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Telecom Review, the world’s leading telecoms news platform, held a virtual panel, entitled ‘Digital transformation: A necessity brought forward by COVID-19’, which was attended by over 300 participants, featuring industry leaders from across the world, to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a tremendous acceleration in the digital transformation.

Telecom Review managed to mobilize some of the global telecom industry’s top figures and respected leaders for the panel discussion. Telecom Review’s CEO and founder, Toni Eid, gave the opening speech, and the panel was moderated by Centrigent’s CEO, Jay Srage. The panelists included: Abdulla Al Jaziri, VP Corporate Strategy at Etisalat Group; Haithem Alfaraj, Senior VP of Technology and Operations Unit, stc; Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, Senior VP of Oracle MEA and CEE; Ghazi Atallah, CEO of NXN; Jihad Tayara, CEO of EVOTEQ; Fuad Siddiqui, Executive Partner and VP of Nokia Bell Labs; Richard Ulenius, VP Global Managed Services, CSG; and Charbel Khneisser, Regional Director of Technical Sales at Riverbed.

The panelists discussed how COVID-19 highlighted the importance of digital transformation, the use of emerging technologies as a response to the pandemic, the gaps that existed at the level of access to digital technologies, and the end-to-end automated service assurance for Telcos and service providers throughout this pandemic-stricken era. COVID-19 has acted as a major catalyst of great innovation as it exposed some key gaps on societal, economic, and industrial levels which technology could do well to fill. 

The panelists shared their insights into the true significance of digitalization during this time, drawing on their own experiences within their organizations and the experiences of others within the industry.

Abdulla Al Jaziri, VP Corporate Strategy at Etisalat Group, said, 2020 has been difficult for everyone across the globe. One positive aspect is the acceleration of digital transformation. In UAE, digital transformation is part of our DNA – it is a journey and everyone is participating. This is strongly supported by our infrastructure, being number one in the world in term of fiber penetration. At Etisalat, we are inspired by our vision: Drive the digital future to empower society.”

 Haithem Alfaraj, Senior VP of Technology and Operations Unity at stc, said, The concept of the trend of digital transformation has been around for close to 10 years – companies began talking about their intention to transform into the digital space. Now, COVID-19 has been a wakeup call for all organizations to accelerate their digital transformation – especially for us as technology people. We need to be two steps ahead.”

Ghazi Atallah, CEO of NXN, said, Digital technology enables us to do two things: optimize what we are doing today or disrupt what will be doing tomorrow.  We have the ability to utilize digital technology to impact current services as it enables us to manage data in a way than we have ever been able to do.   It is imperative that we leverage this data to further optimize or prepare new models to disrupt our business.  At NXN, this is our mantra as we work with our customers on their digital transformation.

Jihad Tayara, CEO of EVOTEQ, said, Deploying and implementing technology is the easy part of the story. Moving forward to regulators, they have a big part to play now. In the UAE, regulators have an essential role in allowing people to work from home and whether this will continue. We are honored to have a proactive government, pushing the envelope and pushing for transformation when it’s really needed.”

Richard Ulenius, VP Global Managed Services at CSG, said, I think one of the first responses from companies taking action during this major shift is finding time to respond to customers in a different way. COVID-19 put major pressure on this shift. At the end of the day, transformation is about people and culture. For transformation to become powerful we need to break down barriers between customers and services; we need collaborative action.”

Charbel Khneisser, Regional Director of Technical Sales at Riverbed, said, One thing we have noticed is that COVID-19 presented a very challenging time for the operators. Service providers and carriers have always been the catalyst for digital transformation. For them to succeed in the marketplace, they need to always be the first to embrace new technologies; the shift to 5G; the shift to IoT, and adopting high-resolution video. Building modern software-defined networks and having comprehensive end-to-end visibility across complex hybrid networks will be key to enabling a carrier’s engineering, operations, and planning teams to proactively manage and troubleshoot their complex and ever-changing infrastructures."

Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, Senior VP of Oracle MEA and CEE, said, Rapid, unpredictable change is forcing telecoms operators to rethink traditional operating models. Differentiation is undoubtedly the key to success. Transforming the future of telecommunications demands a modern, scalable cloud platform”

Fuad Siddiqui, Executive Partner & Vice President, Nokia Bell Labs, said, The need for digital transformation is quite apparent to all of us. What might be less apparent are the underlying trends; the latent inefficiencies and inequalities of the global world order. I call it a tale of two unequal halves. 70% of all ICT investment has gone to digital industries. But those digital industries only represent 30% of the global GDP. It’s time to adjust this and digitally augment our physical industries to enable a new value paradigm.”




About Telecom Review 

Telecom Review was founded in 2005 and is today the leading global ICT media platform. With its different editions that cover all the industry’s updates in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, and North America, Telecom Review has gained a stellar reputation for guaranteeing quality content, offering reliable information, and addressing the most trending topics. Telecom Review has always been a pioneer in the ICT media industry by launching e-newsletters, digital flipping magazines, and most recently, organizing virtual panels and webinars.

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