But as we move into 2019 and beyond there are signs of optimism in the industry, underpinned by new opportunities opening up on two key fronts.
5G is just around the corner, with the promise of increased network efficiency and the potential to offer high-value, differentiated services to enterprises and consumers alike. Operators are moving from the pilot stage towards full commercial launches, with leading markets set to see a flurry of activity throughout 2019.
The growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling operators to address new opportunities in industrial and consumer markets, as new use cases are enabled by new business models where operators are well positioned to benefit. After years of hype, IoT has very much become a reality, with the experience of early deployments now leading to more widespread adoption.
This proliferation of new services and business models brings with it new challenges. As operators move into new segments, with partnerships taking on a critical role in delivering appealing products and services to market, a new approach will be needed for risk management in areas such as billing and provisioning assurance, and fraud management.
Of course, some early 5G use cases, such as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA), build on propositions that are already familiar to operators and consumers alike. But as 5G networks become more widely deployed and more capable technically, for example with network slicing becoming an essential tool to support specific applications and services, the risk profile also changes significantly, meaning new approaches and techniques will be required.
Making the most of the data generated by IoT and 5G applications will be core to evolving risk management. The ability to collect and analyse massive volumes of data from multiple sources across multiple locations will be essential to meet ever-changing requirements and to enable preventative action to address previously unforeseen issues.
With such complex ecosystems and value chains in place, the ability to take an integrated risk management approach, connecting information from devices, edge processing and IoT gateways to the service provider network will be an important way to manage the evolving risk profile.
For all of these challenges, operators remain well placed to act as the glue in the risk assurance chain, bringing together the various participants and building on existing capabilities and experience. The key will be fully exploring the value chain to identify and mitigate against risks, and deployment of flexible tools that enable service providers to monitor risk while still offering the flexibility need to meet changing, and diverse, customer demands.