There is no going back to before the COVID-19 pandemic. The world better understands that a lot of experiences we used to do in-person can now be done digitally. Social distancing has created a ripple effect and a springboard into digital that will change things forever.
These times will cause an exponential growth in requests for real-time digital experiences that will create huge operational challenges for service providers. These requests will not just be made from people-to-machine, but machine-to-machine. To meet this demand, operators will need to evolve from digital service providers (DSPs) to experience service providers (ESPs).
ESPs won’t simply provide a digital business solution or service, but 360-degree execution of a specific experience. For example, employees are heading to a meeting in their separate connected cars, when there is a sudden road closure up ahead. A machine-to-machine request can coordinate everyone’s current location and effectively identify an alternative meeting spot, plus revise event logistics like AV and catering. This can be done by an ESP running an autonomous auction based on price, location, and availability.
Or let’s say an e-sports manager wants to start a last-minute tournament. The manager could task an ESP to create this in real time by automatically selecting the right broadcasting capabilities, inviting all gamers, equalizing bandwidth among players, and selecting prizes. At the end of the event, the ESP can then get feedback and settle billing with all vendors.
How will this be done? By ESPs pulling together the micro-experiences and technologies necessary to create a seamless, smart outcome in real time, while coupling the right vendors, insights, and connectivity to bring the experience to life.
The Rise of Operational Singularity
We’re all familiar with technological singularity, and the rapid pace of technology’s evolution. As machine learning becomes vital to operations, and due to the exponential pace of real-time demands, operations will have its own singularity event.
We believe operational singularity is the point at which ESPs will need AI to automate operations with a focus on continuous learning, improvement and governance across every aspect, touchpoint, and technology.
Simplifying Complexities that Come with Critical Technology Change
This shift to becoming an ESP won’t be an easy one, but it may happen faster due to the pandemic. Cloud and automation will be critical to keep pace and quickly launch new offerings. We’ll see more significant investments in 5G as consumers look for out-of-the-home networks that can provide the virtual experiences they will now expect. This combination of 5G, multi-cloud, IoT and outsourced microservices brings unique challenges service providers must prepare for.
While 5G will create new experiences and revenue opportunities, it’s only one example of critical change. McKinsey estimates AI alone has the potential to deliver global economic activity of around $13 trillion by 2030. By 2023, the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is predicted to increase to 43 billion. We’ll see even more technologies and business models in areas like quantum computing, gig and sharing economy, and digitization of services similar to Uber.
To enable these new experiences and support complex business operations, service providers worldwide must embark on transformation journeys centered on the cloud and the agility this brings. One size doesn’t fit all, and Gartner defined five distinct strategies for this journey: re-host, revise, re-architect, rebuild, and replace. As part of this transformation, change management is crucial and must include technology, processes, and people. Traditional big bang transformation projects won’t work. From day one, service providers need to modernize legacy systems and bring value in short cycles.
Service providers will also need to implement AI-driven operations (AIOps), focused on continuous improvement to stay one step ahead, with full automation. Not everything can be modernized at once, and some legacy will remain for the foreseeable future. As service providers strive to become ESPs, they will be forced to manage their IT in hybrid mode. IT organizations must respond by focusing on creating a transparent hybrid approach (current, cloud, multi-cloud). Masking hybrid complexity using AI, automation and SRE methodologies will be required. This must tie current applications with the latest technologies and network changes to address the ever-growing demand from humans and machines.
Service providers have to act now before technology outpaces the business, or risk falling behind and missing critical opportunities, both for monetization and organizational growth. But those who act fast to harmonize technology, people and processes will have a competitive advantage, and will drive our digital future.
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