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Vodafone on ecosystem dynamics at TTC

Mutually advantageous and partnerships with balance will be crucial to going beyond mere connectivity, stated Vodafone Group’s Chief Technology Officer Johan Wibergh at this year’s Total Telecom Congress (TTC) event. 

In the event opener of 2021’s Total Telecom Congress, a prevailing theme of discourse was something that telecom organizations all over the globe are getting to know a bit too well, specifically, that they have to go above and beyond connectivity if they are to accomplish in this ultradigital era. 

The previous couple of years have made it really obvious that the conventional telecom model will no more furnish the consistent and prevailed growth that we’ve observed historically. At the apex of the pandemic, a few telecom companies were undergoing escalations in network traffic of more than 50% and partially owing to the transition to work-from-home, this escalation in traffic is to remain a permanent fixture. However, regardless of this major uplift, Telecom profits stay comparatively flat.  

Obviously, something is required to change. 

As far as Vodafone Group’s CTO, Johan Wibergh is concerned, the solution to this noteworthy ask is invariably to tap into emergent technology markets that are experiencing major growth and expansion, like IoT, smart cities, and Industry 4.0 in general. 

It is no more adequate to be a mere connectivity provider – we must evolve into digital enablers – he stated. 

However, this is not a transformation that telecoms can deliver alone and so collaborations with fresh players, ranging from cloud hyperscalers to new industry verticals, ought to be nourished. 

For Wilbergh, the maintenance of a balance in the relationship amongst Telecom companies and this emergent ecosystem will be critical to the organization’s success in the near future. 

On one side, Vodafone has illustrated their eagerness to maintain control of their network and its tech, with their Tech 2025 strategy displaying a dominant concentration on in-sourcing, particularly with regards to software. Wibergh observes that the organization already employs approximately 9,000 software engineers, and as of the previous week, has made announcements with regards to plans to hire and train 7,000 more by 2025. 

Aspect of this focus on in-house dependence for development of technology and services comes as a reaction to a classic telecom issue: service differentiation. With regards to conventional connectivity services, telecoms are all too usually perceived by clients as interchangeable, particularly within the consumer space, and this cannot be permitted to occur with regards to emergent digital services. 

Wibergh asserted: “It’s of paramount criticality to have adequate add-on products or differentiation in comparison to your competition.” “You cannot purchase them from suppliers as then your competition will possess the same. Therefore, you are required to develop them yourselves.” 

On the other side, it will be required to develop diversified partnerships and collaborations to tap into some of these swiftly expanding markets, and Vodafone has been really active in this regard, regardless of if the topic at hand is Open RAN, the IoT, or mobile edge computing, or cybersecurity. 

Wibergh stated: “Collaboration is great, it’s a good way to provide value to clients, but if the sole thing you bring into the fray is the connectivity, not much will change.” “It’s really critical to include something that will drive revenue growth.” 

Ultimately speaking, maintenance of a balance in these partnerships is usually tough. Telecoms are usually used to being the driving force in these discussions, but their evolution to a digital enabler implies a more collaborative strategy will be required. 

As far as Wibergh is concerned, this is a sphere where evolving telecoms are required to do a better job, probably taking a step back from their usual role as the lead partner and rather learning how to develop a well-balanced relationship. 

Wibergh stressed that it was his greatest concern. He also went on to say it was the biggest weakness within the telecom industry as a whole. 

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