Roundtable Recap: Telecom Transformed: Monetizing the 5G Revolution

Telecom Transformed: Monetizing the 5G Revolution
May 26, 2021

Event Highlights

Technology advancements are being adopted by users at a rapid pace. AI and Cloud platforms are now standard, and consumers and businesses are used to working on platforms that provide high-quality, high-speed service and convenience. These platforms are often part of an ecosystem that provides one-stop shopping for related needs.  Telecommunications enterprise customers are expecting the same level of service from providers. 5G is poised to set a new standard for scale, speed and agility. This virtual roundtable convened practitioners from leading telecommunications companies to discuss the future of the industry, and the technology required to participate in the digital economy. 


Bob Fox, Senior Partner – Industry Leader, Telecommunications, Global Business Services, IBM
Fánan Henriques, Strategy & Transformation Director, Vodafone Business
Joey Penick, Vice President, Enterprise Field Marketing, Lumen
Massimo Peselli, Senior Vice President, Global Enterprise, Verizon Business
Federico Rigoni, Chief Revenue Officer, Telecom Italia (TIM)
Francesca Serravalle, Emerging Technology Director, Colt Technology Services
Antje Williams, Senior Vice President, 5G Campus Networks, Deutsche Telekom
Jeremy Wubs, Senior Vice President, Product, Marketing and Professional Services, Bell Business Markets

Moderator:  John H. Butler, Senior Analyst – Telecommunications Services & Equipment, Bloomberg Intelligence

Click here to view the video of the full discussion.

The conversation opened with Bob Fox, Senior Partner – Industry Leader, Telecommunications, Global Business Services, IBM commenting on why now is the time to focus on the enterprise sector, “Well, what I’m really excited about is that this round table is focused on the enterprise segment. Why? As I engage with our clients, most executives think that the first wave of innovation is gonna come from the enterprise segment, industry-specific use cases like remote surgery or horizontal ones that span industries like autonomous transportation and distribution.”

As participants discussed where they are seeing the first use cases, Federico Rigoni, Chief Revenue Officer, Telecom Italia (TIM) observed, “We do have a lot of engagement with different enterprises, different industries. At least, up to today, the main traction we do see in the enterprise is manufacturing by far compared to other industries. At least it’s our experience right now in Italy, and agriculture. So those two areas are the most engaged areas in which we see a lot of interest by the large enterprise. Especially in manufacturing, we do have a lot of discussion.”

Antje Williams, Senior Vice President, 5G Campus Networks, Deutsche Telekom made the point that where one sees traction depends on the country, “I think it heavily depends on the country the 5G use cases that are discussed. What we could see as kind of fast movers in Germany at least is the automotive industry probably because it’s rather strong here.”  She also observed, “Lately, with the virus, the hospitals are engaging more and more in our European footprint.”

Fánan Henriques, Strategy & Transformation Director, Vodafone Business noted that in addition to manufacturing and healthcare “I would say everything that is also part of a large supply chain like ports, et cetera, that also comes across quite strongly. So there is quite a good appetite in those spaces.” 

Francesca Serravalle, Emerging Technology Director, Colt Technology Services provided additional use cases, “Manufacturing is leading in terms of use case and business case. We have many use cases from predictive maintenance, remote assistant and automated inspection through machine vision. But what we have noticed is that post pandemics other two verticals are following, retail and real estate, particularly retail, where brainstorming with customers who want to use, for example, video analytics and digital signage to deliver tailored marketing campaigns to VIP customers.”

Henriques discussed how 5G is changing the engagement with enterprises,  “I think this is what these companies are looking at 5G for, which is to rethink the workflow and things that were fixed, and all can be done at distance. So it’s really an operational technology. It’s not communication. It’s not IT. It’s operational technology we’re talking about now. And that changes the conversation“

The question was asked as to whether 5G will replace fiber optics, to which Massimo Peselli, Senior Vice President, Global Enterprise, Verizon Business responded, “No, but it’s a combination. I would say cutting the cord is one of the main use cases of 5G. But you will always need the fiber in some cases. It will also be a combination of fiber. So to deploy 5G, you have to have a high densification of fiber because you need to bring the fiber to where you have the 5G antennas to capture all the data. So you can really play with a mix of steel wireline fiber and wireless, depending on what you have to do. Fiber will be there. And so why not use it as needed. For me it’s a combination of both.”

