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5G ecosystem strategies: Is there a winning formula?

Last week I had a pleasure to take part in the keynote opening section of the TM Forum event Digital Transformation World 2021. Three members of the industry and myself were interviewed by Nik Willets, CEO of TM Forum for the section “Industry Voices: 5G ecosystem strategies: Is there a winning formula?"

Senior Vice President, Head of Business Area Digital Services


Senior Vice President, Head of Business Area Digital Services

Senior Vice President, Head of Business Area Digital Services

I was thrilled to be joined at this debate by Enrique blanco CTIO, TelefonicaRuza Sabanovic, EVP & CTO, Telenor and Li Huidi Vice President, China Mobile International Limited Group.

The goal of the keynote session was to explore some of the critical success factors for technology leaders and their teams to enable business success in monetizing 5G.

In listening back to the session recently, I became aware of several common themes in the industry for example - challenges in monetizing 5G with enterprise sector but also challenges around communicating our value in this new environment.

There were some common agreements that we need to get these three fundamentals right:

  1. Get more explorative with our customers – we must enquire to really understand what is it that they need?
  2. We need to co-create our offerings as partners in this new ecosystem
  3. Listening to the panelists and I fully agree, we must encourage experimentation in this ecosystem – and we must then be ready to scale beyond experimentation.


Once interesting point raised by Dr Li was that CSPs need to ‘turn their capabilities into products’ and seize the opportunities before them. He said a phrase that I really echo here that we need to move from “network centric service” model to a “service centric network.” This is what I like to call a business first versus 5G mindset.

Although there is agreement, we “can be the platform for the industry digitalization” and while we acknowledge that the past 18 months have showcased how important our role is in connectivity - we have yet to be able to offer a compelling ‘as a service’ offering. That is to say – we have different ways of designing, operating – packaging our value-added offerings. One of our biggest challenges will be in packaging our offerings in a simple way, said Enrique.

This requires a confluence of thinking across our industry. I personally see the greatest potential for 5G monetization by creating this offering and partnering through a 5G ecosystem.

We need to provide end-to-end systems across OSS, BSS, 5G Core – so that we have an innovation generating platform. This will require us to be brave and dynamic in our partnerships. Most of all, we need to create from the customer’s needs.

Ruza raised an interesting point that HCPs are a very ‘sales driven’ organizations - they are selling technology, while Telcos are selling services. Now, we have opportunities to learn from the HCPs, as Mark Newman pointed out ‘it’s not selling something we have built – it is selling something that we will build for the customer’.

Within this shifting landscape, we need to put a price tag on a new way of working, but we also need to ensure that our customer sees us through the correct lens. Let’s stop telling our customers about our connectivity and network expertise, we need to explain and better yet show them what we can do for them. What can we do for the enterprise customer that they cannot do today?

The onus is on us to work harder to explain the value we bring.

All of this needs to happen while we make sure our technology is being upgraded, meets Telco industry standards such as Open APIs, our tech stack is seamless, secure and scalable in a multi-vendor environment.

And as Enrique pointed out there has been more radical evolution of our networks in the past 18 months to 3 years than there has been in the past 10 years!

We can, and do, make change happen!

I was asked to rate the Telco industry on a scorecard, and I offered: yellow, yellow and red for three categories:

  1. Are we moving fast enough to show our value to our customers? – yellow
  2. Are we demonstrating the real industry specific use cases? – yellow
  3. Are we partnering effectively with enterprise business? – red


It’s time to think outside of the box. To leverage the 5G platform and showcase its true potential.

At Ericsson we are challenging ourselves to #ImaginePossible – to imagine a world where limitless connectivity means limitless possibility. I would like to challenge my peers in the industry to leverage this mindset, let’s encourage each other in elevating and monetizing our expertise.

I would like to thank TM Forum for inviting me to this session.

If you wish to see the full episode highlighted above you can watch the on-demand version here.


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