by Rakesh Dawar, Segment Head, Tata Consultancy Services

The speed with which new technologies are ushering in change is breathtaking, while the scope of that change can be mind-blowing. Consider the internet of things (IoT) and 5G. Together they have the potential to revolutionize the way we live.

A lot of these changes will be encountered in the development of the smart city, where data and communications from connected devices will help in the efficient and effective administration of everything from traffic signals to day-to-day activities like garbage disposal.

Change may be part of life, but it is never a risk-free undertaking. So how best can CSPs assess the likely outcomes of new operations and new customer journeys without exposing themselves to unnecessary levels of risk?

Embracing the future

If the objective of a smart city is to create a better-connected society, the infrastructure underpinning it will need networks that can really deliver. This, in turn, means more pressure and expectation on communications service providers (CSPs) to continuously transform network design and operations, introduce new customer touchpoints and provide ever-increasing levels of seamless connectivity for consumers and organizations alike.

There is already an enormous, and growing demand for better connectivity to support business ambitions and customer experiences. But rolling out any change to an operation can be daunting.

Digital twins

If you have had any experience in a financial role, you’ll be familiar with the concept of “what-if” analysis. In short, you change the values in certain cells of a spreadsheet to monitor what the cumulative effect of these changes might be: what if sales receipts fell by 10%; what if they rose by 15%?

An enterprise digital twin offers a similar glimpse into a hypothetical future in the event of operational change or a response to the market. It recreates a virtual model of the enterprise environment which can then be manipulated to simulate various customer journeys, powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Source: Shutterstock

But this is more than an abstract model, because this virtual creation connects to its real-world counterpart via three distinct replicated operational blocks – infrastructure (IT, networks, physical assets), IT application stacks, and business processes.

With that kind of insight, an organization can map out the ideal buyer journey; in a perfect world, this is how we hope things will play out. This idealized situation can then be continuously compared with what’s happening in the real world. That can give decision-makers an invaluable insight into the specific points where reality and the ideal deviate and, in time, prevent lost business and improve customer loyalty.

But steps can only be taken to mitigate against fallout if the reasons for the fallout can be identified and explored.

Additionally, this kind of enterprise simulation makes it possible to examine trends such as competitor actions, the influence of technology, and inventory availability. Immediate, in-depth and meaningful analysis like this can help show whether such trends might have an impact on current operations and back up decisions with more reliable evidence.

The challenge for CSPs

We’re already at a point where people’s expectations of getting great digital experiences are racing ahead.

From hailing a taxi to ordering a takeaway meal, through to checking your bank account and placing e-commerce orders for same-day delivery, so many things we’re starting to take for granted were almost inconceivable a few years ago.

For CSPs, being able to support businesses in these efforts calls for flexible, intelligent connectivity that can help safeguard margins during times of change. Having to reinvent your service offering for every customer scenario is just not feasible. What’s needed is the ability to understand your infrastructure and develop robust capabilities that can be replicated.

As the telecom sector continues to transform at lightning speed, emerging technologies such as 5G and the IoT will drive a huge increase in connection speed and scope – allowing for 20 billion new devices to be connected and supporting a 1,000-fold increase in data.

TCS is one of the key partners of the TM Forum, the global industry association promoting collaboration and collective problem-solving to maximize the business success of communication and digital service providers and their ecosystem of suppliers. At TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World (14-16 May 2019, in Nice) you can hear more about smart cities, 5G and IoT infrastructures, and how CSPs can overcome today’s challenges to unlock tomorrow’s opportunities.