Roundtable Recap: Telecom Transformed: Harnessing the Cloud to Drive Innovation

Telecom Transformed: Harnessing the Cloud to Drive Innovation
November 19, 2020 

Event Highlights

On November 19th Bloomberg hosted a virtual event to discuss how telecom companies are utilizing cloud technologies in order to innovate networks, seize opportunities from 5G, lower costs, and create new value for the business and its customers. This forum was an intimate discussion led by Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Analyst Anurag Rana with technology decision makers across the telecommunications industry. Thought leaders discussed how their respective organizations are harnessing cloud technologies to unlock value, cut costs, and meet the digital challenges and opportunities of today.


Andrew Dugan, Chief Technology Officer, Lumen
José Miguel García, CEO, Grupo Euskaltel
Jan Hofmeyr, Chief Network Officer, Comcast
Stephanie Mitchko-Beale, Chief Technology Officer, Charter
Marisa Viveros, VP, Strategy & Offerings – Telecom, Media and Entertainment, IBM
Howard Watson, Chief Technology and Information Officer, BT
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone
Jeanie York, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Virgin Media

Moderated by:

Anurag Rana, Senior Technology Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence

Click here to view the video of the full discussion.


Here’s what they had to say:

The Adoption of 5G

Anurag Rana, Senior Technology Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence opened the discussion with a question on the adoption rate of 5G and where companies are seeing the most value.  There was agreement that while there is consumer demand, there is also strong interest from enterprises. As Howard Watson, Chief Technology and Information Officer, BT points out “where does the money ultimately come from, and to what extent is that driven from new capabilities that will naturally emerge for consumers a bit like the smartphone did on the back of say 4G, or indeed from the enterprise side, which is where most of us think the ultimate money will be made for 5G here.”

Andrew Dugan, Chief Technology Officer, Lumen agreed that 5G promises to unlock value for enterprises “It’s going to enable enterprises a new way to access their users through mobile with high capacity, but it’s also going to enable the connectivity of internet of things and that’s going to create a whole new set of applications that are going to allow enterprises to thrive.” Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone summarizes the benefits of 5G for both consumers and enterprises “It brings better economics on the network due to new or more efficient technology. For our customers, it provides higher speeds, think about five to 10 times versus what you’re having today, and significantly better latency. Then as we also said earlier, edge computing brings possibilities to do and solve business problems in different ways that haven’t been possible before.”

While the value of 5G is appreciated, adoption has its challenges.  As Stephanie Mitchko-Beale, Chief Technology Officer, Charter points out, “the most significant constraint to building out 5G wireless is really the requirements around the wireline network and infrastructure.”


The Role of AI

The integration of AI accelerates the adoption of new technologies by allowing innovation in a more predictive way and enabling the management of large amounts of data.  José Miguel García, CEO, Grupo Euskaltel says that AI is part of every single customer process because “it’s through AI that we’re actually going to be able to monetize and to actually be able to compete against the coming of OTT applications. It’s also helping us to better serve many of our enterprise customers. But more importantly is getting us ready for the 5G in Spain.”

Marisa Viveros, VP, Strategy & Offerings – Telecom, Media and Entertainment, IBM shared what she sees as a major benefit of AI. “Automation, I can do more in a more efficient manner, in a more predictive manner using AI.” Jan Hofmeyr, Chief Network Officer, Comcast notes that AI is now an integral part of operations, “The other day, I was actually in a discussion where we were talking about should we have a machine learning AI team, and the comment came back, machine learning AI is a skill in every team.”


Moving to the Cloud – a Hybrid Approach

The industry as a whole is seeing an accelerated movement to the Cloud.  There was agreement that the way forward is a hybrid approach that combines the use of public and private clouds, rather having a solution that is solely in-house or outsourced.  Viveros observes “The concept of hybrid cloud, it has been well received in the sense of I can still maintain my coding investment and I can extend myself more than I think, using the public clouds in the hybrid environment”. Mitchko-Beale concurs “The public clouds give us a lot of capability to be innovative and move things quickly, and operating a hybrid cloud that delivers a product has a combination of a data center application, a public cloud application, maybe something private you have in your network. Those things in combination actually deliver a product or service to our customers today”.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Virgin Media further explains “Certain applications need local cloud solutions, others you can put in public cloud, and I think that is reasonable as the economics also pay off when you look at that over the course of three to five years.”  Besides the economics, Garcia notes that regulatory considerations sometimes require a hybrid approach “We adopted a hybrid cloud solution, primarily because in Europe data protection laws are very, very, very stringent so we have to keep a lot of the data very close particularly to the enterprises and to ourselves, because of legal regulatory reasons.”


Challenges and Considerations

Nonetheless, while companies are moving to a “cloud first” approach, York points out that “What seems to be a really easy technology on paper is not necessarily always easy to fully operationalize and really bring into your business for a multitude of reasons.” She notes that migration to the cloud requires an investment of both time and money. “We’ve invested quite a bit of money into cloud solutions and digital acceleration is absolutely critical for us in every aspect of that, predominantly in terms of the customer experience. So we’ve got a very busy three-year transition. It doesn’t happen in a year that’s for sure.”

Watson notes that the costs of moving to the cloud are often underestimated “I tend to use the term thermal runaway when it comes to public cloud costs because it’s quite easy and happens quite quickly for people to end up not controlling those costs.”

Mitchko-Beale notes that there are governance issues to consider, “We have to be really smart about thinking through what applications belong in what environment. How do we manage the security and control an operational ability at those environments? I think governance is a really important aspect of defining your cloud architecture and thinking through the skill sets.”

York notes that “Security and privacy are built into design. From the moment of ideation or concept of a product or a service. Our process, our governance, our ability to bring that product and service to light, have that in play”


The Payoff

Despite challenges, the adoption of AI, 5G and the cloud have shown undeniable benefits for companies and their customers. As Wibergh explains, “It was not until we absolutely invested in automation that allowed them to easily onboard onto all the platforms with the security and governance in place. So they don’t even have to think about that. They literally can think about a cloud as a resource so that they can onboard and start running their services within minutes.”

This Bloomberg Roundtable was Proudly Sponsored By


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