Well, 2021 was quite a year. Although optimistically predicted to be a return to normal back in January, if anything it was even stranger than 2020.
So rather than make the same mistake again, and confidently predict a routine 2022, we can instead look back at the lessons we learned in 2021, and apply them to resolutions and goals for this year.
CPaas, UCaas & XCaaS
An important, although perhaps predictable, phenomenon of the past year has been that the initial changes in business and consumer behavior seem to be sticky.
Large sections of the office workforce developed a strong taste for hybrid working; for example, 85% of surveyed British office workers want to retain the option of working from home even after the pandemic.
Businesses responded by acquiescing with over half worldwide offering the hybrid model, and we now live in a world of far greater remote interconnectivity. This has exponentially increased the number of communication channels now used on a day-to-day basis: team chat, business phone apps, video meetings and other rich messaging options such as WhatsApp, chatbots and more.
It’s not only business users either: consumer digital migration use has also skyrocketed. In Europe consumer digital adoption jumped from 81 to 95%, with evidence of those numbers staying largely the same even after the supposed normal returns.
These changes herald a real opportunity for CPaas, UCaas and XCaaS suppliers to streamline and optimize both internal and consumer communications.
The arrival of 5G
Despite a rather fraught roll out hampered by Covid-related conspiracy theories, by the start of 2022, 79 nations have either commercialized 5G or are in the process of conducting trials. This is the year that 5G is truly going to take off (literally in some cases), bringing with it both challenges and opportunities for CSPs.
On the one hand, it opens up a vastly broadened range of technological and commercial possibilities. But in order to take advantage of them, telcos are going to have to implement a truly digital backbone throughout their businesses, driving the entire purchase lifecycle from order management and fulfillment, to subscriptions and billing.
A key 5G development is that telcos, techcos and integrators are forecast to be selling more interconnected devices than ever before. This means more SIM card activations, more applications layered over one another, and more complex and consequential change management.
Your current CPQ solution can perhaps manage changes, upgrades and fixes to a few hundred devices in a matter of hours.
But in a 5G world, you 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.
Is your current tech architecture sufficient to handle that?
In December 2021’s 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.
In such a complex and evolving landscape, smaller and newer organizations will find themselves able to outmaneuver their larger competitors. Both large and small face similar challenges, but unencumbered by legacy software systems that are not fit for purpose in the new landscape, smaller organizations have the potential to innovate and adapt faster.
For this reason, it’s critical to have well digitized and automated processes throughout the value chain as well as the ability to make quick changes to innovate and release new product offerings or new pricing strategies to move quickly in the marketplace.
CloudSense CTO Alex Fuller summed up the issues facing CSPs in the coming years in a recent interview with Total Telecom, as follows:
“Telcos will need to manage more diverse sets of offerings, due to growing buyer-side expectations around convenience of acquiring and managing products and services.
“We’re going to see market shifts around working from home, and work/life balance considerations, and traditional enterprise IT requirements may take some new factors into account. The need to remote into the office has driven unexpected levels of demand around connectivity that was not previously seen.
“Businesses are going to need to start thinking about new models blending things that might have seemed traditionally more consumer-type concerns to support their workforce and needs.”