Robert Curran previews FutureNet World, London May 3-4th 2023

Next week, FutureNet World turns five. In an industry that likes to measure longevity in decades, this may not seem like much of a milestone. But given the focus of FutureNet, a fifth birthday should be a cause for celebration, because FutureNet World has consistently kept to an agenda that is all about automation in telecom. And that is a topic that has been gaining increasing relevance and priority every year since 2019.

No-one needs reminding that 2019 was pre-pandemic, pre-war on the European continent. ONAP (opensource orchestration, a collaboration between AT&T, China Mobile with Huawei and ZTE as lead contributors) was on its second release (“Beijing”). The O-RAN Alliance was a year old, just beginning its challenge to decades of technical and commercial convention in telecom. Open.AI, creators of ChatGPT, were just pivoting from a research lab into a for-profit mode. In short, the context for telecom has altered radically and unexpectedly in just a few short years. Which is what makes the discussion at FutureNet World even more relevant.

FutureNet World 2023

This year’s main event on May 3rd and 4th in London brings together speakers driving the pace of automation and greater intelligence in telecom networks. It’s an impressive list, with genuine CxO-level representatives from the likes of Vodafone (Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer), BT (Greg McCall, newly installed as Chief Networks Officer), Orange (CTO Laurent Leboucher), MTN (Group CIO, Nikos Angelopoulos), and Telefonica (Enrique Blanco, CTIO).

But Futurenet is not a corporate grandstanding event, with speakers mediated by corporate PR teams. For each of the CxO speakers-level speakers, an accountable VP or Head from their company is also there, affording an opportunity for delegates to cross-check grand statements with coal-face progress and challenges.

This year, dedicated tracks on Day 1 will cover:

  • 5G & Edge (Colt, BT and Swisscom), New Operations models and the use of AI (A1, Orange, Telia, Telus and VMO2)
  • Network-as-a-Service (a business perspective with Colt, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and Vodafone)
  • Data/Security/AIOps (with Telus, Three, Proximus, Swisscom and Orange)
  • Customer Experience (Swisscom and Colt)
  • Automation of Transport Networks (Telefonica Germany and Swisscom)

Day 2 we are promised “hard facts” on the Enterprise opportunity, and perspectives on “Open” from KPN, MTN, Orange and Telus, before tracks looking at:

  • Cloud-native telco (Telenor, Orange Business Services)
  • Zero-Touch networks & autonomous operations (Vodafone, Telefonica, Three UK, A1 Austria)
  • Sustainability (DT, Swisscom, Elisa, Vodafone and Three)
  • Dynamic Orchestration & Intelligent Assurance (BT, Orange, Telia)

What is different at FutureNet compared to other events is the common purpose that connects these speakers – the goal of greater automation, smarter networks. This is not about “Gs”, or spectrum, or regulation or any of the other topics that feature on the agenda of telecom events. At FutureNet, it’s all automation. Even if the context is edge, RAN, network slicing, cloud-native telecom. If we’ve learned anything in the last five years, it’s that technology alone is not enough. Telecom needs to be a better, smarter business – and the range of technology available to support that has never been more exciting. It’s a perspective that is fully aligned with Appledore’s own research agenda.

Collaboration Means Recalibration

One industry trend in recent years has been a recalibration – at least the start of one – of the relationship between vendors and their CSP customers. A spirit of collaboration, rather than combative procurement, is the new model, at least in theory. In part this reflects how value creation opportunity in telecom is shifting from hardware- to software-enabled. For us analysts, showfloor discussion provides an opportunity to hear candidly how well that is progressing.

At FutureNet World, vendors can’t rely on a big brand presence to impress prospects, in the way that they can at an MWC or Digital Transformation World. Attendees come with an agenda, so it’s quality discussions with subject matter experts from vendors that are the norm. It’s one reason why the Appledore team enjoys the event so much – an opportunity for robust, focused, peer-to-peer dialog, this year with the likes of Amdocs, Anritsu, Blue Planet, Ericsson, Huawei, HPE, Inmanta, Itential, MyComOSI, Netcracker, Nokia, PIWorks, Rakuten Symphony and VMware.

Full disclosure: Appledore is participating in the event once again, as an invited Research Partner. Patrick Kelly will host a session on the cloud-native telco and the journey to AIOps, with Telia, Vodafone, Telus and Nokia. Francis Haysom will explore the relationship between inventory and zero touch operations with Swisscom, Orange and Netcracker, as well as orchestration and intelligent assurance with BT, Anritsu and Orange. But these are only a few highlights among many within a compelling program over two days.

An awards ceremony and a closing keynote from Neil McRae will round out what is sure to be an informative and more-relevant-than-ever event. With its strong, well-curated program, consistent and distinct focus, we encourage anyone with an interest in truly moving our industry forward to attend FutureNet World, in person if at all possible! We look forward to meeting you there.

Happy 5th Birthday, FutureNet World!

Click the image below to go to the FutureNet World main site.