When it started services in India nearly a decade ago, Nokia’s Global Delivery Centre (GDC) was focussed on India. Now there are two large delivery centres – in India and Europe. Today, the India GDC spread across the two biggest centres – Noida and Chennai – covers over 310,000 base stations across 85 countries. In addition, Bangalore is a key site for R&D. There are smaller hubs due to language or government regulations in Russia, China and Japan. Amit Dhingra, Vice President, Global Service Delivery, Nokia spoke to Anup Jayaram on the way forward.
Q: How have things changed at the GDC over the years?
A: Initially there were security issues on moving the data out of the country. We are doing India work in India with the GDCs. The two centres that we have in India at Noida and Chennai provide us business continuity. More importantly, they are two different geographic tectonic plates.
In services we have the whole value-chain covered from design and planning, architecture, integration, all the way to managed services and sales. Earlier design and planning used to happen on the site. With self-optimising networks, most of the data build is the key part for making the network performance sustain. All of that can be done from any location. In the past you used to go to the physical base station and load those files. Now you only need a physical installation of the site and connect it to the network.Then you can control everything from the backend. We support part of Asia, part of Middle East and Africa and America from here.
Q: Where do you go from here?
A: What got us here is definitely not enough for the future. In the last 10 years we have done a great job to become a large wisdom centre. Going forward we have to move from a wisdom centre to a virtual delivery network. If you see the trends that are happening including the emergence of IoT, connectivity is ubiquitous. We cannot manage it in the way we have done so far. The demand of customers in terms of latency is in micro milli-seconds. In user applications like automated cars, you get a micro-second have to take a decision to take a turn or exit.
Q: How do you see things changing in the future?
A: There are four things for the future: a liquid workforce, automation, analytics and technologies. Automation in the form of software robotics will be key. We need to automate anything that is manual or repetitive. Our target is to free up resources by doing that. We are investing big in robotics and building platforms. We have come up with a platform, which we are robotising. There is hardly any scope for error with robotics process automation. In the next phase I can link this with analytics. That will help take decisions. It’s not just about data scientists. Pure data analysts will not help me. What helps is if the team understands these technologies and data. It’s a marriage between the two.
That frees up resources. With IoT, everything is driven by analysis. We get a terrabyte of data every month which has to be analysed. Then there is technologies. Whatever technology that Nokia develops, be it 4G, 4.5G, 5G, my team has to be able to sustain all networks around the world, because I cannot wait for those networks and technology to come to India. I have to do that around the world. Nowadays, in some technologies we are possibly leading. If you look at Reliance VoLTE which is provided by Nokia, they are lead customers. I need to free up time. I can’t exponentially grow up the people. Even if I hire fresh graduates, I need to enable them.
The last bit is the liquid workforce. Look at Uber. You have a trained driver, who is part of the ecosystem and can be used as and when you want to use him. In my GDC’s I cant do that, because I can’t let anyone come in and play with the networks. We are working on croud sourcing. In Nokia Services we have 26,000 people, which can be utilised for any technology around the world. This is the direction in which we are working. In a liquid workforce, I am breaking down the work into micro-services. An each micro-service will have its own input and output, automation defined. Some may need human intervention, others may not. By doing this, I can divide the work in so many small packages.
Q: What are the benefits from this?
A: One is to use our capabilities in the best possible way. I may have an expert in India, but cannot use it in Romania. That makes capability available around the world. The second is getting people on the technologies where they are very good. That’s specialisation. The tech is so complex, that I will not work with generalists.
Q: Do you see the rise of IoT challenging the core of telephony whiich is voice and data services for people?
A: The devices are talking over the air, but are not using data to that extent. The pulses are limited, unlike when you surf, when it is gigabytes of data. IoT is giving basic information in and out, but not continuous. The data volume will be limited, but the volume of the devices will be much more. Last week a Volvo truck delivered beer over a highway without a driver. Look at the amount of data that it must have generated. Operators will lock in with such manufacturers. In future, the SLAs will change from the current near real-time (10-15 minutes) to real time. That’s a very big change for us. That’s why analytics will help, because I cannot have any lapse.