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Look in the Mirror and Foresee the Future of Telecommunications

By Martin Laesch, Chief Technology Officer, Neural Technologies

The adoption of 5G will unleash the full potential of augmented and virtual reality, Smart Cities, and the Internet of Things (IoT); this will present opportunities for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to strengthen current revenue sources or create entirely new revenue streams. Consumers continue to display an insatiable appetite for data and with the consumption of data-hungry applications securing a place in consumers’ daily lives, data usage is set to continue increasing exponentially into the future.

CSPs currently face the ever-increasing challenges of leveraging 5G networks and offering customers new types of services. To overcome these challenges, new digital technologies are required to automate complex business processes to provide customers with the personalized service they have come to expect in a fast-evolving, digital world.

By 2025, CSPs should already be leveraging 5G networks to offer new types of services to various customer segments. The challenges of this endeavor will lie in the ability to scale telecom platforms, automate lifecycle management of network slices, and incorporate predictive demand and maintenance – all while ensuring operational efficiency and a behind-the-scenes workforce to support platform optimization.

Using automation to improve customer services

To address these challenges, an Analytical Data Model (Artificial Intelligence [AI] Data Model) and Machine Learning (ML) were used to develop the Digital Twins technology and tested as part of the 2019 TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project. The technology serves as a virtual representation of a real-world entity or system, which acts as a mirror to provide a means to simulate, predict, and forecast behavior in the digital world. As part of the catalyst project, the Digital Twins technology was applied to various use cases, such as networks, individuals, organizations, and processes, to determine their effectiveness for telecom industry applications in order to address the aforementioned challenges predicted for 2025.

For the Digital Twins technology to be possible, a common data model is essential. All data needs to be classified and structured in the same way for the digital technology to perform. Digital Integration is the first step to making this possible.

One example of a Digital Twin is that of a customer. A customer’s Digital Twin will be represented in a heatmap with icons to help visualize aspects of their digital lifestyle, such as whether they spend a lot of time gaming, have high mobile usage, or are physically inactive. This twin can then be used by the CSP to tailor messages to that individual. For example, the Digital Twin may show that the customer has a low step count, which could trigger a notification to the individual to be more active.

Using a Digital Twin, operators can also determine where there will be a significant increase in latency within the network, and then share that information with the customer’s Digital Twin to find out what is going to be affected and determine the next best action.

The Digital Twin can also speed up product development cycles, save time and money, and create new business models based on intelligent outcomes. This allows enterprises to personalize the customer experience and meet their precise demands, thereby enabling the enterprises to grow and improve their customer base through targeted campaigns, tailored services, and promotions. In turn, this generates greater customer loyalty and retention as well as customer spending through personalization with timely, individually tailored offers.

Proven methods for the future

The TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project proved that Digital Twins not only work for the manufacturing industry, but for the telecommunications space as well. As part of the project, Neural Technologies successfully created a Customer Twin alongside the collaborative development of a Mobile Network Twin and an Enterprise IP Network Twin, all originating from the core AI Data Model.

In addition, the catalyst project also demonstrated real-time communication between the twins. Using the proposed TM Forum Open Application Program Interfaces (APIs), Neural Technologies was able to share such simulated, forecasted, and predicted outcomes so that each individual twin was able to recommend a more informed action, instead of a siloed view.

Ultimately through using Digital Twin technologies in the telecommunications industry, a more holistic view across the whole of the operator’s network will be achievable, making it possible to not only make more informed recommended actions, but also make equally fast decisions. As a result, all such “what if” scenarios could now be done in the virtual world without affecting the real world.

Next to the challenges the telecommunications industry will face with the ever-growing volumes of usage data, software vendors like Neural Technologies need to provide solutions that are able to exchange data with any kind of connected system. Information exchange between systems will be key. and the usage of real time APIs will grow. Industry standards for these APIs, like those specified through the TM Forum Open APIs, will help to standardize the exchange of information which Neural Technologies fully supports already today.

With more data becoming available through the Internet of Things and 5G in the future, operators need to prepare themselves to leverage this data. Data is every operator’s asset, and using AI and ML, these assets can be mobilized to enable CSPs to strengthen current revenue sources by creating entirely new revenue streams. Ready to help CSPs achieve these goals, Neural Technologies’ state-of-the-art digital transformation and analytical technologies can help CSPs leverage this data and create new revenue streams.