Joey Penick, Vice President, Enterprise Field Marketing, Lumen agreed, “The 5G doesn’t work without the fiber enablement. And the way 5G is deployed with where you go from 4G which are thousands of endpoints to millions of endpoints when you start to activate it, fiber is the underlying infrastructure that delivers that. So, it’s a critical component for sure.”

There was a lot of discussion about the need for integrated ecosystems. As Jeremy Wubs, Senior Vice President, Product, Marketing and Professional Services, Bell Business Markets explains “And now it’s also about, okay, how do I connect the rest of the ecosystem together for our clients, right? The cloud providers, multi edge compute and make IOT simple. And kind of one other element that’s often forgotten is then you just also wrap security around, right? Because I think as you get into massive IOT, you’re also getting into different issues and concerns around security. So it’s a big ecosystem we need to evolve and stitch together in a way that’s seamless and easy for our clients.”

Foundational to the implementation of new technologies is to incorporate a security framework. On that point, Serravalle shared, “I’m the vice-chairman of a UK 5G security group, which is a group funded by the DCMS. And what we realize is that because 5G becomes an enabler of smart verticals, it’s really critical to have a holistic security framework because anything that happens in the network may really create interruption for critical operation within public safety for example, or other critical operational activities. So what we are doing is really bringing, creating a national lab capability where we can bring the ecosystem together and make sure that we have a framework that not only has connectivity security but also the data, the platform and the application.”

The conversation then turned to the timeline for the adoption of 5G for enterprises.  Peselli shared, “We’ll probably need a couple of years or three years before it’s scaled, but it’s happening right now. We have one customer, Corning, who is running 5G on the floor on a production side. We’re seeing companies really willing to move from proof of concept or lab to real small case productions. And so I think that we will see real cases in production within the next 12 months. Is it gonna be a scale? No, but many companies will bring 5G and computing in their real environment within 12 months.”

The conversation then veered to the role of telecommunications companies, to which Wubbs shared, “So we’re leaning in and saying, ‘we’re going to be more than connections’. For us it’s a shift in our managed services modeling. Obviously, in traditional managed services in many organizations, in many telcos, it was our own people in seats, monitoring and managing. Now it’s a little more of a dev ops model with the cloud operators enabling the shift of customers to the cloud and it really helps them have the highly reliable, secure infrastructure that they can count on. So that’s our focus. I think there are lots of opportunities there.”

Rigoni shared, “What we are normally seeing is that ultra broadband connectivity, which means 5G fiber as well, is a kind of enabler. So the connectivity will enable new technology. And we are organized ourselves with three main, let me say business units, which are cloud, IOT and cyber, which will support the digital transformation for our customers…So that’s how we are gonna differentiate ourselves from the pure connectivity provider.”

Serrvalle pointed out that “I mean, even connectivity, it’s not just connectivity, right? It’s intelligent connectivity that is fully virtualized, it’s AI driven, it’s API driven to enable this bungling with the ecosystem and it’s cloud defined. And that is very important because only through intelligent connectivity which is service driven, can we really enable differentiated experience and be part of strategic initiative being a common ratio or being the digital transformation.”

The session ended with a discussion on the business case for 5G and how engagement has changed. Henriques observed, “I think the key point I would like to make is that 5G moves the conversation beyond the communication spend and beyond the IT spend. We’re talking about the different lines of the P&L in terms of spend. And that drives a very different conversation. You’re not talking with the procurement department, you’re talking with the people that really run your operations in the business, okay? And that’s a shift of paradigm.”

Penick observed, “I’d say budgets have grown but where they’ve grown is in areas like security. Someone mentioned the ransomware attack last week and DDoSs were extremely high. So what you’ve seen is an investment in non-traditional kinds of communication areas. Customers really care about three things, right? Growing their revenue, cutting their overhead and securing themselves, right? So, big pipe investments and deployments have definitely not been the trend lately in the last year or two…So we think budgets will increase here. But remember, they’re looking for efficiency within their own operations. And if that efficiency comes with cost reduction, John, they’ll take it, absolutely.”

Peselli added “My prediction is that there will be more investment in the technology and those investments will be funded either by a reduction in costs in the operations or by growing revenue. We are talking about 5G and edge computing with a chief revenue officer, with a head of your operations. So customers are building an extension this year. I’m saving by optimizing the supply chain by investing more in technology, that’s a conversation with the chief revenue officer. If technology will allow a company to increase by 20% of the revenue at the store, that will pay for the technology. So there will be more investment in the technology, and we’re working with the business leaders to create that business case, either more revenue or more efficiency.”

This Bloomberg Roundtable was Proudly Sponsored By


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