Dec 18, 2020

Vodafone UK: Rapid response of Multi-access Edge Computing

edge computing
Janet Brice
3 min
Edge computing
Vodafone UK - first telecoms operator to offer MEC in Europe - low latency will achieve near real-time applications and speed up response time...

Business travellers were among tens of thousands of passengers affected when drones flew over Gatwick Airport grounding flights. A breach of security over airports and other secure sites could now be averted due to a partnership between Vodafone Business and Amazon Web Services (AWS) who are coming together to offer Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) for the company Dedrone.

But what is MEC and how can it improve security at sites such as airports? For Vodafone UK this means reducing the time it takes for machines to respond to digital instructions and therefore, organisations can respond quicker to a drone threat – which is just one example of its use.

“When things go wrong, the sooner we’re alerted to the problem the quicker we – or the machines we rely on – can respond. In such cases, greater speed could even save lives,” says a report from Vodafone UK who will become the first telecoms operator offering services in Europe from Spring 2021. 

Multi-access means customers can get the service over mobile, Wifi or fixed line services. These signals are sent back and forth between the device and the server where the application is hosted and there is usually a delay of 50 to 400 milliseconds - known as latency. This could be reduced to below 10 milliseconds.

“It’s why it’s difficult to perform a musical duet in real-time over a video call - the latency causes the sound to become unsynchronised,” says a report in Vodafone UK News Centre.

“With a centralised cloud-based system, the further you are away from it, the longer it takes for the signals to pass back and forth. So, bringing computing to the edge of the network rather than keeping it at the core, helps speed things up.”

Real time responsiveness

Lots of applications perform better with real-time responsiveness and combining the faster download speeds of 5G with the responsiveness of MEC makes near real-time applications achievable.

“Bringing together 5G and MEC will allow us to work alongside our industry partners to embed connectivity in ways not possible today,” explains Scott Petty, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone UK.

“Tomorrow’s digital business will use connectivity in ways we can only dream about, and we now have the toolset to work hand-in-hand with our customers to make this a reality.”

Mapping and location data company HERE Technologies are already testing a real-time hazard warning service to help make roads safer for drivers. Unleash live has also designed a video analytics platform powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate real-time video monitoring and alerts for cities, businesses and utilities.

Low latency will also make wireless Virtual Reality (VR) experiences easier to watch minus the motion sickness and augmented reality services faster and more intuitive to use.

How Vodafone UK will achieve this

Vodafone UK will be embedding AWS’s Wavelength servers in its UK data centres reducing the distance data has to travel over the core network. This could reduce latency to below 10 milliseconds. During trials, Vodafone engineers achieved this feat between Newbury and Birmingham - a distance of about 100 miles.

Vodafone is planning to offer these capabilities, which will be hosted in a London commercial centre, to customers in London; locations such as Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham; as well as towns that are home to tech firms along the M4 motorway corridor.

Click on the link below if you are interested in an Edge Innovation Programme run by Vodafone UK with AWS to unlock the potential of edge computing.

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For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”


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