Indian enterprises keen to use 5G as key enabler of digital transformation: Ericsson

Ericsson has always focused on adopting new technologies and collaboration tools to make its workforce stay ahead of the curve. It is constantly implementing new tools to make the business even more efficient.

Ms. Priyanka Anand, VP and head of HR, South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: Is the narrative moving from questioning digital future to adopting it seamlessly?

Priyanka Anand: This shift has been happening over the past few years with organizations adopting technology and focusing on their digital transformation. The pandemic has accelerated this shift – a Mckinsey report states that the global rate of digital adoption has accelerated from 20% in 2017 to 58% in 2020.

5G will enable the next wave of digital transformation, which will completely transform every aspect of our lives including the way we interact, work, entertain ourselves, and operate businesses. As per the Omdia survey commissioned by Ericsson, it was found that Indian enterprises are keen to use 5G as they see it as a key enabler of digital transformation. 52% of the total 316 enterprises surveyed said, they want to start using 5G in the next 12 months.

DQ: How are you now facilitating digital work?

Priyanka Anand: As an organization, we have always focused on adopting new technologies and collaboration tools to make our workforce stay stays ahead of the curve and more productive.

We encourage employees to continue building their competence by going through learning modules available on our anytime/anywhere learning platform called Degreed.

We use tools like Textio, which is an augmented writing tool. It clears away the biases when we look at our job descriptions. We have also implemented ‘Modern Hire’, which is a video interviewing platform which saves interview time per candidate interview. This automated tool gives all the feedback for the managers to decide whom do they want to shortlist for the next round of interview. We have also invested in a tool called Ubidy which is an agency aggregator platform that gives us more sourcing options. The list is endless.

With the growing data proliferation and better network performance as well as the soon to be introduced 5G technology, we are encouraging and upskilling our own employees in the areas as AI/ML, automation, 5G and cloud. Our initiatives include ‘Digital academy’ which focuses on digital skill building, ‘5G academy’, which aims to upskill employees on 5G RAN, 5G Core and Cloud RAN, and many more programs.

Ericsson’s recruitment and onboarding processes have completely moved online. Technologies like blockchain, IoT, Big data analytics, AI and ML, etc., will further aid activities such as searching for the right candidate, conducting background verification checks, evaluating emotional wellbeing and behavioural analysis etc.

DQ: How are the latest technologies going to redefine workplace?

Priyanka Anand: The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitalization and flexibility at the workplace. In fact, digitalization has had a significant impact on the workplace with latest technology and tools being adapted across the entire lifecycle of the employee journey.

Since the pandemic, technology has taken a central role in facilitating human connections. This has further underlined connectivity and the need for a better consumer experience from the network. With the emergence of new technologies such as 5G coming to the fore, the workplace has been changing rapidly. 5G with its characteristics of higher bandwidth, ultra-low latency and faster speeds will enable the growing percentage of employees to work from home.

Tech breakthroughs like big data, cloud, wireless technology, video-based technology etc. have always had a revolutionary effect on how we work. However, with the advent of newer technologies like AI, ML, AR/VR, and XR (Extended Reality), this process will further speed up. Just the way wireless technology allowed employees to connect from anywhere in the world, AR/VR may allow for a full-sense digital office where environments will enable a natural feeling to the interaction with co-workers.

DQ: How will be the transformational impact of AI/ML on workplaces?

Priyanka Anand: AI has a huge potential to transform the workplace across industries. From the HR perspective, AI is being used to streamline the entire hire-to-retire cycle for Human Resources – this helps in automating the mundane and repetitive tasks, allowing hiring professionals to focus on adding more value to their work.

By using machine data and analysing it to gain insights to improve operations, AI and ML can transform current businesses. The insights from analytics can be used to identify areas of improvement and improve the flow of operations and empower businesses. These technologies powered with 5G, are set to be a game changer in this ever-evolving technological landscape.

DQ: Are we seeing next-generation all-in-one collaborative platforms?

Priyanka Anand: Organizations are focusing on creating a delightful, long-term, and sustainable experience for their employees in taking the digital route by providing them integrated tools and platforms that allow for easier collaboration and communication. With technological advancements and the fifth generational networks, virtual collaboration will take a step further with AR/VR, MR (mixed Reality) and XR (Extended Reality).

Ericsson’s research has shown significantly increased interest in these applications. As per Ericsson’s Industry Lab report The Dematerialized Office, over 8,400 white collar workers who are early adopters of AR/VR or virtual assistants were surveyed about their expectations of the future workspace.

As per the findings, 58% expressed their interest in a fully immersive office experience, where all sensory experiences are completely digitally interactive. In the future, there will be a full-sense digital office where people can interact, and it will be one collaborative platform where changes will be happening in real-time.

DQ: When will we have right IT infrastructure to the entire workforce to work conveniently from homes?

Priyanka Anand: Building a sustainable IT infrastructure capable of effectively responding to business needs and disruptions such as Covid-19 is being seen as a priority for companies across sectors and we will see further focus on this in the coming time. The roll out of 5G in the country will further enable smooth WFH.

DQ: How do you plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’?

Priyanka Anand: To cater for a more flexible workplace and new ways of working, we’re exploring our future workplace from a physical, virtual, and cultural perspective:

In terms of the Physical Workplace, the offices will be designed based on employees’ different needs and preferences, rather than roles and function. The offices will be a space where we come together to create, collaborate, and socialize.

The Virtual Workplace will enable a seamless and efficient collaboration experience. We’re exploring new and optimized tools and applications to enable a productive and collaborative environment – in and outside the offices.

From a People and Culture perspective, we are looking at improving work-life balance through more flexibility. We’re exploring how we as an organization can create empowering leadership and more flexible ways of working that enhance productivity and well-being.

So, we are already enabling more flexible work arrangements for our employees.

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