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In an era where technological innovation is advancing at an unprecedented pace, it’s easy for telecommunications companies to get lost in a market that’s swarmed with competitors. The ICT sector consists of several key segments, including IoT, AI, telecommunications, software and computer systems, 3D printing and cybersecurity.

To navigate these choppy waters, communication companies must strive to establish partnerships that can help support them in crossing over to stable markets. Once the ideal strategic partnership has been forged, the company must develop an ecosystem of devices and services to push it further into the mainstream, where it can hope to capture a higher market share from its rivals.

Successful and Innovative Collaboration Is a Must

The global IT market was valued at $341.64 billion in 2022 and will grow at a CAGR of 11.26% to reach $582.33 billion by 2027. To be a profitable business in such a massive market, telecom companies need to collaborate with global technology companies, industry frontrunners, startups and local businesses in order to explore innovative solutions. By leveraging synergies and capitalizing on unique expertise, these partnerships can drive growth, provide variations in product offerings, and expand the customer base by delivering superior digital experiences. Many of the regions in the Middle East and Asia hold tremendous growth potential with their digital transformation operations. Technologies like 5G mobile networks, edge computing and cloud provide the infrastructure to enhance connectivity and computational capacity; such partnerships expand their reach to a wider audience with specific needs and demands. A prime example of strategic partnership is e&’s launch of the digital brand ‘Onic’ in Pakistan as part of its partnership with Circles X, a cloud-native, digital-first platform, to elevate digital experiences for digital-native customers of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Through such collaboration, e& aims to help smaller MNOs build on their offerings by providing e&’s technical and operational expertise and ultimately benefiting the whole ecosystem.

Meeting the Ever-Changing Needs of Customers

The needs and demands of consumers are the key drivers for the growth of digital solutions. Global ICT spending reached close to $4.9 trillion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $5.8 trillion by the end of 2023, according to IDC estimates. Bain and Company projects the market for enterprise information and communication technology (ICT) services will grow 5% annually through 2026. Telecom companies must develop diverse and personalized solutions for their customers that challenge and expand their perceptions of connectivity and digital experiences. Enterprise business operations are struggling to identify the most compatible tool for boosting their profit margins from the many choices now available on the ICT market. Telcos have an advantage in helping these businesses integrate the most suitable technology and act as a guide for developing smart ICT operations, including connectivity, unified communications, cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity and so on. For instance, Ooredoo is transforming the digital landscape of Oman with an extensive list of value-added telecommunications solutions, fast and seamless network coverage across Oman, and cutting-edge digital services through various touch points, including its award-winning app, across Oman to stay connected with its customers at any given time. Similarly, from a connectivity perspective, 5G technology can be used to create new experiences and monetize them. A case in point is the network operations of notable UAE operator du. By leveraging the vast potential of this cutting-edge connectivity combined with strategic collaboration to provide premium and unique experiences to its customers, du now boasts that 60% of its mobile network traffic is driven by 5G usage. As of Q3 2023 results, du’s mobile customer base has increased by 9.4% to 8.1 million and its fixed customer base by 12.4% to 573,000. As such, partnership and collaboration should be the cornerstones for the continuous enhancement of customer experience initiatives for telcos across public, commercial and enterprise sectors alike.

Planning the Road Map

Digital transformation is changing the global economic and social environment. Investments in digitalization in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) alone are set to double across the 2021–2026 period, as per the recent IDC forecast.

For the ICT industry, this means an opportunity for investment in more R&D, strategic partnerships, M&As and resource development. Technologies such as 5G, edge computing, cloud and AI need a further infrastructure facelift to enhance their connectivity and computational capacity.

Below are some considerations that telcos should be mindful of while planning their next course of action:

  • The operational efficiency and flexibility of hybrid cloud infrastructure are growing among organizations, facilitating work across multiple computing environments and easing the interplay of managing data to ensure security, privacy and compliance in both cloud-based and on-premise solutions.
  • As technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, big data and cloud services advance, virtual or remote real-time operations and process automation will increasingly drive the future of work. Building internal ICT capabilities and automating workflows will become priorities in keeping pace with digitalization. Moreover, the UAE’s telecom regulator, TDRA, expects to bring all inhabited areas of the country under 5G network coverage by the end of 2025, requiring more resources to manage the various requirements of end-users.
  • In addition to the above factors, sustainable and energy-efficient IT operations will be a determining factor for the success of all telco operations. Making network infrastructure power-aware and energy-efficient is seen as an important step towards reducing the energy footprint in the ICT sector. It is estimated that by infusing green ICTs across the industry, up to ten times more energy can be saved.

As one of the main pillars of modern economic infrastructure, the ICT industry is vital, and thus its smooth functioning is imperative. To navigate the dynamic complexity of the industry, telcos will have to rely on like-minded partners who share similar visions of creating ambitious success stories in the digital age. Indeed, the success of such partnerships has already been proven by some of the industry’s leading companies to date. The time is now for others to heed these examples and make their move.

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