The mobility business isn't about phones anymore; that’s just one application of many. The industry needs to see mobile networks—especially 5G—as enablement platforms for new digital services.
The evolving digital market has set the expectation for on-demand access to innovative resources, usually via APIs. Developers require open platforms so they can create new value, share value and find new ways to use valuable things others have created.
If we think of 5G as an industrial-scale, open platform, then the global ecosystem it can catalyze is exciting. In this concept, 5G will need to provide the foundation for comprehensive services that solve major challenges for applications like self-driving vehicles, drones, public safety systems and smart grids. These all promise massive opportunity but can also present significant risk.
MWC is not without its share of fear marketing. Some industry leaders at this year's Mobile World Congress are painting a dystopian vision in which computer-controlled devices run our lives and can be hacked with ease. This prediction affirms that artificial intelligence (AI) will dwarf human intelligence and bring humanity's role in economic systems into question.
But this fearmongering overshadows the opportunity for service providers to square up to its security challenges. The telecom industry can encourage people to use technology like AI to solve issues in society, such as improving energy efficiency to reduce consumption, but it will be a matter of perspective whether the opportunities should be seized or feared.
Service providers are pushing to become software-driven businesses while also tackling 5G deployment. This shift emphasizes the reasons why adopting agile practices, transforming core IT assets and adopting proven digital business and service models are so important right now. These transformations are not to be completed just for the sake of transformation, but to deliver an environment that both enables small small-scale innovation and solves mass-scale problems. 5G networks are the foundation on which this kind of environment can be built. All players in the 5G-enabled services market, however, will need software-driven solutions that allow them to innovate and provide the underlying services that prevent this catastrophic dystopian future from becoming reality.
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