Bio

Martin Laesch joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 as Senior Vice President of Professional Services and is now the Chief Technology Officer. Martin is responsible for the global Strategy and Products, Solutions development as well as the Consultancy Services to customers. Martin has more than 20 years’ experience in telecommunications services and the software industry, filling roles from Project Manager to Managing Director. Martin joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 by acquisition of Enterest GmbH, which he co-founded in 2003. Martin holds a Master of Computer Science degree.

 

How IoT Adaptation in 2020 Will Boost Manufacturing Profit, Not Destroy Jobs

By Darren Sadana, CEO, Choice IoT

IoT platform spending is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent over the next few years, from $1.67 billion in 2018 to $12.44 billion in 2024, globally. Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is just now getting underway and will transform conventional manufacturing methods like never before.

More intelligent sensors are gathering and transferring larger amounts of data at faster speeds, and are now capable of making decisions on the spot. Their agility makes them ideal substitutes for the large software-driven manufacturing execution systems currently in place.

These valuable changes active in manufacturing plants, as a part of Industry 4.0, are substantially boosting manufacturing ROI instead of putting people out of work.

Presently, the bulk of manufacturers considering the use of industrial IoT are focused on assessing what digital infrastructures need to be in place to ensure Industry 4.0 takes off smoothly.

Industry 4.0 comprises the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and smart manufacturing, marrying conventional operations of standard manufacturing with smart digital technology. The basic technologies that fall under 4.0 are artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing (additive manufacturing) and blockchain.

The result? A better, faster ecosystem for companies to process supply chain management in real-time.

How Manufacturers Can Make the Most Out of IoT

Fundamental technologies like AI and blockchain rely on constant access to each other and to the cloud. This process depends on 24/7/365 wireless connectivity, which confers to manufacturers an essential commodity—the ability to obtain accurate, current information, including pricing and contract requirements.

Deleting a primitive central application that determines output, real-time data will now require an explosive increase in data analysis, making it absolutely imperative to create actions around the data gathered.

Still, speed will not hamper accuracy as the intelligence of these machines grows, and only those manufacturers who can make to stock, order and assemble-to-order will win.

In addition to increased efficiency, predictive maintenance will become conventional. No longer will idle time associated with repairs be a concern, because with IoT adaptation, sensors will monitor and analyze multiple signals and alert operators to machines that require servicing.

Since most US manufacturing plants are at least 20 years old, their in-house machines are not equipped to operate in an Industry 4.0 environment (and are also much more prone to breakdowns).

These breakdowns account for up to $50 billion per year in lost manufacturing time, something IoT adaptation can mitigate.

With discrete manufacturing and predictive maintenance, IoT will contribute to the safety of workers by directing them to an emergency evacuation, safeguarding them from serious accidents. With new and improved inventory and equipment tracking, thousands of man hours will be also saved, and businesses will see an expansion in profit without an inflation in data costs.

Industry 4.0 and The Age of 5G Manufacturing: Creating More Jobs

Despite saving man hours, more jobs will be created—those “saved” man hours will be put to use creating jobs that have to manufacture new and smarter devices. With 5G’s multi-trillion-dollar rollout, the number of new jobs predicted for manufacturing alone will triple, according to the World Economic Forum via Forbes.

“Machines and algorithms in the workplace are expected to create 133 million new roles but cause 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022.” Today, businesses are waking up to the new staffing and organizational demands of IoT.

At the industrial level, IoT will increase the use of robotics, automation, and analytics, creating a higher demand for cognitive occupations, increasing productivity, and producing a more engaging work experience.

As with every industrial revolution prior to Industry 4.0, there will be a net increase in jobs. Technology always opens new opportunities, so we must account for potential job mutations that IoT adaption will continuously bring.

Just like the Amazons of the world emerged after the crash of the dotcom bubble, only made possible by higher internet speeds and faster data transmission, a new era of creative destruction is now on the rise—paving the way for the Amazons and Facebooks of tomorrow.

Healthcare, hospitality, transportation and numerous additional industries will be radically transformed, but only companies taking advantage of IoT will thrive, along with employees who commit to knowledge-intensive sectors.

Vending machines will be gamified so consumers can engage with interactive games to win prizes and create loyalty. Retina scanners can be installed to read customer reactions to gain insight into how they react to different packaging, messaging, colors and games.

IoT will impact additional industries such as healthcare as well, with similar gamification or new devices. Leveraging IoT will allow healthcare providers to make better, faster care decisions including, but not limited to, smart pills, robotics, and Real-Time Health Systems (RTHS).

In the security industry as well, the use of IoT will spike.

Preparing for Innovation while Controlling Costs: 5G Management

Industry 4.0 will transform plants into digital powerhouses, especially as 5G becomes a non-negotiable utility for consumers and dependency on IoT concepts increases.

