What do we know about telecom? According to Wikipedia, “Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, optical, or other electromagnetic systems.”
In the age of globalisation, where geographic boundaries have transcended beyond the physical, telecom has always provided a technological solution to cater to the growing expanse of organisations. Where physical connections reach their limits, virtual connections begin.
Telecom has become a crucial element of the changing landscape. Without it, organisations are left strictly localised in their consumer base. Hence, the adaptability of telecom allows it to withstand any turbulence.
Keeping the aforementioned in mind, organisations have managed to cushion their fall and even excel further with the help of telecommunications, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Post Pandemic Change
COVID-19 has hit the world brutally. Harvard experts believe that the pandemic may have a lasting impact on society for decades to come, similar to that of the Great Depression and World War II.
Additionally, they say that “some of our adaptations have accelerated already existing trends, like the development of a cashless society, the increase in remote work, and the decline of brick-and-mortar retail”.
Furthermore, the chairman of Mckinsey Global Institute, James Manyika, speaks about the changing post-pandemic environment. He says that “This [acceleration of current trends] is especially true of the digital economy, with the rise of digital behaviour such as remote working and learning, telemedicine, and delivery services.“
This highlights the need for organisations to become more aware of the changing consumer behaviour, being a key element in defining the success of their future ventures.
Behavioural Trends of 2021
Consumer behaviour is a highly variable construct. It is influenced by the changing societal trends and individual preferences, which have drastically changed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the most prevailing changing behavioral trends are:
Decreasing In-Store Shopping
According to the Global Web Index survey, around 50% of the respondents have started preferring to shop online, as compared to physically going to stores. Additionally, Mckinsey’s report states that consumer behaviour pertaining to shopping has drastically changed due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Economising In Consumers
Since the pandemic has left many consumers unemployed, the buying power has considerably decreased. Despite some consumers earning a lot through digital means, the consumer mindset has seen a shift.
Consumers are more conscious about how to spend their money. They now prefer to delay spending and wait for businesses to offer discounted deals on their products. Mckinsey highlights that around 60% consumers have cut down on their spendings and much of them have started stockpiling.
However, another pool of consumers are waiting for things to cool down so they start spending extravagantly. Eitherway, businesses need to capture both pools.
Preferred Remote Working
Remote working existed before COVID-19 too. However, the pandemic has accelerated its prevalence with companies like Twitter implementing complete remote working for its employees. The Blue Fountain Media WFH Survey showed that more than half the respondents prefered to work remotely in the future.
Increasing Contactless Payments
Various studies show that contactless payment is now on the rise. Forbes identifies the pandemic as a driving force in this behaviour. Since social distancing was enforced to diminish the spread of COVID-19 virus, most consumers turned towards contactless payments for the benefit of safer transactions.
Emarketer forecasts that by 2025, more than half of the smartphone users will adopt mobile payments in stores or online as a means of paying. Accordingly, contactless payments have already been the preferred means of payments for Gen Z and millennials, even before the pandemic. This is due to the ease and convenience of contactless payments, which save time too.
Focus on Health
In general, the pandemic has left everyone worrying for their health and safety. Due to lockdowns and self-isolated routines, people have started adopting a healthy lifestyle. According to businesswire, nearly 154% growth was seen in purchase of Yoga equipment. Furthermore, people have started investing in home gyms and Mentor to Protege (M2P) services, which allow them to connect with experts virtually and achieve their fitness goals.
Increasing Virtual interactions
As physical contact had been restricted, the world started adopting online solutions to cater to hindered education and socialisation. This led to an increase in virtual interactions throughout COVID. Similar to M2P programs, organisations and institutes started using online web hosted video and audio calling apps to bridge the gap between physical contact. This resulted in telemarketing, telehealth, distance learning etc. to flourish.
Increasing online media usage
Similar to other changing trends, consumers have begun using online media much more than prior to the pandemic. From 1 hour per day average, the online media usage has risen to 13 hours per day average. Emarketer suggests that these trends will continue to be relevant in the post-Covid environment, where much of the consumer time will be spent online, using social media apps for entertainment, socialising, information, and shopping.
Seven Biggest Technology Trends to Transform Telecom
Now that we have seen a glimpse of the behavioral changes to be instilled post-COVID, technology isn’t lagging behind. The following are seven big trends in technology that will change the telecom landscape immensely:
We’ve all heard about 2G, 3G and 4G. We’ve already anticipated 5G, and it’s coming. Promising lightning speeds for download and upload, 5G technology will change how companies use and share data.
There will be lesser time delays between data transfer and storage, meaning that most of the processes will become more efficient. Furthermore, Deloitte’s report identifies that 86% of surveyed networking execs believe advanced wireless to transform their organization within three years.
