The case for technological optimism
Recently, my term ended as chair of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), a group that brings together representatives from the world’s most influential wholesale carriers. It was an amazing experience. The role offered me a chance to view industry concerns holistically, rather than from a specific corporate point of view. It also allowed me to work with my peers during one of the most challenging periods in recent memory on a wide range of important issues, such as diversity and interconnectivity.
Our board and working group discussions gave me a wide range of perspectives and practices, which in turn helped confirm a core principle of mine—that we live in an age of technological optimism. The pandemic reinforced that we can never escape uncertainty, but I also believe that days of promise and progress lie ahead. Here are a few trends that stand out.
Diversity is now a business practice, not a buzzword.
During my career, I have seen a dramatic transformation in how we view the value of diversity and inclusivity. What used to be perceived as a “nice to have” has quickly become a “must-have.” The GLF released its third Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) report at the 2022 International Telecoms Week in May. Among those companies that participated in our first two reports, 54% indicated that DIB drives individual performance, attracts and retains talent, enhances innovation, and enables closer customer relationships.
Customers are in the driver’s seat.
I’m a big believer in customer centricity—using customer insights to determine business priorities and decisions while leveraging data to do the right things at the right time for clients. Customers have a thirst for bandwidth and connectivity, and we need to deliver these services in a timely and secure manner with a full understanding of their business needs. New technologies, such as blockchain, also require network providers to offer safe environments for data and collaboration, including strong cyber security and consistent standards. By staying close to our customers, we can make sure that innovation stays collaborative and relevant to what is important to them.
Humanity is our true bottom line.
Business leaders recognize that technology has transformed the way we work and live; those of us responsible for delivering data and applications understand our impact on the wellbeing of society and the role we can play to build sustainable economies. At Lumen, we focus on furthering human progress through technology. It is our mantra, the reason we come to work. The pandemic highlighted the importance of keeping communities linked through technology and made it clear that network connectivity represents an essential service throughout the world, just like water and electricity.
Technology accelerates innovation, almost to the point that miracles have become commonplace. For instance, consider the extraordinary speed that pharmaceutical companies managed to develop effective vaccines to address the Covid-19 crisis. Once upon a time, it was enough to ensure everyone was connected. Now, we can make connectivity a core component behind meaningful, positive change, and that’s clearly something to be optimistic about.