5G will transmit data faster—which in turn will cause some devices, for various reasons, to work overtime. This will increase costs, and companies won’t realize this until they get the carrier bills at the end of the month and see that the devices went over their allotted MBs.

This makes having the right IoT wireless connectivity partner critical. Platforms must be able to deliver huge amounts of data down to the session level, and be capable of deploying thousands of devices at a time with error-free provisioning.

With 5G Wireless connectivity happening right now, ChoiceIoT is a master agent for T-Mobile, which has already launched 5G in more than 200 cities. Choice IoT can provide the technology and guidance for solution providers to transfer or build their solutions on the network of the future.

As of now, only 14 percent of machines in current US manufacturing plants are equipped to transmit and receive real-time data. Those companies that do not adapt to IoT will compete with existing solutions in the marketplace and become obsolete very quickly.

Solutions providers need to stay ahead of the curve with R&D to make sure they are competitive in the 5G landscape of tomorrow. As they develop solutions that can take advantage of 5G, they can also increase their profitability and relevance in the marketplace.

Due to intense competition among the wireless carriers, 5G costs are not predicted to increase. There are also no cost increases due to carrier competition or the data itself, but the opportunity for expansion of data and overload, and increased number of devices utilizing the technology will result from dramatic increases in speed.

The key to controlling data costs is to get data scientists to evaluate the data and see what data solutions bring cost savings. With Edge Computing, for example, smarter devices and sensors will reduce the need for data to be brought to a central cloud to be analyzed.

Along with data monitoring, using alerts and analysis forms a good connectivity platform that can help businesses see where the data leakage is happening and if that data is relevant.

Most importantly, drilled-down usage by session level is key to good data analysis. This can help identify rogue software and assist solution providers in minimizing data connectivity and storage costs as 5G rapidly approaches.

For example, the vending machine, a common and universally manufactured product, is closely tied to micro markets. This automated, self-checkout technology operates unattended, keeping labor costs down—but would not be possible without a connectivity partner with a real-time IoTSaaS or IoTPaaS to help control devices at the platform level by receiving notifications of rogue or stolen devices incurring roaming charges. Without such partners, these micro markets could lose the momentum gained by heavy carrier charges.

The Revolutionary Potential

This fourth industrial revolution was precipitated by the transition from handwork, to machinery (in the late 18th century), to computerization (that began in 1950). This is a very exciting time, as devices are able to communicate with each other and make decisions without the data having to pass through a central server. This greatly increases the scope and possibilities of new solutions being developed in the marketplace, and consumers will benefit from a better quality of life.

With IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) converging to form a powerhouse of smart manufacturing, there is no pause in its arrival. Experts also predict that the total bill for the 5G rollout, globally, will exceed $2.7 trillion by the end of 2020.

Bio

Darren Sadana, CEO of Choice IoT, Master Agency for T-Mobile. T-Mobile has already launched 5G in over 200 cities—and Sadana’s first-in-industry IoTSaaS is providing the new era of wireless connectivity control of costs for millions of Internet of Things devices within new smart cities as well as the transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, security, retail, hospitality, engineering & energy industries in the US and globally.

Unmanned Edge Operations Are the Future

By Michael C. Skurla, Chief Technology Officer, BitBox USA

The growth of edge is an interesting phenomenon. The rise of edge computing closed the IT infrastructure gap with edge data center deployments. The rise of public cloud and centralized computing paved the way to hybrid cloud and decentralized computing. However, within a distributed infrastructure, the IT ecosystem demands a mix of telecom and web services.

Whether on-premise, or closer to end-users, edge computing complements the current public cloud or colocation deployments.

The increased demand for connectivity-driving data proliferation positions IoT’s critical role as an edge enabler. But adding more “client” devices to networks isn’t the only role of IoT within an edge ecosystem. The often-overlooked side is for the required IoT technology to enable edge operations.

While cloud computing shifted the data center to a third-party network operations center (NOC), it didn’t eliminate on-premise data center operators who manage and respond to facility problems. Edge introduced a new challenge to network operations: autonomous management with limited access to the individuals who are local to equipment to address problems or perform maintenance. The new norm does not have in-house IT staff, equipment and machines under one or several roofs. It distributes data center operations into thousands of smaller facilities, most of which are not readily accessible in a short drive or walk.

Describing the edge as, “the infrastructure topology that supports the IoT applications,” Jeffrey Fidacaro, Senior Analyst for 451 Research Data Centers, underscores the importance of building a “unified edge/IoT strategy” that taps into multiple infrastructure options to manage the onslaught of IoT and facility systems while dealing with the needs of constant change.

