21 December 2014

Control Variables of “Softwarization”

It has been mentioned several times that “Softwarization” is a global systemic trend, appearing under the form of several technologies and models, such as Cloud Computing, Edge-Fog Computing, SDN, NFV, etc, which are sharing the same common denominator: “any transactions, functions and services can be seen as applications executed on (virtual/logical resources hosted in) low cost distributed hardware”. This is the essence of a “game-changer” which is bringing, in a few years, far-reaching implications in the Digital Society and Economy. 

So, “Softwarization” is paving the way towards the 5G.

In fact, Industries (both Large and Small Medium ones) and other Institutions embracing this paradigm will see dramatic costs optimizations, whatever will be their business sector. It’s about “digitalizing and then optimizing” the processes (e.g., in Industry, in Agriculture, in Services, in the Public Sectors, etc) with Industrial Mathematics.

In the near future, robots, smart things and machines will become the new “tools” – directly controlled through the 5G – supporting/helping humans in their daily tasks, jobs and activities. Not only in factories, or in the agriculture, but also in the smart cities and at home. This is like saying that 5G will become like a Nervous System of Digital Society and Economy. Technologies are (almost) ready and the it is likely to be sustainable (even when communications will be just commodities) !

Just imagine the socio-economic impact of Virtual Network/Service Providers, renting physical (L0 and L1) resources (from Infrastructure Providers) for exploiting their virtual platforms (L2 to L7), so to provide - globally - services to Digital Single Markets ! Less investments will be required to enter new markets and the businesses will be oriented towards a "pay-as-you-go" model. An opportunity or a risk, depending on how you're looking at it.

Nevertheless, as I mentioned in the previous post, this wave of innovation may have different strategies of adoption, and levels of impacts, depending on a number variables, not only concerning technology maturity, but also business sustainability, regulatory rules and willingness to change, to adapt.

As a matter of fact, all these systemic interdependencies of the multiple variables of today Society and Economy are transforming our socio-economic environment in a sort of global "complex system". And like in any “complex system”, which typically non-linear, even small changes in the so-called “control variables” could produce sudden and highly impactful changes in the overall system (the well-known butterfly effect).

So it makes sense, looking for those “control variables” of  “Softwarization” in order to understand, and possibly predict, when and how (I'm not saying "if") this dramatic “phase transition” will occur, and, above all, what will be the scenarios, after said transition, and what evolution/adaptation is needed. Just taking time…or focussing on narrow, fragmented approaches, might not be the best investment! In natural ecosystems, during changes, the best surviving species are those which are capable of fast understanding and adapting.

A systemic thinking is required. Linear approaches are not enough during these types of changes.

In this analysis, we should be able to “extract simplicity from the appearing complexity”. The number of control variables should be limited enough, but complete, to cover most (if not all) the dynamics of the socio-economic environment.

My take is that the “Softwarization” way towards 5G will be impacted by the following key control variables:
  • Hardware equation: chip-sets performances/costs curve (for servers, terminals, embedded systems, etc)
  • Open Source Software: viral diffusion of pre-industrial product (e.g. a global operating systems)
  •  Network Performances: increasing of bandwidth, towards 0-latency, stability…
  • Standards-de-facto: winner will take it all (market will decide)
  • Reasons why: improving quality of life (new services), costs optimizations, new jobs…
  • Rules of the game: what regulation environment to create new development
  • Level of trustiness: dependability, security, privacy…
  • ...others ?
Obviously, there might be others, and others strictly related to these ones.
Then, each of these variables should be subjected to a breakdown analysis to understand what’s the best strategic positioning to tame potential risks and/or to be ready to exploit the opportunities of the coming 5G transition towards the Digital Society and Economy!

We'll go through these variables in the next posts.