The telecommunications sector was built to change

The shock of Covid-19 has seen some organisations having to transform operations overnight, but for others in the telecommunications sector, they were more than prepared for this accelerated digital transformation

Keri Gilder
By Keri Gilder on 20 July 2020
The telecommunications sector was built to change
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Over the past few months many of you may have seen the question posed on LinkedIn that asks; “Which of these is responsible for my company’s digital transformation – the C-Suite or Covid-19?”

While this suggests there is a lot of business talk around digital transformation, and possibly less action, I want to dig a little deeper.

The above observation is correct in one sense because over the last few months we have witnessed accelerated digital transformation, with some organisations having to literally transform operations overnight.

However, I disagree with the sentiment that enterprises haven’t been on transformational journeys for years. The very reason why many enterprises were able to shift their global workforces to being completely remote in a matter of days, is because they have been putting the foundations in place for some time – and behind the scenes, so has our sector.

An enabler of the shift brought about by Covid-19 was cloud computing. Using the cloud for testing or for non-critical capabilities is a thing of the past, today it’s a key driver of agility and can provide up-and-coming businesses with a competitive edge. It also enables incumbents to pivot their organisations to take advantage of new technologies and practices.

As such, it’s no surprise that 96 per cent of senior IT decision makers are confident in moving their critical business capabilities to the cloud.

To take advantage of all the cloud has to offer, connectivity matters. It is a key digital transformation enabler, a critical component in how enterprises store, access and maximise their information in the cloud. It is also vital for the cloud service providers as they had to ramp up their network capacity very quickly over the past few months.

In the same way that cloud adoption has been increasing, so has the need for on-demand, agile, high-bandwidth connectivity to support enterprises as they shift to the cloud. In 2015, Colt unveiled its IQ Network – a 100-gigabit-per-second optimised intelligent network distributed to over 900 data centres around the world, providing best-in-class and on-demand connectivity. It is optimised for cloud services; interconnecting public and private clouds, data centres and more than 29,000 enterprise premises with our own fibre.

As bandwidths increased, so did the need for collaboration between the telecommunications sector, cloud service providers, data centres and systems integrators. A full ecosystem of partners is key for enterprises to make the most of the cloud, because to have successful transformation and migration programmes, all these partners need to work together.

At Colt, we have seen the power of this integration and ecosystem for some time and have been focused on strengthening our integration with Microsoft and the Azure cloud. Colt was one of the very few network service providers in Europe to be a part of the launch of Microsoft’s Peering Service in 2019. To date, Colt is the only Microsoft partner to provide an optimised end-to-end network performance for Microsoft software-as-a-service applications like Microsoft 365 or Teams, via our unique internet access for cloud prioritisation service, which complements Microsoft’s Peering Services – an offering that proved critical during the accelerated transformation brought about by Covid-19.

With all that said, there’s no doubt that the past few months have brought about a period of unprecedented change. The way we live has changed, the way societies function has changed, and the way we work has changed. However, this is a journey we have been on for some time and are continuing to support by providing seamless, end-to-end connectivity to the cloud, the edge and many other end points. At Colt, we have been building a network that has flexibility at its core; it was built to change. Cloud service providers such as Microsoft have been doing the same, and I would argue so have business leaders. While no one could have predicted how the world was going to change, this sector knew there was a business demand for high bandwidths, there was a demand for flexibility, and there was a demand to shake up the working environment.

So, while Covid-19 may have been a powerful catalyst for change, I would argue we have been ready for it for years. 

Keri Gilder is chief executive officer at Colt Technology Services

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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