Disruption is here, and it’s here to stay. But how can the telecommunications industry proactively respond to the threats of this disruption – and even emerge stronger?
That was the question on the top of the minds of the 130+ attendees at this year’s LINKS Connected Leadership Experience, organized by Liberty Networks in partnership with Infinera and Fortinet.
Through a series of keynotes, panel presentations, and networking events, industry leaders learned about the latest trends in the market and shared their experiences and expertise with their peers.
Didn’t have a chance to make it to Playa del Carmen for the event? No fear! Keep reading for some of the main takeaways.
Contextualizing a rapidly-changing tech environment
Two of Liberty Latin America’s Executive Team members – SVP, Chief Technology and Product Officer, Aamir Hussain, and Ray Collins, SVP, Infrastructure & Corporate Strategy – gave the audience a sense of where the telecommunications industry stands today – and where it might go in the future.
“The rate of change in the next five years will be at least two to three times the rate we saw in the last ten years,” asserted Hussain. AI, IoT, 5G/Edge, cloud computing – the list of new, rapidly-evolving technologies continues to grow at a breakneck speed.
It is within this context that Liberty Latin America can help customers and vendors navigate this environment. “We pride ourselves in not only being a tech partner but a go-to-market partner,” said Hussain. Collins added that it is crucial for product development to be led by customers’ needs rather than technical capabilities – as tempting as the latter may be.
So, what should technologists do in this context? Keep an eye out on all the new technologies in the market, but always keep the customer at the center, shared Hussain. “Show customers that you understand what they need, that you can provide the services that they need, and that you can do it better than your competitors.”
AI: Opportunity? Threat? Both?
Doron Hacmon, a global entrepreneur and business professor, captivated the audience during his presentation about how business leaders can find themselves in the “jungle” of new artificial intelligence technologies.
“In 204 days, ChatGPT onboarded 182 million users,” he told the audience, noting that this generative AI tool is just one of the thousands of AI-powered tools that have cropped up over the last six months.
For Hacmon, business leaders need to embrace this change. Otherwise, they could be on the path to obsolescence. He synthesized this into five main suggestions:
- Avoid sitting on the sidelines. AI is here to stay. Dive in!
- Figure out how to leverage AI for efficiencies and strategies for transformation. These are two different tactics, and it’s important to differentiate them at the outset.
- Determine some quick-wins and do-it-yourself options. You don’t have to tap an expensive team of experts to start reaping the rewards of AI.
- Do not forget ethics, people, and budgets. These same basic business principles apply to these exciting new technologies.
- Think about how to rebuild your growth engines with AI. From customer care to field operations to branding and marketing, there is an AI tool out there that can bring your business to the next level.
So, neither idolize nor demonize AI technologies. Rather, keep an open mind, experiment, and see how this new wave of AI tech can bring your business to the next level.
Latin America’s role in revolutionizing the connected world
Two separate presentations shared the exciting opportunities available in Latin America for forward-thinking companies that leverage this new paradigm shift.
Tech evangelist Samir Estefan took a historical approach, looking at innovation over the last few centuries to underscore the point that technological growth is not linear – it’s exponential.
“It’s not just that ‘the only constant is change,’ he said. “It’s that change is accelerating.” For Estefan, IoT, AI, and XR all have the potential to fundamentally change the way we interact with the world and improve lives at scale.
Ronald Alvarenga, the CEO of InSwitch, emphasized the power of technology in the financial services space. “Latin America is a hotbed for innovation,” he said, thanks to the diversity and fragmentation in the region – leading to an environment ripe for disruption.
“In Latin America, eCommerce will grow 31% per year until 2025,” Alvarenga shared. And this is just one of the most exciting corners of the fintech space. “Ultimately, every company will be a fintech. Embedded finance means that financial services are everywhere. Every day, the products we use are becoming financial service companies.”
Lasers, semiconductors, silicon, oh my!
Are you ready to turbo-charge your optical network? Whether or not… here come the lasers.
Rob Shore from Infinera laid out his vision for the key to a new era of services and applications that make our life better. So why lasers? “There is no better technology capable of transmitting more information over longer distances – connecting people, applications, and services over vast distances and short distances.”
Bandwidth doubles every two and a half years and has been doing so for the last 30 years. So adding new resources and thinking outside the box will be critical for the industry to continue moving forward.
“Literally everything we do requires connectivity,” said Shore. “It's fun for us at Infinera because we get to be involved in virtually every industry.”
“I personally am super excited to see what's going to happen 15 years from now,” Shore continued. “Because if the world changes as much in the next 15 years as it has in the last 15 years, it's going to be pretty exciting to be part of that.”
Cybersecurity in focus
One of the top concerns on attendees’ minds was cybersecurity. Fortinet Security Strategist Arturo Torres laid out the many security challenges that will come as users generate more and more data every day.
“We have a lot of cybersecurity experts, but the problem is that we always need more,” he said, noting that 14.73 billion threats were detected in Latin America alone last year. “There has been a large increase in cyberattacks – and this is just the beginning.”
To combat these threats, Torres explained that the first thing that businesses need to do is to understand what they are trying to protect. From there, they should create a cybersecurity strategy – including a continuity plan, in case they need to respond quickly to issues. Businesses can also look into cybersecurity insurance to further protect themselves.
Leadership in uncertain times
The packed day of content came to a close with two presentations about how leaders can navigate uncertain market conditions and emerge stronger than ever.
“What really matters is the psychology behind your actions and your team,” asserted business innovation consultant Peter Sheahan. He noted that strategy is actually secondary to mindset. And in the context of Latin America – political instability, rising inequality, a war for talent, and more – it is critical for leaders to accept macro conditions and act on them.
Serial entrepreneur and investor Josh Linkner has in many ways benefited from taking this exact approach. Linkner shared his framework for businesses to innovate:
- Get excited about the problem.
- Start before you’re ready.
- Brainstorm and let the sparks fly.
“Our creativity is a dormant resource,” he said. “Leverage it, and we can become unstoppable.”
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