AT&T‘s 2020 Vision and Digital First Transformation

by Eric Klein | 09/23/2014

VDC had the opportunity to attend AT&T’s annual Analyst Summit last week in Dallas, Texas, and came away with a clear purview into the company’s mobile ambitions moving forward. The company issued several notable news releases to coincide with the event — the announcements all show that AT&T is moving in a coordinated way to ensure its participation in the ever expanding mobile ecosystem. In this vein, AT&T’s executives did a great job in articulating how the company’s network build commitment (project VIP) along with its digital-first strategy would help lead its customers toward the business transformational opportunity of mobile enablement.

The releases covered a variety of strategic areas of focus for AT&T:

Secure Cloud Access: Through a strategic partnership with IBM, AT&T revealed that it can now offer its customers on-demand access to IBM’s SoftLayer (IBM’s cloud infrastructure as a service and managed hosting platform) through its network-enabled cloud solution (NetBond). The service will give both companies’ customers the ability to dynamically allocate VPN bandwidth and allow them to scale their IT resources and to expand their hybrid cloud solutions. (AT&T also has established key partnerships for its NetBond offering with Amazon, Box, CSC, Equinix, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and VMware). The service will be generally available in Q1 of 2015 (Whirlpool was mentioned as an early adopter that has begun to take advantage of the new service offering).

“Network on Demand”: AT&T announced a self-service portal that will allow business customers to add and change network services in near real time (In 90 seconds, according to John Donovan, AT&T’s SVP of Architecture, Technology and Operations.) Even though they would benefit from access to higher bandwidth circuits, many of AT&T’s customers are not doing so, despite the declining cost of bandwidth — we see bandwidth on demand solutions like AT&T’s as a great solution to this problem, as many companies are paying for bandwidth they are not using on a regular basis.

API platform enhancements: The company is wisely looking for ways to give its resellers and partners all of the tools they need to create applications and value-added services (e.g., giving them the ability to customize the quoting and ordering experience for their sales teams and business customers).

Not Much of a Toggle Update

While AT&T Toggle containerization solution was mentioned, there was no deep dive provided – this was disappointing. However, Sundhar Annamalai, a key executive in the Advanced Solutions Business did articulate to us how carriers such as AT&T have a distinct advantage, due to their ability to complement the solution with elements such as split billing and deeply integrate with complementary services, such as Box, using their NetBond solution.

Business Solutions + Mobility Means Cloud First for AT&T

Most of AT&T’s senior leadership participated at this event – we were impressed with their ability to stay on message and agree that enhancing their cloud capabilities and partner ecosystem will be critical for their ability to service the 2020 workforce that they envision. AT&T’s new mobility chief, Glenn Lurie, discussed the rapid evolution of mobility, and shared details of the progress AT&T has made with their connected car platform — named Drive — which was launched at CES earlier this year. Lurie’s speech was accompanied by a forward-looking video that showcased AT&T Digital Life strategy and was demonstrative of how important the company’s transition to an all-digital, IP-based network will be, moving forward.  We see the Digital Life solution as an interesting SMB offering moving forward. The solution began as a relatively basic home automation solution that featured a connected thermostat as its foundational solution component, but it is without question moving into vehicles. Lurie spoke of our devices as being “remote controls” for our lives — very compelling indeed. AT&T will need to continue to develop its cloud ecosystem to move many of its key initiatives forward — it was clear that this was in the works.

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“Our vision is to smartly connect companies and people in all major industries … from GM cars to GE locomotives and medical technologies, we are making those connections and seizing the opportunity both here in the U.S. and globally.”

President and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions

GE – Long Time and Key Customer

GE Software’s GM, Brad Surak, discussed how his company was moving forward with its initiatives to reinvent its future services portfolio by leveraging global connectivity in using AT&T’s Global SIM technology and network to optimize the transport of industrial data. Surak showed compelling data of how GE is “driving outcomes that matter”. While our market data consistently shows how large the opportunity is to instrument equipment from an end-user perspective, Surak shared revenue metrics that showed just how significant the opportunity can potentially be moving forward. Examples Surak showed included: the $27B opportunity globally to increasing freight utilization by reducing system inefficiency; the massive $60B+ opportunities to take advantage of predictive maintenance and diagnostics to reduce process inefficiencies in healthcare and the energy sector by reducing waste in gas-fired power plants. The data source was not cited, but it demonstates why technology investments and infrastructure modernization must become top strategic priorities and play a key role moving forward. In that vein, transforming processes was a big theme — Abhi Ingle, who is charged with running AT&T Advanced Solutions business, showed how solutions such as enhanced push-to-talk will continue to play an important role in improving collaboration and why field solutions will continue to be key business for AT&T. We agree, and see field service automation solutions taking on new important capabilities due to mobile technologies, which will continue to alter the core capabilities of field services personnel.

Wrap

The event was well rounded with corporate strategy, product plans, client perspectives, and breakout sessions that provided an additional level of insights in key areas of the business including Cloud, Small Business, Mobility, Security and M2M, just to name a few. All in all, the trip to Dallas was time well spent and has us looking forward to the developer event that AT&T hosts each January, prior to CES.


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