Total Telecom’s latest webinar sheds light on how digitalisation has been at the heart of the telecoms COVID-19 response

Like every industry around the world, the telecoms industry has had to pivot rapidly to face the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. A near universal challenge has been the rapid switch to remote working, which of course presents its own problems. 


“Before the virus, we had a plan in place for 8,000 of our staff to work from home two days a week. Suddenly, almost overnight, we had to change our plans to have 40,000 staff working from home five days a week,” said Umberto Ferrero, VP of 5G and digital transformation at TIM. “We had to move from ‘normal’ to ‘new normal’ in just a couple of weeks.”


But out of these challenges has come a clear winner: digitalisation.


Total Telecoms latest webinar, focusing on digital transformation during the pandemic, featured a panel from varied national backgrounds – Belgium, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Italy – each bringing with them their own unique COVID-19 experience of digitalisation. Traffic trends between the various operators seemed to be broadly similar, but their learning from the experience was not.


“We are on a fundamental transformation journey, both culturally and tech-wise. Now, especially with 5G coming, an immense amount of things are happening at the same time,” Anna Martinkari, head of online channels and E-commerce at Telia.


Moderator Andrew Collinson, partner and research director at STL Partners, noted that telcos had, on the whole, fared well during the initial crisis phase of the pandemic and have continued to adapt to the increasingly digital ‘new normal’ that the pandemic has required. But just how many of these digital changes are here to stay? For many of the panellists, the digital solutions that have come to the fore are here to stay.


“In times like these,  you are forced to take decisions which you think are a risk and would not have acted on before,” noted Oana Krogh-Nielsen, VP of strategic transformation at TDC. “However, once it’s done you realise that the risk was overblown. Leveraging technology for proximity, for example during recruitment, has been really eye-opening.”


One interesting change that will have a prologued impact on the industry, is the notable respect many of these operators have gained with various stakeholders thanks to their robust digital response to a global crisis.  


“Besides keeping people connected, we also did a lot to support the government and the health sector,” explained Matteo Gatta, technology strategy and innovation director at Proximus. “We have proven to regulators and all of our stakeholders that we can be a reliable platform to help continue in a largely digital life.”


This fascinating webinar, featuring many more highlights from the operators’ lessons learned during the pandemic, is available in full for free via Total Telecom. Click here to watch the webinar now.


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