5G infrastructure is being installed around the world. At the same time, most people have not yet seen what 5G can offer. What exactly is 5G? How will it improve our lives? What are the concerns that need to be addressed before it is widely adopted?
In our series, called, How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives, we are talking to tech and telecom leaders who can share how 5G can impact and enhance our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bruce Kelley.
As Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for NETSCOUT, Bruce Kelley works closely with every facet of the organization, interfacing with all departments from sales to product management to engineering. He plays a lead role in setting the priorities and direction around product and service developments in the service provider business.
Highly regarded in the technology space as a 5G, IoT, edge cloud and automation visionary and expert, Bruce regularly consults with service providers to identify challenges related to network monitoring in order to achieve service and security assurance. He is a staunch advocate of the importance of delivering end-to-end visibility across today’s increasingly complex data center architectures.
Bruce uses knowledge gleaned over decades to guide how current and next-generation technologies will impact operations and delivery of services across the service provider space. He is the holder of more than 40 patents for technology-related innovations.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Ihave always had a passion for both technology and entrepreneurship — which has served me well over the last few decades in this evolving industry. My background in engineering and interest in software development and networking initially led me to pursue acceptance into an advanced “think tank” group that was at the forefront of innovation in technology. Typically, it takes fifteen years to get into that group — I got there in eight. In that group, I was able to experiment with new technologies, pursue independent projects, and tackle concepts like digital transformation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, 5G, and so on. Needless to say, I took some risks. At one point in my career I quit a very lucrative job to be more entrepreneurial — I needed a life changing event. And it paid off. All of these small steps eventually led me to my current home at NETSCOUT.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think just observing the evolution of technology over the past several years has been incredible. I remember when the iPhone 1 was coming out, reading about the initial features and watching it change the definition of a mobile device. It was very cool to witness that initial rollout and now see where we have progressed in the telecommunications industry. Witnessing a product or initiative being created from the ground up and visualizing the possibilities years ahead really excites me.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
For me, rather than pinning it down to a particular person, it’s more about taking lessons you learn on your journey from many people. Becoming successful isn’t a one-man job — it’s often a team effort. If you’re a leader of a company, you need to give power to your team members. You should have a leadership mindset, but continue to learn from them as well. Whether an individual is in the marketing department, an engineer or the receptionist, they all bring value. You could conceptualize the world’s most revolutionary technology, but if you don’t have the engineer to build it, the marketer to publicize it, or the salespeople to sell it, it is worthless. I was given ample opportunity early in my career to explore personal passions and interests, which is how I learned, and I find a lot of joy in paying that forward to other people.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Striving to be the best
You may not always be the smartest person in the room, but I’ve always operated under the belief that you should always be striving to be the best version of yourself. I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of smart people that have lit a fire in me to continue improving and learning. It’s the only way to progress.
2. Bringing energy to everything I do — even the most menial tasks
Sometimes, the day-to-day of what someone in my position does is not the most exciting. We aren’t always inventing the latest and greatest technology. However, that doesn’t mean the work that we do isn’t important. By bringing as much energy and enthusiasm I can to each day and each task I am faced with, and passing that energy to my team members, morale is boosted and projects are completed successfully and with positivity.
3. Embodying a strong work ethic
You don’t rise to the top by doing the bare minimum — it’s as simple as that. There are rough patches and times where you’ll sail right through to the next step, but no matter what you have to stay committed to the work. I’ve personally found that approaching each chapter of my career with determination and grit has given me the greatest results, and made me a more valuable team member and leader.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Like 4G, 5G has many different facets, and I’m sure many will approach this question differently. But for the benefit of our readers can you explain to us what 5G is? How is 5G different from its predecessor 4G?
Plainly speaking it’s much faster, offering speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. Secondly, 5G has lower latency, which is the response time between endpoints and is affected by not just speed, but also available bandwidth. 5G has the potential to revolutionize latency issues, with reactions to user commands in just 1–2 milliseconds compared to about 45–50 milliseconds with 4G.
