Technology Enabling Digital Transformation in the Telecom Industry
Technology Enabling Digital Transformation in the Telecom Industry

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The telecommunications industry has long been an enabler of Digital Transformation (DX) in other industries. Now it is time for the industry to transform in order to survive a challenging market, newer devices and networking capabilities, and evolving customer requirements. While the telecom industry market dynamics can be very local, we will see a widespread technology disruption in the industry as the world becomes globally connected.

 

Drivers of Transformation in the Telecom Industry

Remaining Competitive

Nokia Bell Labs expects global telecom operators to fall from 10 to 5 and local operators to fall from 800 to 100, between 2020 and 2025. Simultaneously, there are new players entering the market, many leveraging newer technologies and unconventional business models to gain a share of the pie. While previous DX initiatives happened mostly at the periphery (acquiring new companies, establishing disruptive business units), operators are now focusing on transforming the core – cost reduction, improving CX, capturing new opportunities, and creating new partner ecosystems – in order to remain competitive. There is a steady disaggregation in the retail space, driving consolidation in traditional network business models.

“The telecom industry is looking at gradual decline from traditional services and there has been a concerted effort in reducing costs and introducing new digital services,” says Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Shamir Amanullah. “Much of the telecom industry is unfortunately still associated with the “dumb pipe” tag as the over-the-top (OTT) players continue to rake in revenues and generate higher margins, using the telecom infrastructure to provide innovative services.”

 

Bringing Newer Products to Market

Industries and governments have shifted focus to areas such as smart energy, Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, smart buildings, and remote healthcare, to name a few. In the coming days, most initial commercial deployments will centre around network speed and latency. Technologies like GPON, 5G, Wifi 6, WiGig, Edge computing, and software-defined networking are bringing new capabilities and altering costs.

The Ecosystm’s telecommunications and mobility predictions for 2020, discusses how 5G transforms the industry in multiple ways. For example, it will give enterprises the opportunity to incorporate fixed network capabilities natively to their mobility solutions, meaning less customisation of enterprise networking. Talking about the opportunity 5G gives to telecommunications service providers, Amanullah says, “With theoretical speeds of 20 times of 4G, low latency of 1 millisecond and a million connections per square kilometre, the era of mobile Internet of Everything (IoE) is expected to transform industries including Manufacturing, Healthcare and Transportation. Telecom operators can accelerate and realise their DX as focus shifts to solutions for not just consumers but for enterprises and governments.”

 

Changing Customer Profile

Amanullah adds, “Telecom operators can no longer offer “basic” services – they must become customer-obsessed and customer experience (CX) must be at the forefront of their DX goals.” But the real challenge is that their traditional customer base has steadily diverged. On the one hand, their existent retail customers expect better CX – at par with other service providers such as the banking sector. Building a modern customer-centric capability is not simple and involves a substantial operational and technological shift.

On the other hand, as they bring newer products to market and change their business models, they are being forced to shift focus away from horizontal technologies and connecting people – to industry solutions and connecting machines. As their business becomes more solution-based, they are being forced to address their offerings at new buying centres, beyond IT infrastructure and Facilities. Their new customer base within organisations wants to talk about a variety of managed services such as VoIP, IoT, Edge computing, AI and automation.

The global Ecosystm AI study reveals the top priorities for telecommunications service providers, focused on adopting emerging technologies (Figure 1). It is very clear that the top priorities are driving customer loyalty (through better coverage, smart billing and competitive pricing) and process optimisation (including asset maintenance).

 

 

Technology as an Enabler of Telecom Transformation

Several emerging technologies are being used internally by telecommunications service providers as they look towards DX to remain competitive. They are transforming both asset and customer management in the telecom industry.

 

IoT & AI

Telecom infrastructure includes expensive equipment, towers and data centres, and providers are embedding IoT devices to monitor and maintain the equipment while ensuring minimal downtime. The generators, meters, towers are being fitted with IoT sensors for remote asset management and predictive maintenance, which has cost as well as customer service benefits. AI is also unlocking advanced network traffic optimisation capabilities to extend network coverage intelligently, and dynamically distribute frequencies across users to improve network experience.

Chatbots and virtual assistants are used by operators to improve customer service and assist customers with equipment set-up, troubleshooting and maintenance. These AI investments see tremendous improvement in customer satisfaction. This also has an impact on employee experience (EX) as these automation tools free workforce from repetitive tasks and they are deployed to more advanced tasks.

Telecommunications service providers have access to large volumes of customer data that can help them predict customer usage patterns. This helps them in price optimisation and last-minute deals, giving them a competitive edge. More data is being collected and used as several operators provide location-based services and offerings.

In the end, the IoT data and the AI/Analytics solutions are enabling telecommunications service providers to improve products and solutions and offer their customers the innovation that they want.  For instance, Vodafone partnered with BMW to incorporate an in-built SIM that enables the vehicle tracking and provides theft protection. In case of emergencies, alerts can be sent to emergency services and contacts. AT&T designed a fraud detection application to look for patterns and detect suspected fraud, spam and robocalls. The system looks for multiple short-duration calls from a single source to numbers on the Do Not Call registry. This enables them to block calls and prevent scammers, telemarketers and identity theft issues.

