Posted by: Bhushan Patil On June 16, 2020.

From Unsung Heroes to Superstars – Post COVID opportunities for Telcos

After the shock of COVID 19 and subsequent state of suspension across all industry segments, the world is slowly getting back into action. While the definition of 'New Normal' varies across countries and industries, every sector is keen to get started and scale back to as close as it was during the Pre COVID times. But, for many, life will not be the same again, for a long time.

Every country has rightfully acknowledged the joint efforts of the frontline Medical fraternity, Police, Utilities, and Logistics operators. However, one stand-out industry during these unprecedented times has been the Telecom industry. Despite doing much of the heavy lifting, Telco Service Providers are the Unsung Heroes of this war. Keeping emergency services functioning, supporting the new work-from-home model for many businesses, enabling e-learning for millions of kids while also keeping the entire population entertained, CSPs have played a significant role in keeping the world sane and running.

As the world opens up, the Telcos will have an excellent opportunity to be the SuperStars that they failed to be when they invested all the money in 3G and 4G networks, only to see the OTT players and behemoths like Amazon, Google and Facebook become an indispensable part of our lives. The New Normal will mean the need to Work-from-Home, Video Conferences, Contact-less businesses, Factories of the Future, Virtual In-Stadium Experiences, and Digital Cashless Commerce (a first choice even in cash-heavy economies like India). These changes will make the role of Telcos even more crucial in every aspect of our lives.

Herein lies the inherent opportunity for them to regain the lead and encash their investments in networks for increased ARPU and additional revenues through new services. Apart from more reliable high-speed Home connectivity, an obvious upside will come from Remote/ Digital Healthcare, AR/ VR Enabled Sports & Entertainment, Autonomous Driving, and Digital Commerce. With declining physical transactions and travel, the vast amount of data Telcos hold on consumers will be more valuable than ever to other businesses for better decision making.

However, there are some changes that Telcos will need to adapt to capitalize on this opportunity.

  • Rapid Digitization of Customer Lifecycle Journeys – Efficient 360 Degree management of Family Or Home units and simplified processes towards SMBs
  • Transformation of Networks – towards Open, Cloud Native, Software-Defined with AI at the core
  • Control and ability to leverage Data for service and revenues
  • Partnerships and execution acumen to deliver Services other than just Voice and Data

There is already evidence of a changing business model with a move towards becoming a digital platform like Rakuten and, more recently, Reliance Jio, which raised $10B for Jio Platforms Ltd. These companies are rewriting the narrative, where they control the access to customers. They are supported by big Technology giants who are more amenable to partnering with telcos than competing with them. This assertive posture, backed by smart product/ service line up and newfound ability to execute transformations rapidly, will put them back on top for Investor affection and Consumer delight.

About The Author

Bhushan Patil, SVP – Head of Digital Strategy & Growth, EMEA

Bhushan has recently taken a new role as Head of Digital Strategy and Growth for EMEA. In this role, he will work with key Customers to be Strategic Partners for their Digital Journey across Cloud, Data & Analytics, Security, and AI. Driving Strategic Alliances is an integral part of this journey; hence, Bhushan will be the Executive Sponsor for Key Alliances in EMEA.

In his last role, Bhushan was heading TechM's largest Comms, Media & Entertainment Business in Europe across UK, Ireland & Southern Europe; delivering Top 3 CEO priorities - RUN Better, CHANGE Faster and GROW Greater!