Kaushik Mitra, senior director, Cloud ERP, Oracle India

Of late, there has been a surge in cloud adoption across enterprises in India. Telecom operators, too, are jumping on the cloud bandwagon and increasing deployments. In this scenario, companies such as Oracle are accelerating the digital transformation for a lot of telecom players in the 5G era, who are moving towards complete software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms. In an interview with tele.net Kaushik Mitra, senior director, Cloud ERP, Oracle India, shared his views on the key trends in the telecom space, the evolution of the cloud ecosystem in India, the role of new-age technologies and the way forward….

What are the key trends in the telecom industry?

The telecom industry in India is the second largest in the world, with a subscriber base of 1.18 billion as of Dec­em­ber 2021. The sector has grown ex­ponentially over the last decade, and technology has been a crucial enabler of this expansion, with new digital technologies emerging in the market quite frequently. The sector is indeed evolving at a fast pace, notably since the launch of 5G, and it is projected that 1.7 billion 5G connections will be in use worldwide by 2025. We are even wit­nessing the merging of telecom and cloud-based technologies. Several telecom players have recently formed alliances with the cloud, demonstrating technical dynamism. Other key trends we are observing in the industry include the gradually increasing use of automation, internet of things, data analytics, en­terprise resource planning (ERP), hum­an capital management (HCM), supply chain management (SCM) and so on, and telecom players making investments to integrate these technologies.

How has the cloud ecosystem evolved in In­dia? How are telecom companies leveraging cloud and other technologies to overcome their internal and supply chain challenges?

The cloud ecosystem in India has evolved dynamically over the last few years, further amplified by pandemic-induced challen­ges. India’s public cloud services (PCS) market, including infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and SaaS solutions, was valued at $2.2 billion for the first half of 2021 (January-June), according to a report by the International Data Cor­poration. The report also suggests that the overall Indian PCS market is expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.1 per cent for 2020-25. Clo­ud computing, coupled with artificial in­telligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data analytics, has become an integral part of the digitisation journey of enterprises across sectors. From my recent discussions with C-suite leaders and other decision-makers in the industry, it is evident that organisations that have invested in migrating to cloud-based technologies are benefiting, with superior performance, better scalability, enhanced agil­ity, stronger collaborations, deeper integration and improved security.

As telecom companies evolve and flourish, they are focusing heavily on digitisation, and cloud technology has been the driving force. We are also witnessing collaboration between cloud and telecom firms, and telecom giants are mi­­­grating to the cloud to streamline th­e­ir back-end and front-end operati­ons. Telecom players are implementing clo­ud-based apps such as HCM, ERP, SCM, and digital customer experience solutions to automate, digitise, st­rea­m­line and optimise their business pro­cesses such as financial management, customer ser­­vice, staff functions, HR pro­cesses, customer experience management and SCM with the power of AI/ML technologies. Si­milarly, data science has received much interest, as it assists businesses in making data-driven strategic decisions for impro­ved performance.

How do new-age technologies support telecom service providers in taking strategic measures?

Digital transformation has been a telco focus for some time now, but this is the year when the providers truly expect to re­­a­ch critical mass. The deployment of new, advanced technologies will support shifting customer demands and help tap into new business opportunities, but telcos also need to fundamentally change how they operate and shed substantial amounts of technical debt. Meanwhile, digital technologies can also analyse vast amounts of data and provide accurate insights. These insights can enable better planning and help with strategic development. More­­ov­er, automating workflows can help reduce human intervention and errors, and improve operations in the telecom sector. This can reduce failures and problems in telecom networks and allow telcos to take preventive measures. Overall, telcos are also shifting gears, realigning their strategy and reaping the benefits of the cloud.

To make this type of transition possible, telcos are revaluating their strategy by re-evaluating their internal structures and realigning their business strategies – an area where we’ve seen some solid progress in recent years. Many telecommunications companies have already adopted agile strategies for at least some parts of their operations.

What are the company’s key offerings and projects in the telecom space? What role is Oracle playing in enabling telecom players to leverage cutting-edge technologies such as the cloud?

The year 2022 is a crucial one for the telecom industry, as it looks to mature its vertical strategies and offerings. To do so, telecom majors will increasingly collaborate with suppliers and partners, especially in ar­eas such as security, software-defined wide area network, cloud and edge. In­deed, we at Oracle have seen quite a pro­mising number of such partnerships. Through our Or­a­cle Fusion Cloud ERP, Oracle Cloud In­fra­structure, Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM and other products we have been offering ser­vices to several telecom companies. With our complete suite of cloud-native ap­p­li­ca­tions and se­cu­re network infrastructure solutions, pla­yers in the market can evolve their networks and grow revenue today. These sol­utions are helping telecom players across the globe optimise their fin­ance and supply chain processes, and HR functions, while at the same time monetising their sys­tems, which is ultimately helping them gr­ow new revenue systems. Addi­tionally, the­ir time-to-market can become much faster with simplified offer designs and customers can get a 360-degree view of their life cycle and performance dashboards.

Oracle is accelerating the digital transformation for a lot of telecom players in the 5G era who have subscribed to a complete SaaS platform. We have recently par­t­nered with Bharti Airtel (Airtel), In­dia’s premier communications solutions pro­vider, to digitise and simplify its fi­n­an­­ce, pla­nning and supply chain pro­cesses. Ora­cle applications will help enable Airtel au­to­mate manual processes, gain an on-de­ma­nd 360-degree view of its financial data, and streamline procurement and su­pply chain management.

What is the way forward for the telecom sector in 2022? What will be the growth and value generation opportunities for telcos this year?

The coming few years are going to be quite transformational for the telecom sector, and the transformation has already started. A significant transformational push will propel fitter and higher perfor­ming corporate models this year. Digital transformation has been a focal point for telecom players for some time now, but 2022 is when we will see a lot of initiatives translating into results. According to Analysys Mason, telecom operators are expected to spend a total of $990 billion on 5G capex between 2020 and 2027; many people are looking forward to this new technology. Additionally, we shall see telecom companies investing in sustainable development strategies, as the topic is very relevant not only from the enterprise point of view but also from a customer viewpoint.

As for value generation opportunities, 5G is likely to be a major generator of new growth value, and telcos will continue to spend on 5G networks and services at an unprecedented rate for organic development. We believe that 5G will enable new consumer experiences and open up new ave­nues for businesses of all sizes and ty­pes, assisting them in driving innovation and efficiency. Continuous 5G roll-out and commercial testing will thus be top goals for telecom players in 2022.

What are Oracle’s plans for the telecom space?

Oracle will continue to drive digital innovation with its suite of applications, to provide services to telecom companies for streamlining their internal processes. Oracle strives to be the world’s most trusted partner for mission-critical communications solutions, supporting the growing global demand to connect in new ways. Through our communications team and a pan-Ora­cle initiative called Oracle Cloud for Tel­cos, Oracle is accruing deep communications vertical experience, increasing application breadth, and creating high performance cloud software and infrastructure for IT, network and enterprise workloads. We are enabling one of the largest and most sophisticated service providers across the globe to bring services to market faster. We’re helping providers navigate just about any type of business challenge, be it scaling their network, streamlining their supply chain operations, or even having a platform to manage talent recruitment.