The future is 'one-click softwarisation'
Back live and in-person at this year's Capacity Middle East conference in Dubai, the keynote panel session had one message to share – its time for carriers to 'rise above the dumb pipe' and enter into the world of softwarisation.
Its time for carriers to 'rise above the dumb pipe' and enter into the world of softwarisation.
Moderated by Sam Evans, senior partner at Delta Partners, the panel was made up of Abou Moustafa, vice president of medium & large enterprise and Datamena, EITC; Ali Amiri, group chief carrier & wholesale officer, e& (ITW Global Leaders' Forum member); Veer Arjun Passi, group CEO, Kalaam Telecom | Tawasul Telecom; Georges Jaber, vice president of wholesale commercial, Salam; Nicola Tordela, SVP at Zain Global Communications.
In the words of Moustafa, its about making one-click connections happen through softwarisation. "It’s a big transformation either on the back-end or the front end. Now the enterprise is evolving as a consumer. Its about personalisation and getting more on with just one click from whatever operator you use."
Passi's definition of softwarisation takes more of a technical approach, describing it as "decoupling the hardware and network functions" and recognising that everyone in telecoms is in "different phases of evolution of softwarisation" but "virtualisation is something that has been happening for a while".
"Self-preservation is key for telecom operators to start competing and probably become an OTT player and start competing with the hyperscalers in the coming times. There's no way out for telecom operators, we have to start to digitise, virtualise and softwarise ours networks and come on a level playing field with some of the cloud and hyperscalers," he added.
Salam's Jaber said that the ultimate goal of the telecom operator is to "optimise what we call the lead to cash process. Meaning that Salam gets an order from an end user whether it's a B2C or B2B customer and turning it into let's say an opportunity proposal and then actually demanding the service. We can optimise this process using software, reliable virtualisation and other such techniques."
According to Moustafa "The global Software as-a-Service market will be worth to US$716 billion dollars by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 27.5% between 2021 to 2028."
This massive growth he says is under pinned by the fact that "customers no longer want to own their own infrastructure, there is no longer any appetite for capex intensive investment. Customers want to pay for what they use, which is fair. Meaning they are shifting their spend from capex to opex."
A question from the audience saw Nicola Tordela, SVP at Zain Global Communications, who was filling in for Kamil Hilali, voice his opinions on how this growing softwarisation would affect the company's people acquisition. Would they be recruiting from new talent pools to meet the need for more software skilled people?
Recognising that this huge shift in industry has in turn resulted in a big change in talent, the bottom line for Tordela was "We need fresh blood, new ideas and skills sourced from the software space".
This also requires a shift in working behaviour, "a change in mindset away from an "eight to five stake in the office" overall to a more flexible and open approach.
The most poignant comments came from Ali Amiri, who on the question of investment said: "If you stand against cost being your obstacle, you might be committing business suicide. You have to be careful because there are people on the field who are walking, some ahead of other people in term of the money they are spending. The hyperscalers, they are running. So learning how to catch them out and match them is a challenge. But if you don't do it, you might as well close shop."