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IMC 2020

Creating a Smart, Secure and Sustainable future

From where we are today, with memories of the last ten months still painfully vivid, it is difficult to perceive anything particularly favourable about this past year. What began as a health crisis quickly spiralled into an equally devastating humanitarian and economic one, compounding its scale and impact. Not in recent times has one-third of humanity or around 2.6 billion people been under some form of lockdown or the other[1], as nations across the world announced restrictions to try and contain the spread of the virus. With people self-isolating, our lives turned online; from ordering daily essentials, catching up with family, working from home and continuing with schooling, it was the access to reliable telecommunications connectivity that ensured we remained functional.

One of the redeeming, albeit unintended consequences of the global pandemic has been the hastened digital progression and renewed attention on telecommunications infrastructure as essential.  Over the last several months, our unique circumstance has untapped hidden demand – and therefore revenue – streams for the TMT (technology, media and telecommunications) sector, with both end-users and businesses unequivocally embracing digital technology. The criticality of the communication and technology solutions amidst the digital revolution that the country is facing, has reinforced the need for building a SMART, SECURE and SUSTAINABLE future for TMT Sector.

Smart: Transforming the lives of a digital customer
With the surge in communication and technology products, the overall outlook of the sector remains strong.  This is also reflected in a recently conducted survey by KPMG in India where 52% of the CEOs surveyed confirmed that they are very confident of the long-term growth prospects of the sector.  However, to sustain this growth, it is critical that the TMT organisations evolve their business models to reflect the changing needs of a digital customer.  As organisations and end consumers are adapting digital ways of life, it is important that telecom operators move beyond just the voice and data services and collaborate with technology ecosystem players to provide a tech enabled platform to these customers.  Equally its important that they re-align their internal organisation and connect the front, middle and back office to drive a connected organisation to meet the emerging demands of a digital customer. As per the survey, 40% of the CEOs mentioned that the pandemic led to an acceleration of initiatives focussed on creating seamless digital customer experience

Secure: The ability to mitigate risks
Post pandemic, every business is investing in either building or further strengthening their TMT infrastructure to enable safe, remote working options. Alongside, there is an equal emphasis on measures to combat cyber threats and data privacy risks emerging at – the now numerous – endpoints. Boards and audit committees have been spending significant time to better understand this risk, but the formidable pace of change on this front has only added to the complexity.

TMT organisations recognise that effective cyber security is an obligation, opportunity but also a risk. The urgent and increasingly sophisticated security requirements of enterprise clients and the chance to build end consumer’s trust through secure applications and communications are immediate opportunities for TMT organisations to explore.

Sustainable: The ability to forge a balanced path

Despite being a critical accelerator towards achieving the goal of a trillion-dollar digital economy by 2025, the Indian telecom sector has had its fair share of challenges. The sector has been struggling to service debt and seen profit margins fall on account of unsustainably low prices. Its very survival was being debated prior to the outbreak.

While the Pandemic and the resultant digital penetration in our lives has given a fresh surge to the demand for communication services, for this momentum to sustain however, there needs to be a concerted effort by TMT companies, regulators and the government to collaborate to fully leverage the opportunities presented here.

The full potential of 5G can only be leveraged when it is used to support these high-bandwidth and low-latency use cases and applications, thereby offering near real-time decision support to both humans and machines. The government and telecom operators should be encouraged to find common ground on the 5G spectrum allocation prices, such that 5G is effectively deployed at economically viable prices sooner rather than later. Industry experts have suggested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) consider the financial health of telecom companies alongside the far-reaching impact that affordable 5G technology would have on multiple sectors of the Indian economy when devising their policies for the sector. Finally, measures to build credible infrastructure such as telecom towers, fiberisation, strong bakhaul is critical for the continued growth of the TMT sector and mutual collaboration between public and private stakeholders will help greatly in driving these technological advancements.

More people under lockdown than were alive in World War II, Science Alert, 25 March 2020

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