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Jim Brisimitzis on 5G, Edge Computing and AI

In the “5G: Secure What Matters” blog post series, we showcase thought leaders and their unique perspectives on the intersection of 5G, security, and technology. We recently sat down with Jim Brisimitzis, the founder of Seattle’s 5G Open Innovation Lab, to get his views on 5G.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m the founder of Seattle’s 5G Open Innovation Lab. Prior to joining the lab, I launched the Microsoft for Startups program in the US and Canada, was part of Microsoft Ventures, incubated products in edge/hybrid computing, and held roles at PeopleSoft, Oracle, and Nortel Networks. Enterprise tech has been my focus for over 20 years and building tech ecosystems and communities is what I enjoy doing today.

What do you think 5G means for the future of mobility?

I think of 5G in the context of connectivity, edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Why? As new 5G wireless standards continue to roll out globally there’s a significant opportunity to connect billions of new devices all generating petabytes of information that need intelligence to comprehend and act on.

As we’ve seen an emergence of cloud computing, it’s clear that there’s a new paradigm of computing that initiates with fifth-generation networks (5G). I also consider this opportunity to be the driver behind enterprise digital transformations. We’re getting started with 5G followed by the growth in demand for edge computing and AI-native applications.

What challenges do you see in moving to 5G?

From an operator’s standpoint I believe there’s CAPEX to contend with. 5G networks are a wholesale transition from the core (evolved packet core) to the radio access network (RAN) driven by a software-defined architecture. Higher frequency bands, such as millimeter wave, demand densification of existing networks to support the promise of one gigabit/second speed.

Operators are likely balancing the roll-out of these networks against the significant CAPEX investments and ROI.

What are some of the top 5G Security challenges?

Plenty. Off hand, networks are increasingly becoming software-defined, which, if not hardened appropriately, could increase the surface area for possible compromises. With billions of new devices coming online it’s important for admins to properly secure these devices against threats. The issue is less with device security and more about an admin’s ability to secure devices at scale (think from hundreds to thousands or millions).

From my vantage point, networks are becoming much more complex as connectivity and edge grow. Application owners will have much more compute resources to utilize. They will also need to be diligent that their applications and the privacy of their user data is highly maintained throughout the lifecycle of their applications.

What’s the most important change/benefit in what 5G will make for you (or your organization)?

Not with my organization per se, but I do see a rather large opportunity for enterprises to digitally transform over time. With access to more connected devices and AI/ML-driven applications, it’s possible that they could transform themselves and their course of business.

I suggest this from the standpoint of operating completely lights-out manufacturing operations to autonomous logistics, vertical agriculture, and much more. I don’t think there’s just one change or benefit for an industry. There’s much more out there to explore powered by connectivity, edge computing and AI.

What is the top business problem/challenge that you hope could be resolved with 5G technology?

I think that depends on the industry largely due to the application possibilities. At the highest level, I believe that connectivity, edge computing and AI will become a transformative data platform powered by connected devices, localized computing, and machine-to-machine communications helping businesses operate in real time with insights. For a long time, we’ve used data in a reactionary way. That will change in a 5G+ world.

In five years, where do you think we will be in using 5G?

That’s a great question. Today, I think we’re getting our heads wrapped around the idea of a much more connected, localized and smart computing and network world. That said, I believe ecosystems are being built today that are exploring, trialing, and learning about what’s possible. In the next five years I believe we’ll be much more connected than we are today (e.g., smart everything) and will likely demand more.

Businesses will digitally transform in that time and could continue pushing the tech industry for more capabilities and use cases pertinent to their industry. I also believe that we could see a new wave of application development that harnesses better connectivity, edge computing, and native AI in applications. What’s for sure is the we’re just getting started and the race is on.

About Jim Brisimitzis

Jim Brisimitzis has over 19 years of enterprise, channel, and startup experience with companies such as Bell Canada, Nortel Networks, PeopleSoft, Oracle and over 13 years with Microsoft. Jim is the founder of the 5G Open Innovation Lab in the Seattle. The lab is a community partnership of private and public sponsors focused on discovering, accelerating, and promoting future connectivity, edge computing and artificial intelligence inspired technologies. Prior to launching the lab Jim was a managing partner for Quake Capital, leading its early efforts to establish a presence in the ecosystem. Brisimitzis was also the general manager of the Microsoft for Startups program in the United States and Canada. His team was responsible for startup engagements partnering with leading North American startup accelerators/incubators. Together with these partners Brisimitzis’ team engaged over 2,800 startups actively running on Azure through programs such as the Customer Access Program (CAP), technical enablement, and events to help startups accelerate their business. Prior to launching the Microsoft for Startups program. Jim led operations for Microsoft Ventures globally in addition to creating and launching its “HiPo” program, an exclusive engagement for startups with significant market potential.

Brisimitzis has led many internal innovation efforts from SMB mini servers to hyper-scale computing HW/SW stacks. As an “intrapreneur,” opportunities that help large organizations rapidly innovate new and emerging opportunities from concept to customer adoption appeal to him. He developed the early prototypes for Microsoft Cloud Platform Solution (aka Azure Stack) and he holds a patent for a predictive algorithm. Brisimitzis holds a degree in business management from Trent University of Peterborough Ontario, Canada. He and his family reside in Seattle, WA.