Jaymin Patel is the Chief Executive Officer of Brightstar.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This is an important event not only for SoftBank Group to raise the profile of Brightstar but also for executives in the telecommunications industry to show that we are an important part of the global economy. On top of that, it is a great networking opportunity for me to meet with other leaders to see where opportunities lie.
At Davos, there were a lot of interesting discussions this year in the world of politics and business. As industry consolidation occurs, our carrier customers are thinking more about content bundling with their more traditional voice and data offers. There is much talk of putting customers first and how businesses will end up with their fair share. At this year’s conference, three wider trends also emerged as key talking points for attendees, and not just in the wireless industry: cloud, automation and jobs.
These were highlighted in “The Inclusive Growth and Development Report”, in which the WEF asked the question: “As technological disruption accelerates in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, how can societies organize themselves better to respond to the potential employment and other distributional effects?”
Remarkably, we are already starting to see these effects. As many as four out of every five job losses in the US have been the result of technological advances according to research by Ball State University, a report much discussed in Davos. With that in mind, how can the world shape up to meet the demands of a digitized society, especially as the first mass dismissal of workers is taking place across the world due to automation and developments in cloud software?
The telecommunications sector must lead the way here, both its technology and its employees. In its report, the WEF identifies “Basic Services and Digital Infrastructure” as one of the building blocks of human potential and opportunity in the “Virtuous Circle of Inclusive Growth and Development”.
One mantra I heard repeated at Davos in particular has stuck with me in this time where industry is evolving: “installed infrastructure is the enemy of innovation.” This is something I am conscious of as Brightstar undergoes a transformation of its own. No longer is it about building to last, but building to change. We must think about our solutions, platforms, technologies, and how we go to market.
That in turn requires the ability that only talented people can provide, and means that as an organization, we have to embrace people with different backgrounds. At Brightstar, we simplify the wireless world, making mobile technology accessible for everyone. We cannot do that if all our people come from the same background; we will not have different industry perspectives and may miss the next trend.
Changes brought on by technological advance in these areas also present security risks. The Global Risks Landscape 2017 report published by the WEF highlights a few of these, such as critical information infrastructure breakdown, data fraud or theft and cyberattacks, and explores their inter-connectedness. As our reliance on automated and cloud technologies expands, these risks become ever more intertwined. We must be ever more vigilant to these, only further enhancing our requirement as an industry to seek out the brightest and best.
One other refrain I took from Davos is often in my thoughts: “The best way to predict the future is to shape it.” While policy regarding the future of wireless is currently being debated by governmental bodies all over the globe, I believe that innovators within the industry must also play their part in order to overcome the challenges posed by these key trends.
This week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as I meet with our partners and customers in this time of transition, I will be seeking to do just that, and I look forward to working with them all to deliver new experiences to the one constant that does not change: the high expectations of us all, as consumers.