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Telecom Unbundled

Telecom Unbundled

Welcome back to another riveting episode of The Zista Podcast: “Telecom Unbundled.” In today’s episode, we navigate the fascinating realm of telecommunications, unearthing its complex mechanisms and showcasing the expansive opportunities it offers.

Joining us is Prateek Pashine, an industry titan with significant accomplishments in both B2C and B2B markets. Currently steering the Enterprise Business at Jio, India’s leading telecom firm, Prateek’s insights into digital transformation, 5G technology, and impact of AI on telecom are not to be missed.

This episode delves into the ins and outs of a telecom service firm, from operations to departmental roles. We’ll also discuss the potential career paths in the telecom sector, and Prateek will share his insights on the digital transformation reshaping the industry. Whether you’re contemplating a career in telecom or are just intrigued by the sector, this episode promises a wealth of knowledge. So, come along as we venture into the dynamic field of telecommunications with Prateek Pashine. You won’t want to miss it!

Welcome back to The Zista Podcast! In today’s exciting episode, “Telecom Unbundled,” we’re set to explore the multifaceted world of the telecommunications industry, offering you a clear picture of its operations and the promising opportunities it encompasses.

Joining us today is Prateek Pashine, a distinguished leader with an impressive track record in B2C and B2B markets. Prateek has left his mark at renowned brands like Taj Hotels, Tata Tele Business Services, Tata Communications and Lucent Technologies, and now spearheads the Enterprise Business at Jio, India’s premier telecom firm. He brings a wealth of insights into digital transformation, wireless 5G technology, and telecom service firms.

This episode promises a deep dive into the operational structure of a telecom service firm, unmasking the range of roles and departments within the industry. This conversation is bound to pique your curiosity, whether you’re considering a career in telecom or just fascinated by the sector.

For students and emerging professionals, this episode serves as an invaluable guide to understand and navigate the telecom landscape. Through Prateek’s expert insights, you’ll gain an understanding of the telecom sector’s current scenario, emerging trends, and how to gear up for a successful career in this dynamic field.

Join us on “Telecom Unbundled” for an enlightening chat with Prateek Pashine. Let’s journey together into the captivating world of telecom!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The telecom industry is diverse with different departments ranging from customer-facing units to network design and operations, marketing, sales, customer service, and data analysis departments. Familiarizing oneself with these areas can provide a broad understanding of the industry.
  • In telecom, as in many industries, transferable skills such as understanding customer preferences, selling services, and solving complex problems are valuable. These skills can be applied across a range of roles and sectors.
  • A lot of the knowledge necessary for a career in the telecom industry is learned on the job. Regardless of academic background, willingness to learn and adapt is crucial for success.
  • It’s important to familiarize oneself with areas such as robotics, AI, and blockchain as boundaries between different sectors are increasingly blurring. Understanding the broader technological landscape will prove beneficial.
  • The use of AI can increase efficiency and productivity. Understanding how to harness AI tools will be a valuable skill in the telecom industry.

Q1. What are the different departments within a telecom services firm?

A: Prateek begins by clarifying that there are varying types of telecom companies, each possessing different structures. For instance, some businesses supply equipment while others provide telecom services to end customers. In a comprehensive telecom operator that offers mobile, landline, IoT, and cloud services, we can identify distinct departments and business units.

There are customer-facing units, which can be divided into consumer businesses, B2B and B2C businesses, each managed by a specific business unit. The process begins with the network, where a network design team plans the system. Subsequently, a deployment team implements the designed network, followed by a network operations team, responsible for maintaining and operating it.

To enable the business to leverage the network effectively, functions such as Operation Support System (OSS) and Business Support System (BSS) come into play. These systems manage critical tasks such as order entries, sim activation, and customer billing. This process can’t be handled manually due to the millions of customers involved, necessitating the use of a sophisticated platform to orchestrate the entire customer lifecycle from onboarding to termination.

Departments involved in the business side of operations include marketing organizations for lead generation and segmentation, sales organizations for outreach efforts, and customer service teams for pre and post-onboarding support. As telecom services generate vast amounts of data, a dedicated department often manages the data analysis and interpretation, providing insights into customer behaviors and usage patterns.

Additionally, there are support departments such as regulatory compliance, human resources, finance, and infrastructure, each playing an essential role in the telecom service operation. These, in broad strokes, comprise the various departments within a telecom services company.

Q2. What kind of background do students come from to join the Telecom industry?

