As new communication technologies move from the fringe to the mainstream, businesses can expect better agility, improved CX, new services, and higher margins
When the telephone came, globalisation began. When the Internet arrived, business models changed. When smartphones bloomed, every business became a digital business. Today, most businesses across sectors and industries have an app, a new customer platform, and a disrupted business model, thanks to extreme and irreversible digitalisation.
As we move ahead and embrace deeper imprints of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), metaverse, and Open RAN, there is a lot that will change for enterprises worldwide. A recent report by Research and Markets indicates that over 800 million people started using the Internet during the last six years. The report India Telecoms Industry Report - 2023-2028 estimates that another 200 million users will go online by 2028. If we turn to a recent Kearney survey in North America, 45%- 50% of consumers prefer digital service, while 40%-45% prefer physical stores. A similar survey by the consulting firm in 2022 found that digital channels comprise nearly 20% (or higher) share of the total sales volume in Europe and Asia. Interestingly, in smaller markets, the share of digital channels is 30% or more for some operators.
As augured by STL Partners in its report Telecoms 2023, ten years down the line, telcos could find themselves growing into national or regional champions of connected technologies, working with enterprises and governments to help the world run better.
Let’s look at some key communication, connectivity, and networking technologies that have the potential to transform businesses in 2023. It would also be a smart move to keep an eye on what is changing in these areas so that organisations can switch to customer intimacy, new services, and low-cost models to deliver better margins and value to the stakeholders.
Bye-bye old routes
Connectivity is paramount for expanding the business reach and serving customers with exceptional speed. In today’s limited patience span, when the thumb is always on the verge of another swipe- businesses cannot afford to miss even one precious moment. That’s where one has to watch for Wi-Fi 6E. Unlike Wi-Fi 5’s 6Gbps data rate, Wi-fi 6 offers 10 Gbps speed, nearly double, says Raghav Arora, Co-Founder and CTO of Statiq.
“Cloud, mainly in the form of software as a service, will see more proliferation in 2023 as enterprises require smart solutions for their business growth.”
Joyjeet Bose, Senior Vice President, Tata Teleservices
“OFDMA allows multiple devices to talk at the same time, a big plus for businesses intending to expand customer footprints.”
Raghav Arora, Co-Founder and CTO, Statiq
“The high spatial streams at 8x8 allow servicing of more client devices simultaneously, and more efficiently. Further, the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) allows multiple devices to talk at the same time, again a big plus for businesses intending to expand operations and customer footprints. When not in use, the freed-up bandwidth can lead to greater battery life, again a cost-effective proposition for businesses,” he explains.
This new generation is the next step in Wi-Fi evolution that improves wireless connectivity by opening new dedicated channels previously unavailable, reasons Hemant Agrawal, CTO, Netweb Technologies. “With 2.4 and 5 GHz bands getting crowded, 6 GHz has been opened to address the issues of congested devices and networks. Wi-Fi 6E will provide speeds up to six times faster than Wi-Fi 5. Some of its benefits include greater Access Point (AP) capacity, larger channel width, efficient bandwidth sharing, Wi-Fi sleeping, and backward compatibility.”
With faster speeds, businesses can not only improve service times but also do away with many inefficiency pockets and cost areas in their supply chain, distribution footprint, and inventory. This would be supplemented well with Cloud’s elasticity and fast uptime.
Joyjeet Bose, Senior Vice President, Tata Teleservices adds that Cloud, mainly in the form of software as a service (SaaS), will see more proliferation in 2023 as enterprises require smart solutions for their business growth. “Pay-as-use models as well as faster turn-up of applications will provide further impetus. Cloud growth is feeding datacentre growth,” he says.
And as that happens, businesses should ensure their networks are ready for the influx of traffic coming their way. Recommends Shibu Paul, Vice President – International Sales at Array Network: “They should consider upgrading their networks to support higher speed and bandwidth, as well as investing in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) which will help them make better use of available bandwidth.”
Hello Metaverse and the gang
Metaverse and IoT are big disruptions that smart players will leverage well – and should. They could herald a completely new way of doing business, a completely new spectrum of products, and a new avatar of the customer.
“Benefits of Wi-Fi 6E include greater Access Point capacity, larger channel width, efficient bandwidth sharing, Wi-Fi sleeping, and backward compatibility.”
Hemant Agrawal, CTO, Netweb Technologies
“With the metaverse on the virtual horizon, Phygital will go through a seismic shift, which will unleash a new wave of possibilities and opportunities.”
Ananth Vinnakota, VP – Engineering, Qentelli
Primarily, the metaverse has dual-ecosystem priorities, catering to industrial efficiency through replicated workplaces and consumer metaverses for unparalleled experience marketing, dissects Sunil Gopinath, CEO of Rakuten India. “With virtual and extended reality gaining greater market interest, the metaverse will be transformational in simulating physical experiences. For example, retailers can let shoppers try different outfits to see what looks best on them, architects and interior designers can bring blueprints to life with visualised seating plans, while manufacturers can capture data from mirrored realities to optimise process quality.”
For this, the backend has to be in good shape. As Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director - Service Provider Business Cisco India and SAARC, advises, “Low-latency applications will require intelligence distributed to the edge where the use cases reside. Therefore, as the demand for real-time processing and low-latency connectivity applications and services increases, edge computing will become indispensable as part of a hybrid cloud computing model.”
Ananth Vinnakota, VP of Engineering at Qentelli highlights how Phygital will dominate the conversations on social media platforms and influence business decisions across the sectors. It will open up new and innovative ways of marketing products and redefine user experience in an entirely new way. “With the metaverse on the virtual horizon, Phygital will go through a seismic shift, which will unleash a new wave of possibilities and opportunities. Metaverse is considered a communication revolution as it promises to make communication more personalised, data-driven, and immersive. The business’s operation will be no more limited to traditional methods and marketers will find themselves experimenting with unique ways of engagement,” he adds.
The communicators have hopes that the metaverse will bring about a new era of digital advertising and overcome the limitations of a two-dimensional virtual world. According to Vinnakota, for businesses, it will mean an opportunity to get an edge over the rest and access to newer revenue streams.
Another huge change-switch would be pressed by the deeper impact of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), and who knows, even Extended Reality (XR).
“The near future will witness a boom in wearable devices that will be used to consume content beyond two dimensions and in a more intuitive way. A simple hand gesture or voice commands will be used to control devices. While this is already the trend, it will gain more prominence and widespread adoption in the near future. The AR and VR markets will expand, and these technologies will become more and more embedded in our everyday life.” Vinnakota spells out.
“VR and AR will continue to expand and have a significant impact on marketing in 2023 as it creates new opportunities for promoting the business.”
Rajasekhar Gummadapu, CEO, Techwave
“Enterprises can use voice analytics to analyse audio calls and generate insights to enhance CX and ensure compliance with standards and specifications.”
Uthaman Bakthikrishnan, Executive Vice President, ClearTouch
Virtual and augmented reality will continue to expand and have a significant impact on marketing in 2023 as it creates new opportunities for promoting our businesses, seconds Rajasekhar Gummadapu, CEO of Techwave. Adds Kaavya Prasad, Founder of Lumos Labs: “The consumption of smart devices is expected to rise as we incorporate emerging tech such as VR, AR, AI, and more in our lives. With the increasing popularity of the metaverse, VR headsets demand will also increase.”
Similarly, Dr Ananthakrishnan Gopal, Co-founder and CTO, DaveAI counts XR as the thing to watch for. “Since we all yearn to go beyond the supposed actual boundaries of the globe, it is a significant technical trend right now. Gamers, medical specialists, retail and modelling experts all adore this technology since it produces a reality free of any physical existence,” he points out.
Rishi Kapal, Director of Innovations and Employability at Vijaybhoomi University stresses that Deep and Hyper Artificial Intelligence is going to alter how businesses operate, make plans, and create designs in the future. “AI will transform the fundamentals of numerous sectors, including customer service, marketing, banking, healthcare, company accounting, public safety, retail, education, and public transportation, and how they operate,” he says emphatically.
Customer service gets the edge
When technologies change, the way businesses seek, serve and support customers also undergoes a big shift. It can be incremental or exponential but it changes the industry in more than one way. With the emergence of new communication and connectivity technologies, customer support will push a big reset button to deal with the always-on, real-time, and highly-intelligent future.
