We’ve been busy bringing together Networks and IT capabilities to reap the rewards of a transformed network.

Combining two traditionally separate functions – Networks and IT – is a long journey dependent on the partnership of technology, process and people but opens up a world of possibilities. In order to achieve this unity, we’ve been working through our Networks Evolution 2020 and Digitisation strategic programs – a unique opportunity to provide our customers with the best possible experiences as we simplify our product offerings, support more data, more devices and more connectivity.

Network as a Service (NaaS) is a key factor in this ambition helping us to deliver our T22 transformation. But what exactly is NaaS?

NaaS allows us to build digital products using the combination of our network capacity and IT resources, using standardised tools like Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)—tools for building reusable software – to create new services without the complexity of our legacy systems. We’ve used reusable APIs in our IT systems for some time, but when we API enable our network as well, we unlock a whole new way to build new, simpler, all digital products and services faster and at a lower cost than ever before.

It’s a significant upgrade to our network stack and enables a huge range of new applications.

The NaaS layer drives simplification of the Networks-IT interface, freeing us from the complex proprietary interfaces which slowed us down and enables us to transform the way we deliver products for our customers. Through the exposure of network services into digital platforms, we enable better simpler products and offers based on reusable network building blocks. This means instead of building expensive, bespoke solutions for each customer segment from scratch, the NaaS allows us to plug together and configure the existing, reusable building blocks to deliver new products to market at pace – key to achieving our T22 product simplification strategy.

The success of this transformation was last month recognised by the TM Forum, the key industry body driving NaaS standardisation and adoption, where we won the 2019 Network Transformation award. We’re delighted that the NaaS is up and running (our Connected Workplace product launched in December 2018) making the convergence of Networks and IT a reality.

The win reflects three years of improvement moving towards transformation. We have been disciplined, striving to find a solution to help speed up the delivery of innovative products and offers for our customers, as well as laying the foundation to help to make it easier, faster and more secure for partners and customers to connect and leverage our network.

In 2018 we focused on standardising APIs exposing network services and decoupling the integration with IT systems. Now our focus is refining the NaaS by expanding the technologies it enables, adding support for standards which will further automate our network and improve customer experience by detecting and resolving customer issues automatically. In parallel, we are readying the organisation through our Agile at Scale transition and industry before moving to full-scale, designing future products and services realising the efficiency gains of reusability for our customers.

We’re pleased with this result but know we are in the beginning of the journey and have a way to go to fully reap the rewards of NaaS at scale.