Why most people miss the role of the world’s largest machine when predicting the future.
When Ericsson sold its 50 percent stake in Sony Ericsson to Sony, a common question to Ericsson employees was: “What do you do now that Sony has bought your company?”
Not all people I meet understand my explanation about what a mobile network is and does. I believe the term “network” is too abstract a concept for most people, even if we keep it simple and say it’s the internet’s backbone and mobile-access network.
In addition, the communications industry sometimes talks about the future in terms of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and industry verticals. The seven letters that make up machine are used to outline the future of servers and applications at one end, and the future of devices at the other. The magic “2″ refers to the largest machine of them all – the network.
Most people get the idea that there is a machine somewhere working away so that 5 billion people can talk, SMS/TXT and send data to one another. They do not reflect on how this machine is changing so it can transform all the industries around us into smart industries. So how do we get traction with such ideas if the majority of society believes mobile phones communicate with each other like walkie-talkies; in other words with just air between them and no network?
The following examples highlight the role of the network in all society stakeholder groups:
* When breaking mobile-broadband networks into two main parts – the internet backbone and the mobile-access network – most people follow the discussion on what a network is all about a lot better.
* Machine-MACHINE-Machine is a better expression regarding the evolution of the communications industry. This makes it clear to all society stakeholders that there are three fundamental machine developments in play.
* The network plays a vital part in making vertical industries “smart”, and smart industries require smart networks.
* Significant network investments are required to support 50 billion devices across new industries, way beyond the requirements that brought voice and data services to 6 billion mobile phones.
I think the following vital questions need to be asked when discussing the networks in the Networked Society:
* How do we secure the investments in network capacity and coverage to keep up with the demand from the Networked Society?
* How do we create new business model innovations across industry borders so all key stakeholder groups benefit?
* How do we secure regulatory frameworks that promote rather than prevent network innovations?
All of the above are complex issues. The resolution requires a broader understanding in all society groups about what the role of the network is, as it will remain THE enabler for the Networked Society.