For the last four years, Connected Britain has provided a space for key stakeholders and leaders across the UK telecoms sector to gather and drive innovation within the industry. With over 250 speakers covering a wide range of topics from technology to regulation and investment, as well as 3,000 stakeholders from 800 companies present, Connected Britain 2022 certainly did not disappoint.
Since its inception back in 2018, Connected Britain has always been an important date in our calendar, and for good reason. Telecommunications is at the very core of NTT DATA, and although we have grown into a global company with a broad scope across IT and technology services, we are still very much grounded in our roots. That’s why we were delighted to see increased efficiency and improved end-user experience as the strongest priorities emerging from this year’s event.
Telcos need to be driving efficiency
One of the most common themes of this year’s event was the need to drive efficiency. In urban areas, competition between providers has become increasingly rife, pushing companies to come up with strategies to stay ahead of their direct competitors.
The silver lining is that, because of this extreme competition, innovative tech solutions are arriving on an almost daily basis. In this way, the telecoms industry's future is inherently linked to innovative technology solutions, and I certainly saw this on show at this year’s Connected Britain.
Moreover, I was not surprised to hear about the major challenges posed to every network provider by the current economic climate. This is especially the case for smaller altnets, many of whom are struggling to maintain cash flow during the deployment of fibre-roll outs.
I noted that many of those smaller providers expressed that they felt pressure to work smarter if they wanted to survive. Once again, the common thread here was that the road toward reaching maximum connectivity in the UK required smart and efficient solutions. As providers of all shapes and sizes evolve with the changing time, I can’t help but to be excited for what the future holds.
Prioritising the end-user experience
During my time at Connected Britain, I came across a variety of start-ups with hugely exciting offerings. One of these, with an impressive current client base and plans to grow, Plume provides real-time visibility tools for connectivity optimisation, allowing end-users to control their WiFi in a way that wasn’t possible three years ago. In essence, Plume’s mission is to improve the end-user experience with first-of-its-kind tech, and we were most impressed by their creative vision, a strong differentiator in such a competitive market.
Another of their core strengths was the platform’s scalability, available for home users, small businesses, and even service providers. We were excited by their bold confidence, calling themselves “the world’s first SaaS experience platform”, and we’ll certainly be keeping a keen eye on how they progress into the future.
For start-ups looking to make waves in the telecoms space, the lesson to learn from Plume is to let go of the fear of being creative. Trust your ideas, they might just be the key to unlocking the future of the industry.
Cost transformation networks
At NTT DATA UK&I, we’ve been working on cost transformation networks across the broad scope of our key verticals, not only in telecommunications, but also in banking, media, automotive, and insurance. With all of these projects, our overarching goal is to improve the customer experience whilst reducing costs.
Based on my experience at Connected Britain this year, I’ve gathered three key areas that we see as top priorities for those providers looking to reduce their costs:
- As providers begin the process of rolling out fibre and 5G networks, they need to switch their legacy networks off in order to achieve maximum Opex and Capex savings.
- Simplifying networks can deliver significant operational improvement whilst also reducing energy usage. In most cases, if you want to keep costs low, the guiding principle is to keep things simple.
- Removing legacy networks is a process that needs to be planned very carefully. Processes such as negotiating site access, coordinating the priority of sites, and having a clear reuse/recycling policy for the equipment all need to be planned with absolute precision. For those providers who are operating at a smaller scale, they will likely need to look to a partner for support in the planning stage.
Overall, I can’t emphasise enough the constant research and development that is happening in the network space, and the expectation for regular technical breakthroughs. It was enlightening to see some shining examples of innovation at this year’s event.
As they always have, the larger providers continue to look to stay ahead of the competition, jostling for space in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Meanwhile, smaller, more nimble start-ups look to seize any opportunity to target new customers with first-of-their-kind solutions, like Plume.
All of these factors combine to lead us down the same road: a future industry with technological innovation at its core. In the months since this year’s event, we’ve seen these trends validated in the market. Moving into 2023, smart and innovative technology will be the key to surviving in this hyper-competitive space. We’re excited to see what the future holds for us, for our partners, and for the telecoms industry as a whole.