 

Cybersecurity

Talking about the significance of increasing investments in cybersecurity solutions by telecommunications service providers, Amanullah says, “Telecom operators have large customer databases and provide a range of services which gives criminals a great incentive to steal identity and payment information, damage websites and cause loss of reputation. They have to ramp up their investment in cybersecurity technology, processes and people. A telecom operator’s compromised security can have country-wide, and even global consequences. As networks become more complex with numerous partnerships, there is a need for strategic planning and implementation of security, with clear accountability defined for each party.”

One major threat to the users is the attack on infrastructure or network equipment, such as routers or DDoS attacks through communication lines. Once the equipment has been compromised, hackers can use it to steal data, launch other attacks anonymously, store exfiltrated data or access expensive services such as international phone calls. To avoid security breaches, telecom companies are enhancing cybersecurity in such devices. However, what has become even more important for the telecom providers is to actually let their consumers know the security features they have in place and incorporate it into their go-to-market messaging. Comcast introduced an advanced router to monitor connected devices, inform security threats and block online threats to provide automatic seamless protection to connected devices.

 

Blockchain

Blockchain can bring tremendous benefits to the telecom industry, according to Amanullah. “It will undeniably increase security, transparency and reduce fraud in areas including billing, roaming services, and simply the process of knowing your customer. With possibilities of 5G, IoT and Edge computing, more and more devices are on the network – and identity and security are critical. Newer business models are expected, including those provided for by 5G network slicing, which involves articulation in the OSS and BSS..”

Blockchain will be increasingly used for supply chain and SLA management. Tencent and China Unicom launched an eSIM card which implements new identity authentication standard. The blockchain-based authentication system will be used in consumer electronics, vehicles, connected devices and smart city applications.

 

Adoption of emerging technologies for DX may well be the key to survival for many telecom operators, over the next few years.

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Digital bank license Singapore
Regional non-banking players vying for Singapore Digital Bank licenses

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The race for digital bank licenses in Singapore is on as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) deadline for applications closed at the end of last year.

The Singapore Government continues to promote fintech initiatives in the banking industry such as the FAST network (giving fintech and non-banking organisations access to the real-time payments network) and Project Ubin (focusing on inter-bank funds transfer using Blockchain). The digital bank licenses continue in the same vein and will offer the same banking services as traditional banks but operate online and without any physical infrastructure.

“The biggest gamechanger of the app-based and shared economy is that it puts the power of decision making and choice in the hands of the consumer. It also removes entry barriers for non-traditional market entrants, but the flipside is it also weakens a number of regulatory barriers that were put in place for safeguarding the consumer,” says Amit Gupta, Ecosystm CEO. “With digital banking at the verge of becoming mainstream, it will help spur the app-based economy with the advent of more complete ecosystems and the added benefit of stronger governance measures and frameworks that will come into play simply because financial regulators in Singapore are driving it.”

Digital banking is not new, and MAS has been encouraging banks to offer digital services since 2000. Taking it a step forward, in June 2019, MAS announced their intentions to issue 5  digital bank licences in Singapore, opening up the banking industry to the non-banking sector.

Following the announcement, in August 2019, MAS invited applications for 2 digital full banks (DFBs) aimed primarily at retail banking, and 3 digital wholesale banks (DWBs) primarily for SMEs and other non-retail segments. While DFB licenses are restricted to Singapore based companies (including foreign joint ventures with a Singapore entity and headquarters), DWB licenses have no such restrictions, opening the market to overseas players.

 

Applicants for the New Digital Bank License

MAS announced on January 7, 2020, that it had received 21 applications (7 for DFB and 14 for DWB licenses). A list of applicants has not been made available, and confirmation of application has typically come from the applicants themselves. The licences will be issued in mid-2020 with the commencement of business expected about a year later.

The race for the digital bank license in Singapore has seen several non-banking contenders. MAS has mentioned that applicants will be selected based on their market reputation, a proven track record, financial strength, innovative business models, and a commitment to develop the skills of the Singaporean workforce. The contenders who have announced their applications cover a wide range – from the Sea Group (whose eCommerce site, Shoppee has a strong presence in Singapore) to the Enigma Group (a financial organisation based in the UK). Here are some organisations that may well be ahead of the race:

Contenders: Digital bank license Singapore
Contenders: Digital Bank License Singapore

“From the nature of consortium of bidders for DFBs and DFWs in Singapore, we can safely anticipate that the financial ecosystems will be aligned very closely with certain consumer demographics that make up the core target segments. As an example, Razer will be in a position to meet the specific needs of the millennial consumer base,” adds Gupta. “In saying that, it will also be important to evaluate how digital banks deal with educating consumers on wealth creation offerings and financial literacy, which is currently being achieved through personal touchpoints by the traditional banks.”

 

Ecosystm Comments

Singapore has emerged as one of the global leaders in fintech due largely to the maturity of the technology infrastructure, the banking sector and data compliance laws, as well as the tech-savviness of its citizens. The buzz created in the market when MAS announced the initiative last year is partly because a successful implementation in Singapore carries weight globally, especially in the relatively untapped Southeast Asian market.

