Feature

A day in the life of Chris Lewis, founding director, Lewis Insight

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An industry analyst with more than 30 years of experience, Chris Lewis’s day is anything but typical. Overlay this with the fact that Lewis is registered blind, and the experience becomes even more unique.

“The ongoing tracking of the industry takes up a lot of time. In my case, that means reading through my ears all of the news feeds and announcements from companies active across the telecoms sector,” he says.

His day is then littered with an “endless stream of webinars from clients” as well as requests from other parties chasing his opinion and feedback.

“Client interaction takes the form of everything from good old-fashioned phone calls to detailed sound boarding and presentations to different groups within the telcos and suppliers,” he explains. “And there’s always some activity around a presentation or conference.”

Lewis sold The Great Telco Debate to TelecomTV a number of years ago but he still remains a contributor at their events as well as those belonging to the TM Forum and Mobile World Congress, including judging for their awards.

“I have run the business [Lewis Insight] for almost 10 years from my home and one of my guilty pleasures is sitting out in the garden or even lying in the hammock listening to some of those webinars. After all, I don’t need to see a screen to be able to absorb all of the information.”

Unsurprisingly, his days can be long, given that his clients are scattered all around the world, “and like many others, my day shifted towards the evenings with the pandemic as California called!”

Late-night calls aside, walking his first guide dog has become a regular part of Lewis’s daily routine since getting him three years ago.

“It’s the perfect way to get exercise and listen to some of the more interesting webinars and podcasts,” he says.

As well as the walking, Lewis professes that he “loves sport”, with tandem riding as his “main time-consumer” and other activities include cross-country skiing and golf, but sadly he just gave up blind cricket.

“Reading is another great pleasure. SO many titles now available via the RNIB and Audible,” he adds.

As an advocate for accessibility and “bringing PWDs [persons with disabilities] into the digital marketplace”, Lewis has done a lot of work into the ways telcos can better serve this often-overlooked sub-group.

“When I first took a close look at the subject from an analyst perspective, almost 10 years ago, things were bleak. The billion disabled were suffering through inaccessibility due to poor web design and limited accessibility software on PCs and mobile phones,” says Lewis.

But things are getting better, thanks to improvements in standards, but nothing helps quite so much as raising awareness among the general population and senior management.

“The Valuable 500 has got many C-levels on board but driving that culture throughout the telco industry is still ongoing,” he adds. “Think of any interaction and think of the challenges of not being able to see, hear, understand or have physical access.”

From a people standpoint, much of the industry is in conversation about how best to deal with the growing talent deficit, an issue that Lewis believes with the right technology could be helped by increasing hiring from within the disabled community.

“If you think of all these different channels of communication – a blind person can easily operate in the chat function within a contact centre,” he says.

“It’s about educating people with different disabilities to make sure they’re coders, or customer service operatives, with the technology they need to do their jobs.”

As a keen watcher of the industry, Lewis is well versed in the changes that have occurred over the last few years, chief among them is a change in the role of telcos.

“The big shift is from an inside-out model, where we expect everyone to dance to the telecoms tune, to one where we as an industry build a flexible, agile engine that can cope with whatever gets thrown at it in this emerging digital ecosystem,” says Lewis.

Largely driven by the growing influence of hyperscalers, who have the upper hand when it comes to the customers and their digital lifestyles, it means a move away from legacy thinking and operations is needed.

“They are all encroaching on the telecoms. So, focusing on building a much simpler, efficient engine to drive the business is the key,” says Lewis.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he adds. “It’s a great market, massive revenues, just not a lot of new revenue coming into the telco pockets.”