The immediate challenge facing telecoms providers and operators is simply delivering business as usual. Yes, the focuses and circumstances are adjusted and yes, their clients are desperate for immediate results (from a reduced workforce facing extraordinary challenges) and yes, they are working toward the moving target of an as-of-yet undetermined 'new normal' for themselves and their clients.

Other than that, it is business as usual across the telecommunications sector!

As usual, when you keep in mind that business, government and society have an absolute reliance on voice and data systems interconnectivity: telecommunications enables the movement of data (and voice) within a business and beyond. As the absence of telecommunications would cripple capabilities across the board, its classification as an essential service is an understatement, at best.

Mission Critical

Access to information: From medical testing to equipment sourcing and from government communications through to aid applications and distribution; interconnecting people (and systems) by enabling isolation-induced teleworking and family separations; enabling services ranging from the likes of Amazon on the supply side and DHL, etc. for logistics are all, likewise, totally dependent on telecommunications.

Likewise, any modern business continuity or disaster recovery plans and procedures hinge on communications capabilities: access to systems, access to staff and access to information.

So, yes, an essential service, and, more specifically, a mission critical service to the government, business and society, in a current social and commercial environment which will, by definition and circumstance, enables opportunities which astute businesses will identify and leverage.

In my view, the needs are endless and have pretty much always been: reliance on and demand for more better, strong, faster networks has done nothing but grow across the forty years of my career. And there is no world I can envision in which those needs and that reliance on telecommunication will diminish.

And the industry has done well in delivering to needs, where capabilities exist: from equipping mobile hospitals and healthcare first responders to extending network capacity to meet business (and home entertainment!) demand and from enabling quickly mobilecapable customer support teams and even waiving bills for struggling businesses and consumers.

Telecoms Today: Rapid Evolution of the Customer Journey and Service Delivery

These opportunities also necessitate a shortterm move from the standard strategic “near/ mid/long term” plans and perspectives to tactically-focused “today/tomorrow” reactions (with reversion to an adjusted strategic view as a new next step).

To mix a few metaphors, along with a raging economy courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are cross-sector black swan opportunities along the length of the long tail down the last mile to socially-distanced business and consumer bases.

Haider Mawji, Strategy Director at UK-based telecoms provider Integral Worldwide, described the recent environment as “hectic, reactive, urgent, and demanding”. Elaborating, Haider understands the urgency and impact of this atypical situation, noting that “our role is to equip and enable our clients – many of whom themselves are businesses and Government agencies also designated as essential – to run 'remote capable' teams with secure and reliable systems access, as quickly as possible”.

This is not surprising, given the overall state of readiness of too many organizations with regard to business continuity plans and procedures, let alone the necessary communications infrastructure to support their execution (assuming such plans are both in place and current)

Telecoms Tomorrow: TaaP (Telco-as-a-Partner)

Mission critical services are wrapped in backup and alternative delivery approaches. So, while telecom companies are being asked to deliver to immediate needs, the smart and proactive amongst them will keep in mind that not only are new and increasing, recurring revenues being identified, opportunities for professional services engagements to leading and engaging clients to reinforce their business agility.

Mentioned above was the impact of telecommunications on:

  • Providing access to systems and the information they contain
  • Interconnected teams, across organisations
  • Orchestrated so as to enable the (safe, secure, healthy) delivery of goods & services

There is a commonality and a causality in each of the above:

  • Each has extremely high dependence on telecommunications networks
  • State and global economies have extremely high reliance on each
  • The above applies individually and collectively

There is no world I can envision in which those needs and that reliance on telecommunication will diminish.

Telecom companies truly collaborating with clients in the review and renovation of telecoms -related disaster recovery and business continuity procedures, protocols, readiness and service is a must – and an opportunity

It is – and always has been – a constantly changing playing field: more demanding equipment, increasing demand, increasing reliance. Exacerbated by the sudden realization of those needs – and the requirement to change how things are done to ensure that they can keep getting done – means the marketplace for telco operators, carriers and service providers will not be quiet anytime soon.

Voice and data communications networks need care: monitoring, maintenance, support, none of which is the core speciality of the typical consumer business. Positioning as a partner rather than a service provider is a critical step to cementing business relationships – and revenues.

“There really is no other way to operate,” Haider, also a large telecoms consumer in his roles at the FD Centre and Vosaio Travel states. “The telecommunications spend of – and our relationship with - our clients at Integral is viewed an investment partnership: seamless service deliver enables their growth; their growth leads to continued and increasing investment. Telecoms as a Partner allow us to truly integrate our teams, goals and outcomes resulting in the seamless delivery of services.”

Moving Forward

I did find some humour (or is that irony?) in the otherwise less-than-happy news today: several articles projecting a dire future for the telecommunication sector and a few others predicting a likely survival across the economic throes of the pandemic: There is no doubt in my mind that the sector will survive and thrive. Dependence on what it delivers has only been highlighted through the COVID-19 induced pandemonium that telecommunications are one of the providers enabling the required calm ports during the storm.

There is one area where humour cannot apply: national infrastructures in developed economies have been able to deliver much of what I've discussed above but governments and carriers / providers have had a clear sign that, while these same reliance existing in emerging and frontier economies, the infrastructures to deliver the capabilities are sagging under the pressure.

In short, improvement is required because inclusion of communications has, via this pandemic, been proven to be mandatory. Stay healthy and use telecommunications: it is easy to social distant when using a phone!