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Convergence is nothing new. However, as technology evolves, it’s being taken to unprecedented levels. The cloud, the endpoint, the edge and now 5G are converging to change the way we collaborate, connect and communicate. However, for telcos and operators, adapting to a 5G world can be a challenge. Not only does it involve new infrastructure, but it requires them to adapt their business models, embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and potentially to develop entirely new revenue streams. At the heart of being able to leverage 5G effectively lies data, which must be portable, protected and above all, available for analysis. Data is the key to unlocking the value of 5G for operators. Gerhard Fourie, District Channel Manager for Commvault in South Africa, explains the opportunities that 5G presents:

The 5G opportunity

While 5G offers unprecedented connectivity speeds, it does far more than simply enable faster downloads. It enables new scenarios that are either difficult or impossible to achieve with current technology, combining the pieces of hyperscale cloud, rich communications and the intelligent edge with low latency, high-speed connectivity. With ubiquitous compute from the core to the edge, real-time actionable insights driven by AI and ML, and the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds, 5G is a game-changer. 

However, this poses a challenge for operators. The current operator landscape is driven by consumer-focused business models, specifically to offer great experiences on mobile phones with access to data. However, 5G and the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT) increases the number of endpoints and sensors on a massive scale. Services must evolve to incorporate more business to business (B2B) and machine to machine (M2M) models. 

The economics of the operator are poised for significant disruption. While challenging, it’s also an opportunity to unlock new value. Low-latency and edge compute capabilities can deliver new solutions and services. One example is rich connectivity for medical devices, enabled via network slicing. This allows the spectrum to be allocated specifically to ensure the quality of service of such devices. In addition, infrastructure software capabilities allows for self-optimising networks, which can dynamically allocate spectrum using AI models. 

Intelligence needs data

Operators must be able to drive simplicity, scale and cost efficiency to leverage these opportunities, along with future-proof, flexible infrastructure that enables new opportunities and business models. While the hardware and sensors are important pieces of the puzzle, the value and competitive advantage lies with AI models. In turn, the value behind AI is driven by the data used to train the models. 

Data lies at the very heart of the 5G opportunity and is the main source of competitive advantage. This data informs the decisions made by AI algorithms, which unlock new applications – from manufacturing to retail, smart cities, energy management, healthcare, transportation, telemedicine, and more. Data needs to be protected, but above all it needs to be accessible. The ability to index data and identify the most appropriate data for AI capabilities is essential. 

Manage your data, unlock the opportunity

The growth in rich, robust endpoint data enables endless possibilities, but if this data isn’t protected and available, it’s nothing but an expensive liability. Data management, delivered as a service, helps operators to protect their data, set retention periods, and incorporate compliance solutions that include endpoint and 5G data. 

Telcos and operators need data protection, recovery and archiving with enhanced application support. In addition, eDiscovery, governance and compliance are critical, including laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and local regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI). On top of this, analytics and content indexing are vital, as are reporting and policy-management capabilities. Finally, data management needs to support mobility, protection from ransomware, and enable smart storage and smart movement of data. What operators need is a single-pane-of-glass solution to protect data from the core to the edge – and everywhere in between.

Vodacom Business

To move your business forward, the best strategic business partner is vital – especially if you have limited experience in a specific area, such as technology. Vodacom Business’ innovative digital solutions ensure a successful digital transformation journey, thanks to best-in-class digital platforms, tools, applications and services as well as Vodacom’s world-class network.

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