By Abhi Ingle

SVP Digital, Distribution and Channel Marketing AT&T

One of the earliest lessons you learn in geometry is that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line.

At AT&T, we think the same holds true for innovation. We believe creating technology breakthroughs for business means finding the shortest distance between problems and solutions.

That’s why we’re doing things differently at the AT&T Foundry in Plano, our innovation lab dedicated to rapid prototyping located just north of Dallas. We’ve launched an industry-focused space at the Foundry. It’s where we can collaborate and co-create with companies on retail, manufacturing & transportation, finance and public sector solutions.

Call it our Eureka moment.

When you walk into the industry-focused space in the Foundry, you get a stylized view into how we want to build the future with our business customers. A manufacturing robot packs boxes with materials and shoots them down the assembly line. Internet of Things (IoT)-connected sensors track inventory in near-real time.

From there, the boxes roll into a tractor trailer, which is also connected to the AT&T network. Mandatory paperwork is automatically filled out as cargo is loaded. The connected truck can provide the driver with the most time- and fuel-efficient route. There’s even DIRECTV Now available for the driver to enjoy if he has to stop for the night.

Once the boxes are in a store, our technology can help retailers track what’s on the shelves and for how long. They can use this data to restock quickly and know what’s selling best. Sensors can also detect foot traffic in stores to help retailers determine the best placement for their products.

Our vision is to connect every key part of the supply chain from end to end. That way we can generate and crunch data to know how to create more efficiencies. Whether it’s fine-tuning tiny movements of the robot over a low-latency 5G connection or understanding the best layout of the finished goods in the store, we believe connectivity is the key.

Most of all, we want to drive business outcomes for companies that join us in this journey of innovation at the AT&T Foundry. We want the Foundry to be a place where forward-looking businesses can take advantage of the latest technologies before they become commercially available. Perhaps they can take 5G for a trial run. Or take advantage of network slicing on a factory’s shop floor to create a separate network for equipment efficiency.

We’re standing at an amazing juncture where technologies like 5G, Software-Defined Networks, IoT, massive data sets and artificial intelligence are all set to explode within the business world.

But 3 things are needed to tap into the massive potential these tools offer:

  • A vision of how these should work together and solve business problems,
  • The digital backbone to create a fully connected digital ecosystem, and
  • The ability to move quickly.

And that’s what we’re offering – a collaborative environment where manufacturing engineers and retailers can work side-by-side with our network engineers and software developers. A place of true collaboration focused on overcoming technological barriers to generate concrete business value. And a team of experts with an ability to rapidly prototype, test and bring marketable solutions to life.

Success in this setting means we can all look forward to many more Eureka moments.

Abhi Ingle

Abhi Ingle is Senior Vice President, Digital, Distribution and Channel Marketing for AT&T Business. His team develops and manages all go-to-market strategies and industry programs to drive networking services, mobility, cloud and cybersecurity solutions for business and government customers. His team drives distribution and digital strategy for AT&T Business; operating all of AT&T’s business digital platforms and properties.