Singapore also collaborates with the countries in the region empowering them with talent development and co-creation of fintech solutions. Initiatives such as the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN) further promote fintech adoption through its open-architecture platform. Several countries in the region will take inspiration from Singapore and evaluate digital banks as a means to better financial inclusion. Thailand’s central bank has already indicated its interest in digital banks, prompted by the Singapore and Hong Kong initiatives.

Talking specifically about the competition in the Singapore financial industry, Gupta says, “Unlike some of the other markets, traditional banks in Singapore will continue to offer competing digital offerings as local banks such as DBS have been very savvy in building their digital offerings over the years. If their digital innovation keeps evolving at the pace they have been setting in recent years, they will present very stiff competitive barriers to the new digital bank entrants, especially given their ability to continue offering personalised service and touchpoints, coupled with compelling digital offerings.”

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Ecosystm Analyses: Differences in Tech Priorities between Product-focused and Customer-focused Industries

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Traditional industry practices tend to divide industries into two distinct buckets – firms that are primarily focused on product design and improvement, and those that define their strategy based on customer services. Over the years, the lines distinguishing these organisations have all but disappeared. To be able to succeed in today’s competitive world, you need to continually improve your product offering – even for organisations in industries such as Manufacturing and Wholesale – and the best way to do so is to keep a firm eye on your customers. Likewise, unless you have a robust product, you will not be able to retain customers. As an example, online reviews are often critical of budget airlines, but the successful ones manage to hold on to their loyal customers doing what they set out to do – by not offering the best airline food service but by continuing to provide affordable airfares to places where their customers want to go.  The Ecosystm CX study finds that even the most product-focused industries today, have improving customer experience (CX) as a key business priority (Figure 1).  The two groups of industries tend to have similar priorities – the only major difference being customer-focused industries invest in more initiatives to promote customer loyalty.

 

In 2016, Caterpillar showed the way forward to industries that have primarily been product-focused. They started investing in technology that is not just focused on solving, but actually predicting customer issues to improve service. Even industries such as Agriculture are increasingly becoming customer-focused, as more citizens become conscious of where and how their food has been produced. Freight Farms is a good example of customer-centricity in the industry – focusing on technology to grow food in environments not considered conducive to farming such as urban localities and places with extreme climates.

 

Investing in the Right Technologies

Looking at the Top 5 CX trends for 2020, we find that technologies such as Cloud and AI, and solutions such as robust knowledge management are true enablers of positive CX. So how do these two groups differ when it comes to investments in these technology areas? Customer-focused industries are slightly more enthusiastic about their Cloud investments, but only marginally (Figure 2). Obviously, they invest more in knowledge management solutions, both for CX as well as improved employee experience (EX). But surprisingly, product-focused industries also tend to invest in knowledge management, for several reasons ranging from product improvement to after-sales support.

 

Where product-focused industries really lead is in their investments in AI/Analytics – which ties in with our observation that automation is the stepping stone for AI investments across industries. The applications of AI/Analytics are very distinct for the two groups (Figure 3). Product-based industries focus on automation and optimisation and have a clear asset focus. However, it is heartening to see some customer-centric solutions such as market segmentation. On the other hand, the top AI/Analytics application for customer-focused industries is billing management, which might significantly improve CX but falls under the purview of Finance & Operations in most organisations.

 

Securing Data and Building Trust

No organisation can ignore the seriousness of data breaches – whether customer data or intellectual property. Public cloud is going to be the true enabler of Digital Transformation (DX), from both cost and agility angles. Security has always been a key concern around public cloud adoption, even though organisations would mostly benefit from the robust and evolving security features of public cloud providers rather than having a go at securing their systems and data in-house and on-premises. The perception on public cloud security has changed over the years (Figure 4), but customer-focused industries appear to be savvier about the shared responsibility SLAs most public cloud providers have in place.

 

Which brings us to another important question – how much sensitive data do these organisations store on public cloud (Figure 5). Probably because they hold more customer data and must follow industry and country compliance laws that mandate how customer data should be stored and accessed, nearly a third of customer-focused organisations store sensitive data on-premises only. While their cloud adoption may be slightly higher than product-based industries, they are also more wary of storing sensitive data on the public cloud.

 

The differences in strategies between customer-focused and product-focused industries might have blurred over the past decade – both groups focusing on customer-centric products. Their technology priorities are still clearly distinct, however. It is important to bear this difference in mind – both for tech buyers who are looking at use cases across all industries when it comes to emerging technology adoption; as well as for tech vendors who now have to engage with stakeholders beyond the IT department.

 


NB: For the purpose of this blog, industries have been classified as follows: Product-focused Industries – Energy & Utilities, Manufacturing-based industries, Resource & Primary industries, Transport & Logistics, Wholesale and Construction; Customer-focused Industries – Banking & Financial industries, Retail & eCommerce, Healthcare, Government, Professional Services, Media & Telecommunications


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Ecosystm Snapshot: Insight Partners acquires Veeam for US$5 Billion

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Insight Partners – an American venture capital and private equity firm based in New York City – has announced that it will acquire Veeam at a valuation of US$5 billion. Last year, Insight Partners invested US$500 Million in Veeam to boost its growth as a data management solutions provider for cloud environments.

