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Lately in Telecoms: Everything is digital and virtual!

GSMA Intelligence takes on the metaverse and digital transformation of enterprises

The dusk of 2021 is marking the dawn of a new buzzword in telecoms & tech – The Metaverse. Tech giants are betting big on this upcoming trend and its potential – to the tune of Facebook rebranding itself to Meta..

In this special edition of CURATED (the last for 2021), we look at whether The Metaverse is hyped OR has the actual potential to transform the digital space. We also look at how operators are acting swiftly to play a key role in the digital transformation of enterprises. As always, the analysis we bring here is based on the news items covered in our Industry updates.

Metaverse: What is the buzz all about?

Did you know?

There are more than 30 million results available if you type metaverse into Google.

The recent buzz around the metaverse – driven, partly, by Facebook’s rebrand – helps to explain some of the above numbers. But what exactly is the metaverse? There is no universal definition of the metaverse available and there are multiple versions, from different lenses, floating on the internet. Based on the available definitions, I have attempted to identify the key features, listed below, that encapsulates the meta-universe.

  • Firstly, the metaverse is nothing new but an expansion of the existing applications to create an immersive and real-world alike experience for the user.
  • An existence of life in the digital universe is another key feature.
  • Use of immersive tools to live and experience life in a virtual world.
  • A decentralized universe where people have more control over their things, follow their own rules and have the power to create their own world.
  • Open-ended interfaces and interoperability of tools and assets in different metaverse worlds.

Some major announcements which triggered the recent buzz around the metaverse are listed below. As the concept and technology evolves over time, we will continue to note the developments in our Industry Updates section under the tag “metaverse”.

Nov 2nd: Softbank’s Vision Fund 2 led investor group ploughed USD 93 million in the Sandbox, the metaverse gaming

Nov 2nd: Microsoft announces Mesh for teams, digital experience for your team meetings where you can send your digital twin

October 28th:  Facebook, the parent company, rebrands to Meta to reflect their commitment and investment into the Metaverse

So, what do you think – Is metaverse over-hyped or worth the hype?

The concept of the metaverse is not new. Author Neal Stephenson introduced it as a fictional concept in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash. And hints of the metaverse are already reflected in the existing applications such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite. Ultimately, of course, it all depends on how you define the term.

To me, it is just a term attributed to the evolution of our existing digital world where we already have a presence in some form. The entry into the internet world marked the beginning of this digital universe journey where we are hitting new milestones with every technical advancement, and the Metaverse is one such milestone envisioned. In 2020, the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic accelerated the digital evolution for many people. It’s no surprise, then, to see adoption of the term “metaverse” move to the fore in 2021.

But everything envisioned and possible does not necessarily shout viability. With the advent of 5G, remote surgery was once envisioned as one of the key use cases in healthcare – it is possible today, but has made its way out from the list of viable use cases due to lack of mass demand and scalability issues. Similarly, The Metaverse today also faces some unique challenges.

  • mobility and the comfort challenge with bulky VR headsets, expected to be used for immersive experiences.
  • interoperability b/w different metaverse worlds for seamless experience is a much bigger challenge.

So, why are the tech giants still betting big on this trend?

Well, this is the FUTURE of the digital universe. And, in the tech world, it can take years (sometimes decades’) of R&D for an innovation/idea to come to life and be embraced as mainstream. Hence, it’s better for these players to get involved at the conception stage itself. As for the telecoms and tech industry, an opportunity waits to be unlocked, as the entire concept of the metaverse rests on the ultra-fast and high bandwidth connectivity requirements and the development of apps and devices toolkits.

And, while all this happens, in the here and now it is worth living and believing the HYPE.

Digital transformation of enterprises: Harnessing the power of 5G, Edge, and Cloud

Did you know?

According to GSMA Intelligence research, the average contribution of B2B services in the total revenues of operators (based on reported data of selected operator groups) reached 30% in 2020, up from 17% in 2017. The stagnating/declining revenues from core (traditional) services makes a case for enterprise revenues to be the future driver of growth, and 5G is expected to unlock a myriad enterprise opportunity for operators. The pandemic caused a leap (by several years) in digital adoption, for both consumers and enterprises, resulting in the growth in demand for enterprise services offered by operators.

Which services are seeing the greatest uptake? The GSMA Intelligence ‘Enterprise in focus’ survey highlights that Security Solutions and Cloud Services experienced the maximum growth in demand. To this end, a range of announcements from operators demonstrates that they are acting swiftly to cater to this increased demand by teaming up with cloud/IT vendors, and creation of dedicated business units for enterprise offerings.

To highlight few such announcements:

Nov 9th: Indosat Ooredoo collaborates with Google Cloud to accelerate digital transformation across enterprises

Nov 5th: Microsoft, Vodafone Business partner for enterprise digital transformation of SMBs across Europe

Nov 4th: Fastweb, AWS partner to accelerate SME digital transformation

Nov 1st: Oracle, Orange collaborates for cloud-led digital transformation in West Africa

Oct 17th: Zain Group launches ZainTech, a dedicated unit to offer enterprise digital solutions

So what?

Even before the pandemic, 5G was touted to drive the digital transformation of enterprises and create new revenue opportunities for operators. The pandemic only accelerated this process. At the same time, new cloud native technologies & solutions in the 5G era and the need for edge solutions in support of enterprise use cases, means that a new vendor ecosystem is emerging beyond the traditional vendors.

One result? Co-opetition. Where cloud/IT vendors act as competitors of operators in offering cloud services and solutions to enterprises, 84% of operators (based on survey sample data) claimed that they are teaming up with these cloud/IT vendors to offer complete digital solutions to enterprises.

The recent announcement from AWS planning to sell its own private 5G network to enterprise customers corroborates the above.

What pose as challenges for operators (lack of internal expertise and resources) in the deployment of cloud native solutions is brought as an area of expertise by the cloud/IT vendors. It is, therefore, natural to expect that these partnerships will only bloom in the days to come. The earlier, the better for all.

After all, 5G is not a one-man show (not just about the traditional vendors), it’s about working together.

Finally, do you know that?

All of the above analysis is based on news curated by our team of analysts, and taken from our Industry Updates feed. Visit our feed today for more of the news shaping the mobile industry of tomorrow. It comes without interference!

By Radhika Gupta, Head of Data Acquisition, GSMA Intelligence

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