6 technology trends shaping the innovation platform

No other technology in the world today can provide widespread global coverage on a scale comparable to that of today’s mobile network platform. It is my firm belief that this network platform is ideally suited to serve not only as a communication platform but as the innovation platform and enabler for any present or future application and for any industry.

As 5G networks are rolled out globally, they will support exciting use cases ranging from mission-critical and industrial IoT applications to connected healthcare and smart city ecosystems.

The progress across a wide range of industries now ready to use 5G is very exciting. This is an area where our industry-leading researchers have pioneered the work and innovated in cross-industry collaborations. As they imagined a 5G world, they needed to develop capabilities to meet the needs of all kinds of industries. Now much of what they imagined is becoming a reality. 

Visit the 2019 technology trends to read the article in full or read my executive summary below.

Six key technology trends

This month, we unveiled our technology trend analysis for the year ahead. And it is with our 5G success in hindsight that I humbly, but with pride, can say these are the most comprehensive insights available in the industry. The interplay of these technology trends will be the catalyst for global transformation.

These trends illustrate what our technology future could be like and point toward a future definition of evolved 5G and, looking even farther out, 6G. They also reveal how the future network platform will be a foundation for an evolving sustainable society and its industries.

The six trends to watch in the year ahead are:

  • The Internet of Skills
  • Cyber-physical systems
  • Distributed compute and storage
  • Ubiquitous radio access
  • Security assurance
  • Zero-touch networks

The first two trends – the Internet of Skills and cyber-physical systems – are about demanding use cases, while the final four are about technologies that are evolving the network platform. Distributed compute and storage is a new addition in 2019. The other five trends have been part of our trend analysis for the last few years. In this year’s article, I build on last year’s conclusions and provide more context about our vision of the future network platform.

Read the 2019 technology trends in full.

Two critically important areas of use cases

The Internet of Skills and cyber-physical systems are important areas of use cases that the future network platform needs to support. Today’s network is already a secure, robust and reliable platform, where applications, processes and other technologies can be developed, deployed and managed.

But the 5G-powered innovation platform will go further. It will change not only the telecom industry but will also create opportunities for other industries and introduce radically new business models. Traditional business processes will be re-engineered based on intuitive human-machine interactivity and realized through real-time, autonomous and inherently secure platforms. Thus, the 5G network platform will fundamentally change the way societies innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and live sustainably.

The Internet of Skills has the potential to bridge the geographical distance between humans as well as between humans and things. This requires a high quality of experience (QoE) so people will trust the network to enable critical remote operations and interactions with things. 

Examples of this include self-driving vehicles, teleoperation of robots and remote human assistance across industrial, enterprise and consumer domains.  The Internet of Skills also applies to the ability to experience physical items remotely in applications such as online shopping and gaming.

A cyber-physical system (CPS) results from the integration of different systems to control a physical process and uses feedback to adapt to new conditions in real time.

Communication is vital in CPSs to allow different and heterogeneous objects to exchange information with each other and with humans, at any time and in any conditions. For example, latency criticality is an issue for all cases where a controller or complex AI must take decisions and actions in real time.

Four key technology areas

More than anything else, I believe that the ability to instantaneously meet any application need, anytime, will be the defining characteristic of the future network platform. Achieving this requires distributed compute and storage, ubiquitous radio access, security assurance and zero-touch networks – four of this year’s six trends.

With distributed compute and storage, the integration of specialized compute and storage hardware will boost performance for a wider range of emerging, complex applications. Soon we will move advanced compute and storage capabilities to the network edge, closer to where data is generated.

The ubiquitous radio access provided by the mobile network enables the creation of a physical world that is fully automated and programmable. Examples of this include massive sensor monitoring and fully autonomous physical processes. Other examples are self-driving cars and manufacturing robots, as well as autonomous decision-making.

The need for security assurance is growing rapidly as business and society increasingly rely on universal connectivity and compute. As we explore the potential of AI and machine learning to protect systems and networks, security assurance procedures play the important role of verifying security properties of the network platform. The driving forces in this area include mission-critical use cases and regulatory demands, as well as cloud and edge computing.

Finally, a zero-touch network is capable of self-management and is controlled by business intents. Data-driven control logic makes it possible to design the system without the need for human configuration, as well as to provide a higher degree of information granularity.

With reinforcement learning, it is possible to design a solution that responds to unforeseen environments, which can be used to automate or optimize a specific process.

At the same time, trustworthy machine learning models that fulfill zero-touch aspects need to be built-in line with the need for privacy and legislative rules for how data can be exposed or moved.

A vision of the future network platform

The core idea of the future network platform is that anyone and anything that can benefit from a connection should be able to access and use the network.

It will handle huge amounts of data, scarce amounts of data, and everything in between. It will meet requirements for both open data and sensitive data, as well as all manner of needs related to uplink and downlink transmission.

These capabilities make it possible for the network to serve as an open innovation platform for any application.

I believe these six technology trends illustrate what the world will look like in a decade ahead. And these trends will most likely put significant demands on the future network. To remain technology leaders, we must develop the network platform so it is capable of not just handling these new demands but driving innovation for society.

Read the 2019 technology trends in full to find out more about how these six trends are transforming our world.

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