Mobile Network as a Platform: Planning for the 5G World

Mobile Network as a Platform: Planning for the 5G World

Erik Ekudden, Group CTO and Head of Technology & Architecture, Ericsson

Nimish Radia, Head of Ecosystem Research and Innovation, Ericsson

Chetan Sharma, CEO, Chetan Sharma Consulting

The rising importance of platforms as the engine of value creation in advanced post-industrial information economies is widely accepted today. Although the exact aspects of the platform concept are still being explored, there is broad consensus that, as the site of interaction between hordes of independent producers and consumers, the platform is fast becoming a strategic consideration for all businesses.

The fact that interactions and value exchanges afforded by the platform are limited and defined by the rules of governance put in place by the providers of the platform is well understood. What is, perhaps, poorly understood, given that platforms are typically transparent, is the manner in which the underlying set of technologies deployed in service of the platform makes what is possible.

In other words, while platform users – both producers and consumers – see the rich platform as the foundational building block to their creation and exchange of value, they are often unaware of and ignorant about the actual infrastructure – of connectivity, processing, security, storage, intelligence enablers, etc. – that, in turn, underpins and shores up the platform. What is also generally missed is the impact the introduction of new platform capabilities can have on various industries that touch the platform. This paper seeks to address this gap.

The paper posits that digitization and mobilization of people, processes and intelligence are, perhaps, two of the most important contributors to the development of platforms aided, of course, by the continuous improvements in computing/processing, storage, display and other associated information technologies. The culture of intelligence augmented mobile-first experience consumption, abetted by the growing ubiquity and maturity of mobile networks, devices and digitization, anchors the emerging platform economy.

We believe that platforms, in disintermediating the existing and re-intermediating the new industry value chains, capture the intrinsic value of industries and create consumer surplus. We present case studies that look at the impact of platforms on transportation and advertising industries to substantiate the argument, and reflect on the potential for video advertising.

We argue that 5G networks – with as much emphasis on transformation of the core as of the access network — will itself constitute a platform for transformation of other industries.  We conclude that industries that do not embrace a platform approach, and tap into the benefits of mobilization, digitalization and intelligence enablers, run the risk of seeing themselves become victims of, what Schumpeter called, “the creatives gales of destruction” currently sweeping the marketplace.