Ericsson's Vice President and Head of Digital Services for Middle East and Africa, Lucky La Riccia, in this interview speaks on the benefits of the company's automation hub in Nigeria and how it will bring a new set of skillsets close to customers for easier transition to automation. Excerpts:
Ericsson recently announced plan to launch automation hub in Nigeria. Can you break down the intricacies around how the automation hub works?
The Ericsson Automation Hub is an open innovation platform, inspired by lean startup methodology in which Ericsson team works in close dialogue with customers, users, and partners to showcase and reach the high potential that network automation allows in configuration, provisioning, assurance, and orchestration of network services. This will enable service providers to gain the ability in their environments to govern, manage and orchestrate hybrid networks holistically and in real time and as a result, offer an enhanced consumer experience.
The objectives of the Nigeria hub are to increase quality and customer experience one step at a time: recruiting and training local resources on Ericsson's automation portfolio, support local customers and enable automation in project deliveries, bringing a new set of skillsets close to customers for easier transition to automation. Our immediate next step however is the recruitment of engineers with automation and software development skills in Nigeria to ultimately increase the capability of the team on the ground and integrate them into the wider Ericsson global automation community.
What is motivation for Ericsson and what does the hub seek to achieve?
The initial focus of the hub will be expanding the adoption of CI/CD practices in the Africa region working with customers to make the most of this exciting technology development. Use of such innovations as Kubernetes and cloud infrastructure as a base the hub will be a key link between Ericsson's African customer base and the quickly evolving adoption of systems automation in the telecommunications sector.
How accessible is the automation hub?
The automation hub is accessible to all Ericsson customers wishing to push their organization forward in this exciting area of innovation. We will also be working with organizations who are not currently Ericsson customers to explore innovation opportunities for their organizations partnering with Ericsson.
How soon will the Hub be established here in Nigeria?
The hub is already established today, we are already revolutionizing Time to Market benefits with automated deployments as a first step.
How many countries in Africa has the hub been established?
We announced our plans to open innovation hubs across the Middle East and Africa region back in 2018. Our Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Hub in Egypt has been operational since 2019.
What are the success stories in other countries?
Late last year, Ericsson's Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics Hub in Egypt achieved a key milestone by shipping its first Cognitive Software to be used by Ericsson customers worldwide to design and optimize networks. The hub focuses on research and development (R&D) in AI and Automation, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to create data-driven, intelligent, and robust systems for automation, evolution, and growth. The establishment of similar hubs are always an opportunity to deliver top-notch technological innovation and transformation plans through local talent.
From Ericsson's perspective, AI adoption is essential to efficient network management and operations. AI and automation will help address the complexity of 5G networks, drive efficiencies and improve customer experience as well as open new revenue streams for communications service providers (CSPs).
Is Ericsson planning to invest in local tech start-ups in Nigeria?
Ericsson innovation platforms around the world are part of our global push to drive innovation in the markets we operate in. We strongly believe in the transformative impact of network automation as a technology that can fuel innovation. The automation hub will tap into the talent here in the country and will ultimately evolve the nation's digital landscape.
Nigeria is yet to roll out 5G network, how does this affect the full potential of the automation hub?
The automation hub is a long-term plan with set objectives which will grow and evolve once 5G is rolled out in Nigeria. However, the benefits of automation are already significant for networks that are being developed, maintained and delivered today. Customers are already benefitting from Time to Market and Total Cost of ownership benefits of more efficient software delivery and higher quality deployments. Service automation has a transformational power for businesses and service providers. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation will further provide value across the lifecycle of network operations to make the most of 5G, when it is launched.
Businesses need emerging technologies to remain competitive. How is Ericsson supporting African businesses in today's digital era?
As Industry 4.0 accelerates in Africa, automation in operations is proven to boost customer experiences. Ericsson continues to support the telecom industry players in setting #AfricaInMotion, and with the Ericsson Automation Hub in Nigeria, we will focus on driving business outcomes for our partners in Africa as they aim to leverage on digital transformation to turn complexities to opportunities while offering a greater experience and value to consumers.
How will digital connectivity help achieve economic sustainability in Africa?
Africa is home to over a billion people, and it is also a continent with the most growing economies. ICT is essential for the region's development, and adequate ICT service deployment and digital connectivity will play a crucial role in achieving economic sustainability in the continent.
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