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This time last week, the sun was setting on another successful DSP Leaders World Forum, whisking us through a whirlwind of engaging discussions. It collected the best minds of the Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) sector, focusing on the evolving landscape of digital services, their connectivity requirements and how telcos add value.

Amid the buzz and excitement, a few themes shone brighter, shaping conversations and sparking visions of the future. Perhaps one of the most notable things was the launch of Vodafone’s highly anticipated Open RAN network-in-a-box product that can be used to deploy a private wireless network or a mobile network extension.

So, let’s dive into some other key takeaways that left us all talking.

The knowledge gap: a roadblock to AI expertise

AI’s role in revolutionising the telecoms sector was a hotbed of discussion, particularly during a session on automating the telco network with AI, which featured insights from telecom giants such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Vodafone, and others.

It highlighted four key areas ripe for AI’s transformative touch: customer service, marketing and sales, autonomous network and operations, and product, IT, and software development. However, the session also highlighted an essential caveat — the realisation of AI’s full potential is contingent upon bridging the “knowledge gap” prevalent in the industry.

Emphasising the shift towards an ecosystem-centric approach in the AI era, tech leaders discussed the intricacies of building partnerships across the AI landscape. It was great to see such a collaborative spirit which everyone agreed was essential to drive change.

Unlocking the value of network APIs – real thing or fad?

While Gen AI applications promise a vast horizon of untapped business opportunities and possible new revenue streams, there is an urgent call for collaboration and swift action to explore and utilise network APIs.

The session mentioned a McKinsey report, which suggested the possibility of unlocking an estimated $100 billion to $300 billion in revenues related to connectivity and edge computing, with the APIs alone offering an additional $10 billion to $30 billion over a span of five to seven years. Such figures paint a picture of remarkable prospects for the industry.

However, lurking within this optimism is a palpable concern that the telecoms industry might inadvertently give up to two-thirds of these gains to external parties, such as cloud service providers and API aggregators. There’s also a conscious awareness of current network limitations, with industry insiders raising flags over whether existing infrastructures can support the ambitious future of API-enabled applications, such as drones, smart factories, and entire smart cities.

This concern highlights an essential call to action to bolster network capacity and topology in anticipation of a future where such applications become the norm.

Walking in the customer’s shoes

The final sessions emphasised the ongoing disconnect between DSPs and their customers. Indeed, there is an urgent need for DSPs to genuinely immerse themselves in the customer experience, with the session host suggesting that telcos “walk in the shoes” of those they serve.

Industry leaders spoke passionately about the need for simplification, reducing complexity for better user understanding, ensuring the security and sustainability of services, and the importance of transparency and reliability. In the end, optimising service performance and effectively leveraging edge technology is key to elevating customer experiences.

Looking forward

With a whirlwind of ideas and insights, the DSP Leaders World Forum 2024 proved again why it’s the go-to event for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the telecoms industry.

But the real magic? It’s in the energy, the conversations, and the collective ambition that filled every session. We’re on the cusp of some important times so as we share and collaborate, the horizon is broadening, revealing opportunities we’re only just beginning to explore.

Elena Davidson

Elena is the CEO of Liberty Communications

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