The sudden shift in everyone’s lives that Covid brought about cemented the vital importance of the telecommunications industry in keeping societies, governments and businesses connected during crisis periods, and a new landscape has emerged in its wake.
We’re approaching the end of 2021, and although offices are perhaps fuller than they were a year ago, hybrid and remote working are now de rigueur.
Even before the pandemic, this kind of agile working method was gaining popularity in concept, even if it was not widespread in practice. But after 2020’s grand experiment in remote working forced everyone to wonder just how necessary being in the same building was, the cat was out of the bag.
It turns out that people like having the option to work from home, especially younger employees, for whom this is merely becoming the norm, even though there are mixed reports about its effect on productivity.
As a result, many businesses are feeling obliged to offer a hybrid working model as standard, partly for fear of scaring off the younger cohort who see it as a minimum requirement and appear to genuinely thrive in such an environment.
Aside from the HR implications, this requires businesses to rethink their telecoms and connectivity requirements, and telcos will have to pivot to meet those requirements.
Network usage skyrocketed in from the beginning of the pandemic, both in business and consumer contexts, and the increase in remote working and meetings suggest that this increase is here to stay.
Travel budgets at US-based companies declined by 90% around the beginning of the pandemic, and business travel still hasn't returned to prior levels - with real questions of whether it will ever return, with simultaneous pressure to reduce unnecessary travel for environmental purposes.
The advent of 5G, whatever delays Covid may have imposed on it, will alter the telco environment significantly by allowing more devices than ever to be interconnected.
While current CPQs can manage changes and fixes to a few hundred devices in a matter of hours, in a 5G world, telcos are going to need to manage changes to tens of thousands of devices - including sensors, cameras, and virtually all other connected things - in mere seconds.
Beyond the impact on business and working life, telcos’ social and health role in our lives has come to the forefront. Tracking and tracing apps used worldwide to detect possible contact with infected persons became a major bulwark against the spread of the virus, and the ability to control the provision of ambulances and other medical services efficiently became vital.
In the recent Asia Communication Awards - now celebrating a decade of honoring the most innovative players in the APAC market - new awards were up for grabs that reflect the new concerns brought about by Covid: Crisis Response Award (awarded to Asiacell) and the Social Contribution Award (awarded to Smart Communications) indicate a shift in perceptions of the role telecommunications plays in not only keeping us connected, but upholding public health.
The landscape has changed since this time two years ago, and contemporary telcos are going to have to be agile and adapt to new requirements to offer more tailored services to businesses, be able to enact mass changes and fixes to devices in seconds, and develop their humanitarian muscles more than ever before.