5G, Edge, AI as Key Drivers of a Connected World
5G has arrived. The rollout of 5G services coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing has created immense business opportunities. To deliver a better customer experience, improve business process efficiencies, and create new revenue models in partnership with the industry eco-system and build a connected world. The very high speed, large bandwidth, and enhanced connectivity of 5G, the accessibility and scalability of storage, compute and intelligence enabled at the edge, and automation, accuracy, and predictability brought by AI mean that organisation will be able to sense the customer and business events in real-time and respond with actionable insights for immediate value creation. This will lead organisations to become sentient.
How do we make this happen? Businesses need to think of key initiatives with a superior value that can be enabled by advanced analytics and cognitive intelligence capabilities and build a platform blueprint for adopting these technologies to deliver it at scale.
5G technology is rapidly evolving for enhanced mobile broadband, machine to machine communication, ultra-low latency, and will soon become ubiquitous. The low latency and high throughput of 5G promises an exponential increase in data traffic through various devices. The intelligence closer to devices will help enterprises respond to market signals in real-time to capture significant value. And in doing so, 5G will offer better reliability and serviceability through software-defined networking.
To begin with, enterprises must understand the industry-wide impact of 5G, the value it delivers to B2C and B2B customers, how it dovetails with existing product/services offerings and how it improves the business processes to be more agile and responsive? The success of 5G will depend on the roadmap enterprises layout in partnership with suppliers to transform their supply chain, customer experience and digital, data, and analytics initiatives.
5G has much more to offer at a limitless scale. Enterprises in collaboration with players from the industry eco-system can create monetisation opportunities in gaming, health sciences, transportation, and more by leveraging use cases around AR/VR, wearables, autonomous cars, and smart cities, and so on.
The advances in AI and AI-first approach are significantly enhancing the ability to rethink business processes in fundamental ways. AI applications are data-hungry; the more the data used for the learning, the better insights these algorithms produce. The 5G will supply a huge amount of data from various devices while edge will offer at-scale storage and compute capabilities for AI to be more effective. As data sources grow, AI will help the enterprise transition away from descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics to build more cognitive capabilities and drive a sentient outlook.
Advances in and the intersection of natural language processing, cognitive science, and responsive AI are creating a high level of automation and intelligence, thus defining the future of enterprises to run it differently. Applied AI along with 5G and edge helps accelerate the realisation of use cases from the lab to the real world thereby improving the quality and speed of decision-making and effectively the velocity of business.
The pay-as-you-use and on-demand availability of cloud computing enable more data analytics on the go. While centralised cloud computing will persist, radically new ways of data creation and processing at the device and network edge are creating new markets.
For example, by using data and analytics on the Edge, retailers will be able to observe customer activities in store to increase the conversion. Video captured through smart/ non-smart cameras can be processed at device/far edge respectively to understand customer path thru store planogram, behaviour on product handlings, and also interaction of sales rep. The insights derived can help for conversions as well as improve sales rep productivity and planogram effectiveness.
Similarly, city administrators can improve public safety through vehicle-to-anything interactions by fusing data captured through sensors installed on moving vehicles including self-driving cars along with stationary sensors from buildings and traffic lights. With technologies that enable real-time streaming, analysis, and integration of video/sensor data, traffic police can understand citizen behaviour and put in place rules or campaigns to promote adherence to traffic rules.
The common pattern to deliver these use cases will be to bring storage, compute, and intelligence – i.e. edge – close to where data originates. Hyperscalers, telcos, and OEMs are driving this change of edge with a strong focus on data security and privacy. A data-on-cloud infrastructure that complements the distributed 5G network footprint including edge will enable telecom operators to drive industry adoption of 5G. It can build partnerships that enable new applications/services across industries and monetise network capabilities. Data control and monitor will assure service quality and delivery.
In a nutshell, enterprises of the future will be live enterprises that are autonomous and sentient. They will have the capability to drive intuitive decisions, build responsive value chains, and deliver perceptive experiences, and all of these at scale. The key capabilities required to be a sentient/live enterprise include the ability to sense and acquire large amounts of data/ signals in real-time, infer intelligence from these events at the edges and react to these signals in real-time by integrating with enterprise and ecosystem players. 5G, Edge, and AI are at the cusp of making ‘sentient enterprise’ a reality and deliver a seamless experience to its customers.
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.