Richard Carter: What Did 2020 Teach Us?

2020 has posed a lot of challenges to all of us. It has “reconfigured” our notion of almost every aspect of our lives. Richard Carter, Chairman of Flint, looks back on a “crazy” year full of obstacles and opportunities. 

With 2020 nearing conclusion we are coming naturally to a period of reflection over the year while in parallel preparing for 2021.

First and foremost, we should take a moment to think of and thank friends and family, colleagues and customers, before contemplating the wider business environment. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of the human and personal components of any business. It has been our team’s commitment, flexibility and dedication that has kept Flint operational and safe and allowed us to continue to deliver services to our customers in this craziest of all years. Bravo and thanks to all the efforts made from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms.

Supporting Critical Infrastructure

The ICT industry has been critical to maintaining the safe minimum of social and business fabric that has continued across the world’s developed countries during lockdowns and while tested in extremis many processes, tools and ways of working that were adopted during these last months will undoubtedly continue. A visit to the local doctors in the UK will almost certainly always start with an ICT managed pre-meet, to control infection for now, but improve efficiency hereafter. Judges and lawyers in the Czech Republic were among the many receiving a crash course in law via Zoom. In Italy, social media was discovered as a medium for prayer amongst the laity. And elegant bolt holes in the countryside were viewed remotely by not only the elite of Paris’s 16th arrondissement. Humans are inherently a social species, so we should perceive this trend in the context of Business 2.0 and the general cloudification of all services accelerated by the urgency of Covid-19. What’s easy and efficient in digital is getting digital faster. For Flint’s customer’s that means more fibre and bandwidth and fibre and bandwidth moving toward the suburbs – both significant technical endeavours.

Improving Our Networks

It may just be bandwidth to you … but this latest deployment technology requires ever more sophisticated cores to manage the complexity of multiple user conference calls and efficient video streaming. Add to that complexity the evolution of the networks to 5G standard and the governmental requirement across Europe to reconsider the use of Chinese equipment, and we have a picture of all the European telecoms companies grappling with major engineering restructuring programmes. As a CTO intoned; ‘the network has to be rearchitected, same customers but from a different place with different access requirements and all with very little extra revenue’. No wonder the need for smart engineers increased during 2020 to a new level.

So a big learning for 2020 is that the adoption of Business 2.0 and heavy cloud-based services as a de-facto standard is a trend that will continue. It’s taught us that the winning networks and carriers will embrace the complexity and with great engineering expertise build yet more sophisticated services.

Need for Robustness

Lastly, we’re brutally reminded how crucial a healthy degree of robustness is both privately and professionally. Once transfer payments and other governmental interventions stop, many debt-ridden businesses will face bankruptcy. Seeing suppliers forced into bankruptcy may make enlightened purchasing departments in our largest corporates reconsider the value of the long-term relationships and should make all of considering how close we wish to operate our businesses to its margins. We all need a little spare gas in the tank.

Ultimately 2020 restates that the purpose of business is for the betterment of society. Capital, the markets and businesses as institutions aren’t self-serving, they are constructs we allow, designed to help society – us. Thanks to science and engineering, the power of ICT, the world’s scientists astoundingly finish 2020 with vaccines for Covid 19. I hope that during 2021 our industry remains at the forefront of helping the world overcome this challenge.

Here at Flint we wish you
a happy and prosperous 2021!

Are you planning any projects for 2021 we could help you with? Please contact us at [email protected] or
call us +44 (0) 1923 677 733.

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