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SaaS post-pandemic: Future impacts

Mounir Jamil

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saas

One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that it has accelerated our progress towards the future. Think telemedicine, virtual work, on-demand delivery – all of which were catapulted into development and even implementation due to the pandemic. 

Covid-19 has certainly impacted several technologies, more specifically, SaaS executives around the world are asking themselves one question: how will the pandemic impact the future of SaaS? 

While you may be thinking that solutions like SaaS and cloud are already what is needed for the future, in reality, most SaaS businesses actually adopt the product model of the future (or the cloud) but still employ internal practices of the past. 

While most SaaS executives are paying more attention to the fact that amid the pandemic, churn, retention and customer success are critical, SaaS technology is developing and thriving rapidly. Here are 3 reasons why SaaS will impact the future. 

Customer experience should be at the center of business offerings 

A factor that unites most successful new businesses ranging from unicorns to cash cows is their cunningness when it comes to putting product and customer experience at the core of their business offerings. This enables them to measure and optimize churn from the get-go. 

A clear-cut example of this is how early startups often employ customer success managers way before they employ a salesforce. These companies are innovating, and other more traditional businesses can certainly learn a thing or two from them.

Customers’ expectations are steadily increasing 

Current cost pressures are leading management teams to raise the bar when it comes to what they can expect from a vendor. SaaS executives have become more oriented towards outcomes, and more tangible results. They are now more interested in the value that a new technology might bring forward. Post-pandemic, clients are going to hold vendors accountable for a new standard when it comes to SaaS models. 

Recurring revenue streams must be nurtured 

Management teams are learning that revenue doesn’t simply recur; growth requires investment. This can be witnessed by increased churn rates and the fact that most companies project Gross Renewal Rates to drop – even companies that sell to large enterprises with more lucrative deals. Enterprises are realizing that the easiest way to grow is to nurture their client base. Several companies are working extensively on customer success and using it to drive net retention. 

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Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

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MedTech

Vaccine warriors: University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine update

Mounir Jamil

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University of Oxford

As the race for a new COVID-19 vaccine continues, the University of Oxford vaccine is effective at stopping people from developing COVID-19 symptoms. Overall, results indicated 70 percent protection rate, however, researchers claim that figures can increase to 90% if the dose is modified. 

Study lead, Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, has vast experience in clinical trials of new and improved vaccines for children and adults. 

In comparison to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the University of Oxford vaccine is far cheaper, easier to store and can be transported to every country around the world. It shows highly promising use in tackling the current pandemic, if it gets the approval from regulators, who will assess the vaccine based on safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards. This process is set to take place in the coming weeks.  

While typical vaccines usually take around a decade to be developed, the University of Oxford vaccine was developed in about 10 months. Initial trials involved a sample size of 20,000 individuals: 10,000 participants in the UK and 10,000 participants in Brazil. From the study, there were 30 Coronavirus cases from those who received two doses of the vaccine and 101 cases in people receiving placebo treatment.

The researchers say it works out at 70 percent protection however, it increased to 90 percent when people were given a “low” dose followed by a high one. It remains unclear why there is a difference. 

Although nothing will happen until the University of Oxford vaccine receives full approval, the UK is preparing for an unprecedented immunization campaign. Care home residents and staff will be the first in line while healthcare workers and citizens 80 years and above, will be the next priority. The plan is to steadily work down the age groups. 

After Pfizer and Moderna introduced their vaccine candidates with a protection rate of 95 and 90 percent respectively, a figure of 70 percent might be perceived by some as disappointing. However, in reality, anything above 50 percent is considered promising. 

AstraZeneca, Oxford University’s manufacturing partner is prepping to make three billion doses of the vaccine to be made available worldwide.

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5G

Huawei: Renewed hope for 5G expansion plans

Inside Telecom Staff

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Trump’s administration sanctions on Huawei has put the company under challenges. The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan among others decided to stop working with the Chinese telecom giant. However, Huawei has shown greater optimism after Joe Biden wins US presidential election. “When there is a change in government, there is always the opportunity to reset relationships. The unit of Huawei focuses on deploying 5G networks”, Paul Scanlan, Chief Technology Officer at Huawei Carrier Business Group told CNBC

Once US elections results were announced, the advocacy involving US-China relations- particularly Huawei- emerged. On Twitter, Huawei lovers are asking US President to remove the sanctions imposed by Trump over the company. On November 10, 2020, US President Joe Biden tweeted “When I’m speaking to foreign leaders, I’m telling them: America is going to be back. We’re going to be back in the game”. One response to this tweet was, “Make Huawei great again”. For the Chinese telecom giant, there is hope as Biden “has labeled China as a competitor, not a threat”, states South China Moring Post.

