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Telecom Review hosted a virtual panel entitled ‘Role of cloud in accelerating business’ which was attended by hundreds of virtual participants, featuring industry leaders from across the world, to discuss the need for digital transformation in this space.

Telecom Review, yet again, managed to mobilize some of the global telecom industry’s top figures for the panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Founder of Telecom Review and CEO of Trace Media, Toni Eid and the panelists included: Haithem Al Faraj, SVP of Technology and Operations, stc; Hatem Bamatraf, CTO, Etisalat; Omar Akar, VP and Managing Director of Cloud and AI Business Group in the Middle East, Huawei; George Jaber, VP Wholesale Business Development and Bid management, at ITC KSA; and Annette L. Geuther, VP Market Development at Colt Technology Services.

Accelerating digital transformation should be at the very top of every enterprise’s agenda, especially since the pandemic hit. With remote working and learning, it is no surprise that cloud has gained greater traction over the past year.

Focusing on the required criteria that could enable the acceleration of cloud and digital transformation, Toni Eid asked Hatem Bamatraf to expand on this from the point of view of an operator.

To which Bamatraf said, “As a topic, digital transformation is a very important strategic direction for so many telecom companies. In order to accelerate digital transformation, there are a number of things that have to be ready and prepared for. One part of it is the cloud infrastructure that you sue whether the cloud is being used in your IT environment, your customer BSS functions, operation functions, or the network part.

He added, “We are now seeing a lot of moves from the industry towards being a network that sits on the cloud. This means a lot of things for us. In addition to flexibility and agility and quick time to market, the cost and the efficiency we believe that cloud will bring also efficiency and will save costs in terms of operations.”

When it comes to accelerating cloud deployment, one part of the criteria is that the technology itself, from a standardization perspective and the ecosystem around procurement and supply chain, needs to be mature enough.

Building on this point, Bamatraf said, “What we need, as companies and end users, is to have the right culture in place to deploy and some acceptance in taking risks. When you discuss the adoption of cloud solutions, you are faced with difficulties of some people and cultural challenges because lots of people prefer to go with the legacy because this is what they know and what they want.”

Geuther echoed his sentiment and said, “To build on what Hatem [Bamatraf] said earlier, the criteria is mainly also around security, feeling, perception and cultural transformation. We saw that as a result of the first wave of the pandemic, there were a lot of our clients asking for cloud-based voice solutions.

Addressing the security aspect of cloud adoption, Geuther added, “The feeling of security is not only about securing data in the cloud but also that there are secure ways to get to the cloud this is an important aspect I believe that will accelerate cloud adoption. Cultural transformation and a change of mindset are key.”

“A very important aspect here is to be able to deliver next-generation, industry-specific digital services. We are no longer talking about traditional cloud. We are talking about the ability to build a horizontal digital platform to become the next generation DevOps platform, in an effort to accelerate and simplify the development of AI application models,” said Akar.

Al Faraj commented: “When we look at what 5G is promising in the future, there are a lot of potential use cases. We have to deal with 5G differently- there will be much more collaboration with the customers and there's no predefined services we can estimate in the future.

Jaber stated: “The most important technologies right now are 5G and cloud computing. As an operator, we are now investing more and more in cloud computing capabilities.”

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