The (relay) race is on for CSPs to capture 5G revenue

Frank Palermo - Virtusa.

The most successful relay race teams don’t just have exceptional individual talents, they also bring out the best in one another, offer complementary skills, and execute as a cohesive group. As we look at the current and future opportunities surrounding 5G, CSPs need to take a similar ‘relay race’ approach to select the right team members (partners) to develop and deliver new services they couldn’t create on their own. The adage that, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” rings true in 5G.

According to a recent study from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), 5G investments are expected to reach $1 Trillion by 2025 – making it a top priority for CSPs worldwide. The report also highlights that only 5 percent of revenues will come from connectivity – the rest will come from new integrated solutions and services that take advantage of the advanced capabilities of 5G.

5G opens a world of new possibilities for businesses, whether for replacing current IT, transforming their operating models, or creating new and innovative products and services to sell to customers. But developing these solutions and being first to market requires a new mindset for CSPs and new ways of fostering collaboration across the ecosystem.

If CSPs want to capture the opportunity presented by both enterprises and SMBs wanting 5G-powered services, they need to collaborate with a broad and varied ecosystem of partners. As we look to 2021 and beyond, strategic partnerships will enable CSPs to design, develop, and launch the 5G use cases and solutions that business customers want and need.

Survey findings from BearingPoint//Beyond indicate that 60 percent of CSPs believe collaboration helps drive cost-effective, innovative solutions – and that businesses need an average of nine partners to support their 5G use cases. Nine partners. That’s taking the relay team analogy to a whole new level of coordination and requires new approaches to how CSPs and partners work together.

To capture a significant piece of the 5G market opportunity, CSPs can apply five best practices from winning relay race teams:

1. Smooth hand-offs make the difference

Dropping the baton in a relay race usually means the last-place finish. It’s no different for CSPs as they need to create a frictionless model for co-creating, testing, and rolling out new services. Ensuring smooth hand-offs and collaboration requires having a forum for CSPs and partners to experiment and innovate with speed and efficiency. Every millisecond counts in a relay race, and the 5G opportunity is no different. Speed will separate the winners and losers – by being early to market with solutions businesses and customers need.

2. Trust your team or find new teammates

Each member of the relay team plays a vital role in the overall success of the group. Successful teams have complete trust in one another to do their part in the race – with passion and consistency. By aligning with the right ecosystem partners, including those they have existing relationships with, CSPs can effectively bring the right products and services to market. Part of the equation for 5G is leveraging existing solutions, building blocks, and APIs – and adding new capabilities or different combinations – to quickly introduce relevant services.

If you can’t trust that your partner knows what they are doing, you will likely have a failed implementation. Why? Because you will always be second-guessing decisions or not taking advice on best practices. CSPs shouldn’t establish trust in the implementation phase. It should have been tested and gained early on.

3. Stay focused on the future

The outgoing runner can’t look backward when receiving the baton, which adds a challenging aspect to the race. An effective non-visual hand-off can mean the difference between winning, losing, or disqualification. The same goes for CSPs when looking for inspiration and insights to drive the next generation of 5G services. The best place to capture those insights early on will come from direct interaction with businesses and consumers. If you’re not working on something they will soon need, move on. There’s so much room for future innovation that winning CSPs will have a strong instinct for identifying those future opportunities, along with the determination to deliver new services just as clients realize they need them.

4. Timing is everything

Based on the runners’ speed, the generally accepted strategy used in setting up a four-person relay team is second-fastest, third-fastest, slowest, then fastest (anchor). Some CSPs are more agile than others when identifying a market need and executing on it. Depending on the customer or opportunity, CSPs need to determine what it takes to get to market early or first. In those situations, CSPs want to team with those quick and nimble partners. In some cases, it’ll be more important to develop an end-to-end solution versus being first. Understand the customer and market demands, set realistic milestones, and meet those timelines.

To quickly shift from being a product-centric organization to a customer-centric one, CSPs must be willing to change their strategic priorities and their internal processes to collaborate with both business customers and third-party partners properly.

5. Have a great coach

Effective coaching runs deeper than wins and losses. It also includes reaching athletes on an individual level. Having a strategic coach (leader) is critical in tapping into the right areas of expertise – and understanding the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Team roles, including the coach, need to be clearly defined from the start. While every team member needs to believe in one another and have an agreed-upon set of goals, the coach needs to ensure everyone brings their best to the table. From setting goals to motivating the team, a great coach will look at the big picture, allowing the team to focus on execution. The ideal coach brings out each team member’s best and requires a unique set of skills and experiences.

While these best practices in one form or another are widely acknowledged by leading CSPs, one big challenge remains: How to enable a level of collaboration that doesn’t exist in the market today? An ecosystem-led strategy in 2021 and beyond will allow CSPs to solve genuine problems for customers and open up fresh opportunities for co-created solutions supported by ground-breaking business models and attractive revenue share arrangements.

To help CSPs innovate and scale for the 5G market and other emerging market opportunities, this month Virtusa launched iComms, an intelligent communications marketplace. To be successful, CSPs have to integrate products and services from dozens, if not hundreds of technology providers. Virtusa iComms offers the best of both worlds – proprietary solutions and the top picks from a vast partner ecosystem – including capabilities and expertise from other providers used most often by CSPs, including AlefEdge, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dataken, Google Cloud, Intense Technologies, MemSQL, Microsoft Azure, Pegasystems, and Salesforce.

With the number of 5G connections expected to grow to over 1 billion by 2023, CSPs can use Virtusa iComms to identify customers most likely to upgrade and efficiently scale network resources as demand increases. In addition to 5G, iComms helps CSPs build and launch new services quickly that capitalize on emerging Cloud, NaaS, and Edge trends to grow new revenue streams. iComms makes it quick and easy for CSPs by providing a comprehensive set of Virtusa offerings including 200+ open APIs, 50+ AI models, synthetic data, and pre-built solutions.

Virtusa iComms is available immediately in general release and can be accessed here.

About the Author

Frank Palermo
EVP & Head of Technology, Media, and Telecommunications at Virtusa

Frank Palermo has over 20 years of global experience as a successful technology executive with broad-based skills, including business consulting, strategy, technology and development, financial and operational management. Frank excels at cultivating an entrepreneurial culture, assembling high-performance teams, identifying emerging technology trends, and incubating innovative, high growth businesses. Frank is passionate about helping companies reimagine their digital future through the application of technology. He frequently collaborates with organizations on ways to accelerate their innovation roadmap.

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