Top 4 Trends Dominating the Telecom Industry
Telecom plays the largest role of any industry in supporting the shift to a hybrid work model. Providers saw an extraordinary boost in network traffic as households and businesses around the world went under lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first few weeks of lockdown, Belgian telecom operator Proximus said the company saw a 50-60% increase for voice and internet usage. Households worldwide relied on telco services to support everything from remote working and virtual school to live stream entertainment and more.
Telecom advancements in speed, accessibility, and security have helped make this radical shift possible. Through faster and more secure online interactions, telcos have the opportunity to make the digital experience better for their customers and pave the way for sustainable innovation in the industry. In this blog, we examine 4 key trends that will open up growth opportunities for the telecom sector and help businesses move toward a sustainable future.
Led by Huawei and Samsung, 5G hit the market in 2019. Analysts predict there will be close to 1.9 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2024. While technology advancements from 5G have brought real benefits to both employers and employees through increased accessibility, functionality, and productivity, consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of innovative services and expect new applications. A report by Swedish telecom company Ericsson found that consumers are willing to pay 20-30% more for new products and services like 5G TV, 5G in-car entertainment, 360-degree livestream of events, and more.
The pace at which telco organizations can bring new products and services to market depends on data, though. Telecom companies are leveraging DevOps and microservices for faster application development and release of new capabilities to customers. DevOps merges development, quality assurance, and operations into a single set of processes to transform companies into agile, adaptable organizations. But the data needed for DevOps processes is often siloed and heavy, and access to data is slow and manual. With automated and continuous access to faster data provisioning, high quality production-like data for testing, and API controls to refresh, rewind, bookmark, and version data, development teams can keep pace with changing business environments and customer preferences.
Connected devices enable everything from remote work to remote manufacturing. In 2021, the number of connected devices is set to hit 46 billion. By the end of 2021, another 31 billion IoT devices will be installed around the world.
Telcos have an incredible opportunity to develop relationships with device manufacturers and build innovative applications that generate revenue from IoT solutions. Industrial IoT employs a network of sensor devices to gain data and insights about the efficiency of manufacturing operations, which lead to reduced machine downtime, agile operations, and more efficient energy use. The methods in which businesses can manage this data is becoming an urgent activity. Automating data processes can better position providers to share compliant data with third-party vendors for developing and testing IoT solutions.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are essential to automation efforts. They provide massive benefits in areas such as predictive maintenance, automated customer service including chatbots, and continuous detection of anomalies to fight cyber fraud.
But AI/ML require massive amounts of data collected from core telco applications as well as connected systems and devices. As data creation and consumption grow to unprecedented amounts, telcos need a way to efficiently use their enterprise data to expand automation and AI/ML offerings while staying ahead of cyber security threats. And this data needs to get into the hands of software engineers, testers, site reliability engineers, security teams, business analysts, ecosystem partners, and data scientists in a fast and secure manner. Automating data delivery, access, sharing, and anonymization ensures that compliant data is available for telco automation projects—whether developed internally or with ecosystem partners.
4. Cyber Security and Compliance
Telcos are a big target for cyberattacks because they build, control, and operate critical infrastructure that is widely used to communicate and store large amounts of sensitive data. Attacks can cripple businesses through application downtime, loss of revenue, and loss of data. These incidents require thinking about ransomware defense differently.
Legacy backup solutions aren’t good enough anymore as sophisticated malware are also targeting backup data. Depending on the size of the database, the restoration time can also take several hours to days, resulting in major business disruption. In addition, 5G networks pose an increased data compliance risk as they enable faster connections with more applications and devices that capture, share, and expose personal data.
With data privacy regulations becoming more and more complex, subscribers will make choices based on the security and trustworthiness of the network. As the telecom sector faces growing regulatory pressure to securely store call detail records (CDRs) and internet session activity, failure to do so may result in significant legal ramifications and monetary losses. Storing consumer data is always a risk, and every effort needs to be made to govern data access and mask, or de-identify, personal information.
These trends in the telco industry have changed how we interact by enabling global connectivity. While virtual doesn’t replace the effectiveness of face-to-face meetings, it’s certain that remote work is here to stay, especially as companies—such as Salesforce, McKinsey, and PepsiCo—make commitments to slash business travel and rely more on telco-backed online services and connected devices. By leveraging automated data processes, telco providers can build a sustainable and agile delivery organization to accelerate the launch of new product and service offerings and enable business agility.