We were delighted to speak to Ericsson’s CTO, Group Function Technologies and Architectures, Dr Mallik Tatipamula about his career path so far and his hopes for the future

October last year saw the first ever virtual edition of the World Communication Awards (WCAs), celebrating excellence across the international telecommunications industry, from social and environmental projects that have touched thousands of lives to technological brilliance set to reshape the industry itself.

But of course, all of these projects and breakthroughs are ultimately underpinned by the same thing: people. The WCAs strives to recognise the enormous contribution that individuals make when it comes to transforming the telecoms industry and, in 2020, the Awards’ panel of expert judges selected a truly deserving Technologist of the Year, Ericsson’s Dr Mallik Tatipamula.

Total Telecom had the opportunity to speak with him about winning the award, his career, and what the future holds for 5G and beyond.

“I’m really thrilled and excited to win this award,” Dr Tatipamula said. “The world is moving towards a convergence of 5G, edge compute, and AI, and this is a great testimonial to our leadership in the emergence of 5G.”

When asked what inspired him to start a career in telecoms, Dr Tatipamula said it was something impressed upon him from a young age by his family, combined with a naturally inquisitive nature. 

“When I was a kid, my grandfather used to say I should work in Bell Labs, so that was always the plan," he said. "Ever since then, I really wanted to be a part of the telecommunications industry because I was curious to know how a telephone works. Back in those days we used to wait for 10 years to get a new telephone connection in India.”

Now, in his role at Ericsson Silicon valley, Dr Tatipamula spends his days looking far beyond the simple telephone, with identifying and exploring future technologies at the heart of his daily routine.

“My current role is to really look at technology trends and the implications to our strategy. In that regard, my day-to-day role is really to ask ‘what’s next?’” he explained. “I work with a great team here in Silicon Valley, looking at how these technologies are coming together and what sort of exponential innovation can be made to continue to keep us ahead of the competition.”

With 5G being rolled out on a major scale around the world, the telecoms industry’s focus is being forced to expand and be directed towards the ways in which a combination of these new technologies can create novel opportunities.

“I’m really excited about what 5G is bringing to the table,” Dr Tatipamula said. “It is driving new types of transformation in the industry. The first is a technology transformation. We are seeing a number of technologies coming together for the first time: SDN (software-define networks), NFV (network function virtualisation), AI, machine learning, edge compute, security, 5G and IoT – how are all these technologies going to come together to address Industry 4.0? That is a technology transformation.”

“The second transformation is that many players are converging on 5G as an open innovation platform: telcos, cloud providers, industry verticals, enterprise media players… So that brings up an interesting question of what the emerging service and business models are going to be and what the value chain looks like when you have multiple players.”

The world is undergoing a rapid digital transformation with the telecoms industry is at its heart, explained Dr Tatipamula. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, managing this process and maximising its benefits for all is going to be a major focus for the entire industry for the coming decade.

“We are seeing the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, which is itself the basis for digital transformation. Now, especially post-Covid-19, we need to accelerate this transformation and ask ‘how do we accelerate this process for social good?’ I think that’s a key aspect of open innovation across industries for the next 5–10 years,” he explained.

But, in an increasingly digital world, we must not forget the inherent value of the human touch. When asked about defining moments in his career, Dr Tatipamula shared his memories of a chance meeting early in his career that helped shape his life. 

“I had just graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and then started working there. It was my first job and I happened to meet with Professor William Gambling, who was visiting. He was really the father of optical fibre communications. So, that was a big moment for me, meeting someone of his calibre and having such a great dialogue with him. He was such a humble person. That really shaped me and made me say ‘one day, I want to be like Prof Gambling’.” 


The full interview with Dr Mallik Tatipamula can be watched via the link above. For more information about the World Communication Awards, click here

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