Back from Mobile World Congress 2016


“Visitors from 204 countries attended the mobile industry’s premier event in Barcelona (…) Mobile World Congress featured more than 2,200 exhibiting companies showcasing cutting-edge products and services across 110,000 net square meters of exhibition and hospitality space. More than 3,600 international media and industry analysts attended the event (…) visitors surpassed 100,000 for the first time (…) over 55 per cent of this year’s attendees hold C-level positions, including more than 5,000 CEOs and 21 per cent of attendees for the 2016 show were women.”

Source: 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress Surpasses Record 100,000 Visitors.


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Top row: Nokia’s MWC booth panoramic: left wing, central area, right wing. Bottom pic: central area.


Lean Ops turned out to be a popular NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) demonstration, though by invitation only. Our team ran 160 sessions: the new Lean Ops’ live demonstration system can be declared battle tested.

Those of you making MWC’s annual pilgrimage know how intensive this four day event happens to be. It literally takes months of preparation and working long hours. By the way, the show’s survival kit should include: comfortable insoles, mints galore and plenty of tea or lemon water mixed with honey to soothe sore throats : ) 


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Left: Bhaskar Gorti. Right: Ted East, Carlos Manzanares, Jose de Francisco.


On MWC16’s first day, Bhaskar Gorti, President of Nokia’s Applications & Analytics Business, ran the Lean Ops demo during NFV Implementation: Beyond Cost Savings. That executive panel discussion was moderated by Heavy Reading’s Gabriel Brown. The network operators were represented by John Donovan, AT&T’s CSO & Group President leading Technology and Operations. That session took place at Hall 4 Auditorium 2, a 600 seat room. Full house and plenty of people in the audience were taking pictures and recording videos throughout Bhaskar’s demonstration, whose tablet connected to our tech room back in the booth. Afterwards, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg delivered his keynote next door, in Auditorium 1.

Early on Ted, Carlos and I had planned to take turns at the booth’s demo station. However, the three of us ended up there together talking to different groups at the very same time on numerous occasions. As outlined in this short introductory video, we discussed (a) the value of end-to-end solutions coupled with (b) service level orchestration. Bhaskar’s impressive stage demonstration generated interest and visits to our booth to see more.


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Experiencing Lean Ops at MWC16. From left to right: Auditorium, demo station at Nokia’s booth, VR (Virtual Reality) and video recording.


Lean Ops’ state of the art is based on products and technologies that exist today. That involves a broad cross section of our product and services portfolio, and partners from the ecosystem program. We also address what’s next by discussing near future capabilities and the path forward. Moreover, we share forward looking concepts illustrating the art of the possible and, therefore, how to future proof investments in cloud computing.

Our conversation was centered on virtualized networks and cloud technologies specifically designed for the telecommunications industry. We shared Nokia’s know-how on running highly efficient systems and effortless operations, “lean ops” in short. Being this “Mobile” World Congress, we purposely focused on environments as sophisticated as today’s 4G networks and ran live multimedia calls while conducting a wide range of operations and full lifecycle use cases.

We addressed the role of analytics, programmability, automation and human factors engineering in that context, which become only more preeminent when IoT (Internet of Things) and 5G come to fruition. I would like to stress the fact that it pays to embrace elegant sophistication by first acknowledging the fact that global telecommunication networks happen to be complex. We don’t shy away from reality checks and that is why “Lean” becomes a guiding principle to start small and nimble and, equally important, to remain agile when scaling.

If interested, here is a link to our Lean Ops Manifesto. This document is a year old already. Please stay tuned as I am working on the next version. In the meantime, here is “Communications Networks Reloaded,” a companion presentation whose three versions have registered 2,144 online views at the time of writing this. Those of you already familiar with proven Lean practices in other industries will notice that I adopted, evolved and re-defined what “lean” means to best address the needs of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV.) Long story short, Lean Ops is defined and lives at the intersection between “effective” service delivery and highly “efficient” operations at any scale.


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Left: Barcelona’s MWC crew. Right: Cloud Innovation Center – Chicago team.


This year’s Lean Ops program benefits from a wealth of insights captured in discussions with 1,500+ experts (network operators, analysts and public officials) during our 2015 roadshow. I would also like to highlight our team’s tireless dedication, work ethic and ingenuity as well as invaluable support provided by a number of people across our business worldwide.


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Left: Nokia Networks tweet. Right: Nokia Global Careers tweet.


One more thing: MWC might have prompted our very first major industry appearance as “one team” since Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in January of this year. It is worth sharing that many customers were impressed by the speed of the integration.

Nokia’s successful MWC16 doubles as a catalyst: everyone’s professionalism and workmanship took teamwork to new levels in Barcelona. I’m glad I had the chance to be part of that effort by experiencing what we can accomplish together first hand.


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Lean Ops’ MWC photo album.


I made it back to Chicago’s winter wonderland this past Monday… after spending my weekend in Barcelona’s warmer climate and decompressing a bit over there : )

See you at NFV World Congress in April.

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