Insights from Total Telecom Congress 2019

Last week I was given the opportunity by O2 and the ITP to attend Total Telecom Congress 2019. I was able to sit in on lots of interesting sessions and talks, on topics ranging from: 5G, AI, IoT, eSIM, and automation. Below are a few insights I took away from the two days.

Green ICT and data economy

Within the session, ‘The new data economy should be green’, Cristina Martinez from the European Commission spoke about how there has been a 40% bio-diversity loss and 3 degree temperature increase, due to global warming and climate change. These changes impact society and also business, and as  responsible organisations, we should be changing our own models and digital policies to promote environmental sustainability and becoming more carbon neutral. Cristina also mentioned that ICT infrastructure contributions to 10% of the electricity consumption in Europe. Automation was highlighted as being one way that telco’s can reduce their environmental impact, including using automation to manage traffic, etc.

Organisational culture

Craig Fenton from Google emphasised the need for organisations to be both innovative and disruptive within their markets. He gave examples of how companies from the past who had dominance over their markets, that had eventually become ‘innovation roadkill’ because they had failed to innovate, evolve, and had been left behind. Fenton summarised his strategy in three points:

  1. Create an organisational environment where when you are on the top of your game, you change your game. That organisations should be restless and always looking at what their next evolution will be. He gave the example of England Rugby, now playing a different brand of rugby. #WearTheRose
  2. It’s important for organisations to be experimental (play around with different ideas) and to create an environment where it’s OK to risk trying things and fail.
  3. To look up and outside our organisation. We are all connected, and we are especially connected to our customers. We should use every opportunity we have to engage with our customers, they use our services so they will have some great ideas as well.

Within the ‘Culture re-imagined’ session, the panel talked about organisations embracing different and less traditional hierarchies. They also emphasised the importance for telcos to have modern, relevant identities, and to embrace lean and agile mindsets. Organisations should be able to learn from mistakes and not punish themselves for getting something wrong. Talent attraction and retention was also something that was discussed, with the panel agreeing that the key points to attracting talent are: interesting projects and environments where talent can see they are making an impact, serving a higher purpose/vision, and where they can see there is real meaning to their work. Purpose should filter down from leadership and it’s important that organisations keep re-orienting and re-vitalising their purpose.

Customer experience in the future of telecoms

Fabian Metz from Solvatio presented a different perspective on the future of telecoms, by offering what he feels will be a key differentiator for telco’s: customer experience (CEX). He predicts that in the future, access technologies will be commoditised and that focusing on our brand identity, and his five characteristics of CEX: fast, cheap, convenient, customised, and high quality, will allow us to distinguish ourselves against our competitors.

eSIM, IoT, and the smart cities of the future

IoT (Internet of Things) was a big talking point at the congress. Enrique Blanco, the Global CTIO at Telefonica stated that ‘for the first time ever, we have all the pieces we need for radical change’, with reference to the potential of IoT, digital ecosystems and networks. A challenge for organisations who will rely on IoT infrastructure, will be how they manage their IoT assets that have been deployed out in the field. Paul Bullock from ARM estimates that by 2053 there will be 1 trillion IoT devices connected, all collecting data from various sources.

KORE Wireless presented their thoughts on the benefits of using eSIM (embedded SIM). eSIM is a single, physical SIM, inserted into a device as a normal SIM would be. The difference with an eSIM is that multiple operator and global profiles could exist on the eSIM, so if a customer wanted to switch operators, then the eSIM could be remotely provisioned with one of the profiles on it already. eSIMs will be highly significant to IoT and M2M (machine to machine) transactions. Because IoT devices in theory would only need one SIM for their whole lifecycle, they would be future-proofed in terms of heading towards zero-touch networks with less human intervention required. They would also reduce the amount of site visits needed.

Another way that eSIM will evolve industry is giving IoT customers more control over their assets in a changing technological landscape, and safeguarding them against commercial lock-in.

            The ‘Building the cities of the future’ session also provided a lot of insight into the current and future landscape of IoT. It was also recognised that all of the panellists for this particular discussion were female. The need for seamless E2E, location independent connectivity was acknowledged as being an essential part of the infrastructure needed to support IoT. One of the panellists was Fabienne Dischamps from Smart DCC and she spoke about the key role that smart metering will play within IoT infrastructure. It will provide a secure home energy management platform that will empower customers, by allowing them to have greater choice over their current energy provider. Additionally responding to customer concerns and consciousness around the environment and climate change, by showing them their carbon footprint/energy usage. It will also encourage market competition.

Other drivers for smart metering usage are electric vehicles and helping the national grid to: plan, predict and ultimately cope with the future energy demand in the UK. Fabienne also predicted some future use cases for smart metering, including: healthcare and insurance.

Lucy Doherty MITP, is RAN Tools and Automation Engineer at Telefónica UK Limited. She is also part of the O2 Women’s Network Leadership Team Member and winner of ITP Graduate of the Year 2019.

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