Happy Birthday Capgemini Paris 5G Lab!

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It has been one year already since we launched our first 5G Lab dedicated to the Industries. And what a challenging and passionate year working on a breakthrough topic with this incredible team!

By Cédric Bourrely, 5G Labs Program Director, Capgemini Invent

The tremendous efforts and the pandemic constraints haven’t reduced the dynamism and the willingness to innovate of the people working on the program.

One year later, time for a first summary. Let me share some insights on this epic run.

So what have we done since the launch of the Paris Lab last year?

Well first, we presented the Lab to our clients: more than 40 CxO meetings in multiple sectors (Manufacturing, Automotive, Defense, Transportation, Retail, Telecom…) on site in Paris, where we could measure the enthusiasm of people talking again together about innovation, projecting themselves in a post-Covid future. Such excitement!

And not just clients, but also our technology partners. This year also allowed us to improve our portfolio of partners, sharing latest innovation trends and solutions to continuously improve our setup and market understanding.

We also had the opportunity to present the Lab to the French “5G for Industry” government taskforce, explaining our challenges, our successes and most of all, our lessons learned after two years of “hands-on” 5G. For sure a great honor to be able to be part of such a strategic initiative, with international synergies.

Talking about international, well, 5G Labs at MWC a few weeks back was also a highlight: this gave the 5G Labs significant international exposure to present our setup, our knowledge, our vision of the Industries transformation powered by “The Future of Technology”.

Clients visits, for sure, have been the drumbeat of this past year, but we also focused on continuous improvement, testing new components, troubleshooting new features, and on-boarding new partners. Among our successes:

  • We complemented our Private Network setup with access to the 5G public network of Bouygues Telecom. The Labs is now completely able to provide both Private Stand Alone 5G (Release 16) as well as Public Non-Stand Alone 5G, and benchmark performances and usages.
  • We finalized the complete virtualization of the 5G Core & Multi-Access Edge Computing Platform, allowing us to gain in agility and operations efficiency.
  • We enriched the platform integration patterns with the establishment of dedicated connectivity with our Hyperscalers partners.
  • We integrated more devices to our setup, each time performing intense troubleshooting sessions to ensure compatibility with available spectrums and networks.
  • We started the implementation of breakthrough / long-awaited 5G features such as Dynamic Slicing
  • We developed new High-potential Industrial use cases, including Autonomous Intra-Logistics Vehicle for smart warehousing. We definitely made significant progress on technology and market understanding, while delivery value to key clients

Our key learnings

One year ago, when the lab was launched and made available for client visits, we already had significant experience in architecture design, modules implementations, and partners selection. We came into this project with solid knowledge. But that pales compared to where we stand now. The clients’ feedbacks, the experimentation, the connection to the 5G (& Edge) ecosystems pushed further our understanding of the market, and the key success factors to address while going for 5G. Here are some of the major findings:

First, starting the 5G journey relies on knowledge and innovation:

  • The level of 5G-awareness is very heterogeneous within industry clients, but still, most of our clients understand that 5G is not just an extension of 4G, and that the new architecture patterns (link with Edge, link with Cloud) will make a difference.
  • And yet, finding use cases that can be truly accelerated by 5G (and Edge) vs existing connectivity solutions (4G, WIFI 6) is one of the most important topics to tackle for industrials…
  • … but the approaches taken vary from one geography to another. As a primary example, French industrial clients tend to prove ROI before investing into 5G, whereas German neighbors consider 5G as a foundation enabler among others for industrial innovation.

Second, there are some key operational questions to answer, in order to maximize the chances of adoption:

  • Strategic choices: 5G is all about new architectures, complex and diverse ecosystems, implying new skills within the teams. Make / Buy / Partner strategic choice needs to be thought through early in the process.
  • Data privacy is one of the major concerns for industrial risks control or sensitive data handling (ex: military or health), and therefore 5G Private Networks are expected to provide significant benefits.
  • While the questions about public health no longer seem to be a major barrier, the impacts on sustainability still raise frequent questions. On this sensitive topic, while we know that the reduction of energy consumption by the antennas if one of the key 5G benefits, the overall balance between end-to-end carbon footprint of 5G and energy savings is still under evaluation and one of the major topics of interest for our clients. And finally, obviously, major topics linked to technologies evaluation and integration must be addressed
  • Most of our clients are convinced that Private/Hybrid networks will be of an interest for their industrial activities. Deployment models are key to tackling this topic.
  • Edge / Cloud / 5G represent a new paradigm shift as IT and Network technologies converge, creating deep need for architecture pattern creation, strategic partners alliances or resources upskilling.
  • 5G performances have been in the heart of the discussions, especially when we compare them to the original marketing promises. A clear path must be evaluated to find the 5G “sweet spot” for use cases. Big Bang revolution of 5G deployment won’t be applicable in most “brownfield” industrial operations and a tactical approach has to be set up.
  • As the ecosystem is deeply fragmented (cloud, devices makers, telco…), multiple technical options can be envisioned, taking into account local specificities and barriers to overcome. Finding the right alliances strategy is one major, time-consuming activity for which pre-integrated patterns and return on experiences are very valuable.
  • And finally, Cybersecurity. 5G has advantages, but also creates risks that must be anticipated. Key question relate to the global integration of 5G within corporate IT, in a global context where cyber threats are constantly

What to expect for 2022?

These great achievements and learnings will be enriched by our upcoming 2022 work.

We will keep evolving our setup, continuing the exchange of great innovations and knowledge with our talented Mumbai Lab Team: new radio equipment, new features (Mission Critical MCX), new point of views (sustainability, cybersecurity…), and obviously, more fun and innovation (hello Metaverse, we’ll see each other soon…)

In conclusion, I must say that I am very glad and deeply honored to be in charge of this program.

These great achievements, past and upcoming, wouldn’t be possible without the effort of these incredible, passionate, super-skilled team members in France and India, and without the support of our visionary Top Management within Capgemini, still one step ahead of the upcoming digital innovations.

Stay tuned for more!

Author:

Cédric BOURRELY – 5G Labs Program Lead, Capgemini Invent