Howard Stevens, TOMIA CRO, on ensuring business continuity i

TOMIA meets its customers’ key concerns while preparing for future growth

21 October 2020 | Sponsored Q&A

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Howard Stevens, TOMIA CRO, on ensuring business continuity in the post-covid era.

Q.What are the key priorities of TOMIA’s customers and how has Covid-19 affected their plans?

COVID-19 has had significant impact on our industry, but interestingly, not all of those impacts have been negative. One of the most surprising events has been the “rise” in the importance of voice services. Once work from home became the new normal and travel restrictions were applied, the importance of communicating with each other became ever more apparent.

New Technologies such as VoLTE and 5G are also hot topics as our customers are focused on the deployment and launching phases of these technologies in their networks. While roaming traffic gradually returns, operators are preparing themselves for the future.

With roaming traffic declining dramatically during lockdown period, we noticed that the traffic which remained was IoT. IoT is playing a significant role in wholesale roaming and now this trend is becoming eminent.

Our experience is that operators struggle to properly detect, monitor and monetize this stream of traffic effectively but many are already on a journey to enable this.

Q.How is TOMIA supporting its customers through this pandemic?

We recognized that our carrier and operator customers are facing many challenges when it comes to analyzing the constant changes in trends and traffic patterns driven by their subscribers. Our analytic capabilities have enabled our customers to monitor daily usage and gain better visibility on the impact COVID-19 is having on their traffic.

On top of the extended insights, communication channels became critical during this period as operators needed to engage both with their customers roaming abroad as well as the visitors roaming on their networks. Through our campaign management tool, our customers were able to communicate different messages to different target audiences. Emergency numbers, restriction updates, location of health centres as well as country specific information are just a few examples of how our customers have reached out to their customers during this worldwide crisis. COVID has changed where and how business is conducted, yet it has not changed the fact that voice and messaging remain critical.

Q.How has TOMIA maintained business continuity during this time?

First and foremost, our top priority remains the safety, health, and wellbeing of our people whilst balancing business sustainability and continuity. We established a COVID-19 response framework, to keep customers and staff fully informed of all the preventative actions that we were taking. This was led by the CEO with participation from key senior management team members.

Multiple connect sessions are being held globally and locally, to create transparency and enable feedback as well as providing the opportunity for continued interaction with the leadership teams.

From an operational perspective, as a global business, we developed a robust business-continuity plan. We implemented technology-based procedures that have enabled us to conduct business not only from our disaster recovery sites, but also from coordinated work-from-home locations that gave us the ability to continue to serve our customer’s needs. This includes the ability to maintain full operation of our 24x7 Global Service Operations Centre.

Our goal remains to ensure that our customers perceive no change in responsiveness, availability, or quality of our support services at any time.

Q.What has been the commercial impact of Covid-19 for wholesalers?

Various parts of the Telco industry were impacted differently. At the very early stages, it became clear that the roaming market was about to be significantly impacted.

As travel movements all but ceased completely, revenue loss occurred instantly. Wholesalers’ were forced to focus on cost reduction and search for new potential revenue streams to compensate for this loss. As IoT traffic was less impacted by COVID-19, wholesale managers have begun to investigate new ways of identifying, analysing and commercializing this traffic stream.

A different trend was detected among our interconnect customers, especially during the quarantine period. Across our business we saw a distinct rise in the length of calls. Once quarantines hit, communication switched to OTT solutions (e.g. Zoom, Teams), but even then, we saw increases as those solutions connected to the global voice ecosystem. An estimated growth of 5 Billion calls contributed to an increase in usage for the voice carriers over the initial wave of COVID-19.

Q. What are TOMIA’s strategic priorities for 2021?

Technologies are changing rapidly, and different use cases are driving the need for automated processes to increase efficiency. Blockchain as well as AI/ML capabilities will play a significant role in this process.
As we look to the future, we see the conjunction of 5G, IoT, and Cloudification of Telco’s to be critical drivers for the evolution of our products and the importance of enabling operator transition.

That means continued execution around our product strategies, deep engagement with our partner operators, and a focus on delivering the key solutions necessary for the transformation underway in our industry. As we move past the COVID-19 era, we will be helping our customers to accelerate their plans as we start to see the return of human voice traffic.