The telecommunications sector has been investing heavily in laying the foundation for immersive experiences in autonomous driving, e-sports, and gaming, and for enabling advances in smart factories and cities, industrial automation, and telemedicine. To get there requires replacing copper with fiber, 4G with 5G, and moving compute closer to the point of consumption. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of communications service providers (CSPs) and network equipment manufacturers (NEMs). However, both have their own set of challenges. CSPs are being pressured to reduce costs, and NEMs are being squeezed by commodity hardware companies. At the same time, digital companies like Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and others are pushing into the 5G infrastructure business, creating value through intelligent products, services, and experiences.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the global lockdown have upended every industry sector, some positively, but most negatively. The pain and opportunity are not evenly distributed. The telecommunications sector has its share of both. Altran, part of Capgemini, has identified four areas of business activity for how companies can accelerate business recovery driven by product development and service innovation.
Customer expectations for product and service experiences will be different than before the pandemic, so companies must continuously level-set on their customers’ new realities.
Social and physical distancing and other restrictions will be part of our lives and will influence our behavior for the foreseeable future. Network operators and their ecosystems will need to find out quickly what their customers’ new expectations are so they can make products and services that align with their needs. Post Covid-19, consumers, enterprises, and governments will focus most notably on keeping workplaces safe and clean. There is a long list of action items required that include regular decontamination of offices and factories, wearing masks, social distancing, mandatory compliance with corporate apps that track employee health and movement, and demand for more touchless and virtual technology.
While many industries have been devastated by Covid-19, the telecommunications sector has seen an increase in demand for services as customers adopt new digital platforms and software tools to support the connectivity needs of employees who are working from home.
We won’t snap back to the way we worked before. Many companies will reevaluate their global supply chains and streamline the way their people work together, virtually and more autonomously. They must monitor employee wellbeing as part of the “new normal” to ensure a safe and secure work environment.
One of the more urgent actions for global companies in the new normal is bringing people safely back to work—in offices, factories, and facilities—while minimizing risk and maintaining virtual work without compromising security. At the same time, they need to ensure their supply chains are resilient. This may require putting in place new measures to meet customer delivery and service expectations. As companies reevaluate the agility of their global supply chains and logistics operations, they will need to think beyond the Covid-19 crisis and take swift action to reduce cost, complexity, and risk. Equally important, they will need to improve the management of information across the value chain, including overcommunicating with suppliers to raise the confidence level of their partners and customers.
Companies will accelerate the differentiation of their offerings, so services play an even more critical role, including digital platforms, engineering automation, and broader collaboration to solve challenging problems more quickly.
Telecommunications companies build infrastructure to power products and services that people love to use every day. That will not change. But the way they get there will. The consequences of social and physical distancing during the pandemic has been a catalyst for companies looking to increase factory, industrial, and office automation. Cloud-native companies and those that have moved to the cloud and digital platforms have done relatively well in the Covid-19 crisis as demand fluctuates. Investments in service platforms, network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined network (SDN) initiatives will increase, enabling enterprises to apply automation to deliver cost-efficient, agile bandwidth that is incremented in their WANs where requested.
Covid-19 is a tailwind for companies to consider stakeholder demands for greater environmental responsibility that will impact the R&D agenda for initiatives in aerospace, preventative healthcare, smart cities, urban mobility, green flight, and other areas.
Governments and businesses will learn many lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the most profound may be the newfound awareness of our planet-centricity, and the fragility of our interdependencies across national borders. There is a recognition that we are one planet, and we are more acutely aware of the need for more equitable healthcare, the importance of combatting climate change and bringing prosperity to all people.
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