Can you share three or four ways that 5G might improve our lives? If you can please share an example, for each.
- Financial Services
With proper implementation, 5G will accelerate the evolution of modern financial services, permuting tasks as routine as obtaining credit information to next-generation edge- and cloud-computing operations, AI, and much more. It is the bridge to the mobile-centric business model that is the banking industry’s future.
“Evolution” is the operative word as 5G builds on existing progress in both telecommunications and banking. Regarding the former, 5G is backward compatible, meaning 5G phones “are capable of functioning on earlier-generation networks outside of 5G coverage areas,” according to the FCC. This means that mobile providers can “maintain their 4G networks as they invest in 5G deployment.”
As to the latter, many financial innovations are already deemphasizing “brick and mortar” banking. The need has only increased during the coronavirus pandemic. A more significant number of financial institutions now focus on building a touch-less, safe, fast and easy-to-use customer experience. 5G will help make these features ubiquitous, particularly in rural areas.
The global pandemic has exposed how sclerotic our current healthcare system is. On the one hand, several emergency rooms and intensive care units across the country were overwhelmed by the influx of patients with Covid-19. Yet other practice areas are barren and hemorrhaging money as would-be patients for elective and other less-immediate procedures postpone their appointments. It is truly the least ideal possible outcome and is derivative of the lack of flexibility patients face.
However, 5G network providers that leverage trusted, experienced partners to support their infrastructure needs will be able to provide flexibility in abundance for patients. The impact will be profound: 5G is predicted to bring cost savings of approximately $94 billion per year to the healthcare industry by 2030. But the real value is more than monetary: It has the potential to drastically improve health outcomes. Some specific examples are as follows:
- Virtual reality-controlled surgeries
- More rapid transmission of data
- Faster networking speeds for residents of rural areas
- Faster access to telemedicine appointments
While 5G edge is ideal for mobility across a wide geographic area, 5G can also be well suited to more localized applications for enterprises, referred to as “private 5G.” In essence, private 5G is a 5G local area network (LAN) created through dedicated bandwidth and infrastructure. Private 5G has many benefits for enterprises, infusing their processes with greater agility, speed, IT security and efficiency. Think of it as an enterprise’s own in-house 5G network that can be adjusted with ease to meet a business’s continually changing demands.
Hence, private 5G can be used for a host of purposes in many industries, such as large scale manufacturing facilities. A private 5G network allows these facilities to get up and running quickly, and affords them the flexibility to reconfigure their processes quickly and as needed since their network connectivity is entirely wireless.
Excellent. We are nearly done. Let’s zoom out a bit and ask a more general question. Based on your experience and success, what are the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career in the telecommunication industry? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive
I said earlier that I once left a very lucrative job to be more entrepreneurial. The telecommunication industry is always changing, and if you see an area of opportunity to help it progress or change it for the better, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and go for it.
2. Surround yourself with a strong team that you can inspire
A smart, dedicated team makes a great leader. Surround yourself with smart people who are willing to work for you, but also have creative ideas to bring to the table. Nobody can do it alone!
3. Keep learning
Thinking that you know everything will be detrimental to your personal growth and your career. Read every day, listen to podcasts, join social networking groups — do whatever it takes to keep expanding your knowledge in your chosen field. It’ll only make you more valuable.
4. Be open-minded
Technology is constantly changing, and we need to continue changing with it. While not all of these new innovations will be the next iPhone, new concepts and technologies must be met with an open mind, and we can’t marry ourselves to legacy technology of the past. If so, there will be no growth in the industry.
5. Maintain a strong work ethic
I’ve always heard the saying thrown around, “ideas don’t work unless you do.” As simple as that statement is, it’s so true. The greatest idea in the world means nothing unless you put an actionable plan in place to bring it to fruition. This requires a strong work ethic and dedication to your idea and its potential success against all odds.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Forbes Technology Council: https://profiles.forbes.com/members/tech/profile/Bruce-Kelley-Chief-Technology-Officer-SVP-NetScout-Systems/d15a1929-72ef-4491-b813-5f8caa7e9228
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.