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The Six Five In the Booth with IBM and AT&T at Mobile World Congress 2022
by Daniel Newman | March 8, 2022

Six Five hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead talk with Steve Canepa, IBM’s General Manager, Global Industries, and Zee Hussain, AT&T’s Senior Vice President Global Business, about 5G and how it’s about so much more than just speed.

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Transcript:

Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Pat Moorhead with Moor Insights and Strategy and we are here for a Six Five podcast in the IBM booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I want to introduce my co-host, Daniel Newman, first off.

Daniel Newman: Founder of-

Patrick Moorhead: Co-founder of Futurum Research. But more importantly, I want you to introduce Zee from AT&T and Steve from IBM.

Steve Canepa: And we’re here in the IBM booth, and it’s a pleasure to be with you all and especially AT&T and we got a special guest today from Boston Dynamics, Spot. He’s going to come in and say, “hello,” real quick. A little glimpse of the future, which we’re going to talk about. All right, Spot, good to have you.

Zee Hussain: See ya Spot.

Patrick Moorhead: Now that’s a cameo. And I really thought everybody in the booth was here to see us, but I’m pretty sure it’s Spot. I don’t know. We’ll see. But we are back at MWC live, not virtual, and it’s awesome to be here.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. And I didn’t expect extra guests.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: But I got to say that I want to interview Spot. Guys? No, I’m just kidding. Zee, Steve, great to have you here.

Patrick Moorhead: I don’t think he talks yet.

Daniel Newman: Soon. Trust me. That’s coming.

So Steve, I’ll start with you, but, we’re going to hit you both up, so be ready.

5G. Let’s go at the macro level. Big topic, it’s been a big topic of Mobile World for a long time, but a lot of people I think have made this interpretation it’s just about speed. And it’s so much more than speed. Talk a little bit about how you’re presenting the bigger picture of 5G.

Steve Canepa: First of all, thanks to AT&T to being with us. AT&T’s a great partner of IBMs. We’re doing all kinds of tremendous work together. We’ll talk a little bit about that today.

But you’re right. It’s more than just 5G. There’s really three things that are happening in marketplace that are really compelling right now. 5G is emerging, the network is becoming a cloud platform, and you hear about the edge and the ability to put compute plus connectivity together to create a whole set of new services. We think that’s really exciting. It’s going to unleash innovation for companies in all industries, and IBM works with those companies along with AT&T and we want to bring that compute plus connectivity innovation to the marketplace.

Patrick Moorhead: Now that’s great. And so 5G isn’t just a faster 4G and I’m curious from a 4G to 5G transition, how is it different for you at AT&T?

Zee Hussain: Yeah, no, absolutely. So I want to reciprocate the love. I want to say it is awesome to be here at the IBM booth. It’s awesome to be here with you all. The relationship with IBM spans, not years, decades. So we’re just really proud of this partnership.

You know, you’re absolutely right, Pat. Our discussions with our customers a couple of years ago was all about speed. When we talked to them about 5G, they thought about it in terms of access replacement for their WAN. Instead of a fixed pipe, they were looking for a wireless pipe.

I would tell you the discussions right now are extremely different. What we’re talking to our clients about are, “Okay, how does 5G and the access to real time information make me drive better decisions in the business,” because 5G, certainly it’s definitely better speeds, but it’s also low latency and it’s also massive device connectivity.

And as Steve said, when you think about the broader capabilities that it brings to you, it’s really game changing.

Patrick Moorhead: Absolutely.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. There’s certainly some of the technologies that are already available that it’s going to make better. Because some people I think have thought, “Well, 5G is going to unlock this.” Well, no. We’ve done connected vehicles to cloud for a while, but 5G will add potential there.

But that actually brings me to my next point. What are you seeing? Because you guys talk, you’re interfacing with a client, you’re in this sales organization, how is this transformation? What kind of ideas and innovation are you hearing about that this 5G transformation is going to be able to unlock for enterprise and your client?