Interestingly, the platforms around IoT solutions, not the hardware itself, are the answer to this quandary. Based on IT standards, IoT sensing and monitoring hardware offers granular, a la carte-style monitoring solutions. These solutions are often easy-to-install, flexible form-factor hardware packages that equip small sites, from shelters down to small electrical enclosures. Since these devices offer a multitude of functions and data points, they make reliable and remote facility management possible.

For instance, the sensing technology of ServersCheck allows granular site data to be generated from hardware, which complements an IoT platform that allows large amounts of sites to be monitored in concert while also tying in more complex control sub-systems such as HVAC, generators, access control, and surveillance equipment. These IoT platforms expand monitoring and remote management to a global scale, allowing customized alarming, reporting, dashboarding, and more, for a geographically distributed portfolio of locations.

This style of IoT management solution allows a flexible, customized design for each site. Its scalable infrastructure reduces the need for NOCs to monitor multiple separate software packages to determine conditions at each site. This facilitates rapid remote diagnostics and a triage of problems before dispatching staff to remedy issues.

Edging to Cellular Levels

Telecommunications keeps pushing further to the edge. In particular, remote monitoring is more crucial than ever, with the planned 5G rollout that ensures rapid growth of small-cell technology piggybacking on shared infrastructure such as streetlights, utility poles, and existing buildings.

As wireless transmitters and receivers, small-cell technology design allows network coverage to smaller sites and areas. Compared to the tall cell towers enabling strong network signals across vast distances, small cells are ideal for improving the cellular connectivity of end-users in densely developed areas. They play a crucial role in addressing increased data demands in centralized locations.

The rapid scalability of small cell technology can not only meet the demands of 4G networks, but can also easily adapt to 5G rollouts to expedite connectivity functions closer to the end-users. In clustered areas, small-cell technology allows for far superior connectivity, penetrating dense areas, and in-building sites.

Consider small-cell technology as the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution. Enabling the transmission of signals for transmitting even greater amounts of data at higher speeds, small-cell technology empowers IoT devices to receive and transmit far greater amounts of data. It also enables 5G technology, given the density requirements of the technology.

Enterprises face a flood of data from IoT connectivity. In fact, Cisco estimates this data flood to reach 850 zettabytes by 2021. This is driving edge buildouts of all sizes and shapes. To accomplish this, edge operators must rethink how they manage and monitor this explosion of sites. IoT platforms have proven to have the scalability and flexibility to take on this challenge in a highly affordable way.

As Forrester research predicted, “the variety of IoT software platforms has continued to grow and evolve to complement the cloud giants’ foundation IoT capabilities rather than compete with them” and it expects the IoT market to continue to see dramatic and rapid change in coming years.

It’s time for the technology that edge is being built to support – IoT – to play a role in managing the critical infrastructure that enables it. IoT platforms can tie the knot for this marriage.

Bio

Michael C. Skurla is the Chief Technology Officer for BitBox USA, providers of the BitBox IoT platform for multi-site, distributed facilities’ operational intelligence, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Mike’s in-depth industry knowledge in control automation and IoT product design sets cutting-edge product strategy for the company’s award-winning IoT platform.

2020 Cloud Market Predictions: The Future Looks Bright

2020 Cloud Market Predictions: The Future Looks Bright

By Mark Kirstein, Vice President, Products at BitTitan

For many people, the New Year is a time for reflection on the year gone by and an opportunity for renewed commitment to progress and goals. The same is true for businesses. As we embark on a new year and a new decade, many businesses are trying to anticipate where the market is headed so they can make strategic plans that will result in success.

Many things could influence market conditions around the world this year, from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, to the U.S. – China trade war, to the U.S. presidential election. While the U.S. surplus in exported services is shrinking overall, this trend is not expected to have a negative impact on the cloud services sector. Read on for our top six predictions for the cloud market in 2020.

  1. SaaS growth will continue

Currently, the cloud is a $200 billion market, yet overall IT spending is in the trillions of dollars. This means that spending for on-premises (on-prem) software and services remains strong. Is this a bad sign for the cloud market? Absolutely not. We anticipate the global cloud services market for 2020 to continue to grow in excess of 20 percent. Many organizations are moving to the cloud in stages and there are several factors that will keep migration in forward motion. These include increased confidence in and reliance on cloud services, the phase-out of on-prem software like Microsoft Exchange 2010, and continued aging of hardware and infrastructure. While we expect most companies to make conservative spending decisions in 2020, decisions related to the cloud are fundamental to operations, particularly for global companies, and not as likely to be put on the back burner. We will see continued innovation of SaaS services and offerings, coupled with organizations migrating closer to an “all-in” adoption of the cloud. There is a lot of opportunity ahead for SaaS.