The news comes days after Insight Partners confirmed another significant acquisition of Israeli IoT security start-up, Armis at a valuation of US$1.1 billion.

The deal between the venture capital firm and the Switzerland-based cloud data management company is expected to close in the first quarter of this year. With its acquisition by Insight Partners, Veeam’s growth is expected to accelerate into new geographies especially the US market.

Veeam was founded in 2006 and has a portfolio including backup solutions, security offerings and data management solutions for virtual environments and more recently cloud native platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. The company was ranked #27 on the Forbes 2019 Cloud 100 list and has a global customer base of 365,000, including 81% of the Fortune 500 companies. Veeam has partnerships with large enterprise vendors and resellers such as IBM, Dell EMC, Lenovo, HPE, NetApp and Cisco.

The acquisition comes almost a year after the initial U$500 million investment by Insight Partners and Veeam’s announcement of ‘Act II” of its growth strategy – expanding its data management capabilities from virtual environments to the cloud. This move is a logical progression of Veeam’s successful ‘Act I’  as Ullrich Loeffler, Ecosystm Chief Operating Officer mentioned in an earlier blog. However, Loeffler notes, “Executing on ‘Act II’ significantly increases the complexity of Veeam’s business across product portfolio, technology partnerships, SaaS applications and addressable markets. Insight Partners will enable Veeam to fast track this transition from the top down by leveraging additional funding and dedicated internal growth teams and experience from over 200 M&As and 40+ IPOs.”

Veeam’s leadership team is expected to change significantly with the company now moving its headquarters from Switzerland to the US. Co-founders Andrei Baronov and Ratmir Timashev will step down from their positions on the board and in the operation, making way for an US leadership team.

Phil Hassey, Principal Advisor Ecosystm, states that the new ownership and announced leadership team under CEO Bill Largent is a gamechanger for Veeam. “Veeam simply had no choice. It has had limited US penetration to date and has been restricted from growth by the ownership structure despite best efforts on their part. It has had to back out of a significant acquisition deal, divesting N2WS after failing to get full regulatory approval in the US,” Hassey says. “In my view, this acquisition is about more than Veeam’s intention to deepen its product portfolio. It is about ensuring an access to the US market in a level playing field and it will also help with the hyper cloud vendor relationships given their strong push to US Federal Government and their US home turf.”

However, while Loeffler also sees the acquisition as a step towards an IPO, he warns, “The rapid transition to a US leadership team is likely to impact Veeam’s unique company culture. Clients repeatedly state the ease of engagement as key selection criterion, besides the solution capabilities, when choosing to partner with Veeam. The fact that both co-founders will not just step off the board but also leave as Veeam employees, will create a gap which will be challenging to fill.”

 

 

 

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Xiaomi Corp sets its sight on 5G, AI, and IoT
Xiaomi sets its sight on 5G, AI, and IoT

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Xiaomi Corporation – a Chinese electronics giant often dubbed the “Apple of China”, with specialisation in smartphones and smart devices – is now planning to focus on non-smartphone segments for growth. Last week the Beijing based company announced a planned investment of more than US$7 Billion in the areas of 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Artificial Internet of Things (AIoT). The announcement builds on last year’s pledge to invest US$1.5 billion over five years in an “All in AIoT” (AI+IoT) strategy.

 

Setting the scene for AI, IoT and 5G

Facing stiff competition from the likes of Huawei (with 42% of China’s smartphone market share in Q3 2019), Xiaomi is aiming to sustain business growth in the face of a challenging smartphone market. Xiaomi Corp is well versed with 5G and not a newcomer in the AI space. They already make 5G devices, and AI has been embedded in Xiaomi’s technology ecosystem such as messaging, instore applications, smartphones, laptops, TVs, routers, speakers, and other smart devices. In fact, Xiaomi Corp claims to have the world’s largest consumer IoT platform with more than 213.2 million smart devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) connected to its IoT platform.

Commenting on the Xiaomi’s competitiveness amongst Chinese smartphone makers and market potential for AI, IoT and 5G globally, Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Tim Sheedy said “Xiaomi has had some recent successes as a smart device maker, with its robot vacuums and other devices quickly earning positive reviews and gaining market recognition. Xiaomi has been able to surpass many traditional players which demonstrates their capabilities of competing in the IoT/smart devices category.”

On the 5G capability aspect of Xiaomi Corp, Sheedy said, “it is early days for 5G – even in China – and the stated position of having many 5G devices in the market could put Xiaomi ahead of some of their competitors in relation to availability. Going forward, it will be interesting to look at the integration of AI, IoT and 5G by Xiaomi.”

Sheedy further added, “we can expect Xiaomi devices to get smarter and more interconnected. Xiaomi actually has the opportunity to take some of the home-centric device hubs out of the ecosystem as they connect straight to the 5G network, and are controlled by an intelligent cloud-based hub perhaps mostly accessed through Xiaomi mobile phones.”

 

Meeting the Cybersecurity standards

Cybersecurity concerns are common around Chinese device makers. Recently, Xiaomi wireless devices have been disabled from connecting to Google’s Nest devices due to security flaws. On top of this, there have been concerns over the last few years about how Chinese tech companies secure their products and who has access to the data.