The high-speed connectivity shall bring organisations to alter their operating and business models that utilize greater collaboration with third-party partners to provide extensive end-to-end application services that serve the growing needs of the consumers.
Artificial Intelligence has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. It is now becoming embedded into various systems and is constantly progressing. As newer technologies are being developed, AI is becoming a part of managing them.
Through the help of Artificial Intelligence, organisations are beginning to optimise their networks, carry out predictive maintenance, create virtual assistants for customer support and perform Robotic Process Automation.
The Internet of Things is everywhere around us now. From minute sensors in electrical appliances to cars to literally everything in your house, IoT has become a huge source of data gathering. An IoT ecosystem consists of web-enabled smart devices that use embedded systems, such as processors, sensors and communication hardware, to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments.
IoT is now becoming increasingly common in gadgets and appliances, that provide user data to organisations that assimilate it into Machine Learning through the AI. All the data collected is stored on the cloud to be used by AI for analytics and Machine Learning. In the coming future, the Unique Identifiers (UIDs) shall be incorporated into people, animals and all other things to give more insight into how things function.
Furthermore, the data shall provide users with real-time, effective feedback of their behavior and how to optimise their integration with apps.This shall help organisations reduce labor costs and work smarter, by automating various system processes.
Big Data is one of the main sources of information gathering for businesses, according to TalkHome. With all the data being collected from the users of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the reservoir enables countless opportunities to analyse it for making smarter decisions.
As technology use increases, so shall the Big Data reservoir. By using advancing technology tools, businesses can use the data to be informed of the patterns of usage of their services. This helps in outlining better investment opportunities and more efficient decision making.
Big Data shall be used to analyse the behaviour patterns to form future recommendations for users, to allow them more tailored and specific content that fits their needs.
RPA (Robotic Process Automation)
Simply put, RPA is a more efficient substitute for manpower. Businesses have started adopting RPA in their supply chain and operating systems to streamline their operation management.
In future, RPA shall be incorporated into various aspects in organisations as it is easier to build, deploy and manage than human workforce. However, this does not diminish the need for human labor, as robotic automation is limited to its programming. But more focus would be towards automating any process that could be automated.
Cloud computing has increasingly been employed in organisations around the world. With a surge of data being received through technology use from users, cloud computing has established itself to be a highly effective method of data transfer, storage, processing and management.
Newer applications and web-hosted cloud servers are being developed every other day as its demand is on the rise. It allows organisations to manage their workforce and data without the need for direct active management.
Cyber Security Resilience
As technology use is growing, so is the threat of cyber attacks. Since businesses employ some of the same technology in their processes that is available on the internet, it is prone to gaps in its security. With so much data being transferred and stored on the cloud, technology experts who study cyber security are identifying more and more security lapses within these systems.
For someone who has an ill-intent to use their tech expertise against organisations, exploiting these vulnerabilities is becoming highly possible. Hence, cyber security is on the rise. Building cyber security resilience has become a need for organisations in this hostile environment.
Cyber resilience is the ability of an organisation to prepare for, withstand, and recover from cyber attacks. Hence, organisations are increasingly investing in this domain to maintain their data security and retain their customers’ trust.
How Will This Impact the Business Model?
The changing technology and behaviour trends will have an impact on how organisations will develop their future business models.
CFOs as Growth Partners
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) will be working with CEOs and CMOs to drive the company’s growth strategy. It will become crucial that CFOs understand how today’s investments will fuel tomorrow’s growth, translating customer insights into actionable, positive business performance.
Rapid Response Operating Model
This kind of speedy operating model shall equip teams with multidisciplinary skills involving high integration with each other to make rapid decisions. Customer-centered strategies will be more in focus, real-time analytics will be used for rapid feedback and response, and CFOs will team up with CMOs to make real-time, data-driven decisions in response to customer needs.
Personalization Through Analytics
Since there will be a large inflow of data, not using analytics would make it go to waste. By applying advanced analytics to identify customer demands, personalization will increase. Additionally, using forecasting models to locate areas of development and quickly acting on them to capture demand will allow organisations to win new customers, and reinforce the trust and loyalty of existing ones.
Reevaluating Organisational Environment
Reflexively responding to changes solely will not be enough. The whole organisational landscape is changing. From external variations in consumer behaviour and technology, to internal variations in employee psychology and organisational structure, everything is changing. Rethinking ecosystems and partnerships is vital for dealing with the change, complexity, and disruptions. Employees react better to relationships built on trust, where decisions can be made rapidly.
