Individually impressive and in combination truly amazing, the 5G Testbeds and Trials projects are working hard to showcase a dizzying array of use cases that utilise the new opportunities created by 5G. Although those use cases are wide-ranging and diverse, there are many common needs and challenges across projects, and this creates a strong case for collaboration between projects, and with external partners.
The word collaboration literally means “co-labouring” – that is, working together with others to achieve a common goal. It is about harnessing the skills, knowledge, perspectives and experiences of a group of people to achieve something that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve alone. Sharing what has been learned across projects that are facing similar challenges improves project efficiency and builds a vibrant network – an ecosystem – of organisations and people, which drives forward innovation, business opportunity and societal gain.
Back in October, I was delighted to join UK5G to form the 5GTT Collaboration Team, with the objective to support inter-project collaboration. We first had to model collaboration ourselves by forming a team that took members from across DCMS, UK5G, KTN and Digital Catapult. A set of disparate, talented individuals from across different organisations came together to align around a common purpose, to collaborate and use our talents to achieve something bigger than our organisations could have done alone – that does sound like collaboration in action!
What are the benefits of collaboration? We can all achieve more through collaboration – solving problems, benefiting from different perspectives, pooling talent, sharing knowledge and insight, discovering from each other what does and doesn’t work, and “joining the dots” to form a bigger picture.
One of the goals of the Testbeds and Trials Programme is to stimulate and nurture an ecosystem around 5G in the UK that will endure. Inter-project collaboration is one method by which we build this ecosystem – by undertaking meaningful work together, building up our personal networks, and showcasing our work within the community and beyond into all the various sectors we work in.
There are many other potential benefits of collaboration. Perhaps the biggest and most obvious is the gathering together of a large, diverse set of skills and know-how to apply additional power to a problem that matters to you. Collaboration therefore can be seen as providing additional focus and resource to topics that you need to cover anyway in order to deliver a successful project.
Another benefit of collaboration is that there are advantages to pooling needs together – for example, in identifying devices and other equipment for trials. Last year, many of the 5G projects had the key need to identify supply sources of 5G devices that supported band n77. This year there is a new collaboration just getting underway looking at local and shared access spectrum and how to successfully navigate licensing with spectrum holders.
Somewhere out there, someone has probably already solved a problem you are just starting to face, or equally, you may have stumbled upon the solution to someone else’s problem without realising it. Joining working groups, workshops and conferences is an example of a great way to expose such useful work, and to find opportunities to collaborate.
I’d also like to suggest that another benefit of collaboration is that you will become a more rounded and wiser person! Collaboration requires a willingness to be open to learning from others, to knowing what your own strengths and weaknesses are, to knowing when to take a lead and when to follow, and to seeing the wins in creating something bigger and better than ourselves.