“Privacy and security are concerns for consumers – but they are often trumped by convenience, features and off-course price. Xiaomi Corp is aiming to make some of the best devices in each category and as long as they respond quickly and openly to privacy issues, they are likely to continue to see success both inside and outside of China. Their focus on driving down costs in order to be a price leader will help them with this challenge too” said Sheedy. “Ultimately, the privacy and security issues will impact the entire market – not just Xiaomi or other Chinese vendors as the users will steer away from all “smart, connected devices” – not just those from specific suppliers.

 

Market Positioning Approach

Xiaomi Corporation’s philosophy is to do more business with smaller margins, which drove it to expand its smartphone market from China to other areas like India and Europe. The company is aiming to strengthen its positioning in the consumer electronics market with further tech investments.

Sheedy explains that “considering the fact that they are losing market share in handsets in China, I would imagine that they will double down their efforts to be better at what they do now – not enter entirely new markets. I expect that we will see them produce smarter, connected devices – getting into more of the home and consumer market rather than move into the enterprise market. The enterprise market requires different sales strategies and channels, different partners, different margins, different support mechanisms etc.”

Naturally, Xiaomi is not alone in investing heavily in next-generation technologies. For example, Huawei opened a dedicated IoT consumer lab at the end of 2018 and is continuing to commit resources to the development of this industry-changing technology.

“The 5G plus AIoT strategy is the right one for Xiaomi. They need to surround their competition and make their products better, smarter and more affordable. With the growth in 5G services, a product leadership in this space, beyond smartphones – in smart devices too – will set them up for continued success in what is a very competitive market” said Sheedy.

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technologies of the future
5 Technologies to Look Out for this Decade

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We can safely bet that in the decade taking us to 2030, technology will continue to impact and shape our world. Ecosystm has already predicted the top technology trends for 2020 (AI, Cloud, Cybersecurity, IoT). It is time to look beyond the year and see what 2030 has in store for us.  There is a distinct possibility that there will be newer technologies in future that we are yet to hear of, waiting at the threshold to disrupt the existing tech space.  Also by 2030, there will be many technologies that are considered futuristic today that will have become mainstream. Let us explore some of them.

 

Computing Technology

Quantum computing has been promising to take computing beyond current limits – going beyond bits to qubits. Qubits represent atoms, ions, photons or electrons and their respective control devices that are working together to act as computer memory and processor. It has the potential to process exponentially more data than current computers.

Even with various technology providers such as Google, IBM, AWS and Microsoft having announced their quantum computing innovations, it does not appear to be nearly enough to disrupt computing yet. The race to demonstrate the first usable quantum computer is on and start-ups such as Rigetti are challenging the established players. Whether or not the vision we have of quantum computers is fully realised, it will definitely bring in a new breed of computers with advanced processors capable of handling data, million times faster than today’s supercomputers.

Technology providers and government research organisations will continue the R&D initiatives to meet quantum’s real-world potential. Over the next decade, quantum computing applications are set to impact scientific research and exploration, including space exploration and materials science. Quantum computing will also impact us in our everyday lives enabling better weather forecasting and personalised healthcare.

 

Storage Technologies

Cloud storage has dominated most of the previous decade, enabling real-time access to data for both consumers and enterprises. The current storage technologies are reaching the verge of their theoretical storage capacity, given the amount of data we generate. Researchers continue to push the envelope when it comes to capacity, performance, and the reduction of the physical size of storage media. Some storage technologies of the future that have the potential to become mainstream are:

DNA Data storage

DNA stores the ‘data’ for every living organism and one day it could be the ultimate hard drive! DNA data storage consists of long chains of the nucleotides A, T, C and G – which are the building blocks of our DNA chains. DNA storage and computing systems use liquids to move molecules around, unlike electrons in silicon-based systems. This enables the stored data to be more secure and potentially allows an almost infinite storage lifespan. Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington have demonstrated the first fully automated system to store and retrieve data in manufactured DNA – a key step in taking the technology out of the realms of theory and into reality. The technology is still too expensive and requires new engineering solutions for it to be viable in the near future. However, there are several research organisations and start-ups out there working on creating synthetic DNA – data storage is seen as one of the many applications of the technology.

Glass Data storage

5D Glass Discs are being researched and experts say that they could store 3000x more data than CDs with a span of 13.8 billion years. The discs are made out of nanostructured glass, and the data is stored and retrieved using femtosecond laser writing. The discs are made by a laser that makes microscopic etchings in nano glass. The University of Southampton has developed the highest storage efficiency in a data storage device to date.  Microsoft’s Project Silica has developed a proof of concept for its quartz glass storage in partnership with Warner Bros, storing the 1978 classic movie, Superman on a palm-size glass disc.

 

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the science of understanding and manipulating materials on a nanometre scale. It has the potential to create the ultimate IoT sensors. Nanotechnology is already being used in the production of some microprocessors, batteries, computer displays, paints and cosmetics. But this really is just the beginning of a nano revolution.

The most researched nanotechnology applications are probably in medical science. By injecting or implanting tiny sensors, detailed information can be gathered about the human body. Innovations in implantable nanotechnology will grow and we will see more applications and innovations such as Smart Dust – a string of smart computers each smaller than a grain of sand. They can arrange themselves in nests in specified body locations for diagnostics or cure. The focus is not only on early detection but also on storing encrypted patient information. MIT is working on a nanotechnology application which involves nanoparticles or tiny robots powered by magnetic fields for targeted drug delivery.