Furthermore, the organisational goals shall be more consumer-focused. As the needs of customers would be highly variable, customer retention is becoming more important than customer acquisition.
Five Focus Areas Post COVID-19
The post-pandemic environment is predicted to maintain most of the changes that organisations have seen amidst the COVID-19 virus spread. With lockdowns, social isolation and social distancing, the world is shifting to digital convenience.
This has been the biggest change ever seen since the advent of the Internet. To cater to these changes, five focus areas are identified that businesses need to keep in mind:
The pandemic has shown the world how dynamic the environment can get. What organisations followed religiously is now becoming ineffective. Business resilience is the new way forward, where maintaining a business’s success is of utmost importance.
As stated before, customer retention has become more crucial rather than customer acquisition, as existing customers are getting bored of the same products and choosing to use other, more accessible and broad options to cater to their needs.
Businesses should focus on keeping up with the customer demands to provide them continuous satisfaction from using the services. Companies need to diversify their portfolio, anticipate changes in the environment and react to them effectively to stay on the top.
Future of Work
The future is now. Remote working is highly popular, with some organisations introducing hybrid work models where employees are given more flexibility in choosing when to come to office and when to work remotely.
This flexibility is a result of the restrictions placed in the pandemic. But, the changing mindset of employees contributes to this change in perception too. Newer, younger generation prefers more flexibility in their work, and the meaning of working is changing from physical office-based desk jobs, to working from wherever the employee is comfortable.
Future Supply Chain Capabilities
Due to increasing automation and advanced technology integration, the supply chain landscape is changing drastically. More efficiency is envisioned with lesser supply costs. This leads to lower labour costs and lower waste of resources. Businesses need to tap into this growth opportunity to maximise their revenues while minimizing costs.
Finance and Liquidity
The structure of finance, as we know it, is going through a big change. People have started adopting online and mobile payments through contactless means, rather than paying in hard cash. The banking system has grasped this dynamic and streamlined their business models in line with online banking.
Various other modes of online payments are being developed periodically. Cryptocurrency has become a substitute for fiat currencies. More and more consumers are moving towards blockchain databases for transactions as compared to storing their assets in a bank. This leads to higher liquidity of assets and ease of conversion within these currencies.
In future, this system will keep on improving, with foreign exchange, currency tethering and conversion getting more convenient. Businesses need to explore different scenarios and what-if analyses, to be mindful of opportunities to tap into, in line with consumer demands.
Key Takeaways For Businesses
Keeping the aforementioned in mind, businesses need to be mindful of these changing trends and identify how they can improve on their business models to cope up with the dynamically changing environment of the future. Organisations should utilize the maximum potential of telecom to get the most out of their businesses. They should:
Focus on Diversity
Being good at one thing wouldn’t be enough to tap into the varying consumer market. Businesses should introduce more diversity in their services and products to allow consumers the convenience of using one product for many services.
Focus on Integration
Since telecom is a means of connecting people and services worldwide, businesses need to be more proactive in adopting new technology to increase their accessibility.
Focus on Convenience
Yet again, telecom is providing newer solutions day by day. By grasping this potential, businesses can offer higher convenience to all kinds of users
Focus on Data Analytics
Users are providing businesses with data. The better these companies use this data for analytics, the better solutions they can come up with. Using more complex data analytic tools with the help of AI and Machine Learning, businesses can uncover more insights regarding their consumers and respond to them effectively. As stated before, consumers want more convenience. Hence, Data analytics will identify areas where consumer dissatisfaction and product capability intersect. Businesses can examine them to come up with ways to satisfy consumers.
Focus on Inclusivity
As connectivity and accessibility increases because of telecom, more and more diverse consumer base enters the consumer market. By using telecom solutions, businesses can dissolve the barriers that may have hindered inclusion before. For example, real-time language translations, culture sensitive data analytics and information, Societal requirements, social media news integration etc.
Focus on Employees
Since the pandemic has changed the way society worked, the employees that make up that society have also adapted. Businesses need to be mindful of these changes and cater to them through changing their business models to suit their employee needs. By implementing a hybrid work model, for instance, more employees are given flexibility and trust. This gives them a sense of higher responsibility and results in more productivity.
The post-pandemic future is near. It is vital for businesses to understand consumer behavior patterns and develop a more integrated approach to engaging with customers. Companies should continually adopt new strategies and agile approaches for content development and delivery, so that customer retention is achieved.
At the same time, telecom providers can shape a new future for businesses and consumers on the strength of advanced wireless technologies such as 5G. This shift to next-generation networking has the potential to transform how industries operate. Tapping into these technological advancements can make telecom as the crux of all future business development.