There is no evidence of significant disruption to telco innovation projects due to COVID-19. If anything, the crisis is only serving to underscore the logic of digital transformation, which is accelerating telco ambition to go further, faster. Consequently, the short to mid-term prospects for telco innovation look good – arguably ‘improved’, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Emma Mohr-McClune, Service Director at GlobalData, comments: “What is now becoming abundantly clear is that none of the umbrella or ‘macro’ telco innovation projects – digital transformation, automation, big data, AI, software-centric networks and cybersecurity – have been disrupted in any significant way, and carriers have been keen to communicate as much.”
These macro innovation projects have not faced the same challenges as other areas of the business. The DevOps engines driving these macro projects align well with the home working imperatives that have seen most operators worldwide send their staffers home to work for sustained periods. But also, within many carriers, these macro projects are in the main already quite mature, with well-planned evolution roadmaps, and are linked to the future of the telco’s own business transformation progress.
Mohr-McClune continues: “Beneath the macro level of telco innovation, we’ve also seen some evidence of innovation micro project re-prioritization, both on the consumer and enterprise level, and this is likely to have the most influence on the short to mid-term shape of those macro innovation strategies.”
In many cases, this evidence of re-prioritization is directly linked to the short-term requirements of a market facing the prospect of sustained lockdown disruption, both implicitly and explicitly. For example, Vodafone recently decided to prioritize business surveillance solutions within its IoT portfolio, to more rapidly commercialize heat detection cameras for buildings. This kind of innovation project re-prioritization, however, isn’t disrupting the macro innovation layer. Rather, it’s producing a set of compelling case studies that will make it easier for all operators to sell digital innovation to a broad array of segments.
Mohr-McClune concludes: “Finally, there is no evidence at all of a negative impact on innovation partnership or ecosystems. Many of the projects that were being planned well before the crisis have all gone ahead and launched despite of the distractions of the crisis. If anything, the crisis is providing the partners with an accelerated sense of purpose as opportunities aligned with the so-called ‘new normal’ that promises to emerge from the crisis come into focus.”