Telenor taps Google Cloud’s AI and analytics expertise to target a bigger slice of the digital transformation market

  • Strategic partnership covers co-development and sale of new products and services
  • It marks Telenor's broadest and deepest public cloud deal to date
  • The telco hopes Google will help it capitalise on what IDC claims is a $10 trillion opportunity

Telenor wants to play harder and faster in the burgeoning digital transformation market, and to that end it has struck a wide-ranging strategic partnership with Google Cloud partnership that appears to tick a lot of boxes for Telenor: Not only does it give Telenor access to Google's global data centre footprint and expertise in analytics, machine learning and AI, it also comes with a commitment to co-develop and sell new products and services.

The two companies will also look at using Google Cloud to add new bells and whistles to Telenor's IT and networks. They include the potential development of new virtual network functions and edge computing, with a focus on IoT and 5G services. The partnership covers Telenor's consumer and enterprise operations; however, there is a clear emphasis on the latter customer segment.

There is another bullet point that jumps out of the announcement: Telenor and Google will also offer support services to organisations undertaking digital transformations. Hand-holding, trusted partners, and 'upskilling' are all topics that routinely crop up in discussions around digital transformation. For telcos and their partners, it represents an opportunity to forge stronger ties with their enterprise customers.

"We believe that together we can go beyond connectivity to enhance our offering to our customers with new and innovative solutions, whilst improving the overall experience of our current portfolio," said Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke, in a statement.

Telenor is no stranger to public cloud. The Norwegian incumbent is a Microsoft Office 365 reseller and offers business telephony services hosted both in its own data centres as well Microsoft's. In addition, its IoT arm, Telenor Connexion, has been hosting its connectivity management platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for years. However, today's deal arguably represents Telenor's broadest and deepest public cloud integration to date.

"We are delighted to collaborate with Telenor to bring together the strengths of both our companies and accelerate innovation in the telecommunications industry," said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. "We look forward to further accelerating Telenor's ability to digitally transform its customers' businesses with infrastructure, industry solutions and technology expertise."

There is a 'striking while the iron is hot' side to this partnership too.

The pandemic accelerated enterprise investments in digital transformation, as organisations responded to having their staff work from home, and adapted to the disruption wrought on supply chains and channels to market. Even though the pandemic has eased somewhat, a complete return to the old ways of doing business is not going to happen. As a result, according to an IDC report published in October, direct investment in digital transformation is set to increase further, and will account for 55 percent of all global ICT investment by 2024. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 percent in 2022-24.

"For the first time ever, we see that the majority of enterprise organisations, at 53 percent, have an enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy, a 42 percent increase from just two years ago," said Shawn Fitzgerald, research director, worldwide digital transformation strategies at IDC, in a research note at the time.

In terms of investments, IDC predicts that spending over the aforementioned forecast period will reach a staggering $6.3 trillion. Between 2021 and 2025, the research firm expects digital transformation spending to come in at more than $10 trillion.

In short, there is money to be made, and Telenor reckons that partnering with Google will help it to grab a bigger chunk of that money than it otherwise could.

- Nick Wood, reporting for TelecomTV

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