Erik Ekudden (pictured), recently-installed CTO at Ericsson, said the vendor will focus heavily on enterprise-grade infrastructure and services moving forward, as he identified five key trends impacting the technology industry.

Ekudden told Mobile World Live the trends were identified based on discussions with the company’s customers and leadership team, since he was appointed CTO on 1 July.

The executive said Ericsson is already well placed to deliver on some of the technology trends, while noting it must develop new skills and capabilities in conjunction with other key industry players to capitalise on the remainder.

For example, Ekudden said Ericsson is able to deliver on the first trend – an adaptable technology base – by combining software and hardware.

Ericsson’s experience means it can improve the efficiency of networks and “ultimately lower costs”, he explained

The CTO identified machine intelligence as another key trend, noting Ericsson’s existing networks “typically produce petabytes of data” each day, which is creating a long-term need for “a really advanced machine intelligence system”.

Ekudden said the ecosystem for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) platforms is maturing, and Ericsson is “building on that and enhancing it” with developments related to network platforms.

Areas where Ericsson aims to capitalise include assisting customers in their “automation journey” in terms of infrastructure, and making the “interaction between operations and network much more intuitive and smooth”.

“Automation is a big theme among our customers,” Ekudden said, adding Ericsson is taking a leading role here, citing the company’s experience in managed services and broader optimisation capabilities.

Ekudden cited two opportunities in IoT: security; and broader technology shifts.

The CTO said end-to-end security in IoT systems is crucial, stating the goal is to establish what he calls “hardware routes of trust” in every IoT device. He said there is room for the industry as a whole to improve security: “We have a lot of unsecure IP connections and a lot of unsecure IP connected devices.”

Ekudden said security must be considered from day one and built in “on a hardware level in every IoT device”. However, he noted current enterprise IoT systems “are not secure at the endpoint”.

“It’s an architectural question, and it’s also about designing every node at a certain security level. This is something we take as a very important part of the products that we build on the network side.”

Network slicing will play a key role in delivering on IoT’s potential to reshape industries and is another area in which Ericsson will seek to capitalise on its expertise.

Ekudden said improvements in terms of distributing IoT data, collecting and analysing the information at or close to the network edge, offers improvements “both in efficiency over the network platform as well as in performance”. Such improvements will enable the provision of cloud services which are better matched to the requirements of enterprises than current networks, delivering higher performance and reliability.

Consumer learning
Ekudden also noted enterprise systems can benefit from technologies typically employed in consumer applications today, including augmented reality (AR) and VR.

The CTO said the technology behind headline grabbing game Pokemon Go can form a fundamental element in enterprise-focused fields including inspection services, maintenance and supervision – areas Ericsson is seeing “a lot of interest” in from enterprise customers.

Ericsson’s strategy in this area involves working with partners “to bring both enterprise and consumer experiences to the market” by integrating AR and VR into the network.

“It’s not a pure device implementation, nor is it a pure public cloud implementation,” Ekudden explained.

The CTO concluded by noting his recent appointment presents an opportunity to “take a step back” and assess the benefits being delivered by new technologies, and decide on a timeline for meeting future challenges.