  1. Cloud-to-cloud migrations will continue to rise

While companies are continuing to migrate from on-prem to the cloud, we expect to see a continued uptick in cloud-to-cloud migrations as more companies devote attention to optimizing their cloud footprint. Currently, a majority of BitTitan’s business is cloud-to-cloud migrations. The historical concerns of cloud security, reliability, quality, and SaaS-feature parity have largely been addressed, but companies are continually searching for the provider that can deliver the most value for their IT dollars. Businesses want the ability to move their data while avoiding the perils of vendor lock-in. Furthermore, maintaining a multi-cloud environment allows companies to better manage business risks.

  1. The use of containers will increase

Containerization, which packages up software code and all its dependencies so the application runs quickly and reliably and can be moved from one computing environment to another, has achieved mainstream adoption and will continue to be a strong market segment in 2020. Containers offer a great deal of flexibility and reduce the risks for companies moving to the cloud. They reduce infrastructure costs, accelerate and simplify the development process, result in higher quality and reliability, and reduce complexity for deployments. Containers also aid in cloud-to-cloud migrations. Businesses that use containers can easily run them on Google Cloud today and switch to other platforms like Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) tomorrow without complex reconfiguration and testing. This allows businesses the freedom to shop for the right cloud environment. This is one of the reasons the container market is growing at a rate of more than 40 percent, and we expect that growth will continue.

  1. Microsoft and Google will seize market share from AWS

Of the top three public cloud providers today, AWS was first to market and has enjoyed a considerable lead in market share. AWS has been particularly appealing for companies that want to provide “born in the cloud” services. But in 2020, we expect the two other top public cloud vendors – Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud – to make significant inroads and take market share away from AWS. Part of this is simple math: With such a big slice of the market, it will be hard for AWS to maintain its rate of growth. And the competition is getting stiffer. Microsoft is doing a great job of appealing to enterprises who are grappling with legacy infrastructure. Google also is making significant investments in its cloud computing unit. Its technology is already very good and easy to use, which will make Google a force to be reckoned with. Another trend we are likely to see is that smaller public cloud vendors will drop out or choose to focus their business on the private cloud infrastructure market, where they are more likely to excel.

  1. The market will expand and consolidate

As the cloud market grows, the ecosystem will expand with the types of solutions and capabilities to manage and streamline, increasing the value of investments in the cloud. On average, companies using cloud technologies are using five different cloud platforms. We will continue to see new and improved offerings to help companies assess, monitor, and manage their cloud footprints to reduce costs and improve security. As new, compelling cloud solutions enter the market, we are likely to see more consolidation, with Amazon, Microsoft and Google continuing to acquire new solutions to enhance their own offerings.

  1. 5G will usher in the next level of cloud adoption globally

Recently, Ericsson Mobility predicted that there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions by 2023 and they’ll account for almost 20 percent of the entire global mobile data traffic.[1] Besides the massive increase in speed provided by 5G technology, it also comes with a remarkable decrease in latency. While 3G networks had a latency of nearly 100 milliseconds, that of 4G is about 30 milliseconds, and the latency for 5G will be as low as 1 millisecond, which most people will perceive to be nearly instant. With this type of performance, we believe that cloud-based services will become more reliable and efficient. Not only that, but 5G may also accelerate cloud adoption in countries that are lacking wired infrastructure today.

Without a crystal ball, there is no way to know for sure what the market landscape will look like in the coming months. But by analyzing recent trends and considering their implications for the future, companies can take a forward-looking approach that will position them to stay ahead of the curve and be ready to seize opportunity as it arises. This year is looking bright for the cloud.

Bio

Mark Kirstein is the vice president of products at BitTitan, leading product development and product management teams for the company’s SaaS solutions. Prior to BitTitan, Mark served as the senior director of product management for the mobile enterprise software division of Motorola Solutions, continuing in that capacity following its acquisition by Zebra Technologies in 2014. Mark has over two decades of experience overseeing product strategy, development, and go-to-market initiatives.

When not on the road coaching his daughter’s softball team, Mark enjoys spending time outdoors and rooting for the Boston Red Sox. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University.

[1]How 5G will Accelerate Cloud Business Investment,” Compare the Cloud.net. Retrieved December 17, 2019.