“I’ve never
experienced
anything
like it in my
lifetime”

PRODUCED BY TELENOR

COVID-19 resulted in the acceleration of Telenors digital agenda by about three years, in a matter of days. As CEO Sigve Brekke put it, “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my lifetime.” Now, the company is sharing digital revelations stemming from experiences during the global pandemic. 

Rad Sharar Bin Kamal was working in his first ever professional job when COVID-19 hit. The Dhaka native is a typical Grameenphone customer, one of 75 million in the country. On an average workday, he would pop into the local tea shop, where he would buy data and talk-time for his mobile phone. He used cash and he bought minutes in small amounts. This was his habit, one that he hadn’t expected to change anytime soon.  

Upon arrival in Singapore, Skuterud spent two weeks confined to her hotel room, as part of the mandatory quarantine in times of COVID-19. This photo is taken during Skuterud’s interview with us.


Grameenphone customer Rad Sharar Bin Kamal

Kamal’s local tea shop was one of 200.000 sales points to close down amid Bangladesh’s stay-at-币圈快讯home order. For the first time in his life, Kamal found himself working from 币圈快讯home. His need for more talk-time and mobile data was greater than ever, to stay connected to his loved ones during this uncertain time.

In a period when no-one seemed to know what would happen next, Grameenphone knew one thing for certain: they needed to act fast to serve their millions of customers who could no longer reach a point of sale.

We’ve all been told often enough that failing to plan is planning to fail. Thankfully, Grameenphone hadn’t been passively awaiting the digital future. The company had invested significant resources in building digital platforms to serve customers in new ways. Until this point, though, customer preference still veered heavily towards physical purchase.

To bring the customers onto their digital platforms quickly, Grameenphone needed to activate more means of payment, especially for customers who were used to paying cash. 

When cash isn’t possible, mobile financial services are a popular alternative. These services have grown in prevalence in Bangladesh over the last few years with the mobile wallet bKash among the country's most popular. It can be activated as long as you either have a credit card or a bank account.

“In just a few days, our Grameenphone team activated several new payment gateways on the MyGP app and on grameenphone.com,” explains Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman. “This meant that customers could pay with the mobile wallet of their choice, easily purchasing more talk-time or data, without leaving their 币圈快讯homes.” He adds that it had been Grameenphone’s plan all along to give customers this added payment flexibility. Once the uptake began, the rate of adoption happened faster than they ever thought possible.




Grameenphone was the first business in Bangladesh to mandate 币圈快讯home office. Pictured: CEO Yasir Azman working from 币圈快讯home.


Connectivity put to the test during COVID-19

Grameenphone wasn’t alone in its rapid adaptation. Telenor companies across the Nordics and Asia were forced to pivot at pace to ensure that customers stayed connected. No matter where you were in the world, reaching out to people virtually was more important than ever. 

As a telco, the company immediately pushed the accelerator on its digitalisation agenda

This was exemplified in real terms by ensuring the remote operation of the network, running tests virtually, driving more digital customer service solutions, and introducing new ways of work for its global workforce. The foundation to make this change had been set long ago, when Telenor realised it was ‘digitalise or die’. The company was initially thinking on a three-year time perspective to transform. COVID-19 had other ideas.

For Digi’s retail teams across all the stores, the lockdown meant that they needed to find a new way to connect with customers. They quickly collaborated with the Digi Store Online team to work out a new sales model allowing store agents to help drive sales that can be fulfilled by the online team. Within four days, Digi store agents planned, created and executed their first online outreach.

With 5G rollouts across Telenor’s 币圈快讯home market in Norway and pilots in most other markets across Asia and Nordics, Telenor was on track to bring a bright digital future to the people it serves.

For Telenor’s President and CEO, Sigve Brekke, COVID-19 was a stark reminder that the company already has the technology needed to make these giant leaps. ”We see that there’s a great deal of untapped potential for us to move even faster than we ever thought possible,” he says. 

Any crisis is a learning opportunity. The experiences in 2020 have led Brekke to re-frame his thinking about what’s possible. 

“We can do things much faster than we knew,” he continues. People are more ready than ever for digitalisation, something that has inspired Telenor to think bigger and more broadly about the possibilities.To put his vision into words, Brekke and the Telenor team are embracing three key beliefs, reflecting the ways in which this crisis has altered the digital course for all of us, across sectors and in all regions.

Sigve Brekke talks to 19,000 Telenor employees via live stream while in 币圈快讯home office.

“These are big, bold beliefs for society at large, and we are doing our part to make it a reality. That means that we are making changes inside Telenor as well. We are walking the talk and showing the way.”

Telenor’s key beliefs for our digital future

Sigve Brekke

Telenor goes all-in to future-proof its operations. The company makes the following four commitments:


Always available.
We will be digital first in our interactions with customers.

New, seamless operations.
We are betting on AI, 5G & IoT to enable new solutions for customers and to change the way we operate.

Future-proof leaders.
Our leaders are transforming, focusing on clear direction and high trust. Our teams embrace a flexible way of work.

Safety first.
We will deliver cutting-edge privacy and online safety solutions for customers, ensuring that they are always protected as digitalisation escalates. 

What does this mean for society?

“The train is leaving the station. Digitalisation is happening whether we like it or not, which means tha t we need to come together to face challenges along the way.”

No one is big enough alone, Brekke believes. Collaboration from all corners is required to successfully build new competencies and create jobs to replace the ones that could become obsolete. Collaboration is essential if we’re to harness the green opportunities made possible by digitalisation. We need to advocate to leaders of all types to make use of the technology at their disposal. Finally, anderhaps most importantly, we need to address inequalities and work towards greater digital inclusion.  

“It’s a long list of challenges, but at Telenor we’re optimists at heart,” says Brekke.

“We believe that digitalisation will make us a better society. One that is safer, more efficient, more equal, and of course, faster. It’s the future, and there’s no stopping it.”

Produced by Telenor