Why emerging tech plays a key role in the telecom industry’s transformation | Asian Telecom

Why emerging tech plays a key role in the telecom industry’s transformation

A KPMG executive reveals that Web 3 and ESG are needed in reassessing the future view of Telecom.

Digitalisation and the rise of emerging technologies have created a business environment where digital native companies thrive. This environment is leaving telecom companies who are still finding their part in this space.

Speaking to Asian Telecom, Darren Yong, Asia Pacific Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications at KPMG said these emerging technologies can be a crossroad moment for Telecom firms. With many competitors occupying the space and leveraging technology, Darren said that the current trend amongst telecom companies is figuring out how to transform themselves from a traditional telecom company into a tech company or Techco.

With over 25 years of experience in Telecom and Information Technology, Darren has led key technology engagements in KPMG that cover Strategy, Data Migration, Cloud, Blockchain and use case builds. He has worked with C-suite clients across different industries besides the telecom industry, like technology, banking, insurance, life sciences, energy and resources, and consumer goods.

Prior to joining KPMG, Darren worked in the industry, where he held key positions in companies such as Orange Business Services, Verizon Business, Sprint International, Lucent Worldwide Services, Siemens, and Nortel. 

Judging this year’s Asian Telecom Awards, Darren discusses some key trends in the telecom industry and what most top firms are doing to evolve and change their business strategies.

What do you think are some of the main issues that telecom companies face in today’s business landscape? How do you think they should work on these concerns?

Globally, there continues to be a surge of digital native organisations and emerging technologies that provide more opportunities for new startups and unicorns to enter new markets. This environment has led to a greater need for telecom companies to revisit their business models and address the possible challenges they may face. 

We are seeing more telecom companies look to challenge their ways of working as technologies like 5G and Metaverse proliferate the market. These technologies will inevitably rely more on data monetisation models and new B2B experiences, which will provide opportunities for telecom companies whilst also posing a threat as new entrants enter the market. As a result, as telecom companies seek to evolve and remain relevant, we are seeing an increasing trend of telecom companies researching how to transition from traditional telecom companies to tech companies (Techco). 

As telecommunications companies reconsider their business models, they must find new ways to apply emerging technology to solve previously uncharted problems. There will be an increasing need to introduce expertise from other sectors in order to apply technology and provide business impact in these new sectors. As telco organisations broaden their ecosystem focus, whether it is smart cities, health, or payments, new alliances and partnerships will be required to address the overlap in how customers will buy and both support and enable this business model sector convergence. 

With the rising trend in cloud deployment in several industries today, how do you think the telecom industry can leverage this? What do you think are its benefits?

As companies continue their migration to the cloud, this will continue to provide opportunities for those who are enabling this business transformation journey. Coupled with an increasing trend to keep data and the cloud within the national perimeter, this puts telecom companies in a strong position to capitalise on this area of growth. Not only for migration support but also for broader transformation, as workloads and applications require more support to realise the full transformation potential. Telecom companies can then also play a more pivotal role in supporting the future emerging technology infrastructure that may come as companies evolve and continue on this journey, be it Financial Services, Health Platforms, Infrastructure or the future ecosystems that may arise from Web 3. 

As companies look to move to the cloud, this will provide the foundation for increased data and analytics services within the various platforms and ecosystems that are enabled. Telecom companies that are positioned to capture this growth can benefit from helping their companies transform by supporting their technology infrastructure and the value-added services that will be required.

One of the main concerns in the market today is incorporating sustainability measures into business. What do you think this goal looks like in the telecom industry? How can companies be compliant with sustainability?

Sustainability is core to all businesses and even more pronounced in the telecom sector as they move and sell large amounts of consumer goods, which use lots of packaging and plastic. Telecom also consumes large amounts of power to cool their data centres and processors, which will enable digital transformation. As a digital infrastructure provider and enabler for others to digitise, there is a social responsibility for telecom operators to both lead and educate on sustainability. This includes making decisions that can help redefine the industry, lead the industry and sector transformation, and challenge suppliers by implementing more stringent procurement criteria. These changes can better enable change in the network of providers and operators that telecom companies work with and drive better standards within the sectors. 

The other area would be to continue to educate their customers about their individual sustainability impacts, be they consumers or businesses. Creating better metrics, measurement, and transparency could educate all to make better choices, both for themselves and their extended networks. The actual impact will follow as they cascade these personal choices to their customers and suppliers in a similar way, thus helping enable sustainability goals for the entire ecosystem. 

What can you advise companies as they move forward from the impacts of the pandemic? Are there key trends they need to watch out for?

It is evident that the key trends around digital and ESG will continue, and as companies look to craft their future journey, those that will succeed will be companies that incorporate current and emerging technology into their corporate and business roadmaps and intertwine the social responsibilities required to both contribute to the greater good and attract talent who wish to work for companies with a greater purpose. How we grow matters, and so there will be a greater emphasis on purpose and how we integrate these into our corporate values. 

What are the qualities you look for in judging this year’s Asian Telecom Awards entries?

Given the complexity of technology and how we can implement it in so many ways, it's important that we not lose sight of the broader goal of technology, which is to solve business and social issues. As a result, those who can clearly articulate the challenge or opportunity they want to solve and how their submission can align and solve this to have a long-term impact are something I look for. Technology alone won’t solve the problem, but how we integrate this with those who will use it to provide lasting value will help advance and make lasting change!

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