. “That creates significant challenges due to a lack of skills and the lack of a long-term strategy. Companies are only thinking about evolving to solve short-term needs, rather than thinking forward in where this evolution will take us.”

Leadership must play a critical role not just in driving an idea of digital transformation and IT modernization, but to actually put it on the agenda as something that will truly change the way a company works. “Thinking in terms of this ‘Digital Convergence’ will work only if leadership is thinking further ahead,” he says.

Overall, true digital transformation is still at the very early stages for most organizations. 

“Organizations are facing the functional challenge of how technologies should be implemented and the operational challenge of how to put things together to satisfy client needs,” he says. “And of course, this all needs to be put into the lens of the most important objective for any company, which is how to leverage technologies to satisfy our clients and ultimately make more money.”

To make the right decisions, he says the first step is to establish cross-functional alignment across the organization and to implement a cohesive view of technology based on the needs of the customer. “Considering how technology should help achieve a customer-first objective through very clear KPI’s is key,” he says. “Technology is meaningless if it has no purpose.”

Successful, large-scale innovation requires a lot of knowledge and investment. But if organizations do not take the time to invest in that future, they won’t be around for long. “It’s not a coincidence that ranking of the top 50 companies 10 years ago is so different than what it is now across every industry,” he says.

“Today, organizations, must think: ‘How do we approach technology in a contextual way as they all converge into that incredible future where everything will be possible, and which is the right technology partner to begin that journey with…” he says. “Only those who see the future can and will use the right tools today.”


Chris Pearson

President, 5G Americas

5G Americas is an industry trade organization composed of leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. The organization's mission is to advocate for and foster the advancement and capabilities of LTE wireless technologies and their evolution to 5G, throughout the ecosystem’s networks, services, applications and connected devices in the Americas. 5G Americas is invested in developing a connected wireless community while leading 5G development for all the Americas. As the President of 5G Americas, Chris Pearson is responsible for the overall planning of the organization and providing management for the integration of strategy and operations in the areas of technology, marketing, public relations and regulatory affairs. 

5G Americas works to move the industry forward in three key areas: technical recommendations and facilitation, regulatory policy recommendations and industry education. “Leading the organization since 2001, what I most notice today is that mobile connectivity as it relates to serving society is becoming increasingly critical,” he says. “It’s also becoming more pervasive in our lives. Through the invention of the smartphone and the evolution from 3G and 4G, we saw incredible societal and economic benefits. Those will increase substantially as we move to 5G.”

The United States is one of the early leaders in terms of the rollout of 5G, with each of the major national carriers moving forward with solid plans to implement the technology. “Looking across the four national carriers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, each one of them has significant plans to roll out 5G,” he says. “Each has a different initial deployment plan depending on the market they are going after and what their spectrum holdings are, but regardless, each are rolling out 5G across the various spectrum bands in a big way.”

In the meantime, in Latin America, those rollouts will happen a bit later, because there is still a long runway of LTE Advanced – the mobile broadband foundation for 5G – as it relates to innovation and deployment. 

The capabilities of the technology and the possible applications and services it will enable are pushing 5G deployment forward. “As we evolved from 2G to 3G, and then from 3G to 4G, we developed new standards for the technology to do things faster and better,” he says. “When you look at how 5G is being developed as far as the standard, it is addressing three families of use cases. One is enhanced mobile broadband, the second is ultra-reliable and low-latency communications and the third is massive machine-to-machine communications.”

He says developing the standard that will address those use cases requires ensuring that the capabilities in the technology are there so that the innovation cycle can begin. That cycle will create new companies that didn’t exist before, but that come to life to utilize the capabilities these technologies present.

One of the key benefits of 5G will be operational efficiencies, indeed – the 5G network architectures and capabilities has the ability to be anywhere from 25 to 50 percent more efficient. Another will be allowing operators to access new spectrum never before used by the cellular industry called millimeter wave spectrum.

“Millimeter wave spectrum provides the wireless industry the opportunity to utilize vast amounts of spectrum – hundreds and hundreds of megahertz – that are being made available by governments all around the world,” he says. “While it allows for a wide swath of spectrum to be available, millimeter waves don’t propagate very far, which means the industry will need to deploy lots of small cell sites.”

