dtac unveiled three megatrends in the post-pandemic economy – a critical need for scale and efficiency, the threat of a widening digital divide, and the growing impact of climate change on supply chain sustainability. In response, the company announced its strategy to rethink business resilience and commit to responsible business practices.
Sharad Mehrotra, chief executive officer of Total Access Communication Plc or dtac, said in the dtac Responsible Business virtual forum 2021 that, “The COVID-19 outbreak has proven how truly inspiring human resilience is, as we saw in the significant growth in the adoption of digital channels. But Thailand is now faced with the formidable challenge of rethinking business resilience for the post-pandemic economy. Businesses must be faster to change, less easily disrupted, and built on sustainable models that benefit all their stakeholders.”
Megatrend Affecting Business Resilience
Mr. Mehrotra shared three megatrends that the business sector must adapt to for greater resilience.
1st Megatrend: A critical need for scale and efficiency.
The pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to seek economies of scale and a depth of expertise that can be difficult to develop without sufficient scale. This will reshape businesses across the region as seen in the potential merger between Malaysia’s Digi and Celcom, the IPO announcement for Singapore’s Grab and, in Thailand, Gulf Energy’s interest in entering the telecoms industry.
2nd Megatrend: The threat of a widening digital divide.
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital channels, both for private and government services. This has been an extraordinary opportunity for businesses to build their resilience by developing always-on, touch-free channels that are unaffected by lockdowns. But it also threatens the livelihoods of brick-and-mortar shop owners and increases the risks of marginalizing people who are not digitally literate.
3rd Megatrend: The growing impact of climate change on supply chain sustainability.
Aside from the COVID-19 crisis, Thailand has also been struggling with global warming. Climate change has already affected our fragile coastal and agricultural ecosystems. If preventive measures are not taken, the global supply chain may face a major disruption due to an extreme climate event, such as when the 2011 floods in Thailand led to a global shortage of hard drives for months.
A Holistic Plan for Business Resilience
In response to these challenges, dtac has taken a holistic view of responsible business that brings together compliance, data privacy, supply chain sustainability, digital upskilling, climate change, human rights and the health and safety of our workers into one single platform for change. dtac recognizes the need to act in all these areas, but it has identified three focus areas most likely to impact resilience in the new normal.
According to the GSMA, the telecommunications sector accounts for roughly 4 percent of global electricity consumption. And telecommunications infrastructure continues to expand. In Thailand, the average annual expansion rate of the number of network sites is at 7 percent, which is about 3 percentage points higher than the global average. This reflects active attempts by local mobile operators to close the digital divide, increase digital adoption, and develop 5G.
COVID-19 has further increased Thailand’s mobile connectivity needs, with dtac customers’ average data usage reaching 20 GB per person. This will augment energy consumption in the network, which currently accounts for more than 97 percent of the dtac’s business operations’ energy needs.
In response, dtac has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 through alternative and renewable energy and by boosting energy efficiency in the network infrastructure and data center. dtac also collaborates across industries to develop IoT use cases, including smart water management and smart energy, which will enable other industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, dtac is committed to achieving zero landfill disposal of its solid and electronic waste by 2022, 80 percent of which comes from the network.
Prathet Takuranun, Chief Technology Officer at dtac, said, “Accessing alternative and renewable energy sources is challenging for mobile operators, as the patterns of energy usage in network infrastructure are structurally unique. But dtac’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are tangible and set clear indicators.”
2.Supply Chain Sustainability
Under social distancing, mobile connectivity plays a critical role in sustaining business activities. To provide uninterrupted mobile services under these circumstances, dtac thus improved the flexibility and resilience of its supply chain.
Tipayarat Kaewsringam, Chief Sales Officer at dtac, said, “dtac’s first priority is always uninterrupted mobile services. We’ve completely rethought our way of work, and 95 percent of our office and call center employees now embrace flexible work, rotating between home and office settings. Secondly, we redesigned our whole supply chain based on users’ mobility data to be much more localized, with an increased number of depots in the regions. Our third priority is digital acceleration among our customers and suppliers via digital channels.”
dtac also says the respect of human rights in supply chains promotes resilience by reducing risk. For dtac, there are two focus areas. One is the data protection rights of customers, the other is health and safety for employees and suppliers. The company is committed to zero incident, which aims to eliminate injury and fatal injury in dtac’s supply chain.
With accelerating digital transformation due to the pandemic, there are rising public concerns around the issue of privacy and personal data protection. This factor increasingly impacts how consumers choose a product or service. In a Cisco 2020 privacy survey, 48 percent of respondents said they do not feel they can adequately protect their data, the main reason being that they lack clarity on how companies use their data. dtac has responded with strict internal policies that govern how it uses personal data, in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).
Marcus Adaktusson, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at dtac, said, “Companies are heavily reliant on data to build new products and services. As such, dtac welcomes the implementation of a national framework around personal data usage by businesses. Its success will hinge on the clarity around its key provisions and the consistency of its application across all sectors. If the standards and expectations are well defined, it will also support a better understanding from consumers as to how their data is used.”