How Covid-19 has shifted network traffic loads and telecoms behaviour

4 Sep 2020

Roula Tayan. Image: Ericsson

Roula Tayan is the head of IT for Ericsson Middle East and North Africa. Here, she discusses the effects of Covid-19 on the telecoms industry.

As the world faces the unprecedented crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, information and communication technology (ICT) is playing a critical role in bringing people together while social distancing is being practised across the world. More than ever, remote communication is playing a critical role in enabling people to stay connected.

Roula Tayan is the head of IT for Ericsson Middle East and North Africa, and has worked for the company for 17 years. She spoke to about how Ericsson Middle East and North Africa has adapted throughout the crisis, the ongoing need for digital transformation and how the pandemic has affected network traffic loads.

‘Proper data protection procedures and regulations do not have to jeopardise the digitisation of economies’

Describe your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

I focus on driving Ericsson’s digital agenda in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as overseeing and implementing ICT infrastructure and corporate ICT security policies in one of the most advanced technology markets in the world. In the rapid technology development and transformation of our industry, it makes perfect sense to combine technology strategy and operational management into one process to ensure that ICT services to our Ericsson workforce are delivered to the highest agreed standards.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

During normal circumstances, most of Ericsson’s office workers have the opportunity to work remotely and we have the IT environment to do so in a good way. Since March, we are urging most employees who can work from home to do so in order to minimise infections in the office space. We anticipate that most colleagues will be working from home until the end of 2020.

For that, we have a big task to ensure that our IT environment is working smoothly and in full efficiency so our workforce can stay connected. Moreover, we are working on many major IT initiatives, for example we have established an automation and analytics governance board, where IT supports businesses in capturing the requirements related to automation initiatives in our market area and then helps businesses deliver these automations, improving the efficiency and quality.

How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?

We have a diversified team of more than 30 resources spread across Ericsson Middle East and Africa. We do outsource when needed.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

The first months of 2020 saw the spread of the novel coronavirus around the globe – forcing an unprecedented number of people all over the world to change their workplace from office to home and become accustomed to new routines in their daily lives.

As new digital behaviours are forming, the critical role of communications service providers to support a functioning society with flawless digital communication capabilities in times of crisis has become apparent.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on people in many countries and their daily lives, but consumers see resilient communication networks as a vital tool in coping with everyday life and easing the burden of working and studying remotely, as well as staying in touch with family and friends.

As people spend more time online at home, network traffic loads shifted geographically from city centres and office areas to suburban residential areas. The largest share of the traffic increase as lockdowns went into place was absorbed by the fixed residential network, but many service providers also experienced an increased demand on the mobile network.

Secondly, consumers’ communication behaviour has partly changed, and video conferencing and collaboration services appear to stand out. A substantial increase in the volume and duration of mobile voice calls across networks – ranging from 20pc to 70pc – was observed in the most impacted regions during the initial lockdown phase.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

The ongoing digital transformation of economies and societies cannot be realistically achieved without relying on the collection and processing of data to create knowledge, competencies and capabilities.

Proper data protection procedures and regulations do not have to jeopardise the digitisation of economies and the associated increase in national competitiveness.

Data protection aims to regulate data subjects’ rights and data users’ obligations while collecting, processing and disseminating personal data. It also regulates transfer of data across national boundaries as well as roles and responsibilities in data processing value chain.

Securing data protection objectives while enabling societal transformation toward a digital society is a key focus area that we continue to work on.

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