Digital Twins Catalyst reflections from Digital Transformation World
I couldn’t believe my luck when I was asked to be a leader of the Ericsson collaboration with Globe Telecom in our third successive Catalyst together at this year’s TM Forum in Nice.
There were high expectations because we’d been awarded the Catalyst Innovation award for the previous two years for:
- 5G Pattiserie @ TMForum Asia in KL 2018 and
- OASIS Open APIs for a Vibrant IoT Ecosystem @ TMForum Asia Singapore 2017
TM Forum Catalyst in Nice would see an even stronger level of competition with a total of 32 participants and seven awards up for grabs.
This year’s Catalyst was championed by Globe Telecom, Singtel and KDDI and was in collaboration with Infosys, Etiya, Neural Technology and Huawei. We developed four sets of Digital Twins, each representing:
- An enterprise IP Network
- A mobile Network
- A customer
- An organisation
The booth saw a lot of interest and inquiries from many operators. Some were interested in collaborating on Phase 2 of the Digital Twin Catalyst and many were interested in the application and values it can bring to their daily operations.
Introducing Digital Twins
By 2025, there will be 1.5 billion 5G subscribers globally, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report (January 2019). Digital service providers should already be leveraging 5G networks to offer new types of services to various customer segments. The industry challenge here isn’t finding killer applications, as these will come naturally with the creation of a 5G network. The real challenge is the ability to scale the platform, automate the lifecycle management of network slices and incorporate predictive demand and maintenance. In addition, ensuring optimized operational efficiency in terms of processes to be put in place, along with a behind-the-scenes workforce required to support the platform shouldn’t be neglected. The creation and use of Digital Twins can help to address these challenges.
A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a real-world entity or system which acts as a mirror to provide a means to simulate, predict, forecast behaviour, and possibly control the real-world entity where applicable.
Image 1: Anatomy of a Digital Twin
While individually, Digital Twins provide a good insight into their physical twin, it is when federated and integrated together that the true value of Digital Twins come in to play. These business values are shown in the following diagram.
Image 2: Digital Twin Business Values
All Digital Twins are designed using a common AI data model and integrated using a common open API. This facilitated the standardization of the different Digital Twins and promote a standard interface for federation.
Ericsson’s Digital Twin demonstrated performing predictive maintenance and demand simulation of an Enterprise IP Network. Through its federation with the Customer Digital Twin, events identified via the AI in the Digital Twin sent potential network issues (which it predicts), to the Customer Digital Twin and helps it determine the impact network performance on individual customers. Events such as poor voice quality, longer web page loading time or longer latency, all of which can have high impact on gamers for instance, can then be interpreted by the Customer Digital Twin. Organizations armed with this information can take proactive actions to inform their customers or re-route traffic to reduce the impact on their valued customers.
Expert teams from a variety of Ericsson business areas have contributed to the success of the Digital Twins. It was truly a collaborative effort. The Ericsson Operations AI Framework was used as a referenced for the design of the Digital Twins.
There was also a contribution made to the TM Forum asset. The Catalyst team contributed the:
- AI Data Model
- Open API to facilitate data sharing between Digital Twins
There were many memorable moments at the three-day event, but the thing that stood out for me was the opportunity to present the Digital Twins on stage in front of a live audience at the Catalyst Theatre.
Image 3: Presenting at the Catalyst Theater
The excitement culminated on the afternoon of day three when we stood and waited nervously as the awards were announced and handed out. The Catalyst Innovation award was one of the last three awards to be announced and when we finally heard that the Digital Twin had won, we were all delighted that our months of collaboration and effort has been recognized.
Image 4: Presenting at the Catalyst Theater