Also, and back to November 16, 2020, the Working Group on Science and Technology in the US-China Relations released a report entitled “ Meeting the China Challenge: A New American Strategy for Technology Competition”. The report emphasizes that “AI and 5G present larger risks requiring new safeguards, but wholesale US separation from China will not protect these dynamic technologies”. On the other hand, the report calls on the US to pursue a layered approach for risk mitigation. “The risks associated with Huawei can justify a ban on some products by some countries, but total global exclusion of Huawei is not feasible—nor is Huawei the only risk”, states the report.

Again, the US allies who were convinced by the US claims over Huawei posing risks on their network are in the loop. For Huawei officials, the UK’s decision to ban Huawei from the core 5G network was political rather than technical. The US has conducted advocacy to persuade its allies to remove Huawei from its 5G network. Back in July 2020, the UK PM Boris Johnson took a U-turn decision which banned Huawei from working on 35% of the network. According to The Guardian, the Chinese Telecom giant Vice President Victor Zhang said “I hope the government will keep an open mind and, once they review the economic consequences, look to see if there is a better way forward.” Back in June, Inside Telecom wrote about Huawei’s UK R&D center which was built after the PM’s U-turn. The UK is still working with Huawei but was obliged to consent on removing the company from its core 5G network following US sanctions. 

There are no clear directions from the European countries on how they will deal with Huawei post-elections. However, Huawei’s defiant move towards European countries can be a game changer. Recently, in a letter to  EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Huawei argues that Romania and Poland both deciding to remove Huawei from their core 5G network has violated the EU Law. The letter mentioned that the two countries have signed an MOU with the US aiming to exclude Huawei. However, it seems that Huawei has started to implement a new legal strategy to respond to such actions taken against them.

A few months ago, experts said that the US is already behind on 5G technology and should therefore start thinking about how to lead the 6G revolution. The Washington Post argues that Biden will work on enhancing the United States technology capacity by working on immigration. “Key sectors of the US economy, from agriculture to technology, rely on immigration”, according to Biden’s plan.

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5G

SK telcos scramble to address unhappy 5G customers

Yehia El Amine

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As headlines worldwide boast the power and opportunities offered by the rollout of 5G networks, a different reality is being mirrored on the ground. 

South Korea, the first country to introduce 5G and one which boasts the largest mobile network, is experiencing customer-related issues across the board due to poor quality, slow connections, and a scarcity of new applications that are in line with the new network. 

“As many as 562,656 customers have switched back from 5G to LTE,” Hong Jung-min, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and a member of the National Assembly’s +Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, told reporters during the weekend. 

The number the lawmaker mentioned represents almost 6.5 percent of the total 5G users across the country’s three mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus – as of the end of August. 

South Korea had previously rolled out 5G services and bundles back in April with 63,000 base stations, registering a whopping 1.6 million users by the end of June, according to numbers by GSMA. 

With consumers changing contracts due to several inadequacies, it seems as though the dream of lighting speed connections has fallen short, so far. 

Many analysts and engineers have pointed toward the need for much more base stations to successfully provide nationwide coverage. 

South Korea was successfully able to outrace Western countries to receive the title of the world’s first 5G adopters by rolling out services one hour before Verizon Communications did on the 3rd of April 2019.

Promises were made that the services and data bundles offered 20-times faster speeds than existing LTE. “The average 5G download speed of the three carriers was only about four times faster than that of LTE,” according to a survey since the rollout, published by the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The survey also highlighted that 5G coverage is limited largely to the Seoul capital region and six metropolitan cities.

Customer dissatisfaction is already skyrocketing as 82 applications for mediation in 5G-related disputes were submitted to the Korea Communications Commission’s dispute mediation committee from the start of this year to August, up sharply from just five last year, as reported by several local media outlets. 

Slow and inaccessible 5G services have also now become a political issue for the government.

“The government must correct the impression it has given to the people on the speed of 5G, by transmitting data at a speed of 20 gigabits per second, or 20 times that of LTE, requires a frequency of 28 gigahertz,” Byeon Jae-il, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party of Korea, said in response to consumer feedback. 

However, to meet the requirements mentioned by the South Korean MP, telcos would need to install a hefty number of base stations for radio wave purposes, while all three local carriers have merely adopted a 5-gigahertz band that requires fewer base stations, for cost reduction purposes. 

The country’s mobile operators had initially planned to build outdoor base stations, which would then be backed by indoor ones installed within office buildings and other facilities in an effort to stretch 5G coverage. 

However, investments narrowed due to a monkey wrench being thrown in the process, otherwise known as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Based on numbers published by the Korean government, operators KT Corp, SK Telecom, and LG Uplus have already spend at least $2.6 bn on 5G-powered technology this year alone, as the country is banking on the fifth generation network to drive growth in the local ICT sector.

Currently, telcos are stepping-up efforts to address poor service quality by building even more base stations.

“The situation was similar when LTE services were spreading. It will take two to three years to change the nationwide communications network into a next-generation one. We informed customers about this since we heard complaints in the initial stage [of the new services],” A spokesperson from SK Telecom said in an attempt to quell customer dissatisfaction. 

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