From the mag: what is digital time?

What is “digital time” – and why should we care? Nokia’s Henrique Vale discusses.
Nokia, Digital time, Tech, Business, Technology



What is “digital time,” and how is it influencing digital transformation?

In the digital world, everything must be immediate, intelligent and intuitive. But advances in technology don’t necessarily mean faster, smarter and better. Today, time is still in short supply and productivity growth is stuck in the slow lane. By intelligently connecting humans, machines and data, you can boost productivity. You can bring new services to market faster. You can act at the moment, to enrich and monetise customer experience. You can operate ultra-efficiently. And you can achieve more with the right architecture, automated network operations and analytics, and by integrating services into the network in a completely different way. If you want to move productivity into the fast lane, you need to work more intelligently with technology. Enabling machines and humans to do what they each do best creates time for what matters the most. Because life happens in digital time.

Nokia Software solutions are designed to enrich and monetise digital experiences through the power of connected intelligence. Everything we do is with this goal in mind because we believe that operations and networks are integral to a customer’s experience and a service provider’s ability to monetise it. Our solutions help service providers work in digital time, connecting everything with insights and increasingly automated actions that constantly feed each other.

What are the challenges in enabling digital time in the Middle East and Africa?

In order to enable digital time, many service providers across the MEA region are in the process of some sort of digital transformation. According to a study made by Forbes, enterprises are expected to spend about US$1.3 trillion in digital transformation on a global basis. But the sad truth of it is that 70% of their projects fail. We need to collectively take a step back and look what we are doing and find a way to increase our success rate. For that we should look at the 30% of the projects that succeeds. What do they have in common? They move in digital time, with a corporate wide approach to digitalisation and they aren’t afraid to disrupt. They are bold. They also have a thoughtful approach to digitisation. For that reason, we should not talk about digital transformation but digital reinvention.

This involves getting rid of the notion of transformation entirely.  Digital leaders don’t transform slowly. They reinvent quickly. They do it by:

1. Getting clear on their digital ambition.
2. Having a clear end-to-end design point.
3. Launching smart pilot projects that do more than providing new technology. 
4. Then they scale those projects.
5. Then you de-risk by making the proper investments in change, resources, models and technology. 

At Nokia, we have developed a significant experience over the last three years at implementing such digital reinvention programs with many telecom service providers and enterprises around the world, starting with ourselves, with the complete redesign of our portfolio of software assets and solutions, totally centered at the capture of the digital times.

What are the solutions Nokia have for enabling digital time for telcos in MEA, and how do they benefit telcos and society?

If the network is poor, the customer will have a bad experience. If the operations are slow, the customer will have to wait a long time to get services set up and problems resolved. If care or billing is off, a customer may decide to find another supplier.

So, all systems within a service provider must come together to create a great experience. The operations engineer needs tools that allow delivering services in digital time. The networks need to feed relevant information to the customer experience layer. The silos created in departments prevent service providers from getting a holistic view of what’s happening with their customers and what’s the next best action to take.  They can’t wait until analysis is pieced together and the digital time window has closed. Nor should they have to.

At Nokia, we can connect the experience, operations, and network and take a broader look at what’s happening. This is something not every company can do. Our position is - the network matters, telecom domain knowledge matters, advanced intelligence matters, and extreme automation is necessary. And the real value is connecting them to drive better outcomes.

How will 5G impact digital time?

There’s an ongoing, digitalisation-driven value alignment for industry verticals from hyper speed consumer services, to hyper-segmented business services, and to IoT and industrial applications with unique connectivity, security, computing and data management requirements. As a technology, 5G represents the pinnacle of current telecommunications infrastructure thinking, and provides a set of concepts, technologies and network or application functions that could offer unrivalled levels of on-demand service personalisation needed in this new reality.

By properly harnessing 5G technologies and applications, future telcos as digital service providers would be able to meet the demand for new services and unlock new revenue streams. However, the 5G era requires a shift in business and operations models.

Consequently, the 5G era should mean transforming - both technically and commercially - into offering 5G as a digital value platform for an innovation ecosystem, which will define services and the respective needs by itself and not necessarily dictated by the telco.

It seems then that we should look into the transformation to 5G era as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the business and operations platform needed to expose and monetise network and services. Accordingly, 5G won’t simply be the fifth generation or continuation of an existing technology and business model, but rather the first generation of a new communications and digital services paradigm.

What role will security play in enabling digital time?

With the digital times, come also a new era of endpoint attacks, especially for weakly secured IoT devices. Cybercriminals are quickly learning to leverage botnets, orchestrate them and run very focused and destructive attacks. And it’s not just vulnerable IoT devices that are ingress points, but also highly secured smartphones that are now being targeted at scale. In the last three years, our Nokia Threat Intelligence Centre has recognized a scary growth in smartphone attacks that malware writers and scammers love to employ. In addition to the traditional SMS Trojans, spy phone apps, banking Trojans, information theft and ransomware, we are now seeing bitcoin mining added to the smartphone attack repertoire.

To address this, service providers and enterprises must implement modern security operations solutions capable to aggregate, correlate and analyse data from disparate point tools into cohesive and enriched security intelligence with business-specific context. An integrated security workflow automation and orchestration are at the heart of the transition from static defence to agile and adaptive response.

To address those needs, Nokia is proposing NetGuard, an award-winning suite of integrated software modules providing end-to-end Security, Orchestration, Analytics and Response (SOAR). This software is powered by machine learning, analytics and automation that provides extensive visibility and insight into the nature of security threats, and drives intelligent, automated responses.

This story first appeared in the December 2018 print edition of CommsMEA.

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