Zee Hussain: Yeah, I mean, in enterprise, it’s very industry and vertical specific, and I’ll give you some examples. So manufacturing is a place where we’ve been having a ton of 5G discussions. We’ve actually announced several partnerships, several customer proof of concepts, where we’re trialing different things. At a basic level it’s about connecting the assets and your people across a facility with high speed, with low latency, and being able to do a much greater number than you were before.

The result of that is that you have access to information in real time and then if you have the right compute on site, you’re also able to make really quick decisions.

We actually had Spot that came out and said hi to us and that’s actually a partnership between Boston Dynamics, IBM, and AT&T and in order for us to make sure that Spot is productive and is able to go and execute a lot of the use cases like, let’s say, inventory management, asset tracking, need high speed, need local compute, and need to be able to connect a lot of the devices. So, that’s a great use case where better efficiency, being able to drive much higher productivity.

Healthcare is another great example. We’ve been talking to a lot of the healthcare systems about what does a connected hospital look like and how does that drive better life outcomes? So this is moving from a very reactive type of infrastructure where you’ve got folks hooked onto actual wired apparatuses and you wait for the vitals and then you react when something happens. What 5G is going to be able to do is you’re going to be able to have access to this trend of data and you’re going to look at the trends and if you have the right compute on site, you’ll be able to do things much more proactively. So you will know before any irregularity happens, that it’s going to happen and you react to it prior.

Those are a couple of examples.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. You know, the great thing about 5G, even though we’re three or four years into this so far, I don’t even think we’ve hit the surface of what we can do with it and a lot of the examples that you’re giving with essentially, “Hey, you want high speed, low latency, you want low latency, low speeds,” or any combination of it, you can get that. And it’s the first time ever that the network could ever do this.

So Steve, I got to ask you, how does IBM fit into this and I think more importantly, how does the cloud play a major role in what Zee is talking about here?

Steve Canepa: Yeah. So we’ve been automating compute with enterprises for decades. Now the connectivity is software based. We can apply the same kind of automation to the connectivity side of the equation and that becomes incredibly powerful. So we talked about latency, but also bandwidth that 5G brings.

So now we can move things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, out to where things occur and we can get more fidelity in the data that we’re analyzing.

So Spot as an example, in our lab deployed in New York, it has visual sensors. So it can watch the environment, take in that visual sensing and then analyze it in real time. Think about a manufacturing environment where you want to make sure every weld is done absolutely perfectly. Now we can do that and we can do it on the site. And with the portability we have to be able to move these services to the edge, it could be a stadium, it could be an offshore oil rig. It could be a physical manufacturing facility. It could be a hospital or other medical institution. We can place the applications where they need to be placed in order to provide those kind of advanced services. So we think it’s a really powerful way to innovate in all industries.

Daniel Newman: Well, first of all, I think it’s great that they brought Spot in because it ended up becoming a really nice set of examples of how this all can work. But I actually really did enjoy that you guys got so specific because sometimes I think people are trying to really discern in their mind back to the early question. Is it just faster? Is it just… And it is so much more, especially on these industrial and vertical based applications, it’s going to change our lives.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. And it took a couple releases of 5G to get it to the point where you could support a lot of these features that might not have been there at first. So I think the more use cases, the more customers that you’re enabling, the more people and developers are going to jump on and just start. I think they’re going to create things that we never quite thought of.

Now, I wouldn’t have guessed of Spot being enabled by IBM and AT&T but here we are.

Steve Canepa: And if you think about AT&T with their tremendous relationships at the enterprise scale on connectivity for many, many years, ours in the application environment, it’s a natural fit where we can go work with these companies in all different industries and help them get new value for their customers.

Zee Hussain: Absolutely.

Daniel Newman: Well, Zee Steve, thank you so much for giving us a little time telling us your story and making those connections. Because I think the market probably wanted to know, “Hey, what is IBM and AT&T doing?” And by the way, this is such a good example of how traditional service providers and telcos and cloud scale can all work together to create really meaningful solutions that connect people into the future.

So thank you both gentlemen, and thanks everybody for joining us for this Six Five In the booth.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio