During the past decades of relative stability, innovation has moving slowly to improve well-being, convenience, and resource efficiency. Service providers focused on simplifying operations and enhancing their customer’s experience without having to deal with uncertainty or scarcity.
As of early 2020, the stability we took for granted was taken away.
The business continuity and disaster recovery plans we have in place tend to focus on events like natural disasters, cyber incidents and power outages. However, these do not hold up in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disruption and Innovation
As the Coronavirus pandemic spread across countries and continents, it has impacted every industry, business, university and school in its path. Within a few weeks, an estimated 16 million U.S. knowledge workers switched to remote working. Across the planet, more than 1.5 billion students have been affected by school and university closures. Time magazine aptly named the Coronavirus outbreak “the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment”.
To stop the whole world coming to a halt, governments and businesses in the telecom industry have helped improve consumer and enterprise digital adoption, making a five-year progress in a matter of around eight weeks. With uncharacteristic adoption speeds, banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams. Grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery as their primary business. Schools in many locales have pivoted to 100 percent online learning and digital classrooms. Manufacturers are actively developing plans for “lights out” factories and supply chains. Doctors have begun delivering telemedicine, aided by more flexible regulation.
In a Gartner report, 74 percent of CFOs surveyed expect some of their employees who were forced to work from home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends. More companies will apply lessons learned from the pandemic to reap the benefits of remote workers. However, it will be the businesses’ responsibility to ensure their workforce is equipped with the necessary tools to complete their work. These include:
- Cloud-based collaboration tools
- High-quality broadband links in the home of every worker
Communication Networks in the Spotlight
As digital services became a mandatory item on everyone’s agenda, communication networks had to keep up with the requirements. The chain of events that started with the lock-downs triggered digital data surges worldwide. This has put communication networks in the spotlight on the center stage.
“Never before have telecommunication networks been so vital to our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working, as during the COVID-19 crisis we are living through today,” said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.
Communication networks will need to progress quickly to keep up with this market shift. Looking forward, taking small step increments will not suffice to meet the growth in demand. . For example, Equinix is in the middle of upgrading its traffic capacity from 10 to 100 gigabytes. The work was going to have been carried out over a year or two—but it is now being done in a few weeks. Even smaller and regional CSPs will need to step up and move forward to new scalable platforms, like Telco Systems 8104, which supports 100G links and beyond.
Communication Service Providers also need to ensure that the activities which have historically needed physical interventions can now be transposed into the digital domain. Engineers can nowadays manage their networks by creating abstractions with Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN). An engineer can create on an NFV-enabled network a firewall or load balancer with a few clicks, rather than having to install a unit in the physical network. In addition, businesses who need to plan for tomorrow’s requirements must enable their teams to operate remotely and arrange backup solutions such as managed NOC services.
Would you like to learn more? Read our latest whitepaper ‘What service providers should know about the effects of COVID-19 and how to prepare for the ‘new normal’’