Cloud adoption is accelerating worldwide: Forbes calculated the compound growth rate of cloud computing at a staggering 19 percent, meaning that its market value will rise from USD 67 billion in 2015 to USD 167 billion in 2020. The Middle East is at the forefront of this trend. Experts forecast that by 2020, there will be a 440 percent increase in datacenter traffic in the region. It is only a matter of time before the cloud supports the whole world.

Read more: Huawei: The intelligent cloud for digitalization of the Middle East

Nokia says that 5G will be a key-enabler for what it is labeled as the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' and that the next-generation technology has the power to completely transform societal norms in sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, energy and healthcare. Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Head of Customer Marketing and Communications, MEA at Nokia, Joachim Wuilmet during GITEX Technology Week.

Read more: Nokia emphasizes 5G is now primarily the technology for industry and Internet of Things

BridgeWave Communications, a market leader in the development and deployment of high capacity microwave and millimeter wave backhaul and front-haul solutions, is set to accelerate its growth and footprint in the Middle East following the regional launch of its NAVIGATOR DT systems at GITEX Technology Week.

Read more: BridgeWave set to accelerate growth in the Middle East with introduction of new products at GITEX

Exclusive Interviews

As the world becomes ever more digitally connected, industries are experiencing an ICT-driven transformation. Because of this, traditional revenue streams are slowing for operators, says Ericsson's Wojciech Bajda, Head of Industry and Society Unit in Region Middle East, speaking to Telecom Review about Ericsson's latest '5G Business Potential' report.

5G will be a key technology for operators to generate new revenue streams in the future, suggests Ericsson's report titled 'The 5G business potential - Industry digitalization and the untapped opportunities for operators'. Operators will "benefit from an additional 34 percent revenue from 5G-enabled industry digitalization market opportunities" by 2026.

Ericsson's report focuses on eight key global industries that will benefit from 5G and industrial digitalization, which include manufacturing, public safety, financial services, healthcare, automotive, public transport, media and entertainment, as well as energy and utilities. The latter ranked highest in terms of 5G-driven revenues by 2026 while financial services ranked the lowest.

"We highlighted several industries in the report which will be affected the most by 5G," said Mr. Bajda at the launch of the report in Dubai. "Already see different applications which are being implemented, but not with 5G yet," he said. "There will be further enhancements going forward before the technology is ready to be deployed."

The business opportunity for ICT players leveraging 5G to digitize industries is estimated to reach over $US53 billion by 2026 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to Ericsson's report. There will also be huge opportunities for telecom operators who adapt to these trends, the report adds. Ericsson foresees a revenue potential of US$25 billion by 2026 in the Middle East and Africa for operators. This represents a possibility to add 23 percent growth in revenues.

"In the report we are highlighting that 5G will be a new business platform - more than just an upgraded radio mobile network," said Mr. Bajda, who has held senior positions at Ericsson in the UAE, Ukraine, Botswana and Tanzania. "5G will enable new business models and it will have a significant impact on different industries in society."

In Dubai, for example, Ericsson is working on a project with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to connect all taxis and limousine services digitally in order for the RTA to monitor usage to understand exactly how many passengers are being escorted, where they are being escorted to, etc. This information could "contribute to making services better in the future," said Mr. Bajda.

The industries that will see the most revenue opportunities created or enhanced by 5G, according to Ericsson's report, are manufacturing and energy/utilities. To capture this market potential requires investment in 5G technology, but also business development, go-to-market models and organizational adaption. To leverage the power of 5G, operators need to "rethink their role".

"Our customers are very interested in 5G," said Mr. Bajda, discussing Ericsson's operator customers in the Middle East. However, there is no spectrum assigned yet for 5G because standardization of the technology is still in the works, he explained.

As one of the leading members of the standardization body 3GPP, which is working towards Release 15 (global standards for 5G) to be released next year, Ericsson sees "a lot of interest" from mobile operators in the region wanting to trial and pilot the technology. "We are having these discussions with mobile operators in the Middle East," said Mr. Bajda.

Operators are interested in finding out how they can make businesses thrive and be more efficient with 5G, he said. They also want to understand how 5G can support enterprise customers better, as well as how it can support private users better.

Using 5G to solve the key challenges in digitalization for industries, operators can become "more than network developers," says Ericsson's report, addressing additional revenue streams by becoming "service enablers" or even "service creators". It is time for operators to "establish a new identity," it adds.

"The strong interest in 5G isn't just because it's a new thing - everyone is looking at the various use cases and coming to Ericsson for help to come up with 5G business models," said Mr. Bajda. "This is what we do at Ericsson - we spend a lot of time on analysis and reports, not for our own satisfaction, but in order to sit with our operator customers and brainstorm how we can better address their customers."