How Telcos Can Reinvent in a 5G World

Before jumping into the exciting identity provider opportunities now facing telecom companies, let's briefly discuss the concept of a "Digital Native." My guess is that by now, everyone is familiar with the concept: someone born and raised amongst the widespread use of digital technology. By contrast then, the rest of us (pre-dating 1985-ish) are ‘Digital Immigrants’, destined to struggle in this new digital world order.

The term ‘Digital Native’ can apply to both consumers and companies - think Google, eBay and Amazon - companies born into the digital age, with the internet as their only marketplace. Digital Native companies have also notoriously tracked their customers’ journeys through vast amounts of data, all to anticipate where they are, what they like, and what they will buy next. To be as successful as the natives in this digital age therefore requires a clear understanding of the demand for identity.

Telco's Trusted Identity Provider Opportunities

Identity needs to sit at the centre of everything and now with 5G networks, telecom carriers are faced with the opportunity to become trusted digital identity market participants and enable ‘Trust as a Service’ at the network level.

Let’s break this down further into a highly likely scenario: my daughter is sitting at home on her iPhone connected to our home Wifi. She’s on Google looking to purchase a new book. She then goes to Amazon and buys the book. Apple knows it’s her, Google knows it’s her and Amazon know it’s her, because they all have their way of identifying her when she uses their services. However, neither her mobile phone company, nor our broadband provider knows it is her. In fact, they think it’s me – because I pay the bills. Clearly, telecom carriers are well placed to cross-sell and become trusted identity providers (IDP).

For telecom carriers to establish themselves in the same way as Digital Natives, they should follow the same three strategic principles:

Identity Native Diagram
  • Digital first – They embrace channel shift and channel expansion, rather than trying to control or contain it.

  • Customer Centric - They hold a relentless drive to build a compelling customer experience. They listen to feedback and act on it to continuously drive innovation in customer engagement.

  • Data Driven – They truly understand that data is the new oil; it both lubricates and fuels the value chain.

There is nothing new in these ideas by themselves of course, but with the imminent launch of 5G networks, telecoms network operators have the opportunity to become trusted identity providers not just as custodians of individuals’ identities, but also for their devices and connected things in the platform-based IoT ecosystems that they underpin.

With the right tools, 5G represents a new opportunity for network providers to re-invent themselves as globally trusted digital market participants.


To find out more, you can download the ForgeRock White Paper ‘The 5G Trust Equation’ here.

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Who Is Tim Barber?

Who’s Tim? In his past, he worked with some big names like Pitney Bowes Software, Experian, and SurfKitchen. These days he serves as the VP of the Communications and Media Industry here at ForgeRock where his mission is to understand what major problems and cool opportunities telecoms and media companies are working on, figure out how ForgeRock can help them, and then lead them down the path to success. Sound easy? Well that’s just Tim’s childhood magician skills being put to work.

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