Enterprise digital transformation: A conversation with Verizon’s Viraj Parekh

Recently, telecom industry thought leader Dez Blanchfield spoke with Viraj Parekh, Verizon Executive Director - Global Product - SDN/NFV, Managed Services, PaaS and Edge Solution (Resale), about the challenges of digital transformation for enterprises and CIOs. Read on for a summary of the video, recorded at the November 2018 OSS/BSS User Group.


Working collaboratively will be crucial for the future of networks

“Networks are going through a massive transformation, and it’s important for us carriers to understand what the other carriers and operators are doing as well, especially as there’s so much innovation happening right now.” Viraj is speaking about the challenges of navigating the various partner and vendor ecosystems that are developing, in the hope of fully understanding new solutions and how to take them to market. “We deliver end-to-end global services to our customers and we cannot be successful without having the right partnerships with other operators in the market as well – especially with the evolution of software defined networking.”


Customers are talking about personalized services and speed

Thanks to the evolution of mobility, cloud applications, multi-cloud ecosystems and multi data center ecosystems, there’s a significant shift in how enterprises are arranging their networks: “Where previously applications were a little more simplistic – more client/server – you could manage and plan your networking needs around them, we’re now seeing a 40 percent increase year over year in terms of bandwidth utilization, so CIOs are definitely feeling the challenge [from this more complex ecosystem].”

To tackle this, Verizon is aiming to ensure that users connect to their applications in a simple, secure and reliable way, where they can pick and choose the solutions that cater to their specific needs and requirements –ultimately creating a personalized customer experience.

Viraj also says customers want to address speed head on: “It took about 38 years for radio to create 50 million subscribers and it’s taken 17 days for Pokémon Go to have 15 million users – that’s the speed at which our enterprises want to work. So fast is important.”

Viraj went on to say, "We started working with our network vendors to virtualize the network functions because the speed of software means we can actually deploy services faster.  And then Ericsson came in and supported us from a full automation of that end-to-end deployment.  But not just that, we're also providing closed loop behavior...how can we become true cloud-like, how can we become more web scale also in the network space, and I think that's the partnership which has really yielded a lot of results for us."


Customers first, new technology second

When asked about upcoming trends in the next 12 to 18 months, Viraj thinks we’re still just at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “Right now, the speed at which things are happening within the old landscape with 5G, IoT, mobile edge computing, and network slicing...technology trends are all driving numerous use cases, but we're just scratching the surface.” Having said that, for Viraj, the important thing is to focus on the outcome for the customer: “Are we driving the ability for the customer to program the services and solutions we give them to cater to their specific outcomes, whether it’s AR, VR, IoT? As a result of that, visibility becomes very important, and that’s one of the investments we’ve been making: ensuring we have full end-to-end application visibility, while driving analytics on top of that. So we understand and use that information as powerful closed loop behavior."


For CIOs, digital transformation boils down to what outcome you’re going to influence

Viraj discusses what he likes to call ‘core versus chore’: the key is to focus on what your core needs and requirements are, versus focusing on the specifics on how to get there. Viraj goes on to explain the importance of three action points that CIOs should consider: Innovate, invest and influence. “First, there’s an opportunity to innovate with core partners and vendors. Then, invest. Invest now for the long term to help you realize the goal you’re working towards. And influence: enterprise customers are a strong voice. All future use cases and enterprise use cases are driving a big part of the revenue potential. Enterprises do have a voice, so use that influence to help drive a partner ecosystem towards the right solutions.”

Summing up, Viraj offers these final comments, “With digital transformation, if you get it right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. But if you don’t get it right, all you have is a much faster caterpillar. So that’s an important focus. The network is a key part of the digital transformation journey, and that’s what I’d like the enterprises, CIOs and C-levels to understand.”


Want to find out what else Viraj said? Watch the full interview here! 




Related link: Orchestrating Enterprise Virtual Networks.

Read more about accelerating your service automation journey with Ericsson Service Automation with Dynamic Orchestration.

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