This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Michael Collins, Vice President of Marketing at Connected2Fiber
Think back to what the telecom space looked like in 2010. 5G was $5,000, Over the Top (OTT) was a Sylvester Stallone movie about arm wrestling and the cloud was, well, weather. Over the last decade, we witnessed some of the most significant technological advances that the telecom industry has seen in a generation. Some of these technologies, such as 5G, are gaining traction but have yet to see widespread adoption, while others - like hybrid cloud - have become fully mature and increasingly essential competitive differentiators to the organizations they serve.
Just after the decade closed with an even higher rate of technological advance in play, thinking about what awaits us in the next ten years is an exciting proposition. Which technological and conceptual trends will continue to reshape the telecom sector and introduce innovation on a massive scale?
The biggest of the megatrends in the 2010s was digital transformation and, by all accounts, this will continue into the foreseeable future. Digital transformation is simply no longer optional for enterprises or their service providers, but it’s still a perplexing task to accomplish, especially when it comes to front-of-house, go-to-market teams. While OSS/BSS functions and other departments have successfully transformed, sales and marketing teams seem to be stuck using spreadsheets and antiquated tools. Keep reading for my take on the top four 2020 telecom predictions and how they’re necessitating digital transformation driven by location-based insights.
- Location-Based Intelligence & Automation Will Hit Mainstream Adoption
Given what we see everyday at Connected2Fiber, it makes sense to start with our prediction that the need for location-based intelligence and applications that drive automation in the go-to-market operations of telecommunications organizations will hit mainstream adoption in 2020.
Constantly, we see executives at well-established telcos “swivel chairing” between outdated spreadsheets and disparate systems to answer even the most basic network-related questions: Which buildings can we service? Which tenants occupy those buildings? Which of our competitors also service those locations? It’s surprisingly common, and no wonder - that’s the way insight into the market has been handled for years. But network operators and managed service providers no longer need to settle for this “not great, but it is what it is” approach in 2020. In fact, they can’t afford to at a time when the competition is injecting intelligence and automation into the most critical aspect of a connectivity-driven industry (location) to improve their marketing and sales efforts. In 2020, we’ll see location intelligence and location-based, go-to-market platforms hit mainstream adoption as organizations realize the immense value that can be created when you have a grasp on your addressable market, can communicate it clearly to the market, and have the capability to quickly identify and competitively price your best prospects.
- SD-WAN Will Be A Significant Revenue Driver For Managed Service Providers
From our perspective, the vast majority of managed service providers are talking about SD-WAN and SD-WAN conversions; it will be a big piece of their revenue stream going into 2020. The rise of SD-WAN deployments clearly marks the industry’s migration away from MPLS platforms and the embrace of cost-effective flexibility in networking. According to a report by IDC, the SD-WAN market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 31 percent from 2018 to 2023, ultimately reaching $5.25 billion.
Historically, the management of connectivity, and connectivity itself, has been controlled by the big carriers. But thanks to SD-WAN, enterprises can now control connectivity to their central headquarters and branch offices via a single management plane. SD-WAN enables enterprises to essentially connect their people to where the applications sit, and consume the data and content required to make real-time decisions. Put simply, decoupling the last mile from the management plane is a critical link to digital transformation, and SD-WAN will help deliver it. Returning to the location theme, SD-WAN will require network operators and MSPs to quickly and precisely identify diverse, redundant networks that can serve enterprise offices. Companies that aren’t accomplishing this will quickly fall behind on their digital transformation roadmap and SD-WAN conversion targets.
- 5G Will Have A Breakout Year
There’s no doubt: 5G is underway and it’s disrupting competitive landscapes. 2019 was a monumental first year for the technology - the success of which depends on who you’re talking to - but 2020 will be the real banner breakout year. However you look at it, 5G is an incredible undertaking that will improve user experience worldwide, and, for many in the industry, capitalizing on it is going to be rooted in location intelligence. That’s because 5G isn’t just about more bandwidth, faster speed capabilities and low latency, but also the densification of antennas and acceleration of fiber build-outs required to enable them. For proper 5G deployment, small cell antennas must be installed closer together, connected to thousands (if not millions) of miles of newly built fiber.
Network operators, therefore, will need to identify the location of all of the new infrastructure rolling out in their market. These new assets represent significant revenue opportunity but if they can’t be found, they can’t drive profit. This is just one area where a front-of-the-house digital transformation powered by location-based insights will yield significant financial results.
- Edge Data Center Buildout Will Continue
The deployment of edge data centers will continue in 2020 and represent another major opportunity for industry players to capture revenue. The more the world embraces IoT, autonomous vehicles, streaming video and other latency-sensitive applications, the more the market demands distributed data. The reliable, low latency connectivity required for these use cases is achieved through physical proximity. There’s perhaps no clearer example of the importance of location in these networking trends than with the buildout of edge data centers, as the entire move to the edge needs to be location-driven.
As more towers, small cells and other facilities come online, network providers will need to easily and continuously identify the exact locations of these assets in order to determine where to compete. Content and infrastructure providers will need to be informed as to ideal site selection candidates for their implementations. Ultimately, location-based insights will be at the epicenter of capitalizing on this trend for any of these types of market players.
About the Author
Prior to leading the Marketing Team at Connected2Fiber, Mr. Collins served in several marketing leadership roles at technology companies in the Greater Boston Area, with his previous experience including working for Tamr, Attivio, RSA, and General Electric. Mr. Collins has over 10 years of practical experience in successfully planning and executing marketing and growth initiatives for both startups and Fortune 500 enterprises. His expertise spans product marketing, lead generation, analyst relations, public relations, business development, and M&A.
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