Another key benefit promised with the evolution towards 5G is the creation of new standards which allow operators to come up with new solutions, such as network slicing. “Network slicing is really interesting because it allows operators to compartmentalize and utilize their network for specific uses such as IoT, Vehicle to Everything (V2X), mobile broadband, manufacturing, video streaming and fixed home broadband services.” he says. “This allows operators to be much more efficient with their resources, thereby creating opportunities to provide more robust applications and services for their customers.”

Still, he says we are at the very beginning stages of 5G. “It will be a very long race to get everything deployed, but we see a ton of opportunity in front of us,” he says. “This includes enhanced mobile broadband for both home and business use and it includes expanding IoT to hundreds of millions to billions of devices and sensors that can be put into the network and be efficiently supported because of the new network architecture of 5G.”

Many vertical markets will be impacted by 5G, including manufacturing, healthcare, media and entertainment, financial services, automotive, public transportations and utilities. “These vertical markets will be able to address robust categories through faster, more efficient, highly-customized capabilities,” he says. “This will be done through network slicing, lower-latency and using millions of IoT sensors and devices in a wireless network.”

When it comes to the mobile cellular industry, security has been a high priority from the very beginning. At each phase of cellular generational development, security has been improved, and now with 5G, it is at the top of the list in the development of new 5G standards. At the same time, on top of what is being developed at 3GPP standards, individual companies are implementing their own security measures through their own proprietary solutions. 

“5G is the first mobile architecture that is designed to support multiple specific use cases, and each of those has their own unique cyber security requirements,” he says. “You’re going to be connecting more devices than ever before, you’ll have more capabilities than ever before, and the network architecture is going to bring in new processing power and new capabilities through network slicing, mobile edge computing and cloud computing. To mitigate that security risk, you’re going to need to find both standard and proprietary methods.”

Indeed, operators are already addressing some of these concerns with their 4G deployments. “Because security is always at the forefront, organizations are already working with their security or vendor experts on their proprietary solutions, and all of them have implemented security solutions that were built for 4G LTE through 3GPP,” he says. “To create the standard for 5G, most all the operators and key vendors are involved in providing contributions for the network architecture. That network architecture includes specific security enablement and evolves security to robust solutions.”

He sees incredible disruption when it comes to the evolution of the smart city, and points to this as one of the greatest opportunities enabled by 5G. “4G has already opened the door for smart cities, but 5G will progress this much further when it comes to the capabilities of running a city efficiently and helping citizens address societal issues,” he says.

Another key area of opportunity is in automotive, not just from autonomous cars or entertainment, but also in terms of how vehicles can be connected to all aspects of the vehicle experience, whether it be for traffic and congestion or preventing against accidents.

Lastly, he points to the manufacturing industry, which has historically seen limitations as far as how connected they can be due to what is available today in the marketplace. “The ability to discard cables and get high-speed capabilities with low latency will provide opportunities not just in connecting the factory, but in implementing overall solutions beyond the factory into the entire manufacturing and logistics networks,” he says.

Overall, he says it is an exciting time for the mobile industry. “The opportunities of 5G will create disruptions and new types of companies that we cannot even fathom today,” he says. “We’re just breaking the surface of possibilities.”

Contributed Article

To Keep Your Business Relevant, Look to the Fringes

By Allen Adamson

As marketers, we know that among the most significant reasons for an organization’s success or failure is its ability to stay relevant. To continue to matter to consumers and provide them an offering that is different in a way they find valuable year after year. In today’s environment, staying ahead of marketplace changes may seem an impossible task with change taking place at such unprecedented speed. How is it possible to continually evolve at a pace that keeps you ahead of the curve? In my book, Shift Ahead, I explore why some organizations can continually evolve to meet the times, and why others struggle to keep up. Among the key factors that separate the winners from the laggards are the ability to see what’s in the road ahead and the wherewithal to react quickly and effectively to whatever this is before it’s too late (wherewithal running the gamut from money to company culture). Obviously, seeing and then reacting – or seeing and seizing, as I call it - is easiest when the implications for your business are, well, obvious.

But, what happens when changes in the road ahead are not immediately obvious and, ergo, the implications for your business not immediately apparent? This takes another organizational skillset; the ability to pick up on and make inferences from the activities and behaviors that are happening on the fringes. Companies that pay attention to the small changes happening all around them with the realization that small changes often converge and lead to big changes are those most likely to be successful in being able to shift ahead to stay relevant. Wait for the big changes to make themselves known and you’ll likely miss the boat.