A: Prateek highlights the importance of fungible skills, which are versatile and transferable across different fields. He contends that there’s no need for someone to have a specific background or experience in a certain discipline for a set number of years to be successful. 

Many capabilities, such as selling Telecom services, are comparable to selling services in other industries like credit card services. For instance, identifying suitable customers for different plans, be it postpaid or prepaid in Telecom, is similar to discerning who would be the right customer for a credit or debit card. The core principle revolves around understanding customer footfall and preferences, which are universal skills across many industries.

When it comes to the technical aspects of the Telecom industry, certain specific skills are necessary, especially for roles like network design. In such cases, an understanding of Telecom and networking can be beneficial. However, it’s essential to remember that practical experience often significantly diverges from theoretical knowledge. A lot of the work-related knowledge in telecom or any industry is learned on the job.

Prateek illustrates this by stating that he wouldn’t mind hiring a chemical engineer over a Telecom engineer for a network design role. While the Telecom engineer might come with a foundational understanding, the chemical engineer can also learn on the job.

Furthermore, Prateek emphasizes the importance of continuous learning due to the rapidly evolving technology landscape. The most cutting-edge technology today could be outdated in six months. Thus, maintaining a learning mindset and understanding the implications of evolving technologies is crucial for any aspiring professional.

Regarding the engineering roles, Prateek believes that the value of an engineering degree lies not in the specific discipline it teaches but in the problem-solving approach it cultivates. Engineering teaches students to break down complex problems into manageable parts and find solutions, a fungible skill applicable across industries. So, if students possess this problem-solving mindset and understand the principles of give-and-take and cost-benefit analyses, they can succeed in any industry, including Telecom.

Q3. What can students do to prepare for a career in the Telecom industry and what are the changes they should prepare for?

A: Prateek explains that the landscape of technology is rapidly evolving, and boundaries between various sectors, such as Telecom, Cloud services, and Software as a Service (SaaS), are increasingly blurring. As a result, students interested in a career in Telecom should aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of Telecom and technology in general. They should familiarize themselves with areas such as robotics, generative AI, and even blockchain.

While it may seem that blockchain is solely relevant to the finance industry, its applications are far-reaching. Prateek cites the example of Sierra Leone, a West African nation that conducted its elections using a blockchain platform. Thus, the notion that some areas of knowledge are irrelevant can be limiting. It’s crucial to understand that, in today’s fast-paced technological world, nothing is really “out of syllabus.”

One of the significant shifts from student life to professional life is acknowledging and embracing this fact. He illustrates this with the example of the fonts in computer systems. If Steve Jobs hadn’t taken a calligraphy course, we might still be limited to the Sans-Serif font of MS-DOS. Even though fonts don’t necessarily fall under computer science, this innovation significantly influenced the user interface.

Prateek encourages students to be like a sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as possible from diverse fields. Having fresh, diverse perspectives is key to innovation. Thus, newcomers to the field, regardless of their academic background, have the unique opportunity to bring novel ideas to the table.

Q4. How has AI impacted the Telecom industry?

A: Prateek maintains that the impact of AI, specifically generative AI, on the Telecom industry is consistent with its influence on other sectors. Generative AI, according to him, is set to revolutionize the way we conduct business. He recounts a conversation with a friend who asserted that generative AI wouldn’t replace jobs; instead, the people leveraging generative AI would replace those who don’t.

Prateek shares an anecdote to elucidate his point. His company was preparing a new proposition, and it was his task to review this techno-commercial proposal. He noticed that the document lacked a succinct summary, something he refers to as a “two-page preamble,” which encapsulates the core of the proposition, its benefits, and its unique selling points.

When his team said it would take them two days to produce the preamble, Prateek used a generative AI tool to do the job in just five minutes. He fed the tool with enough data and information about the topic to provide context and outlined the expected output. The tool then produced a well-crafted preamble. Such a task might take a human team 48 hours to complete, but with the aid of AI, it was done in minutes. 

This situation illustrates the pervasive nature of AI tools in increasing efficiency and productivity. It’s not confined to a specific function or a particular level of profession; it’s for everyone. In Prateek’s view, generative AI is akin to Excel or PowerPoint; its usefulness is determined by how well one can wield it.

Interestingly, AI is taking over a lot of analytical work, a key skill many companies look for in potential employees. As this shift occurs, professionals need to learn how to harness AI to better their craft. Prateek believes that those who can supplement their use of AI tools with strong social skills, such as customer interaction, are going to have a significant advantage. Thus, it’s this combination of technological proficiency and interpersonal skills that will be invaluable in the evolving Telecom landscape.