Telefónica, BT tap industrial opportunities
- Telefónica and BT leverage strategic partnerships and relationships to target industrial customers
- Both companies bet on the potential of cutting-edge solutions to speed-up digital transformation
- Operators are relying on tech innovation to help them develop new business opportunities and help enterprise users cut costs, enhance security, and develop more efficient operational processes
Telefónica and BT have made important steps towards developing new business opportunities in the industrial sector, sealing deals to provide technologies and supporting services that are designed to enhance the efficiency and security of enterprise users.
Telefónica’s Tech division has joined forces with industrial equipment supplier Grupo Álava for the launch of a “predictive maintenance solution” that allows industrial players to optimise their operations through an “advanced data platform”.
The solution will enable them to develop a predictive maintenance plan to anticipate and deal with possible defects in or failures of their machinery, in addition to digitising processes via “massive wireless and/or traditional sensorisation” of all assets in the production chain.
Essentially, the collected data will be gathered over the operator’s 4G/LTE and 5G mobile networks, and then stored and processed in its Industrial Edge Computing platform. There, the AI-enabled system will deliver insights that, it is hoped, could help reduce maintenance costs and improve the health of the machinery used in production processes.
Andrés Escribano, Director of New Businesses and Industry 4.0 at Telefónica Tech, said the move can help industrial companies prevent “long activity stoppages and reduce costs thanks to 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing and big data technologies”. He added digital transformation was fundamental to developing “a more sustainable and resilient industrial activity”.
Grupo Álava’s Director of Alliances, Yago Sanchez, said the combination of 5G and predictive technology helps industrial users take “a giant step forward” in their digitalisation efforts.
Telefónica has been particularly focused on tapping more opportunities in the Spanish industrial sector as part of its push to introduce AI-enabled capabilities: In mid-2021 it formed what it claimed was the first data economy and AI consortium in the market, in unison with nearly a dozen other big-name companies.
BT on the road to network transformation
In the UK, BT provided an update on its efforts with power and automation technologies provider ABB to create a “sustainable, resilient and secure core platform” based on a highly automated and data-driven managed service.
The move builds upon an agreement between the two from 2014 and is a way for BT to address ABB’s new operating model.
As part of the new agreement, BT is set to deploy, manage and monitor more than 1,100 end-point devices, and verify devices, users and applications that access the network as part of ABB’s efforts to update its security processes as it advances its cloud strategy.
BT said its communications infrastructure will enable people, devices and machines to connect “securely” in more than 600 facilities across 60 countries.
Another part of the deal includes a new software-driven platform over Wi-Fi 6 that lets ABB use mobility and digital manufacturing concepts, such as robotics, IoT and big data technologies, at production sites.
Bas Burger, CEO at BT’s Global Services division, said the operator’s cloud-first network and digital managed services would “enhance agility” across ABB’s businesses and allow devices and machines to securely connect “in a sustainable and responsible way.”
Opportunities and challenges for operators
Pablo Tomasi, principal analyst of private networks at Omdia, highlighted the industrial sector as a “key area of growth” for operators.
“It is, effectively, a new revenue stream and a market where operators can leverage an increasing demand in their expertise, such as in 5G, as a means to sell wider services and solutions such as applications, cybersecurity, IoT, etc.”, he added.
And while there are many benefits for enterprises to tie up with operators, including more options in a large competitive environment and a stronger push of 5G, Tomasi cautioned operators need to “learn to understand the vertical and to develop partnerships with vertical/specialist players. They also need to learn that enterprises want solutions addressing specific problems and not just technologies”.
Operators have long touted the potential of technology advances to enhance critical tasks across industrial processes. But going over the same arguments of the capabilities of 5G and other tech solutions doesn’t seem enough – now they need to act more quickly in providing more proof points to assure enterprises of all types that they are suitable lead partners that can meet all of their needs. Operators face the great challenge of proving they can be more than just communication services suppliers while ensuring they can generate a return on their 5G investments. For now, however, there isn’t quite enough evidence to suggest telcos can deliver at scale with their current capabilities.
- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV
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