A recent InformaTech 5G World Series survey of telcos revealed that over 72% of providers believe the biggest revenue growth for 5G lies in B2B, B2B2X, and public sector opportunities. Enterprises certainly recognize the potential: in Omdia's ICT Enterprise Insights 2019 survey, over 70% of IT decisionmakers said they believe 5G will have either a moderate or transformational impact on their businesses. Sounds good, right? Here's the problem. When probed, most enterprises said the highest priority capabilities for 5G were WAN substitution, a better ability to apply classes of service to applications, and more rapid deployment of connectivity to new sites. Therefore, in the short term, B2B 5G revenue looks to be substitutional, not incremental.
Discussions and debates on sources of new revenue are abundant, but the lag between substitutional and incremental revenue can itself be an opportunity. To profit from new rather than substitutional 5G opportunities, telcos know they will need to change. It is exactly now that the hardest question needs to be asked: what does a successful service provider look like in a 5G world?
Perhaps some answers can be found by examining how vendors who serve telcos are providing more open solutions made possible by their own internal transformations. In a recent briefing, Amdocs president of Technology, Avishai Sharlin, detailed how the company has moved from bi-annual software releases to bi-weekly, with an ambition to make releases continuous. He covered how the company went from being reluctant to discuss cloud to fully supportive of all cloud platforms (cloud-agnostic) for its software delivery, and how its new solutions are "API-first" at inception. Design thinking and agile development methods played important roles, but so did cultural change, with operational experts embedded in software development teams to ensure software would be more user-centric. Amdocs has learned that by giving up control, by taking a partner instead of supplier approach, it is also gaining.
Telcos are at different levels of maturity, with many not necessarily ready to make the leaps Amdocs has in all their teams, or for all their services. However, there are pockets of innovation, and leading telcos are focusing on the value their enterprise services could enable, not just traditional "ownership" of the customer relationship. This shift in mindset will be essential for monetizing enterprise 5G.
Substantial new 5G B2B revenue streams may not be evident in the short-term, but they will emerge in the medium-term. In the interim, there is some breathing room for telcos to first consider how 5G can be a catalyst for their own re-invention.