Hype, Ripe and Wipe for Telecom in 2018

By: Faisal Kawoosa, General Manager- Research & Consulting, CyberMedia

The Voice and Data, Telecom Leadership Forum (TLF) is a flagship forum of the telecom fraternity in India where focus is all about finding strategic way forward for the sector. Every year industry champions and leaders speak out their minds and debate with the ecosystem to steer the industry and draw a roadmap of inclusive growth for the industry.

TLF 2017, the 17th annual industry meet was a day long action-packed forum where the stalwarts of the industry deliberated upon the definition, structure and objectives of ‘Digital Telecom for Digital India’. Through the series of interesting panel discussions, the key takeaway was that Digital Telecom is going to be having the latest of technology, inclusive in nature and an important as well as fundamental resource in shaping up the new India. Digital Telecom will not only integrate things but also create synergies contributing significantly to the economy of the country.

However, in pursuing the digital story of India, the entire telecom fraternity shall face one single major challenge – the challenge of augmenting resources with the opportunities. Next few years are going to be disruptive and full of multiple opportunities for industry to pursue. There are so many technological revolutions around, which culminate in what is being referred to ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0’ and the entire telecom industry has to adopt these technologies in a phased and systematic manner. But the peculiarity of the Indian telecom sector is constraint of resources due to various recent disruptions. So, the steps the industry plans to span over next couple of years are to be based on very logical reasoning with near assured returns. There isn’t enough of room for experimentation.

With so many technologies around for telecom operators to explore for unconventional, essentially non-voice based revenues, the critical decision would be around what to pick up and when. It is not that any of the technologies around is not having potential for operators to generate revenues, but, then there would be resource constraints as well as maturity in the market to make it worth of a sizeable opportunity.

In next couple of years, the telecom leaders of the country shall have to make clear demarcation among technologies that could be potentially just a hype in the market, at least from Indian context; technologies that are no longer high on opportunity and need to be wiped off from the focus list and finally devote all resources in shortlisting and prioritising technologies that are ripe for the market with the highest level of revenue assurances.

Making a call would not be easy and these opportunities will not be homogeneous for the operators across the country. They shall have to do a thorough competency check-up and figure out what they can take the best. The challenge in doing so would be taking a tough call by defocusing from some of the technologies that might be appearing to be very promising due to the hype around them. There would be influencers internal as well as external suggesting to go ahead with the latest; but they might not be actually adding to the opportunities exceeding the efforts put in.

For operators to define the roadmap for next few years, there should be a two-step framework adopted. The first step spanning for 2018 and 2019 should be more based on what is available internally and make most out of it. The second step would be roadmap for 2020 and beyond where they should extensively explore what is available in the outside world. If the operators are able to clearly distinguish between a Hype, Ripe and Wipe; they should be able to figure out this two-step roadmap. Else we could see a potential wrong alignment of resources with opportunities.

The vendor community has already changed their strategy of advocating for the latest they have. Rather they are working closely with the operators in a consultative role guiding what would fit the market demands and expectations. So, there is not a push for new technology, but, what would be the best for consumers only strengthening the operators.

Lastly, the regulator as well as government is all supportive. Not definitely bending to what industry wants, but after a careful evaluation the regulator and the government are working closely to enable technologies that are meaningful for users and paying for them is not an expense but empowering them by opening new opportunities and improving the overall quality of life.

With all set in the right perspective, when sometime in the December of 2018, the Telecom Leadership Forum is reconvened, the leaders shall have great experiences to share about how they dissected the opportunities into the categories of Hype, Ripe and Wipe leading towards making them a Digital Telecom for Digital India.

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