The Road Ahead Of The Telecom Industry Post-COVID

COVID-19 lit a fire underneath the telecom industry inspiring massive growth.

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The Smart Home market is expected to grow to a size of over $622 billion by 2026 thanks to the relentless deploying of simple IoT protocols.

The COVID pandemic has shown the real strength of the modern era – the ability to stay connected despite being physically distanced and isolated. The telecommunications industry forms the pillars of this modern civilisation and has managed to keep business processes alive by driving their cogs and wheels through strong network capabilities. However, this has also brought forth new challenges like changes in network loads, need for higher capacity, the shift of network traffic patterns, and many others.

While global organisations like the UN are stressing on the need for developing the capacity of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa for tackling the crisis from a healthcare perspective, businesses also realise their reliance on telecom for staying relevant in today’s business and policy landscape.

While the demand for network capabilities is apparent, the telecom industry needs to focus on the reality of its own business too. While service delivery remains the centrepiece of the relevance equation for the telecom industry, avenues like home-based applications and smart-home services are presenting unforeseen avenues of growth.

While global organisations like the UN are stressing on the need for developing the capacity of ICT in Africa for tackling the crisis from a healthcare perspective, businesses also realise their reliance on telecom for staying relevant in today’s business and policy landscape.

Remote operations are changing traffic patterns

Africa’s internet users account for over 11 per cent of internet users worldwide. The telecom industry has connected almost 40 per cent of Africa’s population by building mobile technology capabilities at an unprecedented rate. In the 2000s, this number stood below 2 per cent.

What’s more, Africa’s GDP is predicted to grow at almost 3.8 per cent over the next few years, and some countries are already recording annual growth rates at above 8 per cent. All these numbers point to avenues of substantial growth for early birds. Considering the current business environment, where thousands and millions of employees are working from home, the need for increased network penetration is critical across all spectrums – be it voice, 4G, or home broadband.

In the past months, telecom companies have seen a unique set of challenges. The shift to remote work has led to massive spikes in traffic across residential connection routes. Besides, network resilience is an ongoing issue for subscribers and a parallel test for telecom companies, since swift response and service delivery becomes critical in such situations. Apart from adapting to dynamic network traffic patterns, telecom companies must also maintain adequate capacity in their workforce to resolve these issues.

The telecom industry consists of a unique mix of roles that need to operate remotely, on location, and in transit. It is, therefore, critical to building an even more resilient workforce, which can perform equally well, and perhaps even better – both remotely, and on-the-go.

However, reliable service delivery will be an equal priority since the increased dependence on telecom networks has shown a correlated rise in customer expectations. The telecom industry consists of a unique mix of roles that need to operate remotely, on location, and in transit. It is, therefore, critical to building an even more resilient workforce, which can perform equally well, and perhaps even better – both remotely, and on-the-go.

To this end, telecom players will have to reinvent the core of their workflow, migrate to cloud-based infrastructures, build stable and future-proof data systems, and retrain their workforce to handle critical scenarios effectively as they operate remotely.

On an organisational level, it is crucial for business leaders to assess the impact of movement restrictions on various aspects of their business. In telecom, building solutions like remote diagnostic capabilities can mitigate service delivery challenges in critical situations. Efficient remote operations can also enhance ticket-resolution speeds and can lead to improved customer satisfaction rates.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the Smart Home market is expected to grow to a size or over $622 billion by 2026. While this number was predicted to be below $100 billion in 2019, the rules of the game are being re-written with relentless efforts on deploying simple IoT protocols.

Newer avenues of growth: home-based services

The shift to remote work across industries is also leading to promising and unforeseen avenues of growth. As the traffic shifts from enterprise networks to home-based broadband and mobile connections, so is the opportunity for growth. Home-based services and their implementation like smart-homes and digitally connected devices are gaining traction throughout the world. Coupled with this is the innovative delivery of health services, entertainment services, and even financial services.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the Smart Home market is expected to grow to a size or over $622 billion by 2026. While this number was predicted to be below $100 billion in 2019, the rules of the game are being re-written with relentless efforts on deploying simple IoT protocols. Ones that support various communication channels and system architectures to provide innovative value-based services on traditional devices and home appliances.

Moreover, as the distinction between workspace and living space continues to blur, the need for efficient and intelligent smart systems is becoming more prominent. Another aspect to consider here is the attitudes of customers: millennials are demonstrating appreciation and support for the causes they believe in. Smart homes enable intelligent resource consumption and, consequently, conservation, thereby making a case for shifting to green alternatives from the traditional home setup.

Telecom companies should also look at growth opportunities that are lateral to their core operations. This includes data centre architectures, smart grids that form the core of smart cities and communities and partnering with other businesses that directly depend on telecom capabilities.

In 2000, Africa had fewer telephone connections than Manhattan alone. Today, almost all people in Africa live within the direct reach of a mobile network. Despite the current challenges, the telecom industry has immense potential to create unprecedented trends that will be seen in the future’s history.

Anil Krishnan, Head of Africa Region, Comviva Technologies

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