Opinion: The future of the telecommunications industry
The telecoms industry is currently one of the leading growth sectors in the global economy for a number of different reasons, including the emergence of telecommunications as one of the most important components of business, social, cultural and political activity.
Researchers forecast that by 2020, the number of mobile users will reach 6 billion and the number of people accessing the Internet will reach 4.7 billion. The average person in 2020 will live in a web of 200 to 300 contacts, maintained daily through a variety of channels. Several key trends are shaping the telecoms industry of the future, for the most part centred on rapid growth of data traffic as opposed to traditional voice communications. The insatiable demand for faster, better quality data connections, along with advanced telecoms technologies, will see optical solutions come to the fore, as fibre and high speed wireless becomes the de facto connectivity standard.
New software and application providers will continue to be building customer communities on the back of telecommunication networks. Resulting from increased deregulation and liberalisation, consumer choice means that loyalties to providers is no longer governed just by the provisioning of communication services, but by the benefits to the consumer over these networks and the convenience and cost savings that are being offered. Consumers are utilising multiple providers governed by the application that they invoke, by their geographic location and by the content that is being consumed.
Business models will continue to change and new service models will continue to evolve. Increased competition and pressure on revenue means that network operators are offering new services and Over The Top Content (OTT) providers have to become involved in investments with network infrastructure in order to distribute their services effectively to larger volumes of global consumers. The lines between network operators and service providers will continue to blur. As more and more services migrate on to digital delivery platforms, such providers will become a new source of telecommunication revenue in order to sell their products to their clients.
The opportunity for network and service providers stems from the change that more and more of our daily life will be influenced by the manner in which we interact with the digital environment for all our professional and private needs. More and more time will be spent interacting with machines as opposed to humans. Companies that figure out how to monetise their business models behind all these increased interactions and transactions will become far more successful than companies holding on to traditional business and service models.
All of these developments stem from the shift of focus away from owning infrastructure or software to owning, understanding and servicing the customer. By virtue of the fact that licensing and technology in a deregulated market have become available to almost anyone, this very same technology is no longer a competitive advantage but a necessary enabling platform to build digital services and capture the maximum amount of wallet share from the customer.
What all of this means for business and consumers is an always on and always connected environment. Connected amongst people, amongst businesses, as well as connected to our homes, our cars, our machines and our data stores. Constant surveillance by data analytics, by closed circuit cameras and by social networks. Large amounts of data being gathered and analysed about our life, our habits, our businesses and our behaviour. Analysis of all the date will be used to become more efficient, targeted and more effective when selling services and solutions.
One thing all of these trends have in common is that they are driven by data. The need for faster, more affordable, more available data is driving the increasing deployment of fibre and high speed wireless in South Africa, this journey has been a long time coming, beginning with inter-continental connections and then moving on to local long haul city-to-city and metros. “All of the megatrends of today, from connected cities, businesses and homes to mobility and the IoT, require high bandwidth availability and security, low latency and strict synchronisation.
In Africa, we have a significant opportunity to leverage technological advances, as we do not have massive capital investment into legacy infrastructure. This will enable the market to leapfrog previous industry leaders. However, in order to achieve this, industry players, including operators and ICT providers, need to think outside of the box. South Africa has already shown its ability to innovate in the 1990s with the invention of prepaid cellular services, which have since spread to the rest of the world. A similar spirit of innovation and inspiration will be needed to bring telecoms up to speed and beyond international standards by 2020.
By Eckart Zollner, Business Development Manager, the Jasco Group
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”