So the Mobile World Congress is over for another year. Our anticipation of easier travel thanks to the new metro stop was somewhat dampened by the transport strikes, carefully timed for maximum effect. But the show must go on, and it did, and no doubt the taxi drivers had an excellent week – as did we. Our stand was ‘buzzing’, said one visitor, our cloud demos in great demand, and our meetings and conversations productive and, we hope, mutually beneficial to all parties.
The partnership between Barcelona and MWC is set to continue for a few more years, and there’s certainly no doubt that partnerships were taking centre stage at the show – between vendors, between operators, and even between countries and governments with the EU and Brazil signing a 5G co-development agreement, with talk of other such treaties in the pipeline.
As well as 5G, one other very popular area for forming liaisons was the Internet of Things (IoT). Operators are joining forces with other operators, manufacturers are signing deals with operators about the network requirements, and security and systems houses are talking together on the service side. There are a lot of links in the IoT chain, and they are slowly joining up.
All of these front-office partnerships perhaps signal one thing… this thing is too big for any one company, which means that partnerships can be essential for growth – something we have recognised with our partnerships and JVs with AWS and Reliance. Like all partnerships, it’s not the front-office that matters, it’s what goes on behind the scenes. And with the IoT itself the story is the same: creating the network is one thing, joining up the businesses is something different.
This is an area where we are looking to make some great strides – especially with our JV partners Reliance in India. Reliance is one of India’s top private sector business organisations, and has a range of interests that extend beyond telecommunications – industrial, business and consumer operations.
One of the areas we are looking at with Reliance – and working with them to develop for other companies – is how to join up large parts of the back office business processes in order to develop more streamlined front office services that can be offered across the Reliance group. You could say that, at this stage, we are looking at the ‘in-house’ options at Reliance to build an Intranet of Things as a starting point.
But the potential for joining up the businesses processes across different organisations is vast. Imagine, if you will, that you are watching a video on your smartphone of a TV chef demonstrating how to cook a meal. You could maybe take advantage of a special offer to buy the pre-packaged ingredients from a supermarket, but today you would need to visit the supermarket website and search for the offer. How much easier it would be if the video app had a “buy” button that simply required one tap to order, with the charge appearing on your phone bill or credit card. This can be achieved via cross-enterprise collaboration between your mobile operator (which has your billing details and your address), the video service provider and the supermarket. And if we join up the back end processes correctly, they can check that the ingredients are in stock, retrieve your supermarket loyalty card details to allocate your points, and tell you when to expect delivery. All without you leaving the video app on your phone.
To deliver that sort of service the business processing platforms of the organisations need to be connected, yet remain secure; they need to be able to share details, but respect privacy; and they need to be able to present a separate, branded, individual persona, while working together seamlessly in the background. That’s a true business partnership, and that’s what we plan to deliver.