Healthcare is not the only industry where nanotechnology will become mainstream. Materials science will see huge adoption and development of nanotechnology applications, this will drive innovation even in wearable devices and smart clothing. Nanomaterials will be used for monitoring in manufacturing, power plants, aircrafts and so on.

 

Printing Technologies

Astonishingly, it has been nearly 40 years since 3D printing technology was conceptualised. In the last few years, there has been rapid adoption in prototyping using 3D printers in manufacturing and construction. There has also been considerable research applications such as printing food and replacement organs. For example, companies have already demonstrated that they can create 3D prototypes of human liver tissue patches and implant them in mice.

4D printing will be the next step. With 4D printing, we can change shapes of 3D-printed objects upon stimuli from specific environmental conditions, such as temperature, light or humidity. Although the 4D printing technology is still in the R&D phase, this technology of the future has huge implications in the applications of engineering, manufacturing and construction. For instance, 4D printed bricks could change shape and size when placed alongside other bricks on the wall giving us better insights on how to protect property from natural disasters.

 

Connectivity Technologies

The world is becoming increasingly connected. Access to fast and reliable Internet is one of the many reasons for economic and social progress. There is constant R&D on a more seamless connectivity option. Industry giants are coming up with solutions to connect people in remote areas – such as providing emergency connectivity through helium balloons. Facebook’s Internet.org  intends to provide universal connectivity using drones, low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites. It is easy to predict that in 2030 everyone will have connectivity. While we are discussing the full impact of 5G, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has already announced that they are embarking on R&D on 6G – more suited to a world where IoT becomes mainstream.

Li-Fi Technology

Li-Fi technology (Light Fidelity) works on visible light communications which sends data at a much higher speed. As we look for lower latency and higher speed, Li-Fi may very well be the technology that becomes mainstream in 2030. It is a wireless optical networking technology that uses LEDs for data transmission. In the lab, Li-Fi applications have reached transfer speeds of 10 Gbps, faster than the Wi-Fi 6 router. Li-Fi is being pegged as the network technology that will finally enable the true Edge. The recent Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) showcased a Li-Fi application that supported 40 Mbps transmissions and streamed HD content from a visible passenger service unit (PSU).

 

Ecosystm will continue to scan the horizon for newer technologies that can potentially disrupt the already disruptive tech world.

What do you think are the technologies of the future that will shape our lives in this decade? Tell us in your comments.

 

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Top 5 Telecommunications & Mobility Trends For 2020
The Top 5 Telecommunications & Mobility Trends For 2020

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As we move into a new decade, the Telecommunications industry is ripe for disruption, as it gets reshaped by bountiful bandwidth and software enabled flexibility. Several countries have spent the last decade building  fibre access networks. 5G  is expected to lower latency and provide greater flexibility. As  virtualisation, AI and automation combine to make networks even more cost effective it will broaden use cases to include widespread adoption of IoT.

The Top 5 Telecommunications and Mobility Trends for 2020

Below are the top 5 Telecommunications and Mobility Trends for 2020. It is based on the latest data from the global Ecosystm Mobility Study and is based on qualitative research by Liam Gunson, Director, Product and Solutions at Ecosystm.

  1. 50 Shades of 5G

In 2020, 5G will be a major step change in what a mobile network can do – in terms of capacity, efficiency, stability, and latency. The amount of money and investment associated with it will also keep it in the spotlight. The year will see 5G move beyond trials to actual commercial rollouts – but that will also mean more regulations and a competitive landscape. There will be multiple deployment models:

  • In fixed vs mobile markets, the most obvious choice will be to take a share of the home broadband space first
  • Markets with strong growth in data usage and higher ARPUs will evolve 4G to provide higher bandwidth while looking to 5G for their economic benefits in efficiently managing spectrum
  • In other areas, operators will be forced to explore spectrum or infrastructure sharing to spread costs across lower ARPUs or align with regulators’ desire to limit licenses. This is likely to be more common in emerging markets and low-density areas.
  1. Enterprise Mobility Will Witness a Renaissance

Enterprise mobility will be back on IT teams’ agenda after having taken a backseat for a few years. Ecosystm research shows that over 72% of organisations have a Mobile First strategy. This is set to accelerate for a number of reasons:

  • Companies are increasingly adopting agile or new ways of working to speed up innovation and delivery – and this includes working in new teams and activity-based working
  • As more millennials and the Gen Z enter the workforce, there will be a steady rise of the ‘gig economy’ and a high percentage of contract, part-time and freelance workers
  • As organisations become more agile and the workforce increasingly mobile there will be a bigger drive towards space optimisation, seeing a higher adoption of shared offices and co-working spaces
  1. The Future of the LAN is Cloudy

The next few years will see a re-think of the traditional LAN/WAN set-up, as user needs change with Digital Transformation (DX) initiatives, and new technologies such as GPON, 5G, Wifi 6, WiGig, and software-defined networking bring new capabilities and alter costs. Enterprise network will change in the following ways:

  • Wireless connectivity will move beyond BYOD and guest access and become the primary connection type – the connection points will be sensors and access points, and not PCs
  • AI, virtualisation and software-defined networking will bring more flexibility as they lessen the need for specialised hardware, centralise control, and speed up configuration changes
  • Enterprises will stop thinking of their network as a physical space and start seeing it as a set of capabilities. Equipment will be increasingly centralised in data centres (possibly on the Edge) to allow workers to work from virtually anywhere.
  1. Intelligence at the Edge – from Connected Things to Conscious Things

We have moved past step 1 of IoT, where the focus was on making sensors and chipsets cheap enough to be incorporated in millions of different devices, as well as a to find cost-effective ways to handle the data requirements. 2020 will see IoT move to step 2 – from sensing to responding. AI will become easier to develop and use, while edge compute, high-bandwidth, and low latency networks will make it possible to be embedded into an expanding number of use cases where devices and processes need to make real-time adjustments.

This will become most obvious as we see an increased use of cameras as sensors. With their ability to capture details, they are the most effective sensors we can have. The challenge has been that high definition video is incredibly data heavy, creating issues when trying to transport and analyse it. Edge compute will help to bring the analytics closer to the source lowering the transport costs, while also lowering latency and increasing security.

  1. Expansion Drives Consolidation

Telecommunications operators have been evolving for a while now using measures such as acquiring new companies, establishing disruptive business units and so on. In 2020, these operators will focus on transforming the core – remove unnecessary costs, improve customer experience, capture new opportunities  – and on building telecom networks with scalability, flexibility, efficiency and agility.

As providers become more flexible, they will not only be easier to integrate with, but will also be able to manage more products and niche requirements. Traditionally 80-90% of their revenues have come from consumers and Telecommunications providers own these relationships. Now they will have to start working on their B2B relationships.

Ultimately the network game will be one of scale, and this will force operators to consolidate to survive. Nokia Bell Labs expects global operators to fall from 10 to 5 between 2020 and 2025, and local operators to fall from 800 to 100 – this looks completely plausible at the moment.

 

 


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Top 5 Telecommunications & Mobility Trends for 2020


 

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The Top 5 Fintech Trends For 2020
The Top 5 Fintech Trends For 2020

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Financial institutions are being challenged by and collaborating with Fintech  organisations in equal measures. As their focus on customers increase, they will collaborate and partner with these disruptors. Fintech is also getting attention from governments in both emerging and mature countries as a means to achieve their financial inclusion and digital economy goals. Fintech investments will continue to surge through 2020 across the solution areas.

The Top 5 Fintech Trends For 2020

The Top 5 Fintech Trends are based on the latest data from the global Ecosystm AI and Cybersecurity studies and is also based on qualitative research by Ecosystm CEO Amit Gupta and Principal Advisor Paul Gestro.

  1. One for All and All for One

Fintech will have a much greater impact than we realise, and we will continue to see it drive the induction of the unbanked into the mainstream economy. The growth in mobile phone penetration, however, continues to grow at a faster pace than banking accessibility across emerging economies. We will continue to see Fintech play a significant role in driving greater inclusion, especially to bring in the underserved in the emerging economies and reducing the gender gap when it comes to adoption of financial services – creating greater inclusion overall.

The democratisation and accessibility of financial services will also result in far greater uptake of the sharing economy and we will continue  to see non-traditional companies enter the payments and financial services markets. Fintechs that have environmental and social impact, beyond financial impact, will also find it easier to secure funds from Impact Investors.

  1. The Year of the Banks

2020 is the year banks will need to embrace Fintech – fully.  They know full well that customers are at the centre of their entire operation – and Fintech services can and will provide them with the solutions they need. They have been skeptical about adopting Fintech but as they begin their transformation journeys and face increasingly stringent regulations,  they might no longer have the option of ignoring Fintechs.

Banks are already adopting, evaluating and developing strategies for AI, RPA, and Cybersecurity adoption – but they will feel the need for more innovation and speed in 2020.

  1. Asia Becomes Middle Earth

Asia has fast become the centre for both innovation and investment. Asia’s fast pace of urbanisation and the increasing prosperity of the middle class is attracting investments. Venture capital-backed Fintech companies raised more than USD 40B in 2018 – with the bulk coming out of China. Investments in Asia is expected to grow, and will benefit later stage Fintech startups.

These investments, a lack of strict policies (yet!) and the large number of unbanked and underbanked are also fuelling innovation in Asia. Several large financial institutions in Asia have already made public announcements of the Fintech investments and this will cause a ripple effect.

  1. Nothing Artificial About AI

AI sits at the heart of most Fintech solutions. And AI has slowly made its way in decision-making and process automation.  The first step to AI is automation and  robotic process automation (RPA) will transform customer experience and will allow integration of legacy systems in financial institutions. As IoT and Blockchain mature  they will be increasingly integrated within AI solutions.

Another area which will see AI adoption in financial institutions is Cybersecurity – machine learning can predict the patterns of criminals (or rogue/irresponsible employees) to stop events before they start. Fintech solutions such as Regtech and Suptech has a definite play in this space.

