The five technologies of connectivity (5G), cloud, computing power, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and business applications are emerging as key to developing an adaptive and agile business that enables the carriers to address the new and emerging demands of the enterprises in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

The year 2020 has truly disrupted the enterprise space across the globe. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the firms in all business verticals, as they struggle to maintain business continuity. 

The pandemic will have far-reaching and long term impact on how organizations conduct business. The new reality is bringing about fundamental changes in how business was conducted in different verticals. From retail to manufacturing to finance to healthcare, the enterprises are forced to rethink their operations, processes, and business model to deal with the new normal. For instance, the retail firms need to prepare for hands-free shopping and new payment options while the healthcare sector is adopting solutions for remote diagnostics to maintain social distancing. 

The new reality has brought a paradigm shift in the way enterprises engage with their customers. There is a greater need to analyze the customer data in real-time to address specific pain points and improve the overall experience. 

All these changes mean that the industries are deploying digital technologies and business applications to modernize their operations. The digital initiatives are driven to support customer expectations for low-friction, end-to-end, and real-time solutions. As the pace of digitalization picks up, the enterprises are demanding solutions and products to better safeguard their customers’ data and privacy. Further, real-time analysis of the collected data is a must for more informed decision-making. 

This increased digitalization of the enterprises has thrown up several challenges for the carriers who now need to reevaluate their offerings to cater to the new industry demands. The carriers need to offer products and solutions that depend on real-time analysis of user behavior and billing capabilities. Several of these digital solutions demand ultra-large bandwidth and a latency of less than one millisecond, which is likely to be facilitated by 5G technology.

"Many carriers are working on improving their offerings, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Service providers need to keep the customer at the center of all their activities and only then will they be able to design value-generating solutions," says Dan Bieler, Principal Analyst, Forrester, at the Huawei Better World Summit NetX 2025 & X-Tech. 

The new services that carriers are developing are cloud-based and depend on massive computing power for fast data analytics. 5G technology enables and drives several of these changes. 

Even as the service providers come up with new-age products and services for the enterprises, they must enhance the operational efficiency of their business processes to address the new challenges effectively. 

For instance, cloud-based OSS/BSS systems ensure better flexibility, agility, and efficiency for both the service provider and its customers. A case in point is how Malaysian carrier U-Mobile has managed to provide mass-customized and real-time customer engagement. The service provider replaced its traditional Customer Relationship Management and Billing and Charging systems to a Business Enablement Platform. This new cloud-based solution allows U-Mobile to use AI for its big data analytics solutions. More importantly, it supports collaboration with its ecosystem partners. 

Win-Win For Carriers And Their Customers 

The five technologies help the carriers bring several benefits for their customers even as they enhance their operations’ efficiency. The benefits for service providers include much-improved network operations and maintenance through fewer process breaks.

The AI enables automation and is thus crucial for better and intelligent network management, which boosts network efficiency and maintenance. AI also helps the service providers with faster resolution of the network issues. In several cases, AI-powered networks are able to resolve the problem even before it starts to impact network performance.The AI technology is also required to decide which data assets can be managed on the edge and which should be sent to the centralized data center with more computing resources. 

On the other hand, cloud computing helps the carriers become more agile and adaptive digital services providers. They also allow the carriers to quickly react to fast-changing customer expectations and demand. It enables carriers to bring down the time to launch end-to-end offerings. 

The seamless integration of the five technologies in the carrier set up benefits the enterprise customer with faster provisioning of network-based features and connected products or services. Smooth and seamless operation between the five core technologies is a prerequisite for a great end-to-end experience for employees, business users, and end consumers. 

"I recommend two high-level actions for building more modern technology infrastructure for a post-COVID-19 world. The first is to move towards an intelligent and automated technology infrastructure, and the second is to always keep an eye on the business objectives. It is easy to get entangled in technology, which is why it is important to ensure that every step helps you move towards the pre-decided goal," says Bieler. 

The carriers need to leverage the five technologies to realign themselves to support the enterprises in their digitization efforts to survive and thrive in the new world order. A converged approach to the management of 5G, AI, cloud computing and business applications will help the service providers in bridging the gap between their offerings and the evolving requirements of their enterprise customers.