Tecnotree: Timo Ahomäki's 2016 Trends

2016 might be the year that Big Data gets smaller – and smarter, according to Tecnotree’s Timo Ahomäki...

Which developing or emerging markets (regions / countries) do you cover?

Tecnotree helps more than 100 service providers in over 70 countries and our prepaid solutions support a total of 70 million subscribers across the world. With a large existing global footprint in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, we are now looking to continue to expand our presence in developing regions including Asia.

What are your main hardware and/or services focus areas?

Tecnotree is working on a strategic approach to enable telecom operators to enhance loyalty of subscribers and build sustainable competitive advantage with service innovation and proactive customer care using solutions such as Unified Product Catalogue, Customer Lifecycle Management and Social Media & Self-Care.

Big Data disillusionment

After a lot of hype over the past five years, and despite serious investment by many CSPs, the advertised benefits of Big Data have by and large failed to materialise. This is especially true when it comes to many prepaid driven markets, as the quality of data available for CSPs leaves a lot to be desired from the point of view of completeness and quality.

This will lead to many CSPs returning to a more grounded approach to analytics. In 2016 there will be much more talk about either “small data” or “smart data”, which, In practice, means a greater concentration on the near-real-time behaviour of individual customers. Particularly for the high-churn, prepaid dominated markets, small data approaches provide a much more direct route to actionable insight compared to “traditional” big data methods, and hence are likely to gain popularity with a wide range of CSPs.

Facebook will continue pushing Free Basics hard, despite pushback

Clearly, a central part of Facebook’s push for connecting the unconnected, ‘Free Basic Services,’ will continue to receive focus and funding. Opening up the platform in the summer of 2015, while not resulting in a massive flow of developers initially, is a clear signal that the target is not just push to the Facebook app to the unconnected, but a wider attempt at control on how people experience the internet.

With Free Basic Services currently available in 19 countries and counting, we are starting to see both CSPs and vendors taking the opportunity seriously. We also expect the other major Internet companies, most prominently Google, with their strong foothold in the emerging markets through Android, to enter this game as well.

IoT hype reaches peak intensity

At a time when the IoT hype is generally still rising, the relative lack of concrete success stories in the CSP environment will require a re-adjustment of approach. While the industrial players are concentrating on making their respective end-to-end ecosystems viable, especially from the point of view of smooth deployments, CSPs (with a few exceptions) have by and large been relegated to the role of providing access.

In 2016, the global CSP players will continue forming partnerships and joint ventures with the major industrial players, while the smaller CSP will be looking more into the locally relevant areas such as connected homes and a host of other services requiring a local context. In areas lacking fixed connectivity and with patchy mobile networks, CSPs will naturally have a stronger hand to play in terms of what they can offer to their industrial partners and will be more eagerly sought out as partners rather than merely suppliers.

SDN/NFV will become reality, at least partly

After years of vendors talking up the opportunities around SDN/NFV, we are finally seeing some real-life deployments. While many things remain unclear around the actual deployment details, especially around the complexity of orchestration, many CSPs are now ready to push things into large-scale production.

In 2016 we expect to see several major CSPs roll out systems for commercial production with virtualised network elements, mainly in order to cut costs from deployments and operations, not so much to create new revenue, which will remain elusive in terms of contribution by NFV/SDN. Initial steps will be taken to explore multi-vendor orchestration using various combinations of Openstack, MANO (Management and Orchestration) and other models of orchestration. However, given the complexity and conflicting interests in this area, 2016 will still be a year of exploration rather than mainstream deployments.

Timo Ahomäki is CTO of Tecnotree.

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