Innovation: Empowering business growth via service providers

By Daniel Valle, Senior Vice President, GSP International, at WWT
Daniel Valle explores how service providers can leverage 5G, AR, IoT and automation to innovate and support healthcare, transportation and manufacturing

In the current landscape business growth is clearly an important topic, and for most organisations it is innovation that will help drive this growth. Innovation is not just technology advancement. It is also about being innovative in thought, processes and overall approach to business challenges.

It was within this context that we conducted research with industry leaders into innovation aspirations of three key verticals: healthcare, transportation and manufacturing. Those service providers who are ahead of these requirements will position themselves as credible and long term partners for innovation and transformation within industry.

Yet, the challenge with implementing innovation is constantly shifting. However, with the advent of 5G, telecoms partners are now better positioned than ever to work in partnership with enterprise, and provide a platform for innovation. 

In this article I will discuss those industry leaders’ pain-points, as well as their hopes for the future, and how to support senior industry leaders to reach their innovation goals.

1) Healthcare: Augmented reality can help mend services

The healthcare industry has weathered some particularly disruptive storms as of late, where the pandemic in particular, highlighted significant challenges in the distribution of care.

In fact, innovation within the healthcare industry often involves collaboration between multiple stakeholders; such as hospitals, clinics and government agencies. Meanwhile, sharing data between these organisations – including electronic health records and diagnostic images – involves complex compliance regulations. Healthcare leaders in our report cited this impacted their ability to share information seamlessly. Beyond collaboration, device interoperability – which is the ability to safely, securely, and effectively exchange and use information across devices – can also have an impact. 

For service providers, there’s an opportunity to engage here with the healthcare industry and leverage technologies like 5G to improve the delivery of services. For instance, augmented reality (AR), can support the delivery of remote patient assessments, improve staff training and assists surgeons during procedures. Such technologies have the potential to modernise the way healthcare is delivered, playing a crucial role in creating more effective treatment. AR is also beneficial during procedures. For example, surgeons can create an overlay of imaging data from CT or MRI scans, or even use robotics to help with precise manoeuvres.

2) Transportation: Driving towards connected infrastructure

The global transportation industry is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% into 2026 – a degree of growth which proves that the industry has recovered well from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, alongside this, the industry is under significant pressure to achieve sustainability goals, with a target to be net neutral by 2050. 

Yet reaching these goals will require huge modernisation efforts. Transport leaders cited that their main challenges evolve around updating or replacing legacy systems which can impact day-to-day business continuity - and this can make the adoption of new technologies challenging. 

Therefore, as the transport industry aims to become more interconnected,  wider adoption of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, 5G and smart data analytics, will be needed to help services become more connected, and provide more automation and accurate and real-time data. 

Data can provide better insights, but without automation support, the industry will not be able to fully realise the potential of their smart technologies. Now, as organisations move to incorporate more integrated, smarter insights, the next step is to see where they can strategically apply automation to support transformation.

3) Manufacturing: Predictive maintenance is key for equipment preservation 

Between 2005 and 2020, the private manufacturing sector accounted for 55% of all business research and development (R&D) spending in the UK alone. Yet, a lack of internal skills and knowledge about new technology is something the industry is still having difficulty navigating. This ‘skills gap’ can lead to inefficiencies in production processes, ultimately resulting in higher costs and lower profits.

In addition, cybersecurity and intellectual property (IP) protection are also crucial concerns for manufacturing executives. All investments must be protected, and that includes reducing the risk of IP theft, which is a significant issue in this R&D-heavy industry.

Fortunately, predictive maintenance is revolutionising the way that manufacturing companies— and the businesses that they supply — approach equipment preservation. Businesses are now able to identify potential problems before they occur, creating the ability for proactive maintenance and reducing instances of downtime. For service providers, this presents an opportunity to build use cases that highlight where technologies such increased connectivity and edge computing can provide the platform for predictive maintenance.

Moving forward with innovation 

From our research one overall goal was abundantly clear: that organisations need to work hard to ensure constant growth – and they are open to forming the right partnerships to ensure this happens. Whether this is from improving existing systems, or installing new technologies, innovation is key for securing industries’ futures. 

Service providers have a hugely important role to play. Equipped with the right information on the key challenges vertical businesses are facing today, they can seek to tailor their offerings, and accelerate the development of the industry-specific use cases businesses really want and need. 

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