The telecom sector with transformational powers is set to be a force-multiplier for other sectors, and the government needs to view it as an essential service and enabler for industries, not as the lucrative sector for attracting revenues, industry body COAI said on Wednesday. Speaking at a virtual event organised by industry think-tank BIF, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director General SP Kochhar said the advent of 5G means that artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and other futuristic technologies will “grow and partake telecom and vice versa”.
“This sector is going to empower as a force multiplier, and all other sectors will build on this foundation of telecom,” Kochhar said.
In this context, telecom should be viewed as a “different piece”, given that it is now a horizontal with transformative impact across sectors, he pointed out.
At this point, the government views telecom as a lucrative sector for attracting revenue and taxes. And that may no longer be the way they have to look at the telecom because of its changing nature, Kochhar said.
“Revenue they get from telecom, if we consider that as a primary revenue source and enhancement of revenue that they get from industries riding on telecom, I call that as secondary revenue…that secondary revenue will far surpass what they could have got from primary revenue.
“So, their responsibility becomes to view telecom as an essential service like water and electricity, which means they have to see that this is made robust and quality of service to subscribers should be ensured,” he said.
Newer technologies and 5G will change the way people work, placing the spotlight on reskilling and retraining.
“There is a going to be a major shift in the availability of jobs, the current jobs as we know them may vanish, newer jobs doubling on cognitive domain are going to come up and therefore there will be a requirement of reskilling and re-equipping ourselves,” he said.
Addressing the event, Himanshu Kapania, Vice Chairman, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL) said that digital disruption is “inevitable”.
Kapania said multi-pronged strategic levers covering aspects like digital, innovation, reskilling, data, and collaboration will be critical to make businesses “digital ready” and “future proof”.
Data is “immensely valuable” and “untapped asset” and needs to be made more accessible and actionable while overcoming challenges of privacy and security, he added.
Every business should have an innovation strategy to determine the extent of focus on technological innovation and investment in business model innovation.
Moreover, aligning workforce and HR strategy with digital vision and business strategy will be important for companies, he said.
While digital and technology will make lots of existing jobs redundant, augmentation of existing jobs with technology is expected to create new tasks and opportunities for the workforce, he said, adding that it would be critical to retrain and upskill the existing workforce.