What’s a good example of small things happening on the fringes that are converging to create a major categorical disruption? How about the transportation and automotive industries? The ways and means we get ourselves from Point A to Point B. None of the changes I’ll cite seemed (or seem) immediately dramatic, by themselves, but taken together they are converging and gaining in significance for multiple collateral businesses and current business models. Among the most (for now) obvious; Uber. Someone was looking at the behavior on the fringes and noticed that young people (read, millennials) don’t want to tie up money for car payments. They want to use their money for experiences. They want to live in urban areas and not have to worry about garages or parking tickets, not to mention insurance. They don’t mind sharing rides with strangers. And, they live on their smartphones. Uber has not only disrupted the taxi industry, but the restaurant and food delivery business, as well, with Uber Eats. Noting, again on the fringes, that it’s not even cars people require to make short jaunts across town, Uber is now investing in fleets of ride-share electric scooters.

Another example in this realm? Self-driving cars, which based on increasingly louder signals from the fringes have the potential to transform our lives in more ways than one. First, road safety. According to a study by the Eno Centre for Transportation, if 90% of the cars on American roads were autonomous, the number of accidents would fall from 6 million a year to 1.3 million. And, because self-driving cars are built to optimize efficiency in acceleration and braking, they would help improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. While companies from Chevrolet to Ford to Google are jumping into the autonomous driving game, it will definitely take a few more years for the industry - and consumers - to catch up. The convergence of small changes in this category into a very big disruption is not a matter of if, but when. This is equally if not more true of electric cars. With so many smart minds working the challenges, eventually the prices will drop and charging stations will become more ubiquitous. Electric cars have fewer moving parts than those with a combustion engine. Electric cars will most likely last longer, and break down less. And, they can be driven more miles without maintenance.

It’s true that adoption rates of new modes of automotive transportation are a function of three factors: technology, regulation, and behavioral impact. Technology will only continue to go faster, and regulation will continue to act as a speed bump. But given the potential benefits for both businesses and consumers, companies are working through these issues given the increasing noise from the fringes relative to these benefits. In sum, the automotive industry – the personal transportation industry - of the future will be electrified, autonomous, shared, and connected. This has significant implications for many collateral industries, from insurance to technology to myriad others in between.

Based on my experience studying organizations that have, or haven’t shifted ahead successfully, what secrets did I glean relative to their efforts? Again, to state the obvious, if you can see that the small changes in your industry have already converged into a big bang, it’s probably too late to catch up. It’s better to explore several potential opportunities, make a few false moves, than miss a major disruptive one. Said another way, if you go up to the bell, ring the bell. Also, don’t make “tomorrow” an agenda item. Review and assess fringe activities and behavior on an ongoing basis. The best organizations know success is never final. They move fast and are not afraid to break things in the process. Most important, they also know that success starts and ends with the customer. In other words, don’t focus on what your competition is doing. Look at what your customers are doing.

To be successful in shifting your business ahead, it’s critical to pay attention to the little, seemingly insignificant changes that could converge to have amazingly disruptive significance. Companies that see the small changes and begin to think about and plan for the implications have a greater chance of becoming – or staying - leaders in their category.

About the Author:

Allen Adamson is a noted industry expert in all disciplines of branding. He has worked with a broad spectrum of consumer and corporate businesses in industries ranging from packaged goods and technology, to health care and financial services, to hospitality and entertainment. With his perspective and depth of experience, Allen has helped his clients understand and activate strategies that enable them to shift ahead of the market and the competition, generating long-term value and increased brand equity. Allen and his teams help clients identify what truly matters to the audiences they serve - what is relevant to their audiences - and to brilliantly deliver on it.

How organizations do – or do not - stay relevant is the subject of Allen’s most recent book, Shift Ahead. Using fascinating first-hand accounts and detailed case studies, Shift Ahead explains how the best organizations recognize when it’s time to change direction, and how they pull it off while bolstering their brands. Following the approach of Allen’s previous books, BrandSimple, BrandDigital, and The Edge:50 Tips from Brands That Lead – which are used in universities across the country - Shift Ahead offers up practical and readily applied lessons learned.

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