“ChatGPT is still in its infancy and most people currently use it for simple tasks but it will likely have a major impact on businesses in the future.”
Krishna Tammana, CTO, Gupshup
“The consumption of smart devices is expected to rise as businesses incorporate emerging technologies such as VR, AR, AI, and more.”
Kaavya Prasad, Founder, Lumos Labs
Dr Gopal explains further: “By 2025, over 95% of multinational corporations, according to Gartner, will adopt communications platform as a service (CPaaS) capability. Also, even though contact centre as a service (CCaaS) has long been popular among SMBs, we are now seeing an uptake in adoption among major organisations.”
Next, enterprises can expect more datafication. Karunya Sampath, Co-founder and CEO of Payoda Technologies feels that with data as the new oil, datafication is simply transforming everything in our life into devices or software powered by data. “Industrial machines, office applications, AI-powered appliances, and everything else will further rely on data. AI and ML will churn disparate and complex data, making humans take faster decisions in areas like healthcare, banking, finance, investments, logistics and transportation, and robotic process automation,” he explains.
Enterprises can also expect to explore possibilities with forces like voice analytics. Uthaman Bakthikrishnan, Executive Vice President, ClearTouch delineates that voice analytics is the process of analysing recorded voice calls and generating insights to improve customer experience (CX) and ensure compliance with standards and specifications in the customer experience function.
Of course, the poster boy of all big and small changes in businesses is 5G. “The long wait for the 5G is finally over with its grand rollout in the month of October. The technology is expected to unlock enormous benefits for both consumers and businesses by leveraging shorter and higher frequency bands of the radio spectrum. Low latency, greater density per area, and unprecedented broadband speed will drive the growth of Industry 4.0 technologies like the IoT, smart manufacturing, AI and ML, and cloud computing,” points out Agrawal.
On the consumer end, telecom subscribers will enjoy a great time with mobile gaming, fixed wireless access, and new immersive user experiences. Moreover, the exhilarating experiences of augmented and virtual reality can be accessed over the phone via many different applications.
As regulatory approval for 5G technologies is likely to see a sustained upward trajectory in 2023, its adoption will be fueled by greater accessibility and its capability to manage mass data flows efficiently, Gopinath predicts the pragmatic impact.
“Asia-Pacific business zones are expected to drive enterprise-wide 5G deployment to offer improved reliability, security, and reach across geographies. By delivering additional speed and bandwidth, 5G becomes more scalable and predictable than the latest 4G and Wi-Fi networks and can significantly impact precision engineering sectors like manufacturing. Notably, 5G technologies encourage the development of AI, ML, and RPA which can run flawlessly on the network,” he says.
Prasad points out that going ahead in 2023, one can expect to see a rise in 5G adoption driven by its pioneering network speed, significantly reduced energy consumption, low latency, and wider reach. That means businesses have all the plumbing they need for designing extremely-innovative offerings and bridging the distance between the factory and the customer.
While 5G will make communication faster, ChatGPT will make communication smarter, chimes in Krishna Tammana, CTO, Gupshup. “ChatGPT is still in its infancy and most people currently use it for simple tasks but it will likely have a major impact on businesses in the future. Conversational AI for businesses is already quite advanced, with some tools having intuitive intelligence built in. For example, most digital shopping assistants are pre-trained in retail knowledge and can provide accurate recommendations based on customer needs. Having said that, ChatGPT is a significant advancement in language understanding and will likely improve language usage across a wide range of applications.”
The business sector will also see a rise in edge computing, a distributed computing paradigm that bridges the gap between data, devices, and end-users, Gopinath weighs in. “It involves placing computing resources at the edge of an existing network, thereby simultaneously reducing the latency of processing data while improving the efficiency of transmission. However, to effectively embed edge computing into the business model, organisations need to consistently monitor and observe data from multiple telemetry sources to anticipate anomalies, disruptions, or possible concerns in the consumer experience.”
New devices, tools, and software are continually being developed to advance communication technology, while old popular technologies are always being updated and improved, reflects Pramod Sharda, CEO of IceWarp India and the Middle East. “To be successful, businesses must use this new technology in their communication.”
Looks like it is a fresh new world of products, customers, and what-ifs, with communication and connectivity adding wind beneath these wings, in a new way.
By Pratima Harigunani