5G foremost priority for telcos

Mena Migally, Regional Vice President, META at Riverbed
Mena Migally, Regional Vice President, META at Riverbed

Keeping up with changing times, Mena Migally, Regional Vice President, META at Riverbed, reiterates that if telcos don't provide value added services, they will stand to lose potential market share

New technologies and their impact on the telecom sector. Your views? 

The addition of new technologies like 5G means that telcos and their customers will soon be able to generate and collect immense volumes of data in real-time. As a result, telcos will have to respond more quickly to performance requirements. This is a paradigm shift from the traditional role of the telco which was primarily to provide voice services, with a lower emphasis on data. Today, this equation has changed, and it is now data that takes precedence. As telcos adapt for this new reality, they can no longer depend on human-driven decision making and troubleshooting processes.

A lot of telecom providers are aiming to make their networks more autonomous in order to enhance efficiency and performance, and enable proactive issue mitigation. They are exploring automation and self-healing features for their networks. At Riverbed, our conversations with telecom providers centres around performance assurance and accurately capturing data from across the network that can drive these automation platforms. We empower telcos to measure and respond to any performance issues and bottlenecks, while also ensuring that the configuration of all the nodes and domains across their entire networks are perfectly configured to deliver optimum performance.

According to you, what kind of challenges do you think the telecom sector in the GCC are facing?

5G is one of the foremost priorities for telcos and implementing this successfully requires not only the infrastructure to be correctly implemented, but also a rethinking of how telcos conduct their business. The challenge lies not in implementing the technology, but rather in making it relevant to the consumer. We're all aware that 5G will facilitate a massive increase in bandwidth, but if all that this translates to is the ability for users to stream their movies faster, then the investments that telcos will have made won't be justified. Instead, telcos will need to place emphasis on developing compelling use cases for 5G and marketing them to their target audience.

What is the impact of consumer behaviour on the telecom sector?

Today, if telcos don't provide value added services over what's typically expected of service providers, they will stand to lose potential market share. Customers are looking for ways to do things faster - both in their personal or professional lives. Whether it is bill payments, or eCommerce, consumers expect everything to be instantly available on their smart devices. This presents a challenge for telcos as if the capabilities they provide don't extend beyond simply providing the next connectivity medium, their relevance and opportunities with consumers will dwindle.

Can you describe the opportunities that 5G will create in the region? What is the projected overall investment to deploy the network?

We can expect sectors such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and smart cities to immediately capitalize on the opportunities that 5G provides. As humans, we have traditionally been limited to where we can physically go, but now, with 5G connected sensors and devices, these barriers no longer restrict our abilities. This opens up the possibility of entirely new ways of conducting operations - for example drones which be used to deliver vaccines to remote locations, or autonomous vehicles which can carry out oil and gas exploration in hazardous environments.

Since the possibilities are limitless, there is the potential for all of this to be overwhelming for businesses whose IT teams are already stretched between balancing day-to-day operations and driving innovation. The opportunity for telcos therefore lies in creating pre-packaged use cases for various verticals that businesses can then deploy 'out of the box' with minimal efforts required for personalisation.

How would you describe the business outlook for 2021-22?

Through 2021, businesses will focus on recovery. 2020 took most organisations by surprise and many scrambled to find quick fixes to the new sets of challenges that they had to address at scale. As businesses now come to grips with the fundamental changes in employee and customer behaviours in the new normal, they can adopt a long-term view and make strategic investments that enable them to stay competitive. At Riverbed, we enable apps and data to be made available anywhere and at any time while giving our customers control of their networks. Our uses cases and technologies are now more relevant than ever which aided our growth through 2020, and will continue to present us with new opportunities in the year ahead.

Similarly, through 2020, the telecom sector faired well as service providers played a pivotal role in enabling business continuity as organisations rolled out work-from-home policies. The accelerated pace of digital transformation that we are witnessing as a result of the pandemic will only further increase the relevance of telcos and fuel their growth.

Boardroom hosted by Khaleej Times and Riverbed Technologieson January 26, 2021

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