As India stands at the cusp of the 5G revolution, an increasing number of enterprises are preparing for aggressive digital transformation. Entering the 5G era not only promises significant business opportunities, but also opens up avenues for new use cases. Vinish Bawa, head of enterprise, emerging business and webscale, Nokia India, talks about the advent of 5G in India and its impact on Indian enterprises…
How will the advent of 5G services impact enterprises in India? How do enterprises need to transform to leverage 5G use cases?
Enterprises across the globe as well as in India are looking at offering new services, enhancing their delivery capabilities to serve more customers, and increasing their revenues. They need to make their businesses more responsive, agile and innovative, and be better prepared to meet their customer requirements. Enterprises need to automate their workloads to drive efficiency and increase productivity, and this is where technology will play a role, starting with 4G/long term evolution (LTE), which will lay the groundwork for 5G.
5G offers a lot more than faster connectivity for mobile subscribers. The real promise of 5G lies in its potential for an enterprise. With its increased bandwidth, ultra-low latency, enhanced security and the ability to connect 1 million devices per square kilometre, 5G will pave the way for wider use of industrial internet of things (IIoT) as well as remote, automated and autonomous operations that will allow enterprises to improve their productivity and efficiency, and offer safer working environments for the employees. As per Nokia Bell Labs research, 5G, along with edge cloud, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), enterprise private network, etc., is expected to deliver a 4 to 11 times increase in the overall SPE (safety, productivity, efficiency) metric of a typical medium to large factory, compared to current technologies.
Which key enterprise verticals are likely to benefit with the roll-out of 5G? What will be the use cases in these verticals?
Digital industries such as online retail, media and banking have already realised much of their digitalisation potential, but physical industries and asset-intensive verticals such as manufacturing, airports, railways, power utilities, smart city, mines, refineries and public safety are lagging behind significantly. Today, the ratio of information and communications technology spend globally between digital and physical industries is 70:30, even though the proportion of their respective gross domestic product contributions is 30:70. However, by 2030, this will change to 35:65 in favour of physical industries/verticals, as they will undergo a massive digital transformation to get on par with digital industries, with technology (4G/LTE and 5G) playing a pivotal role.
The top use cases would include fixed wireless, remote controlled machinery, video analytics, mission-critical networks, asset tracking and monitoring, supply chain management, smart public transport and automated guided vehicles.
What have been Nokia’s key focus areas, particularly in the Indian market? What opportunity does 5G bring for Nokia in the enterprise segment?
The focus areas in India market will largely be the same as mentioned in the previous response, with manufacturing, transportation, logistics, mining and energy utilities, ports, refineries, healthcare, etc., as the key verticals. Indian enterprises are certainly warming up to the idea of digital transformation. As a recognised leader in the IIoT and networking spaces for Industry 4.0, trusted by thousands of customers worldwide across verticals to deliver mission-critical networks, we are all set to support service providers, system integrators, strategic consultants and leading industrial partners in deploying purpose-designed solutions.
However, some catch-up work needs to be done in order to leverage the full benefits of 5G. For example, strengthening of digital infrastructure, building a strong ecosystem by expanding our roads and railway infrastructure, creating awareness and so on.
What will be the benefits of network slicing for the enterprise segment?
Network slicing is a new technology that communication service providers (CSPs) are looking to capitalise on. It provides a way for CSPs to offer differentiated services with guaranteed quality of service across a common network infrastructure. CSPs expose the network slices to the market, allowing enterprises and business customers to easily subscribe to a slice and configure their service-level agreements based on the needs of their customers, thus supporting new business models (B2B2x). This way, enterprises are able to avail the benefits of a private network without having to build one.
Network slicing, originally a 5G concept, has extended beyond that scope. One important example of the evolving scope of network slicing is the concept of 4G/5G network slicing. Nokia introduced this technical innovation in early 2020 as a way for CSPs to begin adopting network slicing with their existing 4G networks while they ramp up their 5G deployments. This can be particularly useful in the Indian scenario, where 5G has not yet been launched. Enterprises do not have to wait for 5G – they can embark on their journey to Industry 4.0 with 4G/LTE as the enabler.
What are your views on private networks? How do you see private networks evolving in the Indian market?
As the demand for an on-premises and customised connectivity continues to grow among enterprises, LTE or 5G-based private wireless networks have emerged as the go-to technology for providing reliable and secure connectivity, tailored to specific needs for supporting business and mission-critical applications. This is especially true in asset-intensive physical industries that are looking at harnessing Industry 4.0 to increase their business efficiency, improve safety, become more agile and sustainable, and be better prepared for the future. Private wireless networks easily outperform traditional industrial connectivity solutions, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi, which lack the capabilities to control the various aspects of workflows and applications at the industrial scale – be it predictability, flexibility, reliability, mobility or coverage.
We are actively engaging with various Indian enterprises across verticals, to help them prepare for digital transformation with private wireless as the enabler. We have already deployed LTE-based private wireless at our Chennai factory for industrial automation – India’s first “real-world” application of Industry 4.0 – and we plan to migrate it to 5G private wireless soon. Our strong global experience as the market leader in private wireless, and our partnerships with various device suppliers, industrial original equipment manufacturers, system integrators and CSPs gives us the reach and depth needed to help our Indian customers deploy private wireless networks and be future-ready.
What are the three telecom technology trends that you think will shape the enterprise segment in India?
The three main technology trends that will shape the enterprise segment in India, in my view, would be:
- AI/ML: Use of AI/ML will allow enterprises and industries to drive productivity, efficiency and innovation, along with automation. Machines will be able to make quicker and more aware decisions, and carry out operations such as preventive maintenance and anomaly detection with minimum human intervention.
- Digital twins: Digital twins are the bridges between the physical and digital worlds. They accumulate data over time about the structure of a system, its operation, and the environment in which it operates, and this data can be used to build intelligence on top of using analytics, physics and ML. This in turn makes it possible to query the digital twin of a specific system and find out about its past and present performance and operations, thus receiving early warnings and predictions and improving productivity.
- Network security: More and more mission-critical information will travel over the networks as enterprises undergo digitalisation – for example, machine design and control data, pharmaceutical formulas, etc. Data privacy and network security will gain the utmost priority. So, whoever an enterprise chooses to partner with, whatever solution it chooses, data privacy and network security will have to be ensured.
What will be Nokia’s growth strategies/plans, particularly in the enterprise segment?
In India, Nokia is aiming to be the partner of choice for all enterprises – private and public – with a strong focus on verticals such as defence/public safety, utilities, transportation, government-driven broadband initiatives in cities, and private campuses. Nokia has a wide range of end-to-end solutions, which will enable enterprises create digitised business experiences, improve cost management, lower the total cost of ownership and compel economies of scale.
We enjoy a solid relationship with the CSPs in India, and we aim to partner with them to offer connectivity and private wireless solutions to the enterprises that want to deploy their own private networks. We are here to help them accelerate the pace of digitalisation in their operations and achieve their goals of sustainability, automation and efficiency.