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Good partners make good networks: Ecosystem drives success in private wireless by Nathan Stenson……….

……, Vice President, World-Wide Partner Channel at Nokia.

There is much talk about the fourth industrial revolution, one where robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning systems transform our work lives. For an enterprise scanning the horizon for a communications solution to make this future a reality, things may appear far more daunting than they need to be. As Steve Jobs said: “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” And when it comes to the private wireless network era, it is effective partner ecosystems that will make the difference.

It is the highly customisable nature of private wireless networks that creates an opportunity for an ecosystem of support. Customisation – especially for mission-critical applications – can add complexity. Thus, for industry consultants, network solution providers, system integrators, distributors, and value-added reseller partners seeking to earn a piece of this pie, understanding how to tailor these networks to specific industries – manufacturing, mining, transportation, public sector, or others – and how to play well with others will be central to success.

Given the total addressable market for private networks will rise from US$3.6 billion in 2021 to more than US$109.3 billion in 2030, according to ABI Research, this can prove a lucrative business pursuit. And enterprises will want to forge relationships to deploy private wireless networks…with the right partners. Here’s why:

  1. IT networks have new responsibilities

The Internet of Things (IoT) and innovations such as autonomous machinery, automated mining operations and remote agricultural monitoring, have shifted what Information Technology (IT) is being asked to do. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems demand high bandwidth, low latency, and massive connectivity. IT must now support situational awareness, such as real-time video from drones, vehicles, and body cameras. There is also the continuous monitoring of first responders’ bio-vital signs and data-gathering from sensor-based industrial robotics to aid operational efficiency and productivity. This new era requires closer dialogue among enterprises, industry consultants, network solution providers and other partners.

  1. Industry and application knowledge needed

As applications are evolving, so is the level of industry knowledge required for success. Specialised work requires specialised knowledge, and increasingly, this knowledge is growing even more industry – and company-specific. Think of automated mining as an example. As each private wireless network can be custom configured to the needs of the application, it is unlikely any one organisation will possess both the industry and application knowledge to build an effective solution.

  1. End-to-end solutions are the priority

Enterprises are primarily seeking a solution to a business problem or opportunity. They don’t want to individually vet and assemble the components of a private wireless network. They prefer a comprehensive solution with the details left to more knowledgeable industry experts. That requires a team of vendors working collaboratively. Companies that partner to provide best-in-class connectivity and digitalisation platforms along with installation and deployment services, scene analytics and other value-added services are what enterprises are seeking today.

  1. Tailoring solutions isn’t easy

Having a private network means that enterprises must no longer tailor their configuration or equipment to the specifications of a public network. The communications network can be built to precisely meet the application’s requirements – for speed, bandwidth, redundancy, security, or even for specialised gear, such as ruggedized equipment and devices for harsher environments. Partnerships make it easier to build that one-of-a-kind solution.

  1. Converting ideas to reality takes a team

The reasons to deploy private wireless networks are varied. Some companies are looking to improve how an existing job is performed. Others are seeking to launch entirely new services that deliver extra value to their customers. An effective ecosystem, with multiple partners working in concert, can take an innovative idea from concept to working reality.

What’s needed for success?

The opportunities for digital transformation for enterprises are enormous. But, for many, selecting the right solutions can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help the partner ecosystem capitalize on the private wireless network opportunity:

  • Flexibility and openness are critical when it comes to tailoring solutions. Given how diverse the industries and applications are, solution and component providers and other go-to-market partners will need complementary technologies that are adaptable to the range of possible scenarios.
  • Forging relationships across the ecosystem requires as much effort as is devoted to R&D. Robust, reliable technology is a necessity, but success will depend as much on partnership skills as technology.
  • A broad knowledge of the marketplace and the key players in various technologies, industries, geographies and applications is critical to winning private wireless business. Not all industries, applications or prospective customers will match, and all parties involved will need to pick and choose ecosystem partners best suited to the project.
  • Finely tuned collaboration and project management skills across the partnership is the cornerstone of success. Private wireless network deployment can be complex, making strong project management and teamwork essential to complete projects on-time and within budget.

Private 4.9G/LTE and 5G wireless networks have quickly become the preferred communications medium for this new era of networking. They cater to the super-fast speeds, lower latency, and control over connectivity that industries need to deliver real-world results and next-level performance as well as the kind of reliability, coverage, capacity, and security needed to operate in harsh and remote environments. Private wireless networks also decrease total cost of ownership (TCO) and eliminate possible interference from other nearby networks with the use of licensed spectrum.

When multiple partners come together in an effective ecosystem partnership, expect more of that boundless enterprise innovation and vision come to life.

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