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Considering potential business impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak in telecoms

The COVID-19 outbreak, declared as pandemic by the World Health Organization, is causing huge impact on our people’s lives, families and communities besides economy.

COVID-19 is impacting the Telecoms sector along various areas including supply chain, employees and operations.

Leading actors of the sector should carefully determine their responses to different risk and crisis scenarios, measures to be taken in the short and medium term, and their effects on competition and strategies.

As PwC Strategy& Turkey, we recommend that telecom companies focus on 6 areas and critical questions related to them in the current crisis and risk environment.

6 Steps:

1. Workforce: Protect your people and plan your workforce

Across the Telecommunications sector, the workforce is varied – and includes IT contractors, call centre workers, field-force workers – so the challenges will be diverse.

  • How can you enable flexible working arrangements in the event of quarantine and do you have the necessary infrastructure in place?
  • Have you identified the critical projects and established a plan to remediate risks related to key roles?
  • Have you reviewed your HR policies (e.g. flexible working, immigration, travel, and other relevant policies and regulations)?
  • Do you have a system in place to monitor changing laws and regulations (e.g. travel restrictions) affecting your workforce?

2. Operations and supply chain: Maintain business continuity and protect your supply chain

75% of companies report that COVID-19 has disrupted their supply chain. The Telecommunications sector could be one of the most impacted particularly from any delay to the rollout of 5G. Several fiber optics suppliers are based in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated. Therefore, this puts downward pressure on the overall pace of 5G rollout.

  • Have you performed an operational risk assessment and considered the impact of disruptions on critical business functions?
  • Have you liaised with key third parties to ensure they will be able to continue to deliver desired service levels during the coming period?

3. Communications strategy: Provide clarity to employees and stakeholders and enable business continuity

The health and safety of employees should be at the heart of every comms plan. Organisations must ensure there is a communication plan in place for employees, as well as customers.

  • Have you created an internal and external stakeholder map for key communications (considering staff, customers, suppliers, regulators, etc)?
  • How are you keeping employees regularly informed about the latest updates and guidance?
  • Do you have a clear communications strategy that can be implemented in a crisis to protect your reputation and maintain the trust of your stakeholders?

4.  Focus on data: Gain insight and assess your exposure to risk

The situation is very fluid and it’s paramount that businesses have access to the right insight to make informed decisions. Telecommunications businesses need to play a key role in ensuring that the data they hold for clients is available and is trusted by businesses and consumers.

  • Do you understand how an affected country / region might impact the commercial performance of your business?
  • Do you understand the potential impact of a global or country-specific slowdown, on your business?
  • Are you able to access robust data insights to underpin key decisions that you need to make?

5. Customers and revenue: Balance customer care with commercial priorities

Whilst many challenges exist, particularly for those in Telecommunications sector, there are also opportunities for businesses. For example, an increase in remote / home working may drive the need for IT hardware, VPNs and conferencing tools. Equally, as we spend more time at home, the demand for streaming service and online gaming is likely to rise hence putting a strain on OTT.

However, it’s key that with rising demand and pressures on the network, attention is still given to maintain service levels.

  • Have you updated your sales and demand planning strategy (including assessing changes in customer behaviour)?
  • Have you evaluated your competitive position under the new environment, identifying both risks and opportunities?
  • Have you full filled the necessary preparations for customers to carry out all their transactions from home or remotely?
  • How can you ensure the conversion from store dependence to on-line and call-center?

6. Head office functions: Join-up efforts on a cross functional basis to ensure business continuity and resilience

Businesses need to ensure that they can continue functioning effectively but must explore where the risks lie for their business.

  • Do you need to financially or operationally restructure your business to reduce risk and protect value?
  • How agile are your workforce functions, plans and competencies against crises?
  • What measures have you taken against problems and interruptions in the communication infrastructure?
  • What technology infrastructure and resilience capabilities do you have? Can your IT infrastructure support extensive remote access demands?

Contact us

Orhan Öztürk

Orhan Öztürk

Telecommunication Industry Leader, PwC Turkey

Tel: +90 212 326 6202

Kağan Karamanoğlu

Kağan Karamanoğlu

Advisory Services Partner, PwC Turkey

Tel: +90 212 326 6142

Gökhan Yılmaz

Gökhan Yılmaz

Forensic Services Leader, PwC Turkey

Tel: +90 212 326 6488

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