  1. Regtech Will Take Centre Stage

In 2020, Regtech will take the centre stage as the emerging Fintech solution. Together with AI, a better ability to use data and predict trends, Regtech will be used to  fight financial crime and reduce costly compliance-related mistakes.

The old way of just employing more people to run the compliance tasks is not sustainable. routine tasks such as KYC, AML and compliance verification are ripe for automation. Moreover, Regtech ROI is relatively easier to set and measure.

 


Download Report: The top 5 Fintech trends for 2020

The full findings and implications of the report ‘Ecosystm Predicts: The Top 5 Fintech Trends for 2020’ are available for download from the Ecosystm platform. Signup for Free to download the report and gain insight into ‘the top 5 Fintech trends for 2020’, implications for tech buyers, implications for tech vendors, insights, and more resources. Download Link Below 👇


Top 5 Fintech Trends for 2020


 

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Top 5 Workplace Of The Future Trends For 2020
The Top 5 Workplace Of The Future Trends For 2020

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5/5 (2)

As the ‘Experience Economy’ becomes a reality, organisations will look beyond improving customer experience (CX) to enhancing employee experience (EX). It is estimated that people spend a third of their life at their workplaces. This realisation will drive organisations to focus on EX over priorities such as growing revenue or reducing costs. Retaining employees is important in today’s war for talent – and organisations have started appointing Chief Experience Officers. Ultimately, workplace technology should drive employee productivity – and there is a proven link between happy and productive employees.

The Top 5 Workplace Of The Future Trends For 2020

The Top 5 Workplace of the Future trends are drawn from the findings of the global Ecosystm CX Study and are also based on qualitative research by Ecosystm Principal Advisors,  Tim Sheedy and Audrey William.

  1. Employee Experience as a Business Focus Will Drive Faster Adoption of Consumer Collaboration Tools

Organisations in mature economies already have employee experience (EX) and CX as their top business priorities. This comes with an understanding that offering a great customer and employee experience will lead to revenue growth, profit growth and lower costs.

For communication and collaboration solutions, if the experience is not right, employees will move on to the next best app for the right experience. The competition between the vendors across voice, video and collaboration is heightening. It may sound simple but that is where the innovation needs to happen in the industry. If employees do not like what IT has provided for them, they will download the application of their choice for work. This will be a huge challenge especially in industries that are heavily regulated such as Financial Services and Healthcare.

  1. HR KPIs Will Drive IT Teams to Invest in Workplace Analytics

HR teams are ultimately responsible for driving improved EX. And a happy employee is a productive employee – so an employee’s environment (managed by the Operations or Facilities team) and their technology (managed by the IT team) will have the biggest impact on driving employee satisfaction. To drive these outcomes, we will see these three teams work closer than they ever have – and not just on a project basis, but as a permanent arrangement.

Investments in Workplace Analytics will increase, and there will be more collaboration between IT, HR and Facilities Management to drive best practices for employees. Right now, there is very little collaboration between the three departments in driving better workplace practices. Workplace Analytics will help solve problems related to poor office practices around email overload, long work hours, absenteeism, usage of rooms and other facilities, employee discontent, as well as understand the overall trends on communications and collaboration solutions usage.

  1. 5G Services will Push Organisations to Rethink their Network

Today 5G is not available in many countries – and where it is available coverage is generally spotty. But this will change in 2020 as more operators launch or expand their 5G coverage. The unique capabilities of 5G to offer software-defined networks (SDNs) – designed specifically for organisations’ needs – will help businesses rethink the way they operate. They can stop thinking of their network as a physical place and start thinking of it as a set of capabilities and this takes work beyond designated physical addresses. Retailers will be able to offer complete retail environments from wherever they choose. Banks will be able to offer complete in-branch services from anywhere. Employees will be able to get access to all sorts of data and systems regardless of location. 5G is about much more than a faster network – the potential to transform enterprise networks will see a huge rethink of the network and the way IT teams provide technology services to their employees.

  1. Organisations Will Wake Up to the Need for the Right Knowledge Management Solution

IT has been guilty of dictating the knowledge management (KM) requirements and platforms to the business. Many customer teams are using tools that are inherently wrong for the job. Management is using tools that do not support their needs, and information workers are given generic platforms when they have specific needs. 2020 will see a fragmentation of the KM market as businesses start to buy based on customer and employee needs – not based on what the IT team dictates.

  1. 2020 Will See a Rise in CPaaS Adoption

Cloud-based platforms that enable developers to add real-time communications features within the workflow of their own business applications will be the next big area of innovation in the unified communications space. Through the use of APIs, developers can embed communication capabilities into their existing business applications, without extra hardware or software costs. Developers can embed it directly into the cloud platform so the time to market is fast. Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) will see greater adoption as more organisations look to build code and apply agile and DevOps methodologies.

 


Download Report: The top 5 Workplace of the future trends for 2020

The full findings and implications of the report ‘Ecosystm Predicts: The Top 5 Workplace of the future Trends for 2020’ are available for download from the Ecosystm platform. Signup for Free to download the report and gain insight into ‘the top 5 Workplace of the future trends for 2020’, implications for tech buyers, implications for tech vendors, insights, and more resources. Download Link Below 👇


Top 5 workplace of the future trends for 2020


 

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