COVID-19 is clearly affecting many businesses. How do you expect the communications industry to change?
There is no going back to before these uncertain times. Social distancing has created a ripple effect and a springboard into digital that will change things forever.
The world now understands that we can do a lot of things digitally that we used to do in-person. For example, video platforms keeping us connected and learning, flexible video-on-demand instead of visits to theaters, and virtual solutions replacing retail stores and offices. Many industries will realize that perhaps investments in physical locations don’t need to be as significant as they once were.
The big winners post-COVID-19 will be those that help accelerate online commerce, digital experiences, improved connectivity and sustainability of networks. Those who focus on the older ways of doing things will be left behind. I believe that ultimately the communications industry will emerge as incredibly able to adapt and more critical than ever to our connection and our society.
How will COVID-19 change the industry’s transformation journey?
We’ll see a faster, re-focused transformation journey to match the extreme digitalization that’s happening now. Cloud and automation will be critical to keep pace and quickly launch new offerings for consumers. I believe we’ll also see more significant investments in 5G as consumers look for out-of-the-home networks that can provide the virtual experiences they will now expect.
There will also be a greater focus on how technology can be used for something bigger beyond just connectivity. We’re seeing technology players like IBM using supercomputing power for faster COVID-19 research, and Google and Apple partnering on COVID-19 contact tracing. Communications providers are well placed to provide similar innovations through AI, automation and network data.
What about beyond COVID-19? What should communications providers do to prepare for the next significant disruption?
Don’t consider business interruption as a temporary situation. Look at it as a long-term issue to be solved. Prepare for the ripple effect that comes after, as there will be a world of new opportunities for communications providers.
Also, build loyalty within your workforce. So, when the time comes, they are on the front line with you. The same goes for your customers. Make sure they see you as invested in their well-being, in enriching their lives, not just a service provider.
How are your teams dealing with this uncertain time?
The short answer is that they are dealing with it with all the professionalism, creativity and resilience I would expect. We have fantastic teams. We moved fast on a practical level to make sure everyone new to remote work had everything they needed to do so. We also created a website to offer softer support and ensure a sense of connection, which we have shared with the global community.
All projects are moving full-steam ahead; in fact, I’m proud to say that we have had more than 20 successful go-lives since the working from home policy came into place. We always say that the secret to our success is the DNA of our people. That’s never more obvious than at a time like this. People are coming up with new innovative ideas, breaking perceptions and stigmas, and building new tools for others to leverage. Everything seems to be done in a more agile way than ever before.